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TOP 10 TEXAS BOOKISH DESTINATIONS 2016
It would not be hyperbole to say that one book recently drew earth-shattering state and national attention to Denton, Texas—Adam Briggle’s A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking: How One Texas Town Stood Up to Big Oil and Gas (October 2015). The UNT professor’s book chronicles his—and his city’s—odyssey to understand the economic and environmental impact of this controversial drilling technology.
Denton, the state, and the land have a storied history. A Texas land grant led to the formation of Denton County in 1846, and the city was incorporated in 1866, thus the Redbud Capital of Texas will be celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. The arrival of a railroad line in the city in 1881 spurred population, and the establishment of the University of North Texas in 1890 and Texas Woman’s University in 1901. As of 2013 its population was 123,099, making it the eleventh largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex area.
Located on the north end of the metroplex on Interstate 35, Denton is known for its active music life: the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, and 35 Denton Music Festival attract more than 300,000 people to the city each year. With more than 45,000 students enrolled at the two universities located within its city limits, Denton (known around here as Little D) is often characterized as a college town, and its academia sows seeds of a rich literary culture.
Due in equal parts to the city’s creative class and the University of North Texas’s prestigious creative writing program, which yearly brings in around eight well-renowned writers as part of its Visiting Writers Series (past writers have included Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Claire Vaye Watkins (Gold, Fame, Citrus), and Li-Young Li (The City in Which I Love You), the Ploughshares journal included Denton in its list of “Literary Boroughs” a few years back.
UNT also hosts University of North Texas Press, the book publishing arm of the university that specializes in music, military history, Western, and environmental books and that hosts and publishes the winner of the annual Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction and the annual Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism hosts the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference. Denton is also home to the Denton Poets’ Assembly, which has been meeting monthly since 2005.
The North Texas Book Festival, a venue to sign/sell books published by their authors or by small or independent presses has occurred each spring in Denton since 2003. The funds that the NTBF raises through fees to authors for bookselling and contests goes to library grants.
Denton also boasts a robust underground literary community, with reading series popping up every year: Spiderweb Salon, a community of writers and artists of all stripes that hosts multiple themed and un-themed showcases per year, and the Kraken, a poetry series that brings in poets both local and global.
Since 1983 the Denton Square has been home to the popular Recycled Books, a three-floor used bookstore in the old historic opera house. Denton has also been the setting of many novels: Lee Martin’s Quakertown and Break the Skin and Carolyn Meyer’s White Lilacs. Science fiction writer Darin Bradley’s Noise takes place in a Denton.
The center of Denton’s arts and humanities culture is its Downtown Square, with its mélange of music and food. But unless you’re a local you wouldn’t know. Behind the daily sounds that have become the norm of the Downtown Square there is another culture that lives among musicians and dining connoisseurs. If you decide to jump off of DART’s Green Line at the Trinity Mills station and head north on the A-Train you may encounter some art illumination at various spots in Denton. Yes, Denton has its own metro rail, and there’s much talk about Denton being the center of high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston in the next decade.
The Denton Public Library and its three branches embody the organization’s mission statement: The Denton Public Library builds community by promoting lifelong learning, encouraging human connections and sharing resources.
Some of its services include:
• The Forge, a technology makerspace at the North Branch of the Denton Public Library, is available for use by individuals and groups of up to 20. The Forge contains various hardware options and specialized software for design and creative use as well as electronic components and 3D printing options. The Forge debuted in April 2014.
• Free adult literacy programs
• Spanish-language and English-language story times
• Bike repair workshops
• A teen advisory board
• Teenage cooking competition
• Free homework help online
• Yoga and chess classes
• GED preparation and tests
The Denton Public Library was awarded the Explore Earth: Our Changing Planet Exhibit. The Explore Earth exhibit focuses on local earth science topics. The exhibit is a part of the STAR Library Education Network led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Exhibit partners include the American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Afterschool Alliance. Explore Earth is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The Denton Library South Branch will host the exhibit from April 6 through June 2, 2016.
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