It is time again for our annual summer reading feature! In honor of our fiftieth anniversary, we're sharing publications from 1973, the year of Humanities Texas's founding. The result is a list that includes works by a broad range of significant authors, as well as an influential Texas periodical. Take a trip back in time to the early seventies by exploring the selections below.

Compartment C Car by Edward Hopper, 1938.

The Revolt of the Cockroach People

Oscar Zeta Acosta

El Paso native Oscar Zeta Acosta's semi-autobiographical novel The Revolt of the Cockroach People centers on Chicano lawyer Buffalo Zeta Brown as he becomes increasingly involved with the Chicano movement in Los Angeles. Set against historical events of the 1960s and 1970s, Acosta fictionalizes his experiences as an attorney and activist to create a depiction of the Chicano movement that is both engaging and illuminating.

The Rachel Papers

Martin Amis

Martin Amis's first novel, The Rachel Papers is narrated by Charles Highway on the eve of his twentieth birthday, as he recounts his last year of adolescence and his first love, Rachel Noyes, whom he meets in London while studying for his entrance exams into Oxford. The Rachel Papers won the 1974 Somerset Maugham Award for best novel by a writer under the age of thirty-five.


Victor Hernández Cruz

Mainland is an early work from esteemed poet Victor Hernández Cruz, who went on to receive fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. This collection of poems explores themes of identity and culture, drawing on Cruz's own experience as a Puerto Rican immigrant adjusting to life in the U.S.

Great Jones Street

Don DeLillo

Satirizing stardom and the rock-and-roll culture of the 1960s, Don DeLillo's third novel, Great Jones Street, centers on rock star Bucky Wunderlick as he retreats from public life to a sparse apartment in Manhattan. However, counterculture communes, multinational conglomerates, and experimental mind-altering drugs follow Wunderlick even to his secluded residence as he attempts to recuperate from the effects of fame.

The Interpretation of Cultures

Clifford Geertz

Named one of the one hundred most important books published since World War II by the Times Literary Supplement, this classic work of anthropology offers a groundbreaking exploration of how cultural symbols and their interpretation shape social life.

North Dallas Forty

Peter Gent

Author Peter Gent was a football player before he became a writer. His experience playing for the Dallas Cowboys inspired his novel North Dallas Forty. Like Gent, the novel's protagonist, Phil Elliot, is a wide receiver for a Dallas football team; unlike the author, Elliot experiences all the highs and lows of life as a professional football player in eight short days. North Dallas Forty received critical acclaim for its depictions of NFL player culture and inspired a 1979 movie of the same name starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis.

The Princess Bride

William Goldman

Written as a frame narrative, The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The "Good Parts" Version combines elements of comedy, adventure, and fantasy to spin the fairytale romance between beloved characters Buttercup and Westley. In 1987, the novel was adapted into the iconic feature film of the same name directed by Rob Reiner and starring Robin Wright and Cary Elwes.

Dallas: The Deciding Years - A Historical Portrait

A. C. Greene

Born in Abilene in 1923, A. C. Greene moved to Dallas in 1960 to accept a position as a book editor for the Dallas Times Herald. He quickly made a name for himself as a journalist, poet, historian, and fiction writer. His book Dallas: The Deciding Years - A Historical Portrait, contains an informal history of the city alongside 182 photographs depicting its past.

The Second Dune

Shelby Hearon

The Second Dune, Shelby Hearon's second novel, was awarded the 1974 Texas Institute of Letters Award for fiction. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s feminist movement, the novel explores one woman's search for independence through her relationship with her daughter.

Estampas del Valle y Otras Obras

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith's Estampas del Valle y Otras Obras explores the stories of the Chicano community in the fictional Rio Grande Valley town of Klail City. The first of Hinojosa-Smith's Klail City Death Trip series, Estampas del Valle y Otras Obras was the third winner of the Premio Quinto Sol Annual Prize, a literary prize previously awarded to authors Tomás Rivera and Rudolfo Anaya. An English translation of the novel, titled The Valley, was published in 1983.  Hinojosa-Smith received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle in 2014. Humanities Texas published a remembrance of Hinojosa-Smith after his passing in 2022.

Proud Flesh

William Humphrey

When matriarch Edwina Renshaw takes to her deathbed, her children return home from across Texas to await her death, opening old family wounds. The novel Proud Flesh by Texas writer William Humphrey explores familial resentment and painful histories made more prominent by the absence of Edwina's favorite son, Kyle, the only Renshaw to leave the state.

The Time It Never Rained

Elmer Kelton

The Time It Never Rained by Texas native Elmer Kelton recounts the story of rancher Charlie Flagg and his family as they struggle to survive the severe West Texas drought of the 1950s. With no indication of when—or if—rain will come again, Kelton's atypical hero represents the value of persistence and self-sufficiency in the face of the harsh realities of ranching life.  Humanities Texas published a remembrance of Kelton after his passing in 2009.

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is one of famed science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin's best known short stories and winner of the 1974 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Originally published in the 1973 anthology New Dimensions 3, the story depicts a summer festival in the city of Omelas, a utopia that hinges on the perpetual misery of one child.

The Dolphin

Robert Lowell

Winner of the 1974 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Robert Lowell's The Dolphin documents the dissolution of the author's marriage and his struggles with mental health. The collection of poems sparked scandal upon publication, not only for chronicling Lowell's affair with English socialite Caroline Blackwood, but also for including correspondence from his former wife without her permission.

Child of God

Cormac McCarthy

Child of God is the third novel by Cormac McCarthy. In this taut and gruesome story, Lester Ballard—a violent, dispossessed man—haunts the hill country of East Tennessee after being released from jail. McCarthy's other works include No Country for Old Men (2005) and Pulitzer Prize-winner The Road (2006). McCarthy, who passed away earlier this year, is now widely regarded as one of the most significant American novelists.


Toni Morrison

Sula, Toni Morrison's second novel after The Bluest Eye (1970), traces the lives of Sula Peace, her best friend Nel Wright, and the other inhabitants of the Black neighborhood referred to as "the Bottom" in the fictional town of Medallion, Ohio. Exploring themes of motherhood, friendship, and social transgression, Sula laid a foundation for the formation of Black feminist literary criticism in the 1970s and 1980s. Morrison received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

The Black Prince

Iris Murdoch

In The Black Prince, Bradley Pearson, an unsuccessful novelist in his late fifties, has finally left his dull office job as an Inspector of Taxes. Bradley hopes to retire to the country, but predatory friends and relations dash his hopes of a peaceful retirement. The novel was awarded the 1973 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and shortlisted for the 1973 Booker Prize.

If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home

Tim O'Brien

If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home presents Tim O'Brien's intensely personal account of his year as a foot soldier in Vietnam, from walking the minefields in My Lai to experiencing combat from behind an infantryman's rifle. Beautifully written and searingly heartfelt, the memoir explores the ambiguities of manhood and morality in a war gone terribly wrong. O'Brien's 1990 book The Things They Carried is now regarded as a classic of contemporary war fiction.

A Season of Weathering

William A. Owens

William A. Owens's second autobiographical work, A Season of Weathering, tells of his struggle to gain an education in tiny Pin Hook, Texas, while supporting his family. Owens's honest reflections on his upbringing in an East Texas town weave together themes of poverty, ambition, and religion to offer the reader an authentic glimpse into rural life in the 1920s.

La Cage aux Folles 

Jean Poiret

La Cage aux Folles, a play by French dramatist Jean Poiret, centers on the farcical confusion that ensues when a gay couple's son invites his fiancée's conservative parents to dinner with his own parents. Adapted into a French film and an English-language musical, La Cage aux Folles also inspired the 1996 film The Birdcage directed by Mike Nichols and starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

Gravity's Rainbow

Thomas Pynchon

Winner of the 1974 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon gained fame (and notoriety) both for its critique of American society in the decades following World War II and for the challenges that its immense and complex scope presents to readers. Although unanimously selected by the Pulitzer Prize jury for the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Advisory Board rejected the recommendation, citing Gravity's Rainbow as "turgid" and "obscene."

Diving Into the Wreck

Adrienne Rich

In her seventh volume of poetry, Diving into the Wreck, feminist writer Adrienne Rich shares provocative and often angry poems that seek to reclaim what has been forgotten, lost, or unexplored. The collection split the 1974 National Book Award for Poetry with Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America. Rich accepted the award with fellow-nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker on behalf of all women.

Always and Other Poems

Tomás Rivera

Renowned Mexican American poet Tomás Rivera's first volume of poetry, Always and Other Poems, was published two years after his most well-known work, the novel . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra (1971), for which he was awarded the first Premio Quinto Sol Annual Prize. Born in Crystal City, Texas, to migrant farm workers, Rivera attended Southwest Texas State University and later taught at Sam Houston State University and The University of Texas at El Paso before becoming chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. 


Peter Shaffer

Equus, by English playwright Peter Shaffer, tells the story of psychiatrist Martin Dysart's struggles to understand young Alan Strang's dangerous obsession with and violence against horses. The play premiered in 1973 at the National Theatre in London before transferring to Broadway in 1974, where it won the Tony Award for Best Play.

Peter Arbiter

Edwin "Bud" Shrake

Peter Arbiter, celebrated Texas author Edwin "Bud" Shrake's satire about social misfits, takes a shrewd view of his home state. This Texas-centered retelling of Petronius's Satyricon compares the oil-boom to the decadence of Rome and follows three vastly different characters as they explore Texas's upper-class society.

A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories

Isaac Bashevis Singer

A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashsevis Singer comprises twenty-four short stories, translated from Yiddish, that paint a picture of Polish Jewish life throughout time and space. A Crown of Feathers shared the 1974 National Book Award for Fiction with Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Singer's papers are now held by The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center. Singer received the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Drawing on his own incarceration and exile, as well as on evidence from more than two hundred fellow prisoners and Soviet archives, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn unveils the widespread repression, suffering, and dehumanization experienced by millions under the Soviet prison camp system in this three-volume non-fiction text.

Texas Monthly

Since 1973, Texas Monthly has chronicled life in the Lone Star State, exploring its politics and personalities, barbecue and business, true crime and tacos, honky-tonks and hiking. The periodical strives to bring its readers vivid storytelling about the scenes and characters and hidden forces behind the news.

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

Hunter S. Thompson

Largely derived from articles serialized in Rolling Stone, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 recounts the 1972 presidential campaign in which Richard Nixon was re-elected President of the United States. Hunter S. Thompson provides keen insight and a scathing critique of American politics as he follows the Democratic Party from the primaries to George McGovern's ruinous defeat in the 1972 presidential election.

Burr: A Novel

Gore Vidal

Before the musical Hamilton, there was Burr. The first novel in Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series, which spans U.S. history from the Revolution to post-World War II, Burr includes a fictional memoir by the eponymous anti-hero, who is portrayed as a fascinating and honorable gentleman.

Breakfast of Champions

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Breakfast of Champions is the seventh novel by Kurt Vonnegut, best known for his works Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) and Cat's Cradle (1963). In Breakfast of Champions, aging science fiction writer Kilgore Trout finds, to his horror, that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The events that follow explore themes of free will, mental illness, and social and economic cruelty.

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women

Alice Walker

Alice Walker's debut short fiction collection, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women, depicts the realities of life in the South as a Black woman. Told in Walker's lyrical prose, these thirteen stories illuminate the struggles and hopes of her characters as they seek dignity and self-fulfillment under difficult circumstances.