Everything is bigger in Texas….including this list of books about Texas! You may know Texas as the land of cowboys and the wild west, and while you’ll find some of that here, these books about Texas also challenge some of those stereotypes. Texas also includes lots of immigrant stories, important Black history, and stories of Native Americans. You’ll find all of that here in these novels, non-fiction books, and children’s books all about Texas!
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Fiction Set in Texas
Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann
This dysfunctional family drama set in Texas is based off a variety of Greek and Roman myths. It begins when Mars comes home from a self-imposed exile after sleeping with his brother’s wife. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as drama goes with this family. For fans of contemporary literary fiction, and bonus if you like books relating to Greek mythology (like Circe).
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
In post Civil War Texas, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through Texas reading the “news of the world.” Then he is contracted to return a young girl to her family in San Antonio, a girl who had been captured by Kiowa raiders and has known no home except with the Kiowa for the past four years. For fans of historical literary fiction.
Lot – Stories by Bryan Washington
These stories set in and around Houston, Texas give us a variety of perspectives of what life can look like in this sprawling Texas city. From a a young boy coming of age and realizing he is gay to a drug dealer to a woman dealing with the aftermath of an affair, this book shows so many different sides of humanity. For fans of literary ficiton.
Memorial by Bryan Washington
This book set in Houston, Texas tells the story of two men, Benson and Mike, who are in a relationship that’s flailing just a bit. When Mike’s mother shows up just as he is leaving to see his dying father, Benson and Mike’s mother end up living together for awhile as roommates, and all these events impact their futures. This is for fans of literary fiction.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
When the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression hits Elsa’s family, not only is the drought impacting her livelihood, her marriage is also suffering and she must make a difficult choice. For fans of historical fiction.
The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
Set among Houston’s socialites in the 1950s, this novel is about two friends: Joan, who pushes the limits behavior-wise, and Cece, who feels it is her duty to protect Joan. This is for fans of historical literary fiction.
The Last Karankawas by Kimberly Garza
In Galveston, Texas, Hurricane Ike is on its way. As the members of the community wait for it, they reflect on their connection to the land, and some of them wonder if there might be a different life somewhere else. This is a novel told in stories, and it comes out on August 9, 2022. For fans of literary fiction.
Perpetual West by Mesha Maren
Alex and Elena are a newlywed couple who have just moved to El Paso where Alex is connecting with the roots he has never known. When falls he in love with a lucha libre wrestler and disappears to Mexico, Elena sets out to find him. For fans of literary fiction with some suspense.
Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
Isabel and Martin and newlyweds on a Texas border town. When Isabel’s father-in-law shows up as a spirit, he wants Isabel’s help to get his family to forgive him for the way he left their lives. For fans of literary fiction.
Where We Come From by Oscar Cásares
When Orly’s mother suddenly dies, she is sent to live with her godmother, Nina, in Brownsville, Texas. But Nina is keeping a secret—a young boy who is undocumented and has just crossed the border. For fans of literary fiction and family stories.
It Started with a Dog by Julia London
In Austin, Texas, Harper is trying to get her new coffee shop off the ground while Jonah is trying to save his own family’s coffee shop from going under. They have a meet-cute under the Christmas lights, but things go south when they realize they are business competitors. For fans of romances and romantic comedies.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Billy Lynn is part of Bravo Squad who served in Iraq. But when they are on a “Victory Tour” with a stop at Texas Stadium, the differences between life in Iraq and life at home are glaringly obvious. For fans of contemporary fiction that includes sports and politics.
Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores
This dystopian novel is set along the Texas/Mexican border where extinct animals are brought back to life and smuggled across the border. This book includes Mexican folklore, dark humor, and dystopian elements. For fans of sci-fi literary fiction, social satire, and books that are a little absurd.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
In East Texas, Darren Mathews is a Black Texas Ranger who must investigate two murders in a rural town amidst racial tensions. For fans of mysteries and thrillers.
Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen
When Annie returns to her small Texas hometown, she starts waitressing while also being pulled into her grandfather’s private investigator business. When a fellow waitress goes missing, she and her grandfather set out on a dangerous investigation to uncover the truth. For fans of mysteries and thrillers.
The Son by Philipp Meyer
In this multi-generational tale set in the Texas wild west, Eli is kidnapped by a band of Comanche and adapts to life with them. But when he is left alone he realizes he doesn’t really fit anywhere in the world. Generations later, his family has grown in wealth, but Eli’s history still impacts them. For fans of westerns + literary fiction.
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
In the 1850s Texas West, a kid named….Kid….finds himself immersed in the world of Mexican/American/Indian violence. And reviews say there is lots of violence here, so be warned. For fans of westerns + literary fiction.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
In this classic western, two older Texas Rangers set out on an adventure across Texas. Know that this is more of a slower Western though, and really digs into the characters of the Texas frontier. For fans of westerns and classics.
Explore more with these books about Alaska!
Non-Fiction Books About Texas
Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas by Stephen Harrigan
From American Indian Nations to the Texas State Fair, Harrigan covers it all in this doorstopper of a non-fiction book about the history of Texas. If you are looking for a complete history of Texas that highlights it’s myriad of people, this is the book for you.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Juneteenth is a such an important part of Texas history, so we have several books about it in our books about Texas. In this slender book, Gordon-Reed examines the history of Blacks in Texas, from Spanish explorers to enslavement to Juneteenth. Intertwined with this are her own memories of growing up in Texas. For fans of historical non-fiction.
The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
A modern classic memoir, Karr describes her childhood growing up in Texas with her alcoholic and dysfunctional parents. There is trauma here, so do your research if you are a sensitive reader. For fans of literary memoirs.
Retablos – Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border by Octavio Solis
In El Paso, Texas, Solis describes his life growing up and coming of age, always within sight of the border. This is a book of vignettes and memories, some about immigration and the border, some about kids just being kids. For fans of literary memoir.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
These days it’s hard to think about Texas without thinking about high school football, so we of course we had to include football in our books about Texas. Here, follow a year of football with the Odessa Permian Panthers. If you liked the show, you’ll probably also like this book, but note that they are pretty different. For fans of books about sports.
In 1900, the deadliest hurricane in American history hit Galveston, Texas, killing over 6,000 people. Isaac Cline was the local meteorologist, but he still had no way to see a storm this disastrous coming. This if for fans of narrative non-fiction.
The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas
In the days after 9/11, American terrorist Mark Stroman walked into a Texas convenience store and shot Raisuddin Bhuiyan, who almost died from his injuries but recovered. In the following years, Bhuiyan forgave Stroman and spoke out against him facing the death penalty. This is a book and immigration, racism, and what the “American dream” really means. For fans of narrative non-fiction and stories about in the criminal justice system.
Chronicle of the Narváez Expedition by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Translated by Fanny Bandelier
This is a first-person account of the 1528-1536 Spanish conquistadors in the Narváez expedition. They have quite the adventure, being shipwrecked and then trekking on foot through Texas all the way to California. For fans of historical non-fiction, primary sources, and adventure.
Children’s Books About Texas
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
In Texas Hill Country, Bo the armadillo, who is always wondering off from his mother, finds himself at a rodeo. Recommended ages: 3-6.
Welcome to Texas by Asa Gilland
Learn all about Texas’s geography, animals, food, and people in this adorably illustrated book. Recommended ages: 3-7 years.
The Legend of Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola
In this retelling of a Comanche legend, drought threatens the tribe and a young girl steps up and bravely sacrifices her favorite doll hoping to save her people. Recommended ages: 4 and up.
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
From her childhood in Texas, Lady Bird Johnson loved wildflowers. When she became First Lady, one of her missions was to spread her love of flowers across America. Recommended ages: 4 and up.
Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Born to sharecroppers in Texas, Bessie Coleman went from humble beginnings to become the first Black female to earn a pilot’s license. She met a tragic ending, but this simply told book inspires kids to dream big dreams. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.
King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza
Scott Joplin was born in Texas, the son of enslaved people, always listening for music everywhere he went. This book teaches kids about this figure in Texas history with beautiful and playful illustrations. Recommended ages: 4 and up.
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio, Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Willie Johnson, born in Texas, loved music. When he lost his sight, his music saved him and he went on to become a famous musician. Recommended ages: 5-8 years.
L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet by Carol Crane, Illustrated by Alan Stacy
From history to state symbols to cultural icons, kids can learn all about Texas in this rhyming alphabet book. We love these books for all the territory they cover + the sidebar notes with more information for the older kids and grown-ups. Recommended ages: 5 and up.
This is Texas by Miroslav Sasek
From the Rio Grande to Galveston beaches to Fort Worth to Amarillo, explore Texas with this children’s classic. Recommended ages: 5 and up.
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
Join Mazie as she learns what Juneteenth meant for her family and celebrates with her community. Recommended ages: 5 and up.
Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia López, Illustrated by Paola Escobar
Selena Quintanilla got her start playing in her family’s band, but she went on to become one of the most celebrated stars ever of Tejano music, breaking into an industry ruled by men. Although she died tragically, her impact on Tejano music and girls across Latin America and the world can’t be understated. Recommended ages: 6 and up.
In My Family/En Mi Familia by Carmen Lomas Garza
A slice-of-life look into Garza’s Mexican-American family in Texas. This book covers traditions, celebrations, and everyday life. It’s a classic I remember reading in school as a kid. Plus, the text is bilingual. Recommended ages: 6-12 years.
Middle Grade + YA Books Set in Texas
The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers by Arlisha Norwood
This early chapter book leads readers through the history of Juneteenth and how it is celebrated today. The addition of colorful illustrations make this perfect for kids just starting to pick up chapter books. Recommended ages: 6-9 years.
Hurricane Heroes in Texas by Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrated by AG Ford
For your Magic Treehouse loving child, learn about the historic 1900 Galveston hurricane as Annie and Jack try to help. Recommended ages: 6-9 years.
Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #10: Showdown at the Alamo by Jeff Brown, Illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
If your kid loves Flat Stanley, here is the perfect book about Texas! Travel with Stanley and his family though Texas having fun and help him figure out the mystery of who is following. Recommended ages: 6-10 years.
Wishing Upon the Same Stars by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman
When 12-year-old Yasmeen, an Arab-American, moves to San Antonio, she doesn’t feel like she fits in at all. That is until her new neighbor, Ayelet, an Israeli-American, moves in, and she finally has a friend. But when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes to their front door in the form of Yasmeen’s grandmother, it will test their friendship. Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Get the tissues ready for this classic children’s book about a boy on the Texas frontier who adopts a stray dog. Be careful if your kids are sensitive to animal death, but otherwise this is a beloved story. Recommended ages: 9 and up.
Holes by Louis Sachar
When Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake, a boy’s detention center, for no reason, he finds himself digging holes all day every day. But something else is going on, and they may just uncover something in those holes. Recommended ages: 10 and up.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
In this YA book set in Texas, Quinn’s life looks picture perfect: she has a loving family and acceptance letter to an Ivy League school. But when her journal get stolen, all of her secrets start coming out for the public to see and she has to team up with Carter, one of the only other Black kids in her wealthy private school, to find her journal and face her fears. Recommended ages: 13 and up.
Despite the stereotypes that exist, Texas is a big and diverse state, and this list of books about Texas really highlights that. There is so much to explore here, from classic Westerns to Juneteenth history to mysteries and thrillers, and we hope you can find the Texas book that’s right for you!
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