Books Authors Read with Leanne Vogel


Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Leanne to not one, but TWO of our Texas locations this week. She’ll stop by our Montrose location in Houston on Saturday, April 15 at 2 p.m. and our North Lamar location in Austin on Monday, April 17 at 7 p.m. to discuss her new book, The Keto Diet (April 11). Hope to see you there! In the meantime, we asked Leanne to share some of her favorite books with us in our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!

Surprisingly, I’m not much for books about food. You’d think with my line of work that I’d be into all of the hot nutrition topics, but it’s the exact opposite – when I have time to carve out of my day, the last thing I want to do is read about more food. I’m a sucker for an inspirational biography, self-help books,and short business boosting books that are guaranteed to light a fire in my entrepreneurial belly. Also, I have a soft place for apocalyptic and war novels.

The Universe Has Your Back by Garbrielle Bernstein_Half Price BooksThe Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
I found Gabby’s work shortly after I quit my full-time gig and moved across the country with my husband (then boyfriend). I was eager for inspiration and a healthy dose of positivity when a colleague recommended Gabby’s book, Spirit Junkie. After reading, it set me on a path of looking at the world in a very different way, leading me to write my first self-published book, travel to New York to study photography and boost my confidence. I’ve read all of Gabby’s books and The Universe Has Your Back is by far my favorite. It was there for me as I finished my paperback, reminding me to stay present, positive, hopeful and grounded. I couldn’t have finished the last round of edits without her solid advice and guidance leading me through. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Omar El Akkad


Editor’s Note: We’ve been looking forward to the release of Omar El Akkad’s new book, American War (available April 4), so we were thrilled when he offered to share some of his favorite reads from the past year. Enjoy!

My reading list this year has been wildly varied, in large part because one of the chief perks of loitering on the outskirts of the publishing industry is the ability to swipe advance copies of upcoming novels. Having no self-discipline when it comes to such matters, I have, in the past few months, nabbed every book I could get my hands on.

These are ten of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Some are older titles I stumbled on serendipitously, but most are either newly released or will be coming out soon.

Sin_Selected Poems of Forugh FarrokhzadSin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad
Iran’s stunningly gifted poet died too young, at 32. But in her brief career she breathed life into the country’s modernist movement, eschewing a long tradition of poetic conservatism in favor of frank explorations of sexuality and powerful indictments of bureaucratic oppression. Sin is a beautiful cross-section of her work, and translator Sholeh Wolpe does an outstanding job of keeping the fire of the original text alight.

Ernest Hemingway_A BiographyErnest Hemingway: A Biography by Mary V. Dearborn
Regardless how you feel about Hemingway’s work, Mary Dearborn’s fascinating new biography is an enthralling chronicle of the writer’s life. The book presents an intimate, immensely well-researched portrait of a man who, capable of immense acts of literary and personal grandeur, eventually falls prey to his own myth-making. This book is set to hit shelves May 16.

SpoilsSpoils by Brian Van Reet
Ironically, given the title of my debut novel, I honestly don’t like war stories that much – or at least not ones about contemporary wars. But Spoils is the rare exception. Set in Iraq and telling the dual stories of a captured U.S. soldier and a disillusioned jihadist, it’s a wondrously nuanced book. Van Reet offers none of the bang-bang breathlessness that so often accompanies contemporary descriptions of war. Instead, there is something deeply human here – a story concerned first and foremost with the souls of those who find themselves protagonists in history’s darkest chapters. This book is set to hit shelves April 18. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Martha Hall Kelly


Editor’s Note: Not only are we excited to read Martha’s book, Lilac Girls, as part of the HPB Book Club, we are thrilled to host her at our Dallas Flagship store for a talk and signing on Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. Can’t make it that night for the discussion? Have no fear! We’ll broadcast the talk on Facebook Live. (So if you haven’t yet liked our Facebook page, now is the time to do so!)

Until then, to continue our Books Authors Read series, we asked Martha to share some of her favorite books. Enjoy!

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney  I still go back and soak in Stef Penney’s descriptions for sheer pleasure. Her depiction of Scottish woman Mrs. Ross and her discovery of Laurent Jammett is terrifying and perfect.

Good Times, Bad Times by James Kirkwood I read this in high school and go back and reread it often. James Kirkwood was such a talented writer and, sadly, died too young. This story of a boarding school student, his best friend and their creepy headmaster still feels fresh and relevant. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Tim Dorsey


Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome New York Times -bestselling author Tim Dorsey to our Dallas Flagship store Saturday, March 4 at 5 p.m. to discuss the latest edition of the Serge A. Storm series, Clownfish Blues. Before he stops by, we asked Tim to share some of the books he’s reading these days. (More books to add to our constantly-growing “to be read” list) Enjoy!

The Deep Blue Good-by – The Godfather of Florida crime fiction, John D. MacDonald, The Deep Blue Good-by introduces the world to knight-errant Travis McGee. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Amy Poeppel

Editor’s Note: Author Amy Poeppel will stop by our Dallas Flagship store on Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. to sign and discuss her debut novel Small Admissions. Amy is a native of Dallas, so we’re glad to hear she hasn’t forgotten her roots now that she’s hit the big time! J She’ll be joined by KERA’s Lee Cullum, so the evening is sure to be a treat for booklovers!

To gear you up for the event, we asked Amy to share some of the books she’s reading as we continue our “Books Authors Read” series. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

As a young woman, I spent many years reading novels by mostly dead authors, and I developed a great affection for the classics. As a writer, however, I find that I spend most of my time reading books by authors I have actually had the pleasure of meeting in real life… or hope to in the very near future. Here are some recent favorites by women authors who are alive and well! Continue reading

Books Authors Read with David Sax


Editor’s Note: We’re pretty passionate about the topic of David Sax’s latest book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, where he dives into the truth about how humans shop, interact and think. It’s a blend of culture and psychology, serving up Sax’s observations and research about digital aspects of life and the real world around it. If you missed it, be sure to check out our exclusive interview with David here on the blog and learn about the inspiration behind the book.

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with culture and business journalist David Sax. When we recently interviewed him, we took the opportunity to ask him about his favorite types of books and gave him a chance to spread a little book karma around for his fellow authors. Here are five books he enjoyed reading (some recently and some not so recently) and why. Thanks for sharing these with us, David! Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Christina Lauren

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with Christina Lauren, the combined pen name of long-time writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Christina Lauren will stop by our Dallas Flagship store on Sunday, May 11 at noon as part of the Belles on Wheels bus tour. To tide you over until then, here are some of their favorite reads! – Emily

We’re lucky enough that we get to play in multiple sandboxes: erotic romance, contemporary romance, young adult fiction and even free-form stories on Wattpad. As readers, too, we’ve always gravitated toward romance of any form, whether it’s for teens or adults, and our bookshelves definitely reflect that. Our list of favorites seems to grow longer every year. Here are but a few!

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

When this story opened, we worried that it would be heartbreaking (it can be) or difficult (it is, a little), but the voice is so strong and so gorgeous, that it immediately eclipses the early heartbreak. What grows over the pages, really, is a story so wonderfully sweet and uplifting, with prose that is both real and completely absorbing, that it’s one of the few books we both reread at least once a year. By far, our favorite book of all time.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

In contrast to The Sky Is Everywhere, Forbidden is hands-down the hardest book we’ve ever read. It grabs your heart and squeeze, squeeze, squeezes until the very last page when you want to lie down and cry for a week. But it is so good, and the writing is so wonderful, and the story is so different than anything else out there that it’s the best kind of pain, the most delicious kind of book to read where it makes you feel things no other book makes you feel, and you never want to go back and un-read it.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie

Oh, if you love biographies, this book is for you. Massie makes Catherine real, and accessible and damn—girl gets hers. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, nonfiction trumps so much fiction out there. Most of us know about her awful marriage to Peter, but what we loved here is the story of how she learned to live by her rules, how intelligent she was (far more intelligent and savvy than anyone around her, frankly) in a time when most women weren’t allowed to read, to write, to take power in the form of knowledge. We’re toying with the idea of writing a historical romance with a modern edge based on her life.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Lamb is Lauren’s favorite author by about a mile, and this is a book she’s reread at least a dozen times since college. Dolores Price narrates her story—with humor, heart, and a sometimes shocking level of obliviousness—starting from when she’s a little girl until she’s a grown woman. Her childhood is rife with accumulated small and big traumas. She’s overweight, lonely, abused and eventually broken. But this story is about her rebirth, really, and it’s one of the few books that gives the reader every heart wrenching piece of it: of her setbacks and victories, of her bad decisions and the increasing number of moments that Delores takes charge of her life and sees her own worth. It’s a female voice, in first person, masterfully delivered by a man. Simply adore this book.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall is a mile a minute roller coaster. Make sure you’re settled in with snacks and hydration, because once you pick this one up, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s been six weeks since the apocalypse and the angels have descended from the sky. The catch? They aren’t the good guys. It opens on a dark, deserted street and a single feather floating down to the ground, and never stops. Literally. Penryn is a smart, capable heroine and Raffe will tear your heart out. We were lucky enough to discover this gem when author Susan Ee was still self-publishing, so it’s awesome to see it and it’s sequel, Worlds After in bookstores today.

The Curse Worker Series by Holly Black

What we love most about this series—and there is plenty to love—is how seamlessly Black has built a completely different reality in the very world we live in. She’s slipped in Curse Workers into our history, and our political system, and makes the reader believe this might actually be true. Her characters are tough and edgy, but you can’t help but want to take them home and make them dinner anyway, if only to give them a little break from the constant tight corners in which they find themselves.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Talk about badass. Andi is about as badass as you can get. She’s independent, salty, broken—but stronger than she thinks. She’s failing out of school and the only thing that matters to her is her music, her mother, and her dead brother. And that’s just the first chapter! Initially this sounded like something we weren’t sure could be done. Time shifts in books are often clunky, disorienting or so overdone you feel like you’ve been clobbered when you finish the book. Also, history as a rule scares one of us (Lauren): as a scientist, she works by rules and structure, and history is so easily remade with each iteration. But, in the end, that’s the point of this one. The story is so complex, but it never lets go of the reader’s hand. It is triumphant and heartbreaking—a truly fascinating read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This is a newer read for us—one we both devoured over the holidays—and a totally delightful one. It has unique voice coming out of its ears:  a different sort of narrator that we found irresistible. Of course there are a few savant-like stereotypes in there, but it’s nearly impossible to not completely fall in love with Don.

Romance author duo, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, are New York Times bestselling authors of Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Stranger.

You can visit them online or follow them on twitter at @seeCwrite and @lolashoes

Books Authors Read with Victoria Scott

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with YA author Victoria Scott, who wrote The Dante Walker trilogy and recently held the launch party for her new book, Fire & Flood, at our Dallas Flagship store. Thanks, Victoria, for sharing some of your favorite books! — Emily 

My own work, while laced with fantasy, is often set in modern day, and in places we’re familiar with. So when I read, I like nothing better than to step into the opposite. I adore young adult books that whisk me away to another time and place, and make me forget I’m sipping coffee in Dallas. Here are five of my favorite books that did just that!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This is quite possibly my most beloved series. It’s a story about a princess who flourishes as a queen. About an underdog who triumphs. About an ugly duckling who becomes beautiful in the right person’s eyes. And don’t get me started on the settings in this series—serene stretches of desert, uninhabited islands, the reckless sea. I tell everyone I know to read these books, and you should too!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A book that takes place in outer space? Yes, please. I fell in love with Revis’s characters, but it was the wickedly beautiful stars, the crops growing under false lights, and the ship’s blueprint that truly swept me away. Every time I cracked open one of these books, I was no longer on earth. I was elsewhere, with Elder and Amy and a fleet of restless people bound for a world they may never reach. This pulse-pounding story is one you shouldn’t miss.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Every time I pick up this book, I want a glass of iced tea. This southern gothic horror takes place in an old, crumbling estate by the sea. As if that wasn’t enough to hook me, a strange, nerve-rattling guy rents the main character’s guest house. I spent the better part of a week equally terrified and attracted to this guy. Is he dangerous? Is he a gentleman? I’ll never tell. But I will say this, pour yourself a glass of the South’s syrup and settle in for a mystery unlike any you’ve ever read.

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Set in Paris in the late 1800s, this gothic story evokes a gloomy, foggy feel. I could practically feel the cobblestone streets beneath my heels, and the gargoyles watching my every move from the abbey eves. Morgan creates a romance in the city of love unlike any I’ve ever read. It’s part paranormal, part ball gowns and etiquette, part kick-butt fight scenes…and wholly entertaining. I can open one of Morgan’s books and within seconds that dark, dreary, enticing world falls over my shoulders once again.

Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

This book took me on a journey to China, Angel Island, and finally, to America in the early 1920s. The main character, Jade Moon, born a Fire Horse, is one of my absolute favorite main characters. Her quest to have a voice among men takes her on a journey across the world, and I was enthralled every step of the way. I wept when she was sad, felt my blood boil when she was frustrated, and rejoiced when at last she found a makeshift home. I rarely reread books, but this is one I have no doubt will be enjoyed time and again. Go Jade!

Victoria Scott is the author of Dante Walker Trilogy and Fire & Flood Series

You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @VictoriaScottYA.

Books Authors Read with Jeramey Kraatz

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with children’s author Jeramey Kraatz, who wrote The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Risingwhich the School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.” Jeramey himself is a lovely, wonderful person too — he joined us Sunday for a signing and a “Make Your Own Comic Book” activity with a bunch of kids who were very excited about creating their own superhero/supervillain narratives. We love his books, too. Thanks, Jeramey! — Kristen D. 


I was born on Friday the 13th  (my name was almost “Jason”). Horror-movie marathons were a regular occurrence in my childhood. I feel at home with zombies, maniacs, and the soul-crushing abyss. Even when I was a kid, these were the kinds of tales I gravitated to. So, in honor of Halloween, here’s a non-exhaustive, completely objective collection of books and stories that have creeped me out over the years, listed roughly in the order in which I read them, from elementary school to now.

1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark  – Alvin Schwartz (writer), Stephen Gammell (art)

Obviously. These were the Holy Grail of the book fair in elementary school. The kind of books you’d stay up late reading aloud at your friend’s house or hide from your parents because you were afraid they’d take them away from you. There’s a whole generation of readers out there who were equally entertained and traumatized by these gruesome little stories. (And that art. It’s just as gruesome as you remember.)

2. The Fear Street Sagas – R. L. Stine

I made the jump from Goosebumps to R.L. Stine’s teen series while I was still pretty young. There’s no telling how many of those books I read (seriously, go check out the series Wikipedia page—there are over 100 of them), but the Fear Street Saga books were the ones I read over and over again. They were part historical fiction, part family history, and packed with the kind of overwrought drama and twists I loved as a kid. And they were pretty gruesome, too—I remember one death scene involving the kitchen maid and a bunch of rising dough that was the most horrifying thing kid-me had ever read. At least until…

3. Urban Legends (generally)

Here is a very clear memory I have of being in the fourth grade: Jason, my best friend, had checked out a book of urban legends from the Ector County Library and brought it to school, where we passed it back and forth to each other, devouring the tales of insane murderers and men with hooks for hands. (I was especially creeped out by the “Don’t look behind you” and “Humans can lick, too” legends.) We made it about halfway through the book before school was out. That night, those stories were all I could think about. The nightmares were brutal.

The next day, Jason showed up to school and didn’t have the book with him. He told me he didn’t want to read it anymore, not elaborating any further. He didn’t have to.

4. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

I don’t know if I read the book or caught the movie first, but Piggy haunted me.

5. From Hell – Alan Moore (writer) and Eddie Campbell (art)

Moore’s incredibly layered telling of the Whitechapel murders is dense, sprawling, and, occasionally, completely insane. Campbell’s black-and-white art evokes more horror than any amount of blood-red ink could have (the chapter-long murder sequence comes to mind). It’s a must-read for anyone interested in Jack the Ripper. 

6. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

This is the book that scared me more than any other! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m usually a really slow reader, but I devoured this weirdo labyrinth of a novel in one weekend while I was in grad school. It was one of those experiences where I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and didn’t realize I was dreaming until I was already convinced my bedroom door had opened up into a dark, unending hallway. I woke up terrified and sweating, and had to finish the book immediately.   

7. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote, and 8. Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

When I’m working on a project, I don’t like to read anything that’s in a similar genre if I can help it. A few years ago when I was editing The Cloak Society and starting on the sequel, Villains Rising, I went through a big true crime phase. I’d just moved into a new place—my first time to live alone—and was in the middle of re-reading In Cold Blood when I started the audiobook of Helter Skelter as something to listen to in the background while I unpacked.

In retrospect, it’s really easy to see what a dumb idea this was.

9. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

It’s the classic haunted house story for a reason. It’s slim, and starts off fairly tame, but is deceiving in how claustrophobic and layered it is. That’s one of the best things about the book: you don’t realized how unhinged the narration is until its too late, and by the end you’re wondering if the house was ever really haunted at all. It’s a great example of a book letting you use your own imagination to fill in the gaps of the horror scenes, which is always creepier than just telling you what’s happening (to me, at least).

Also, everyone in this book does some serious Mad Men drinking. No wonder they were seeing things.

10. The Shining – Stephen King

If you’re avoiding it because you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, know that it both gives a lot of great backstory to the characters AND is different enough that things will still catch you by surprise. I just read it earlier this month, and am kicking myself for not having done so earlier. It’s kind of the opposite of Jackson’s book in that there’s no doubt this hotel is one bad, haunted place, but the real horror is in watching Jack slowly fall apart, from his perspective and the POV of his family.

11. Uzumaki – Junji Ito

Uzumaki is a manga about a town obsessed with spirals. It starts out with one man obsessed with the shape, and then gets weirder and weirder as the madness spreads. There’s a vortex that opens up in someone’s forehead, snail people, hair battles…I don’t even know how to describe it other than that it’s got some incredibly potent scenes and images of horror that will stick with me for a long, long time.  


Jeramey Kraatz is the author of The Cloak Society series, including The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Rising

You may follow him on Twitter at @jerameykraatz.

Books Authors Read with Maggie Stiefvater

Editor’s Note: We are so excited to have Maggie Stiefvater at our Flagship Store in Dallas next week! She’ll be joining us Wednesday, September 25 at 7 p.m. for a book signing and Q & A. Please note that Maggie has asked readers to buy at least one of her books from an HPB, so please either buy a book the day of the event or bring in a receipt from another HPB; we will begin handing out signing passes starting at 9 a.m. on Weds the 25th (the day of the event). Additional books may be brought from home or from another store. Email if you have any questions. 

We asked Maggie to come up with a list of books she recommends — thanks, Maggie! We appreciate it. — Kristen D. 

I give a lot of love to my favorite fictional bits and bobs in most book recommendation posts I do, so I thought this time around, I’d list a few of my favorite nonfiction/ research/ mythology books. These are some true things I read before I make things up.

1. An Encyclopedia of Fairies, by Katharine Briggs. This big, dusty, out-of-print tome was my first real introduction to the fairy folklore of the United Kingdom. It’s a lovely alphabetical encyclopedia of all the various pretties and nasties that could kill you in a supernatural way as of the time of writing. It’s where I tell people to begin if they’re interested in British fairy lore.

2. The Golden Bough, by James George Frazer. Really, this is not the only book on comparative mythology out there, or the best, but it was the first for me — the first book I read that talked about myths from several different places and then said, “these all look a lot alike. Let’s DISCUSS.” How I adore discussing. So while #1 on my list gives you the specifics of some folklore, this one asks you to look at the general. Not to sound too geeky, but as a fantasy author, it’s invaluable. If you think hard about what purpose old mythology served, it better positions you to create new ones that might resonate in the same way, two hundred years later.

3. Songbook, by Nick Hornby. Probably this feels like a sharp left turn, but I don’t think it really is. Nick Hornby’s best known for his novels (Hollywood loves them, you’ve seen them on airplanes, they involve Hugh Grant), but this collection of essays on music is my favorite book by him. Music is as much an inspiration to me as mythology is, and it’s sort of the same thing — it’s a way we make sense of the world. Just another way we tell ourselves stories.

4. Wall and Piece, by Banksy. Even though this book is written by a guerrilla street artist and has nothing to do with music or mythology, it’s not a left turn, either. Because art is just another way of story-telling, of course, and Banksy is an artist famous for writing his own mythology.

5. The Career Novelist, by Donald Maass. Okay, I haven’t read this one in awhile. And it is an actual left turn from the other books in this list. But it’s the one book on the industry that really made an impact before I was published. It’s older, so some of what it says about the book industry is no longer right, but the broad concepts remain true. It’s a great guide on how to remain pragmatic in a career built on emotions.

Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Shiver trilogy, The Raven Cycle, & The Scorpio Races. You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @mstiefvater.