An Interview with Jeremy Ellis
Jeremy Ellis is the Manager at Brazos Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Houston that specializes in history and non-fiction, poetry, cookbooks, art books, and more. Without a doubt, there is always something to look forward to at Brazos, whether it be their Brazos Book Club or one of their many featured events. Read Jeremy’s Q&A below to learn more about Brazos and the Houston literary scene.
Brazos Bookstore recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Congrats! Undoubtedly there have been many joys, but what would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of working at an independent bookstore like Brazos?
Jeremy Ellis: I’ve been working for independent bookstores across Texas for almost 20 years now. Each store I’ve worked for has had a different flavor, but the one thing they’ve all had in common was their commitment to inspiring readers and supporting the local community of authors, poets, and enthusiasts. I’m particularly lucky to have landed at Brazos Bookstore. This shop, more than any of the others I’ve worked for, shares my interests in the fine arts, culture and great fiction. We’re small enough to really focus on the best of these books.
How has the Houston literary community evolved and taken shape in recent years?
JE: There is a commitment to reading and writing in Houston that differs from every other city in Texas I’ve lived in. Houston supports three major independent bookstores, plus dozens of smaller shops in the Greater Houston area. Strong writing programs at both Rice University and the University of Houston and Inprint, which offers classes for writers and features a headline author series (with $5 tickets!) guarantees an active and growing community of readers and writers. There is a sense of growth and optimism in all these organizations. Houston is an exciting city to live in if you love books.
We know it’s hard to pick just one, but what’s a book you’re loving right now?
JE: I’m reading BOY, SNOW, BIRD by Helen Oyeyemi right now. Structured after the tale of Snow White, Oyeyemi explores race and identity in an engaging and unexpected way. I’ve fallen in love with the novel. I’m reading as fast as I can so I can start reading Edward St. Aubyn’s newest, LOST FOR WORDS. It’s a satire based on a familiar major British literary prize… I’ve only read a page or two and can’t wait to really dig in. LOST FOR WORDS will be published on May 20.
What new writer or writers have you discovered recently?
JE: We’re particularly interested in translated fiction at Brazos these days. Store manager Mark Haber is most passionate about Latin-American authors and has been very excited about Cesar Aira, Daniel Alarcon, and Valeria Luiselli in particular. We all really respond to exceptional writing… Last year I discovered Lidia Uuknavitch. Her memoir, THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER and her novel, DORA: A HEADCASE were bestsellers for us.
What’s the best way for our Houston readers to learn more about upcoming events at Brazos?
JE: brazosbookstore.com lists all our upcoming events, as well as our staff recommendations, special features and more. We’ve recently redesigned the website and hope that it will become a resource for book lovers in Houston. Or sign up for our weekly email update for events, special announcements and local book news.
Brazos Bookstore offers a 10% discount to current WLT members. Please present proof of membership at time of purchase.