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As part of our 120th Birthday celebration, we asked our customers to share the books that they love, and to tell us why they love them. The response was amazing! We received more than 120 replies and had to narrow them down to a representative list of 120, which wasn't easy. We've learned that there are all sorts of different reasons to love a book, and that our customers really love historical and fantasy fiction!


The 120 Books YOU Love list links to catalog records for each title, making it easier for anyone to find new titles to love, or to re-visit an old favorite. It's grouped into different genres and age levels, and has a little something for everyone, much like the library itself.


What book or books would you select for your perfect book club, and who would you invite for the discussion? In honor of Earth Day, we asked Steve Stelzer, Program Director of the City of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center (GBRC) and veteran book club organizer, this question.


I’m passionate about the environment. It started with my days as a Boy Scout developing a love of nature in the Adirondacks. I became an architect and later a LEED Accredited Professional with the US Green Building Council, which led to my job with the City of Houston in 2007. I’m a true believer that any conversation or seminar’s potential to change people’s minds pales in comparison to what they would get from a book.


People have to commit their time to a book, which is finely crafted with well-sequenced arguments and can include visual aids. Not to mention that reading improves brain health. I started making business-card-sized booklists in 2003, have used books in seminars and presentations, and I have a current booklist on the GBRC website and a Facebook Page called the Houston Green Book Discussion Group.


Book clubs have been a wonderful study of human nature for me. I started the Blind Men and the Elephant book club in 2009 and held it in the original GBRC in Midtown. I started another one at the Houston Permitting Center in 2012, and later I partnered with Houston Public Library (HPL) for a lunchtime book club. I found some people would be “too busy” to read the books, and still come to the meeting just to hear what the others had to say about them, which shocked me. My lesson is that groups are temporary, and that people come and go, like life, and some people are drawn to communities of like-minded people.


My three favorite books to recommend are The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard, Saving Us by Katherine Hayhoe, and Regeneration by Paul Hawken. These authors are my climate heroes. Annie Leonard is the leader of Greenpeace. Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe helped Houston develop our Climate Action Plan; her book masterfully deals with communication (and miscommunication) about the climate. Paul Hawken’s books are pillars of sustainability. This one talks about how industry can accomplish its goals in a way that regenerates planetary ecosystems.


My ideal book club members would be Rachel Carson, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell, Erin Brockovich, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Van Jones. Rachel started the modern environmental movement with her book Silent Spring. Thanks to her, we have the EPA. I’ve read all Al Gore’s books; his 1992 Earth in the Balance got me going, and The Assault on Reason pushed me towards thinking more about our political system. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point continues to give me hope that we could collectively improve society and the planet. Erin Brockovich’s Superman’s Not Coming did not disappoint, detailing the multitude of bad decisions leading to water pollution nightmares, including Flint, Michigan. Don Miguel Ruiz of The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement opened my eyes with fantastic metaphors. And finally, Van Jones lives up to his environmental and social justice rock star reputation with Beyond the Messy Truth. His viewpoint as a southern Black man and experience in the White House would enhance conversation.


I imagine a library in heaven, where these authors would talk about their books and their experiences, and I expect the camaraderie would be exquisite. I’d want people from my book clubs over the years to be a part of the discussion, as well. Hopefully I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with joy and could actually join in, because in heaven I would have perfect recall.


The Houston Chronicle took a look back at HPL's most popular books in 2023 for adults, teens and kids. (NewsBank database link to article—may require MY Link card number for login)


In 1977, local art collector and philanthropist Jacob Greenberg met with then-Director of Houston Public Library (HPL) David M. Henington to discuss his plans for setting up the Lurine Karon Greenberg Fine Arts Collection Trust for the benefit of the library. It was a memorial to his wife Lurine Karon Greenberg, who had passed away two years earlier. The Trust would provide money for purchasing nonfiction books on music, art, antiques, architecture, cooking, and travel, including histories and biographies related to these subjects. In the 45 years since, the Greenberg Collection has thrived and grown through multiple library renovations and reorganizations to become a jewel in HPL’s crown. 


The Greenbergs lived extraordinary lives. Jacob Greenberg was born in the early 20th century to Eastern European Jewish immigrants on a homestead in North Dakota, so remote that his passport listed his place of birth as simply “North Dakota, USA, no town, no village.” Lurine Karon, whose family hailed from Minnesota, was a classically trained cellist who studied in Germany in the 1920s. Mr. Greenberg pursued education and had great success in business with the garment industry and later the energy industry. His career brought his family first to Oklahoma and then Houston, where he and Lurine moved in 1966, until Lurine passed away in 1975.


The Lurine Karon Greenberg Endowment funds were initially placed in a savings account managed by the Houston Library Board, but Jacob Greenberg was able to renegotiate the terms of the endowment. The money was moved to income-generating securities and structured to benefit the library by allocating 100% of the income, awarded on an annual basis. Jacob Greenberg appointed his second wife, Joyce Zeger Greenberg, as a trustee for the fund. A trailblazer, Joyce was a skilled financial advisor and became one of Houston’s first female stockbrokers in the 1960s. Joyce, who had known Lurine socially years before meeting Jacob, was honored by the trust Jacob showed in giving her this responsibility. After Jacob passed away in 1995, Joyce continued to spearhead the growth of the Greenberg Endowment as part of the Greenberg legacy.


As of 2021, the Greenberg Fund has given Houston Public Library just under 2 million dollars and made Fine Arts one of the most robust collection areas of HPL. Each book purchased for the collection has a special bookplate marked with a quote inspired by the Book of Proverbs, “Wisdom with understanding is better than rubies.”


Joyce and Jacob Greenberg are renowned for their philanthropy. Joyce has a gallery named for her in memory of Jacob at the Museum of Fine Art Houston’s Kinder Building. Joyce has built a legacy at her alma mater, University of Chicago, starting by funding a visiting professorship and then an entire academic department, the University of Chicago Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies. 


If you’d like to learn more about the Greenberg family and their legacy, Joyce Greenberg gave an interview to HPL Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson and Houston History Research Center (HHRC) staff Archivist Ginger Berni in 2022 that can be accessed as part of our oral history collection. 


University of Houston History Professor Robert Zaretsky’s biography From Homesteader to Art Collector: The Life and Times of Jacob Greenberg, has recently been published by Rodin Books/ Simon & Schuster. 


Greenberg Collection books are available for checkout from HPL’s Central Library, shelved with the other cooking, art, architecture, antiques, music and travel books. You can browse the catalog for them, place holds and have them delivered to any HPL location for pickup. Some Greenberg Collection tiles are available in ebook format on the Boundless ebook platform


HPL staff members love the Greenberg Collection! Here are some hidden gems that they recommend:

Victor Papanek: the Politics of Design Edited by Mateo Kries, Amelie Klein, Alison J. Clarke. 
Victor Papanek was an industrial designer who was way ahead of his time (20th century) in his thinking about accessibility and sustainability. This book is a fascinating introduction to his life and ideas. —Lisa Carrico

The Stay @ Home Chef-Family Favorites Cookbook By Rachel Farnsworth 
I love cookbooks and this one is fantastic because there is a picture to go with every recipe. I start with breakfast and end with dinner recipes. There are some Awesome soup recipes. The book is one of my favorites because I love to see pictures of what the food should look like. —Virginia Williams


Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily By Rosetta Costantino 
While reading this book I felt like I was on a tour of Southern Italy that made stops at the local bakeries ... I was a tourist delighting in all the wonderful creations to make when I returned from my trip because the person accompanying me on my trip provided me with an easy-to-read set of recipes included with tips only known to someone whose family had been making the creations for generations. —Mercedes Mayne


The Self-care Cookbook: Easy Healing Plant-based Recipes By Gemma Ogston 
It has yummy recipes and great tips on taking care of your body and mind! —Sheena Kelly


Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from Show Boat to Sondheim By Geoffrey Block 
Whether you are a Rent-head or a Wickedite, music lovers and fans of Broadway shows will appreciate the focus on the development of the music and collaboration between artists written about in this book. Read along to popular shows and trending musicals on Netflix ‘s popular Top 20 Netflix Picks for Broadway as you gain insight into the history or the songs and plays. —Mercedes Mayne


Houston Public Library and Houston Airports are teaming up! A digital pop-up library and self-service kiosk now offers a convenient way to access free e-books and audiobooks for readers who are on-the-go. A library card is not required.  A limited selection of physical titles in both English and Spanish can be checked out with a MY Link library card. Visit the Houston Airports Newsroom for details on a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony and more information on the new BOOKLink at William P. Hobby Airport (7800 Airport Blvd, Houston, TX  77061).

Lisa Carrico

Graphic: red and black logo of Houston Public Library's One Houston One Book initiative


UPDATE: The author event with Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam has been rescheduled to Thursday, June 29, 2023.


Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library (HPL) announce a new citywide reading program: One Houston, One Book: Diverse Stories for a Diverse City. This new program highlights stories that celebrate our diverse backgrounds and experiences. Featured books are aimed at readers’ interest by age; they include Yangsook Choi’s The Name Jar, now considered a children’s literature classic; Punching the Air, a novel in verse for teens, by Ebi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam; and a memoir, Once I Was You, by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa.


“Houston is the most diverse city in the country, but one in three adults in Houston has low literacy skills,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This program will help Houstonians come together and support each other through reading and conversation. Having discussions about our varied life experiences will celebrate everything that makes Houston special.” The Mayor's Office for Adult Literacy, which has become a national model for how cities can have an impact on low literacy rates, is providing additional books for the program to engage individuals reading at various proficiency levels.  


Library Director Rhea Brown Lawson calls One Houston, One Book, “A citywide celebration of diversity and equitable access to HPL’s free resources and services. We eliminated late fines for overdue items this year, and with barriers removed, we designed a reading program to bring Houstonians together like never before. Celebrating Houston’s diversity and HPL’s free access is what One Houston, One Book is all about.” 


One Houston, One Book launches May 15 and continues through September with programming that includes block parties, read-ins, library open houses, book clubs and storytimes at library locations. The authors of the selected books are visiting Houston for a series of special events.  


Co-authors Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam discuss their novel for teens on June 13. Yangsook Choi shares her story for children virtually on July 27. Maria Hinojosa reflects on immigrant experiences in her memoir on July 29.  




Launched in 2019 by Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL) advocates for adult literacy and spreads awareness of the impact literacy has on our economy, communities, families, and individuals. MOAL promotes and builds capacity for adult literacy and education in the City of Houston. Collaborating with a network of over 40 adult literacy providers, MOAL focuses on basic skills, financial and health literacy, digital literacy development, workforce skills development, and services to people with learning differences. For more information on the Houston Adult Literacy Blueprint visit

Lisa Carrico

Jerry Craft, the Newbery Award-winning author of New Kid, paid HPL a visit in June 2022 for our Summer Reading Author Series. Youth and Family Services Manager LaTrisha Milton sat down with our guest and talked about his upbringing, his experience in the spotlight, and Jordan Banks’ next adventure.

Photo of librarian LaTrisha Milton and author Jerry Craft

This Inside Voices Q&A Feature was originally published in the Link magazine's inaugural issue. Download your copy here


LaTrisha Milton: Can you describe the kind of research and practice that as an artist, goes into creating a graphic novel that happens to be rooted in personal experiences?

Jerry Craft: The first thing I did, was to look at my life, to see what was something everyone could relate to. And then, what was unique to my experiences, something a smaller audience would recognize, but only because they had never read about it before. I was born in Harlem, I grew up in Washington Heights, and then got sent to school in Riverdale going back and forth between two different worlds every day. I wrote and illustrated what I lived as a student, and then witnessed my sons for 10 years do the same. It’s authentic, especially for the kids of color who know what it’s like, and readers respond to that.


LM: As a response to censorship, Banned Books Week is an awareness campaign but also a call to action. Can you share an example or two of how your books being targeted served as motivation for readers?

JC: I first learned that New Kid had been banned in the school district in Texas because people on Twitter started DMing me. And then I got the updates: “This happened at the school board meeting last night, here’s a video.” I didn’t even want to watch the video, because the book is my baby. It’s like someone talking about one of your kids. On the anti-New Kid side, there was a petition to get the books taken out of the school library and to cancel my Zoom visit. But on the pro-New Kid side, there were maybe seven times as many people. Almost 3,000 people signed a petition to reinstate me. A bookstore in Katy, Brown Sugar Café and Books, helped raise money and they literally gave out free copies to teachers and kids and people that might not be able to see the book if it had been pulled. The school board, after a week, determined that the allegations were unfounded. I hate that it happened. The silver lining is that more kids saw it. I hate that I didn’t get that kind of news coverage winning the Newbery Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Kirkus Prize as I did for being banned. Unfortunately, sometimes we celebrate adversity more than we celebrate someone that really worked hard to get to where they are.


LM: New Kid and Class Act are not instructional books, so what are your thoughts on how they promote equity in children’s literature nonetheless?

JC: I don’t know what you as a woman in the public library system, or women in corporate America, go through, but I know it’s different than what I have gone through. Shouldn’t you be allowed to tell your story? And if you tell your story, is it up to me to say, “That’s sexist! That’s anti-male!” When I hear about the glass ceiling, women getting paid $.75 on the dollar to male counterparts, I examine myself, and consider the advantages I have as a male, even as a Black male. But race isn’t done that way, it’s not handled the same. You don’t have that same equity and balance. Jordan Banks in New Kid says, “so it’s OK that this stuff happens to me, it’s just not OK for me to talk about it.” And that, I think is what it comes down to. Instead of someone saying, “wow, what can we do to make our African American kids or kids of color feel more comfortable?” It’s “what can we do to now silence them so that they can continue to be uncomfortable.” At the end of the day, do they really care?


LM: It is said that books are windows and mirrors. Because September is Library Card Month, finish this sentence: Library cards are... 

JC: Library cards are the passport to get your mind to travel to other cities, other states, other countries, even other universes.


LM: What new project or projects do you have coming up?

JC: I am proud to say that the third (and possibly final) book in the series is finished and is scheduled to be released on April 4th, 2023. It’s called School Trip and will follow Jordan and Drew and their friends as they travel to Paris, France. I’ve never seen kids of color portrayed as world travelers in books. So my goal, what I am obsessed with, is if I haven’t seen it, I’m going to do it. And I think it’s the best book of the three. I put a lot of work into it and did not shy away from anything. I’ve never let any of the criticism deter me. Instead, I let the love and support that I’ve received from the first two books inspire me. And I think you’re really going to like it.

Lisa Carrico

The Houston Public Library stands in solidarity with the American Library AssociationTexas Library Association, and libraries of all types in denouncing censorship of library materials and resources.

Free access to information is the cornerstone of freedom, equity, and democracy and book censorship erodes these tenets that libraries have long stood for. Actions taken to restrict access to books and materials from others infringe on the First Amendment rights of our community members. Libraries manifest the promises of the First Amendment by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, so that every person has the opportunity to freely read and consider information and ideas, regardless of their content or the viewpoint of the author.

The Houston Public Library’s collection is as rich and wide-ranging as the diversity of our customers. The fulfillment of the Houston Public Library’s mission to “Link people to the world” requires us to make every effort to provide our customers with free access to a diverse collection of materials representing diverse viewpoints. Our collection development policy is impartial with no consideration given to the potential controversy of a given title. We remain committed to providing unfettered access to information and resources.

HOUSTON (Sept. 8, 2022) – More than 350 third-grade students representing 391 schools from 11 school districts across the Houston area (Aldine ISD, Alief ISD, Alvin ISD, Channelview ISD, Cleveland ISD, Crosby ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Houston ISD, Pasadena ISD, Spring ISD, Stafford MSD) celebrated the launch of the Read to the Final Four program during a launch ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 8 at the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at the Houston Public Library. The annual literacy initiative is led by the 2023 NCAA® Men’s Final Four and Houston Local Organizing Committee (HLOC).

To engage Houston area youth and leave a lasting, positive impact on students, the NCAA and HLOC teamed up to promote and inspire reading growth for third graders through a year-long, citywide reading initiative. The program centers around a tournament-style reading competition for thousands of Houston third graders.

The Read to the Final Four's purpose is to promote and inspire reading for third graders through a fun and engaging bracket-style competition. Schools compete as third-grade teams and earn points based on a formula that calculates the average minutes read per school. Top schools in each district advance throughout the rounds winning prizes and having fun along the way.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to entice young minds to read through Read to the Final Four, an innovative, fun program. The last time the Men’s Final Four was in Houston, in 2016, we had one school district participate. The growth of the program speaks to our educators’ passion for literacy and the belief in its ability to positively impact the future of our city’s youth,” said Dorita Hatchett, Senior Director of Community Relations at the Houston Local Organizing Committee.

About the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four®

Houston will host the 2023 Men’s Final Four® from March 31 through April 3, 2023. Houston Baptist University, Rice University, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston will make history as the first quartet of institutions to host the Final Four. Games will be played on April 1 and April 3 at NRG Stadium. The city of Houston is hosting the event for the fourth time, having previously crowned national champions in 1971, 2011 and 2016. For more information, visit

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nick Scurfield,, 832-713-2600 Shelby Janik,, 281-705-574

Lisa Carrico

July 5, 2022 - August 13, 2022

Julia Ideson Building | Exhibit Hall 

550 McKinney St., 77002 | 832-393-1313

Opening to the public on July 5, 2022, at the historic Julia Ideson Building, is Young at Art: A Selection of Caldecott Book Illustrations. This exhibition includes original artwork from Caldecott Medal recipients and “runner-up” Honor books, as well as other illustrations by award-winning artists.

Since 1938, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, has recognized the significant impact of art on early reading experiences, awarding the Caldecott Medal to artists for excellence in this area.

The first Caldecott Award recipient Dorothy P. Lathrop (1938), two-time winner Chris Van Allsburg (1982, 1986), and Maurice Sendak (1964), whose work Where the Wild Things Are, like Van Allsburg’s Jumanji and The Polar Express, was adapted for the big screen, are part of the exhibit. Their illustrations are widely recognized not only as artistic classics in children’s literature but also as the source of countless beloved memories for the young and young at heart.

HPL curator, Christina Grubitz was pleased to showcase items from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center collection, including copies of rare illustrations by Salvador Dali of Alice in Wonderland, unrelated to the exhibit, but nonetheless a remarkable example of children’s literature housed by the HMRC. “The Caldecott exhibit complements the Norma Meldrum Juvenile Collection for the study of children’s literature from the 1800s to the 1970s that can be explored in the room of the same name and speaks to the significance of HPL hosting this exhibit.”

The Caldecott Collection of Children’s Book Illustrations is part of the permanent collection of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas. The museum has collected children’s book illustrations for more than fifty years.

The exhibit will be on view from July 5, 2022, through August 13, 2022 at the Julia Ideson Building Exhibit Hall, located at 550 McKinney St., 77002.

The exhibit is in partnership with ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance with the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Exhibit dates are subject to change.

Field is required.