Between July 2021 and June 2022, Texas banned 801 books in 22 school districts, according to a report from PEN America, a nonprofit fighting to protect free expression. This never-ending battle against books has affected authors, librarians, teachers, and students. One of those books affected by the state’s bans is the 2015 novel “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez. Since 2021, Pérez has lost opportunities to connect with young readers at school book readings. For Tim Staley of the Austin Public Library Foundation and the PEN America Austin chapter, book bans also restrict people’s ability to understand the world around them. Bookseller Gilbert Hernandez of Búho in Brownsville established the first independent bookstore in his hometown to build a socially and intellectually enriching space in his community and combat book bans in the Lone Star State.