*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Novels about Texas Your Book Club Will Love, I provide your book club with 10 Novels set in Texas, plus food suggestions, discussion questions and more for your meeting!
As a native Texan, I sometimes forget there’s a sort of obsessive fantasy about the state. It’s a place where laws are meant to be broken, the people are as tough as nails, and everyone rides a horse. Those ideals are only partially true. While most of the people here are a tough breed and I have seen a horse or two ride through a fast food drive-thru (seriously), we aren’t all rebels and renegades and, like anywhere else, there is a diversity of people who call Texas home.
Still, there is some underlying truth to these stereotypes and the next ten books are just a few of the novels that capture the Texas spirit. They aren’t all about cowboys. You’ll find romance, historical, literary, contemporary, and adventure genres among them. If you are looking for something with a little grit, check out these novels about Texas your book club will love.
If your book club has another book in mind, please share in the comments below and be sure to check out the Texas themed food suggestions and discussion questions near the end of the post!
Ten Novels about Texas Your Book Club Will Love:
You can’t write a list of novels about Texas and leave this one out. In fact, many people think of this historical novel about a little Texas town named Lonesome Dove and full of all the characters you associate with Texas as the quintessential Texas story. But this isn’t some western pulp. This novel won the Pulitzer for a good reason. It’s characters feel as real as life and you won’t soon forget any of them.
If your book club has read Lonesome Dove or this type of story isn’t your favorite, McMurtry wrote a more contemporary novel about another small Texas town.
This novel is a coming-of-age about three young adults and an elegy to a dying Texas town all in one. If you’ve lived in a small town, you’re sure to recognize the characters, to empathize with their experiences, and to miss the nowhere place you swore you’d never miss after reading this novel.
If you’re a younger reader you may have never heard of James Michener, which is really a shame because he was one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century. Or, perhaps you have heard of him because you’re familiar with South Pacific, the musical, which was based on his Pulitzer prize winning Tales of the South Pacific.
James Michener also wrote a saga about Texas. And, when I say saga, I mean saga. The novel covers four and a half centuries of Texas history from the Spanish conquistadors through the 20th century. And, it is lengthy at over 1,000 pages. This read isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you have any history lovers in the group, this novel pretty much has you covered on all accounts.
Michener conducted extensive research for the novel, like all of his 40 books. He also lived in Texas near the end of his life and endowed a large amount of money to the University of Texas and the creative writing program there (for any of you interested writers).
Rainwater is a novel about the Dust Bowl. Set in a small Texas town, this story centers on a strong-willed woman who runs a boarding house. When she’s coerced into taking a suspicious man into her care and as economic and racial tensions rise around her, she feels the grip she’s held on her world begin to slip.
This novel lies somewhere between romance, women’s fiction, and mystery/suspense. If you’ve read Sandra Brown, this novel isn’t her usual style. With historical elements in addition to all of the above, it makes a great book club choice!
If you lean towards literary fiction, Paulette Jiles is an author you might enjoy who often writes about Texas. Her novel, News of the World, was a finalist for the National Book Award and will soon be a major motion picture staring Tom Hanks.
The novel centers around the relationship between an elderly Civil War Captain and a young Kiowa captive. Charged with returning the girl to her home, the Captain braves the back roads of post-war Texas where anything can happen. See my full review of this novel, including book club questions and a companion recipe here.
If you’ve read News of the World, check out Paulette Jiles’ latest release, also set in Texas near the end of the Civil War.
Maybe you saw the film of All the Pretty Horses when it came out. Maybe you intended to read the book but never did. Let me encourage you to read this one.
When I read All the Pretty Horses, I felt like I knew John Grady Cole. He was the guy I went to high school with. The younger version of so many farmers and ranchers I knew. He was Texan. While a large percentage of the novel takes place in Mexico, everything about All the Pretty Horses is Texas to me. Consider adding it to your book club’s list. With McCarthy’s impeccable writing and unique style, you won’t regret it.
Looking for a novel where the hard-scrabble cowboys are replaced with just as tough women? Valentine is your book. The novel centers around a crime committed against a young Mexican girl in the oil town of Odessa, Texas. It is told through the perspectives of five women as they deal with the aftermath. This novel is the newest on the list and sure to be one to get your book club talking.
The battle of the Alamo is perhaps the most well known event in Texas history. This novel follows people involved on both sides of the fight, including a widowed mother desperately searching for her 16-year-old who has joined the fight. Other characters–a mapmaker, a sergeant, and a naturalist–describe the events from their unique perspectives. If you’ve ever been interested in the Alamo, this is the novel to read.
If you’re looking for a romance about Texas, Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas is a good pick. Thomas primarily writes pure romance, but usually includes some character growth as well. This novel is about a young woman who returns to a small Texas town to learn more about her father and ends up helping an elderly woman with her quilt shop. Along the way, she can’t help but feel a fondness towards the woman’s grandson, but her time in town is dwindling and she must choose between the life she’s known and the one she might have.
All of Jodi Thomas’ books are set in Texas, so if this particularly story doesn’t sound like a fit, check out her long list of romances (some historical, some contemporary). You can also find a full review with discussion questions and a recipe for her latest release, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe here.
The Son is a coming-of-age story and a family saga in one. It follows Eli McCullough as he is captured as a boy by the Comanche, raised amongst them, then tries to find his place in the world between the Indians and the white man. McCullough fights to become one of the wealthiest oil men in Texas and we learn of his legacy not only through his account, but through his son’s and great-granddaughter’s.
Compared to the styles of McCarthy and McMurtry, Meyer won’t disappoint if you love their writing. The novel has also been made into an AMC TV Series, which is always fun to compare to the book after reading.
Food Suggestions for Novels about Texas:
If your book club is reading a novel about Texas, here are a few quintessential Texan foods that would be great to serve at the meeting:
- Tacos and Beer
- Smoked Brisket
- Chicken Fried Steak
- King Ranch Casserole
- Chili (with no beans)
- Pecan Pie
- Pecan Pralines
- Chili con queso (chips and dip)
- Texas Caviar (chips and dip)
Discussion Questions for Novels about Texas:
In addition to the book-specific questions, here are some questions that will have you discussing the setting and how it played into the storyline:
- What part of Texas culture in the book surprised you? Was there a part of the culture discussed in the book that you’ve experienced first hand? Discuss your experience.
- Did you learn a new aspect of Texas history after reading the book? How did this change the way you viewed the state or its residents?
- Was there a part of Texas history or culture that you feel the author left out or glazed over that might have added to the story? Describe it and how it would have deepened the story.
- If you have visited Texas or lived there, discuss what part of the culture interested you and why. Was this present in the story?
- Do you think the characters played into stereotypes about Texas? If not, how were they unique?
Have you read any of the novels about Texas listed here? What did you think? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.
Other Books about Texas that you might enjoy!