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Check out these summer reads from TXWES librarians

06.02.2021 | By:

Summer is finally here, which means you might have a little more time for reading a book — or 11. There is just something so fun about reading while relaxing, especially if you can do so on a beach or poolside!

We asked TXWES West Library faculty and staff to share some of their favorite books from different genres, so check out the list below!

If you pick up any of these recommendations, let us know by tagging us and the library on Instagram (@txwesalumni, #txwesalumni, @txweslibrary).


  • Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder. Local DFW teacher used to work for the CIA and FBI and she’s written an engaging memoir. Not every CIA agent starts as a field agent. She was a number cruncher and developed a method for tracking chemical terrorists that was so spot-on, she shut down multiple chemical attacks. Her story as a woman in a male-dominated field and in Middle Eastern countries, she found her own way to change the world.” – Risa Brown
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. I cannot promote this book enough! In this eye-opening book, Richard Rothstein lays out the hidden and forgotten history of lawful segregation (known as “de facto segregation”) that is built into almost every level of American law and politics – even to this day.  Forget what you thought you knew about redlining and housing in America; this historical look will open your eyes to facts that can help us understand how to tackle some aspects of social justice in the future and hold our government institutions accountable.” – Natasha Zinsou
  • Yellow House by Sarah Broom. This memoir combines a personal story with journalistic rigor to tell an incredible story of family and loss during Hurricane Katrina. Sarah interviews her family members to get their thoughts and feelings about their home, purchased with great sacrifice by her mother in East New Orleans. The house almost becomes a character silently observing class, race, inequality in the neighborhood and how they affect the family until the house meets its demise by rising water. She’s a UNT graduate and the book won the National Book Award in Nonfiction.” – Risa Brown
  • Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile. The synopsis for this memoir on Goodreads says: ‘The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about a life shaped by music in this candid, heartfelt, and intimate story.’ I read this last month and really enjoyed Carlile's honesty and openness about her life and career.” – Sarah Abernathy


  • Charlesgate Confidential by Scott Von Doviak. When I heard Austin-based author Scott [Van Doviak] at the Texas Book Festival, I knew this would be a wacky romp. Priceless missing paintings, mobsters and an innocent college journalist trying to crack the mystery, only to have another batch of treasure hunters twenty years later get into the hunt by following a trail of dead bodies. A fun, twisty tale of deception and dreams of getting rich and famous.” – Risa Brown
  • Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft. If you like modern horror, then get ready to learn from the master! Commonly known as the 'father of modern horror', Lovecraft has a distinctive way of writing that forces the reader to fill in the blanks. However, rather than making the stories feel empty, it instead encourages the reader to use their imagination to create something more terrifying to them than Lovecraft could have ever described.  Read Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, At the Mountains of Madness and dozens of other horror short stories that will make you shiver and keep a light on before you go to bed.” – Natasha Zinsou
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Roanhorse’s fascinating world-building was inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas cultures into which she brings unique elements of lunar cycles, political intrigue and forbidden magic. For decades, a revenge plot has been in the making, hinging on the right person intercepting a ceremony at one solar eclipse. The stakes are high, chances of failure cannot be tolerated but what if one player begins to doubt himself? The characters stayed with me long after the last page.” – Risa Brown
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. The synopsis is as follows:A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, Neil Gaiman. Set in Sussex, England, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.’ Why I selected this title: In my opinion, you can never go wrong with any novel by Neil Gaiman and this one is no exception. It is relatively short, which is one reason why I selected it. It can easily be read in a day so it is perfect if your summers are a little on the busy side. This tale truly captures childhood and what it means to be human. It is stirring, mysterious, and terrifying while simultaneously being whimsical and delicate.” – Nancy Edge

Young Adult

  • Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman. This Young Adult non-fiction weaves the story of two brothers, Theo Van Gogh, a stable, earnest brother to the erratic but talented painter Vincent. Life with a mentally ill creative is not easy and ultimately Theo sacrificed much to see that his brother was able to make his art. Using letters from a lifelong correspondence, this is a touching story of family love.” – Risa Brown

Children’s Books

  • When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. The winner of this year’s prestigious children’s book award, the Newbery Medal, is a beautiful story about magic and the power of family. Lily always loved the stories her Korean grandmother tells as long as she knew they were just stories. When she starts seeing the tiger who asks for what her grandmother stole, Lily has to find out what is real and what is secret. It’s a shock to Lily what her grandmother had to go through to get to this country. Powerful!” -Risa Brown
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix. This is one of my favorite fantasy books (and resulting series) since I was a kid!  It is the story of a young woman who is the daughter of the Abhorsen – the guardian of the land against the Undead and evil magic.  When the Abhorsen goes missing, she must take up the role despite being unprepared and rescue her father and the whole land from a lurking evil in the Old Kingdom.  This book evokes the imagination of the reader and makes you care about young Sabriel and her struggle.” – Natasha Zinsou


A big thank you to the following Library faculty and staff members for their help in creating this list:

  • Sarah Abernathy, Library Clerk
  • Risa Brown, Weekend Reference Assistant and author of Polytechnic Days: Texas Wesleyan’s First Decade, 1891-1901
  • Nancy Edge, CA, DAS, Special Collections Archivist, Assistant Professor of Library Science
  • Natasha Zinsou, Collection Management Librarian, Assistant Professor of Library Science