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Best Texas Travel & Destination Books 2015


Memorial Day is nearly here — and with it plans for rest, relaxation, travel, and a good book. What Texas reads will be going in your carry-on or beach bag? What new Texas books, or classics, have you been dying to crack open, whether in print, on your e-reader, or via audiobook?


Let the staff of Lone Star Lit (along with a little help from our publishers) make your choices easier, with genres from historical fiction to YA to murder, mystery, and mayhem. To be sure, it’s a subjective selection, and there are undoubtedly plenty of other great novels, memoirs, and nonfiction titles worth your leisure time this season—but if we have to narrow things down to a shortlist, we say you can’t go wrong with these recent, new, and soon-forthcoming books written by Texas authors or set in Texas. And our “Classics” should tickle your urge to read one of those books you’ve always meant to but haven’t made the time for. Until now, that is.


Today, we're guiding Texas readers to great books about travel and Texas destinations, just in time to hit the road for the holiday.



Brandimarte, Cynthia, with Angela Reed

Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps



188 pgs., $25.00

Texas A&M University Press

January 2013


From Lake Corpus Christi on the coast to Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle, from Balmorhea in far West Texas to Caddo Lake near the Louisiana border, the state parks of Texas are home not only to breathtaking natural beauty, but also to historic buildings and other structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s, and Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps captures their beauty and history. (From the publisher’s website)



Hightower, Brantley

The Courthouses of Central Texas



188 pgs., $25.00

Texas A&M University Press

January 2013


A first of its kind, The Courthouses of Central Texas offers an in-depth, comparative architectural survey of fifty county courthouses, which serve as a representative sample of larger trends at play throughout the rest of the state. Each courthouse is represented by a description, with information about date(s) of construction and architects, along with a historical photograph, a site plan of its orientation and courthouse square, and two- and sometimes three-dimensional drawings of its facade with modifications over time. Side-by-side drawings and plans also facilitate comparisons between courthouses. (From the publisher’s website)




Sitton, Thad (narrative); photographs by Carolyn Brown

Caddo: Visions of a Southern Cypress Lake

Natural History


188 pgs., $30.00

Texas A&M University Press

January 2015


CADDO showcases a stunning tribute to one of Texas’ most enigmatic waterways, a veteran East Texas historian and a professional photographer have together created an homage to a lake like no other—half Texas, half Louisiana, a swampy labyrinth of bald cypress and water plants filled with mystery, legend, and a staggering amount of biological complexity. (From the publisher’s website)



Riley, Gretchen, and Peter D. Smith with Stephanie Foresythe-Sword

Famous Trees of Texas (Texas A&M Forest Service Centenial Edition)

Natural History


188 pgs., hardcover, $35.00

Texas A&M University Press

January 2015


FAMOUS TREES OF TEXAS was first published in 1970 by the Texas Forest Service (now Texas A&M Forest Service), an organization created in 1915 and charged with protecting and sustaining the forests, trees, and other related natural resources of Texas. For the 100-year anniversary of TFS, the agency presents a new edition of this classic book, telling the stories of 101 trees throughout the state. (From the publisher’s website)



Smith, J. Griffis

On the Road with Texas Highways: A Tribute to True Texas



244 pgs., paperback


Texas A&M University Press

September 2014


In a short line of Texas Highways distinguished photo editors, J. Griffis Smith has been described by a fellow photographer as a “galactic force,” reveling in taking pictures of everything Texas wherever the magazine’s assignments took him, all with the goal of inspiring “folks to travel.” Celebrating the roaming life of a professional magazine photographer, Texas Highways has joined with Smith to assemble a collection of signature images from three decades of work, including memorable pictures of Texas icons, landscapes, people, and historical and cultural destinations in On the Road with Texas Highways. (From the publisher’s website)



Chaplo, Paul V.

Marfa Flights: Aerial Views of Big Bend Country


192 pgs., softcover, $29.95

Texas A&M University Press

July 2014


In MARFA FLIGHTS, readers can take an unforgettable sky excursion over Big Bend with photographer Paul Chaplo as he captures the shapes, textures, and colors of the craggy, weathered landforms people usually see only from the ground—and some places no photographer has gone before. Flying from Marfa, and hanging precariously from the open door of an aircraft, Chaplo shares a hawk's-eye view of a fiercely beautiful region, revealing the stark and magnificent landscapes carved by the force of eons of wind and water on the arid, mountainous country along the Rio Grande.  (From the publisher’s website)



E. Hamblen, with a new introduction by Vicki Hamblen

The Rim to Rim Road: Will Hamblen and the Crossing of Texas' Palo Duro Canyon



122 pgs., paperback


Texas Plains Trail Region

August 2014


William Henry Hamblen was a man with a dream. He was a pioneer with a purpose, a trail blazer, a man of action and persistence. With no formal training in road building, at a time when resources and funds were slim, he left a monument to his dream: an automobile road across America's second largest canyon, connecting remote communities, boosting trade, and opening the way for the Texas state highway to come. In 1969, his daughter-in-law Eutha set out to tell the story of this remarkable man, his life and times in the Texas Panhandle, and the family he raised there in the small town of Wayside, in Armstrong County. She published Will's story as Rim to Rim, a slim, illustrated book that went into a second printing and eventually out of print. Today yet another Hamblen descendant has brought this important chapter of Texas history back, amplified with never-before-published photographs, an index, and a new hsitorical introduction. A new generation will appreciate the adventures and acquaintances of this Panhandle pioneer as they traverse Texas State Highway 207 across Palo Duro Canyon, widely known as one of the most scenic drives in the Lone Star State. (From the publisher’s website)


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ABOVE: A trio of West Texas natives, inspired by years of shared Gulf Coast travels, writes as Miles Arceneaux.

Geaux Behind the Spine with the men of
Miles Arceneaux


How did three Texans manage it—to write a thriller with a generous helping of humor together, and live to repeat their success? Author and host Ally Bishop talks with the personable trio behind the Miles Arceneaux novels, Brent Douglass, James R. Dennis, and John T. Davis, to learn the genesis of Thin Slice of Life, La Salle's Ghost, and now, Ransom Island. Tune in to our new monthly audio interview to find out how Arceneaux nearly wound up in the editor's wastebasket—but came back to life in an entirely new guise. >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




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