The Texas Great Read for 2021 is "Marfa for the Perplexed" by Lonn Taylor

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Austin, TX

2021 Texas Great Read images of Martha for the Perplexed book cover and a photo of author Lonn Taylor

AUSTIN, TX—The Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has chosen Marfa for the Perplexed by Lonn Taylor as the Texas Great Read for 2021. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival. The event showcases the importance of books and reading. In 2021, the 21st Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place virtually September 17-26. 

Texas Center for the Book invites Texans to read Marfa for the Perplexed and to take part in a statewide book club by using the hashtag #TXGreatRead on social media. For more information on the 2021 Texas Great Read program, visit

In celebration of its selection as the 2021 Texas Great Read, Marfa for the Perplexed is now available to Texas residents as a freely accessible e-book thanks to E-Read Texas, TSLAC’s statewide public library e-book program at

About the Book
Marfa for the Perplexed is literary nonfiction, essays, and Texas history all rolled into one. Readers meet artists, priests, ranchers, movie stars, chili aficionados, and more in the rugged borderlands of the Big Bend country. This compilation brings people and historical events of Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis, Presidio County, Mexico, and the surrounding area to life. The book became very popular and during one interview when asked what surprised him most when researching the stories in the book, Lonn confessed that he had not realized “how deep the scars left by a century of segregation and suspicion between Anglo and Hispanic residents were, or how hard younger members of both groups are working to heal them.”

About the Author
Lonn Wood Taylor’s career took him to many different locations around the country before he resettled in the Big Bend area. He was Director and Curator at the Winedale Historical Complex in Central Texas, Curator at the Dallas Historical Society, and Deputy Director of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. In 1984 he went to Washington, DC, as the Historian and Director of public programs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Described by the Washington Post as a “lively presence during his 18 years at the museum on the National Mall,” Lonn had a major role in preparing several of the museum’s permanent exhibits. One of his most renowned projects involved the history of the Star Spangled Banner which resulted in the book, The Star Spangled Banner: The Making of An American Icon. On the 200th anniversary of the battle that generated the anthem, Lonn was invited to appear on The Colbert Report, and, just in case Stephen Colbert asked, he memorized all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s song. His last work, Child of the Sun, a memoir of his childhood in the Philippines was published posthumously after his death in 2019.

In addition to Marfa for the Perplexed, the E-Read Texas collection currently includes more than 7,000 high-quality e-books from top publishers. While many of the e-books in the collection have limits on the number of simultaneous users, more than half the e-books are available for simultaneous use with no wait lists or holds. These titles are available to any resident of Texas via geolocation at Public libraries participating in the full E-Read Texas program can also access the entire collection of e-books via SimplyE, a free library app supported by the Amigos Library Consortia. Individuals are encouraged to visit their local library’s website to learn more about available digital resources.

Established in 1987, the Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.


The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities. For more information, visit

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Rebekah Manley
Page last modified: September 8, 2021