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There is a certain pride in reading a book that takes place in your city. There is that little spark of inner joy when you know the exact street, building, or types of people the author is referring to. When an author is able to capture the essence of a city, especially Austin, it’s almost magical. And Austin himself is a character in his own right, in and out of the text. We’ve put together a diverse list of books set in Austin that tell great stories set in the city we all love.
Jane of Austin: A Romance of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge | Fiction, Romance
The last thing Jane wants is to leave her beloved San Francisco teahouse to move to Austin, Texas for a fresh start. But life in Austin isn’t all about sweet teas and tacos for breakfast. Their unusual life situation is difficult and the unspoken words begin to escalate between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls in love with up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm widens.
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, this clever tale from Sense and sensitivity located in Austin is a must read.
Small steps by Louis Sachar | Fiction, Young adult
This novel is Sachar’s follow-up to the award-winning novel turned film, Holes. It takes place two years after the character Armpit was released from Camp Green Lake. He returns home to Austin where he tries to change his life, one small step at a time.
The midnight assassin: panic, scandal and the hunt for America’s first serial killer by Skip Hollandsworth | Fiction, Mystery, True Crime
In 19th century Austin, Texas, a ruthless murderer terrorized the city in what would soon become a story more shocking than any fiction. For over a decade, Texas monthly Journalist Skip Hollandsworth has researched this gripping story of murder and madness that unfolds like a well-crafted thriller. With striking historical detail and a romantic flair, Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.
My beautiful city – Austin by David Heymann | Fiction, Architecture
In My beautiful city Austin David Heymann creates seven masterful stories of a young architect who again and again fails to dissuade his clients from making bad decisions. Thus, the homes he designs help and encourage the continued fading of Austin’s Ambrosian charm.
Dreams and shadows by C. Robert Cargill | Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
Once daring explorers and young inhabitants of this magical kingdom, Ewan is now an Austin musician who has just met the girl of his dreams. Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent vow. In a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-hungry geniuses discuss metaphysics with crude wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never surpass your destiny. This is a mind-blowing debut novel from the famous film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill.
Kings of infinite space by James Hynes King | Fiction, Horror
Paul Trilby is having a bad day, week, month, life. Working as a temporary editor for the Texas Department of General Service, he tries to escape his doomed life when mysterious and disturbing things keep happening. Kings of infinite space is a hilarious and horrific parody of our daily lives and gives real voice to the old adage, “Work is hell”.
The end of summer and What’s left is fair by Irving Munro | Fiction, Mystery
The series follows father and son detectives Bill and Tommy Ross who work for the Travis County Police Cold Affairs Unit. Each book follows a different fascinating murder case. Author Irving Munro really knows his stuff. He is a retired Scottish Police Detective who now lives in Austin.
A map of the house by Randa Jarrar | Fiction, LGBT
Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and Palestinian father, tells the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt, and her family’s last flight to Austin, Texas. Nidali mixes humor with a sharp, affectionate portrayal of an eccentric middle-class family, and this perspective keeps her vibrant through the hardships she encounters. This critically acclaimed debut novel is meant to capture the hearts of anyone who has ever wondered what their own house map might look like.
The gay place by Billy Lee Brammer | Fiction, Politics
The Gay Place consists of three interlocking novels, each with a different protagonist – a member of the state legislature, the junior state senator, and the governor’s press secretary. The governor himself, Arthur Fenstemaker, an infinitely cunning and handsome political master, remains the dominant figure throughout. Billy Lee Brammer began writing these three novels while working for Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. Unfortunately, he died of an overdose before he could finish them.
Waterloo: a novel by Karen Olsson | fiction
Bittersweet and biting, elegiac and keenly observed, Waterloo is the portrait of a generation in search of itself – and a love letter to the slackers, rockers, con artists, hacks and junkies who inhabit Austin.
That’s it! Our list of the 10 best fiction books set in Austin.
We hope that one or all of them will spark your interest. If so, please purchase them from your local bookstore. When you spend your money locally, you are spending money for your city, your personal passion, and the people who support it. A local bookstore like Book people carries all of these titles and we have included links to them in the article.
Featured photo courtesy of Book People
Looking for more connections to Austin? Check out this article on Where All of Austin’s Best Movies Were Made.