Colorado doesn’t have many sandy shores, but a hammock strung between mountainside pines still provides a relaxing spot to dive into some beach reads. We found five Centennial State authors with new tomes that will keep you flipping pages—and then asked them to recommend local books to enjoy after you finish theirs.
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country | Pam Houston
Houston celebrated strong women in her 1992 short story collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness. Now, her first memoir tenderly describes the home that strengthened her: a ranch in the San Juan Mountains. Tales of caring for the land and recollections of her abusive childhood trace the writer’s path to peace.
Houston Recommends: Guidebook to Relative Strangers, Camille T. Dungy (2017)
This Colorado State University professor’s essay collection—born of Dungy’s travels with her daughter—explores race, community, and motherhood. “She writes poetry,” Houston says, “so her language is beautiful.”
Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery | Christie Aschwanden
A former Washington Post health columnist and Cedaredge local investigates the billion dollar sports recovery industry in her first book, which sorts useful advice (sleep, sleep, sleep) from profit-seeking hogwash (infrared pajamas).
Aschwanden Recommends: The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi (2015)
In a futuristic, drought-ravaged West, robber barons fight for territory along the life-giving Colorado River. “It tackles some important issues in an engaging way,” Aschwanden says.
Sabrina & Corina | Kali Fajardo-Anstine
While studying creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Fajardo-Anstine didn’t come across many fictional characters who reflected her Chicana background. So the Denverite wrote a book of short stories spotlighting the suffering and strength of Latinas living in Colorado.
Fajardo-Anstine Recommends: Water & Power, Steven Dunn (2018)
Novelist and Navy veteran Dunn uses fictional interviews, photographs, and journal entries in this mocku-history of the U.S. armed forces’ seafaring branch. “It challenges readers’ notions of what a novel can be,” says Fajardo-Anstine.
We Love Anderson Cooper | R.L. Maizes
This humorous, poignant volume of short stories, due next month, asks readers to identify with, for example, a gay teen who outs himself at his bar mitzvah. Like many of the Niwot resident’s essays, which have been featured on NPR, her book debut puts readers into outsiders’ heads.
Maizes Recommends: Mad Boy, Nick Arvin (2018)
During the War of 1812, a kid tries to gather his scattered family to bury his mother at sea. “The novel is captivating, tender, and so funny,” Maizes says.
This Storm | James Ellroy
Despite a move to Denver in 2015, this Los Angeles native still spins tales about the City of Angels. The second installment of his Second L.A. Quartet—a prequel series to his popular L.A. Quartet (which includes The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential)—revolves around an unsolved gold heist and Nazis on the homefront.
Ellroy Recommends: The Ticket Out, Helen Knode (2003)
Ellroy doesn’t praise this murder mystery about a movie critic penning a career-changing crime story just because his partner wrote it. He says it’s “one of the great Hollywood novels, up there with The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West.”