Here are five totally interesting and entertaining Texas-style books to read by the fire this winter. So, grab your favorite readers, curl up with a cup of hot cocoa – and enjoy!
News of the World
This book was recommended to me on a visit to the charming Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.
I asked for some assistance with finding a few Texas-style books, and the lady who helped me had lots of good ideas.
I didn’t purchase all of them, but I did come home with one really wonderful book: News of the World.
The setting for the book takes place in Texas, during the wake of the Civil War, when news of current events was hard to come by.
Until Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd comes to town, that is.
On the nights when Captain Kidd hitches his horse outside the local saloon, the townspeople gather inside, throw a dime in the collection can and listen attentively as he reads stories to them out of newspapers from around the world. (What a dream job that would be, right??)
When Captain Kidd arrives in Wichita Falls, he is coerced into agreeing to return a 10-year old white girl, named Johanna, to family members down in San Antonio. Previously, Johanna had been spared by a group of Kiowa warriors when they raided camp and killed her parents. Her formative years had been spent learning only how to live as they lived, to speak as they spoke, and she was more than scared to leave the familiarity of her life. But the US Army had rescued her, and she was compelled to go.
The story of Johanna’s adventures with Captain Kidd, her trustworthy protector, is well-written and a lot of fun to read.
As they travel the dusty trail south to San Antone, there’s lots of old-West action and plenty of heartrending moments. (Spoiler alert: A can full of dimes comes in mighty handy!)
News of the World became an onscreen story in 2020, starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel.
Reviews were complimentary, and Tom Hanks earned a Critic’s Choice award nomination for his portrayal of Captain Kidd.
But, as we readers tend to conclude, I think the book is even better.
How long to read: 3 hours, 19 minutes
Nerves of Steel
This book has been on my list for a while, and I actually thought I might not get to it until next year.
But, I was able to work it in, and I LOVED IT.
I remember hearing about a Southwest Airlines plane that suffered engine failure, loss of cabin pressure and a passenger fatality in 2018. I also remember hearing that the Captain onboard was a woman, and that she was the one who successfully landed the plane.
Only later did I learn that Tammie Jo Shults is from San Antonio. (Lots of Texas pride over here!)
So when Nerves of Steel came out, I was excited to read more of her story.
Tammie Jo takes readers back to her earliest memory of wanting to fly, then pulls us along as she navigates the very difficult journey of women who strive to earn their place alongside men who do the same job.
She has a very natural way of sharing both her struggles and the faith she has in God to bring her through whatever comes.
It’s her professional preparedness, along with unwavering faith that helped Tammie Jo land a passenger-filled plane after engine failure, only to be asked by the airline’s medical examiner: “How do you get through security with these nerves of steel?”
Her heart rate wasn’t up, and her blood pressure was normal. (Marvel at Tammie Jo’s cool demeanor on the cockpit recording here.)
This is a good book for anyone who has a military background, for women who love what they do, and for men who want to become better leaders. If you’re a young mom or an empty nester, add this one to your WTR list of Texas-style books. It would also make a great book club selection.
How long to read: 4 hours, 23 minutes
Every Texas blogger should read the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a Texas author, right?
That was my thinking, too.
So I added Lonesome Dove to my list of 75 books to read this year.
I had no idea it was sooooooo long, though, until I held a hefty copy in my own two hands.
At 960 pages, Lonesome Dove was clearly the most ambitious of several Texas-style books I would commit to reading this year.
But, oh, was it ever worth it.
Passage after passage had me asking my hubby to listen so I could read them to him.
The writing was just exceptional.
And I couldn’t get over the power of the author’s imagination to develop stories that so vividly captured the essence of all-things-Texas-trail-ride.
I’m glad I persevered and read this long, crazy, heroes & outlaws, dusty, cow-pokin’ tale.
It certainly made me want to read more Westerns, perhaps by other acclaimed authors like Louis L’amour. (Let me know if you have any recommendations!)
If you can look past some of the foul language and immoral ways of Larry McMurtry’s cowboys, you might feel the same way.
How long to read: 11 hours, 59 minutes
The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens
My hubby told me about this book after he attended a virtual group presentation by the author in 2020. Participants were each given a signed copy, and when ours came in the mail, he read it right away.
My hubby doesn’t read many books. He’s more of an online news reader, and he enjoys an occasional audiobook. So, if he reads a book, cover to cover, it might as well be a raving five-star written review.
He passed the book on to our daughter first. Then it returned home to a spot on our bookshelf where it lay, a bit forgotten.
I did, however, add it to my want-to-read category on Goodreads.
When I finally pulled it off the shelf and began reading, it was hard to put it down.
The story of T. Boone Pickens’ last trial is an enthralling legal page turner that reads like a best-selling Grisham novel.
Most Texans are familiar with Pickens, the man, but not the details of the subject of this book – a high-stakes courtroom drama that takes place in a tiny West Texas town when T. Boone was 88 years old.
If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, big Texas personalities and just enough technical detail to realize how smart some people really are, you’ll enjoy this book.
How long to read: 4 hours, 59 minutes
The Ultimate Texas Winter Bucket List
Well, my friends, number five in this list of great Texas-style books to read by the fire is written by someone I know very well.
You can be sure that if she recommends a Texas adventure, it’s a good one.
Goodness, this author is genuinely obsessed with Texas places and Texas spaces!
Yep, this Texas girl loves exploring the Lone Star State.
In fact, on Instagram, she uses a familiar hashtag that seems to have become a truthful tagline: #texasoverfiftygetsaround.
Okay – cut it out, already.
The author is obviously ME!
And I’m so excited that the last little book in my Ultimate Texas Bucket List series is published!
How long to read: Hardly any time at all!
Is There Anything Better?
We don’t have a fireplace in our Uptown Dallas apartment. But I have lots of fond memories of reading by a fire when we lived up in the Texas panhandle.
Our son would often come home from his rural school on cold, winter days and build a fire for his momma before he went out to feed the horse.
If I could catch a few minutes to read by the fire before it was time to cook dinner, ooh-la-la, what a luxury it was.
Even though we don’t have a fireplace, I play YouTube videos that at least provide some of the feels. LOL!
Because – is there really anything better than reading good Texas-style books by the warmth of a crackling fire?
Encouraging intentional adventure, even if you have to imagine the logs and the crackle,
(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. I only mention products that I like and think you might enjoy as well.)
Here are a few other bookish posts you might enjoy:
20 Ways Empty Nesters Can Read More Books
I Crushed My Reading Goal (one of my Top 10 Experiences posts)