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Denver resident Jenny Shank examines the troubles and triumphs of the Mile High City over the past few decades in this collection of short stories, which features plenty of familiar sights and sounds. From a story about a white student who is bused to a majority-Black school and becomes enraptured with her racially ambiguous art teacher, to a tale of a clash between a white mountain-town girls’ basketball team and a majority-Black Denver team, Shank takes on race, gentrification, and economic disparities in the city we all love. $21; Texas Review Press; released November 2021
If your book-reading relatives aren’t already Peter Heller fans, they’re about to be. The best-selling Colorado-based author has penned another dystopian thriller, this time about a young man, Jack, who is hired by an elite fishing lodge nicknamed “Billionaire’s Mile” that offers world-class fishing, as well as safety from all the viruses that have been plaguing the country for years (sound familiar?). Though the resort seems idyllic at first, Jack soon learns it may be a cover-up for something more sinister. $27; Knopf; released August 2021
You (or your niece who loves to read) might know the author of the new-this-year rom-com as Sandhya Menon. She’s penned multiple young adult novels, won the Colorado Book Award twice, and has been featured in Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed, and Cosmopolitan. Now, under the nom de plume Lily Menon, she’s taking on adult fiction; her new tale follows Annika Dev and Hudson Craft, two rival dating-app creators who seem to have nothing in common… until they move into the same office building. $17, St. Martin’s Griffin; released February 2021
We think every poetry enthusiast on your list will be happy to receive Andrea Gibson’s latest collection. Gibson, who regularly performs at the Mercury Cafe in Denver, is known globally for their spoken-word poetry (they were the first poet to win the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008). And their newest volume touches on themes of love, climate change, and the expansiveness of the human experience. For the superfan, spring for a signed copy. $18-$25; Button Poetry; released November 2021
Burgeoning (read: young) book lovers will enjoy this gorgeously illustrated tale centered around a girl’s journey to Read Island, a magical place made of books. Along the way, she encounters the likes of sea wolves and humpback whales. After your child completes the book (and maybe memorizes all the lines, too) make sure to catch a story time with the author, Nicole Magistro. Check the times and locations here. $19; Read Island; released October 2021
History buffs will be enraptured by this winner of the 2021 Colorado Book Award (Biography). Written by David A. Varel, who teaches history at Metropolitan State University, the biography documents the life of Lawrence Reddick. Born in 1910, Reddick was involved in many of the most impactful civil rights movements—from mentoring Martin Luther King Jr. to leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to being a strong advocate of Pan-Africanism alongside Kwame Nkrumah and W. E. B. Du Bois. $30; UNC Press; released December 2020
This one’s for your relative who read The Hunger Games and Divergent in one sitting. Written by a Denver author, the plot of the book centers around Charley Tennyson, a reporter who’s discovered that, for the past few days, only females are being born in America. With help from her friends, Charley decides to risk her reputation—and safety—to figure out what’s happening. $13; Pivot Publishing; released November 2020