Of all the books you could read …

Of all the books you could read …

If you’re looking for a good book to read during these winter days, let me recommend Just Happy to Be Here.

            Oh, yeah, I should add that I wrote the book. Of my 35 or so books, it’s my favorite.

It’s an anthology of pieces that have been in some of my other books as well as quite a few stories that have never been published, until now.

One story — “Who Died and Made You King?” – ran as a guest column in the Reporter-News recently and generated a lot of comments.

The book is divided into seven sections, one of which is “20 Sermons in 20 Minutes.” Not 20-minute sermons, but 20 very short sermons.

Another section deals with “Language Matters,” of special appeal to grammar nerds, and another section is “My Texas,” which includes thoughts on “You Must Be a Texan If…” and 34 “Texas Haiku” and a couple of light poems having to do with Texas weather.

“Of all the books you could read,” wrote one could-be reviewer, “this is one of them.”

With a ringing endorsement like that, surely you can’t resist. Of course, we have autographed copies at Texas Star Trading (just $15 paperback).

If Just Happy to Be Here doesn’t strike your fancy, here are some other Abilene books, or books by Abilene writers, you might consider for winter reading:

► Dr. Sandip Mathur’s Cowboys and Indian trilogy, based on his first three years as a young doctor in Coleman, Texas (called Hotspur in the books) – born in India, trained in England and Houston, and transplanted in rural West Texas. Mathur, now an Abilene gastroenterologist, is particularly adept at recreating emergency room dialogue and drama.

►Jay Moore’s Abilene Daily features a vignette from Abilene’s past for every day of the year. A good one to keep on the bedside table for a quick read before going to bed. Only problem is you’ll want to keep on reading instead of turning out the light.

► Another of Jay’s ventures into local history is Abilene History in Plain Sight, which tells the stories behind some sites still visible today. And if that isn’t enough Abilene history for you, go back and read Abilene Stories from Then to Now, a collection of about 100 stories by 75 writers dealing with a wide range of topics having to do with local history and culture.

►Former Abilenian Carlton Stowers tells more than 40 interesting tales from around the state in his prize-winning book, On Texas Backroads. Beautifully written, most of the pieces first ran as columns in American Way, the magazine published by American Airlines.

►If you like a good historical romance, check out Abilene author Karen Witemeyer’s Hanger’s Horsemen trilogy featuring a post-Civil War gang that goes about helping people in trouble. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings, and she has become a best-selling author of Christian historical romance.

►Popular Abilene novelist Charles Lynn Russell has a new book on the way, but meanwhile he has completely re-edited his very first novel, A Year to Remember, and published it with an attractive new cover. After writing seven more novels, he felt a complete overhaul of book one was in order.

►And there’s Joe Specht’s take on Abilene in Song: The Women There Don’t Treat You Mean, dealing with all the songs through the years that mention Abilene. Get the full story on our most popular anthem, “Abilene.” Was it written about our Abilene or that other one? In an accompanying CD, Abilene songwriter Greg Young sings a few of the ballads mentioned in the book.

►One of the most enduring and popular local books, of course, is Tom and Lisa Perini’s cookbook, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which has topped our best-seller list at Texas Star since 2019. It’s full of good stories as well as enticing recipes.

If you’ve already read all these recommended books, good for you! Now come see us and find something else by a local author. We have about 70 to choose from. They’re clearly tagged with our bright Local Author bookmark.

Happy New Year, readers.