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In the publishing world, Denver rarely garners the same acclaim or attention as literary meccas like New York City or Los Angeles. But if local authors have anything to say about it, that bubble is about to burst. Colorado has long served as sanctuary for talented writers—from legends like Kent Haruf and Jack Kerouac to contemporary authors like Cynthia Swanson, Sandhya Menon, and Nick Arvin—and 2018 was yet another year of promising releases. Cozy up with these 10 new reads by regional authors, based in Denver and beyond.
The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson
Denver writer Cynthia Swanson follows her New York Times bestselling debut The Bookseller with this suspenseful trip to Stonekill, New York. Set in the 1960s, The Glass Forest follows married couple Paul and Angie as they grapple with the news that Paul’s brother, Henry, has poisoned himself, and his wife is suddenly missing. When the couple arrives in Stonekill with their infant son, they find that Ruby, Henry’s daughter, seems oddly calm for someone undergoing such loss. As Angie pieces together the mystery of Henry’s death, she starts to understand how little she knows her husband and his family.
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Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson
This haunting thriller is crafted by Carter Wilson, an Erie resident who has a knack for the suspenseful and, well, eerie; his previous novel Revelation took home the 2017 Colorado Book Award in the thriller category. Mister Tender’s Girl, inspired by the 2014 Slender Man stabbing incident in Wisconsin, follows the story of high schooler Alice ,who is attacked by classmates, who say they’re offering her as a sacrifice for Mister Tender. The problem with their claim? Mister Tender is a fictional villain from her father’s graphic novels. So, why are kids trying to kill for him? Boulder area author Carter Wilson’s novel horrifies precisely because reality never feels too far away.
The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic
Meet Megan Meyers, adorkable math geek stuck in a familiar middle school drama: Two seventh-graders at Megan’s school are out to get her. One evening, when the clock strikes 11:11, she sends up a wish for “some magic” to save her—but she gets more than she wished for. This is the first children’s novel from the Boulder-based Tomsic, who plans to release an illustrated book about guitarist Les Paul in 2019.
That’s What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women by Kimothy Joy
When Hillary Clinton was not voted president in 2016, Denver artist Kimothy Joy grew disheartened and desperate. As a means of processing, she started reading the biographies of bold, defiant women before her. Drawing upon the talents she’d used illustrating for publications such as Glamour and O, The Oprah Magazine, she created That’s What She Said. The gorgeous book pairs watercolor paintings with hand-lettered quotes and mini biographies covering more than 50 women, including Sojourner Truth, Malala Yousafzai and Ellen DeGeneres.
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek with Jenny Jurek
Ultrarunner Scott Jurek had to run nearly 50 miles a day for 46 days to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. If that sounds as miserable to you as it does to me, don’t fret: You’ll enjoy Jurek’s invigorating memoir even if you’d rather not trek 2,189 miles in less than seven weeks. As he recounts his journey and answers the question we’re all asking—what’s the point?—the celebrated Boulder-based athlete pens a story of determination and inner strength. In North, Jurek gives a whole new meaning to “No excuses.”
Calling All Minds: How To Think And Create Like An Inventor by Temple Grandin
A renowned inventor, spokeswoman for the autism community and animal scientist at Colorado State University, Temple Grandin shares experience and encouragement in this book for young innovators. Accompanying 25 kid-approved projects, such as a sailboat and a stereoscope, Grandin offers reflections on her childhood and advice for how kids can invest in their imaginations. Pairing this call for discovery with anecdotes about how she’s made her own advances, Grandin’s message is clear: Every mind is capable of incredible things.
From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
Set in Colorado Springs, From Twinkle, with Love is the second young-adult romance from Sandhya Menon, the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi. An aspiring filmmaker, Twinkle Mehra tells her story through letters to her idols, all female filmmakers. When she teams up with Sahil Roy to create a movie for the Summer Festival, she hopes for a chance to get to know his brother, her crush. Her plan dissolves when she finds she’s inadvertently fallen for Sahil instead. Even readers well past their teenage years can get behind this charming teenage love story.
Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living by Karen Auvinen, illustrated by Greg Marquez
A former Colorado artist-in-residence and an award-winning poet, Karen Auvinen recounts a life unmoored and rediscovered in this breathtaking memoir. When her cabin in the Rocky Mountains burns to the ground, destroying both her writing and most of her possessions, Auvinen moves to a small community with her beloved dog, Elvis. In Rough Beauty, she details her complicated past and her post-fire days, all the while stoking readers’ appreciation of Colorado beauty through heartfelt description of mountain life. This is a must for any reader who calls the Rocky Mountains home.
Mad Boy by Nick Arvin
Set during the War of 1812, Mad Boy follows 10-year-old Henry Phipps, who is reeling from the loss of his mother. He remains obsessed with her final request, a burial at sea surrounded by family. But gathering the Phipps squad might not be so simple: Henry’s father is in prison, and Henry’s brother, Franklin, is under threat of a firing squad. Henry sets out on a mission to free his father and reconnect with his brother, all the while encountering soldiers, slaves and even a young woman pregnant with Franklin’s child. This character-stuffed romp from Denver author Nick Arvin is sure to transfix history buffs and novices alike.
Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson
Esteemed spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson began their poetry career at an open mic in Boulder. The first-ever winner of the Women of the World Poetry Slam, Gibson has earned a powerful following with their stunning rumination on politics, social issues, and life with an LGBTQ identity. Lord of the Butterflies is Gibson’s fifth poetry collection, a soaring and unflinching exploration of topics including gender, violence, grief, family, and dating.