Austin, TX

5 Great, Recent Books Set in Austin, Texas

Claire Handscombe

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Are you curious about Austin, Texas -- planning a trip there or perhaps even wondering about a move to the city? These recent books will help you get a feel for the place.

Emergency Contact, by Mary H K Choi

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Sam and Penny are both dreamers. Penny, new to Austin where she's finally escaped to for college, wants to be a writer. Sam works in a café filing away his terrible experiences for inspiration for when he's a movie director one day. And after they awkwardly meet, they become each other's best friends, communicating their deepest selves digitally.

Publisher's Weekly gave this YA novel a starred review and had this to say about it "Choi sensitively shows the evolution of two lonely, complicated people who slowly emerge from their shells to risk an intimate relationship. Her sharp wit and skillful character development...ensure that readers will feel that they know Penny and Sam inside and out before the gratifying conclusion."

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, by Ben Philippe

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There's something about reading about our own culture from an outsider's perspective that helps us see it afresh for ourselves in all its grit, glory, and absurdity. That's what this book develops. It's the story of a young Black French Canadian, new to Austin, slain by the heat, and confounded by the local mores.

Here's what Publishers Weekly says about this book: “In Philippe’s funny debut, 16-year-old black French-Canadian Norris Kaplan must navigate life and love in Austin, Tex., after he and his mother move there... Philippe has a gift for dialogue and touches on a few instances of racism with sensitivity and humor in this crowd-pleaser.”

How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center

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What happens when everything you've worked for is taken away in just one moment? Margaret Jacobsen is about to find out. The plus side of being in hospital, though, is Ian, her physiotherapist, who is determined not to let her give in to self-pity. And who just might be everything she needs...

Katherine Center is a masterful writer who brings her very believable characters to life in a poignant way. Bestselling author Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fan too: "Katherine Center's voice did what great fiction is meant to do: It pulled me in so immediately and completely that I forgot about real life."

Jane of Austin, by Hillary Manton Lodge

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A new take on a classic Jane Austen story is always fun, especially when it's set somewhere completely diferent from the original. In this take on Sense and Sensibility, Jane and Celia lose their San Francisco tea shop and move to Austin with their little sister Margot, and remake a life for themselves -- but it turns out they have some work to do on their relationship, too.

Here's what author Kimberly Stuart said about the book: “Packed with charm, wit, and a thoroughly satisfying romance, Jane of Austin made me want to pick up and move myself down to Texas. Dear reader, put the kettle on, mix up some scones, and be the heroine of your book club by bringing Jane to this month’s meeting.”

The Roxy Letters, by Mary Pauline Lowry

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If you like Bridget Jones's Diary, this one is for you. Rather than a diary, Roxy writes to her ex-boyfriend Everett, telling him about her daily frustrations both with her job in the deli section of the original Whole Foods and with the all the changes happening in her beloved Austin. Roxy is not a fan of gentrification, and when Lululemon opens on the site of a beloved local video store, she can take it no more: it's time to take matters into her own hands, alongside an eccentric friends she meets along the way.

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

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