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In 2020, we resolved to include more of our state’s literary talent in our Book Club Resource (BCR) collection. Since then, the BCR has reached over 550 book club sets, and 35 of those sets are by local writers.* We are working to keep expanding on our local authors collection. Since the BCR has always relied on donations, we have a lot of gratitude for all of the institutions, authors, and publishers who have donated sets and helped make the collection stronger. If you are interested in having your book included in the BCR and reach even more readers within the state, check out the submission instructions here.
Below is just a selection of the works by local talent included in the collection! Click here for a list of Colorado authors and titles.
In a Town Called Paradox, by Richard Starks & Miriam Murcutt
This novel asks the question: If each of us has a life story, who decides how it unfolds – and how it should end?
‘I WASN’T looking for Marilyn Monroe when I bumped into her, even though I knew she was in town filming River of No Return…’
So begins the novel, In a Town Called Paradox – set in Utah in the 1950s, when the Big Five Hollywood studios were lured to that state by the fiery red-rock scenery that formed the perfect backdrop to the blockbuster movies they planned to film. Corin Dunbar – banished to live with her aunt Jessie, an obsessively religious spinster who runs a failing cattle ranch near Paradox – hates her new life, until the arrival of Hollywood turns the rural backwater into a playground for glamorous stars like Marilyn Monroe and Rock Hudson.
Seduced by the glitz of the movies, Corin finds work with the studios, but after a brush with the casting couch, channels her growing ambition into saving the ranch—the jewel of the Dunbar family for three generations. When Corin falls for Ark Stevenson – a charismatic stranger who was raised by missionaries in the Amazon jungle (then drawn to Paradox by his fascination with the Westerns that are filmed there) – her future seems bright. That’s not the outlook facing Yiska Begay, a Navajo Indian and convicted murderer who’s on the run near Paradox.
These very different lives unexpectedly collide when a tragic accident wrecks Corin’s dreams and forces her to make an agonizing decision that will change the course of her life. Told mainly by Corin—now a middle-aged woman still haunted by this watershed moment—In a Town Called Paradox is a “compelling read” that “redefines the meaning of love”.
Hum of our Blood, by Madelyn Garner
In poem after stunning poem, Madelyn Garner’s Hum of Our Blood elegizes the son she knew and loved in all his human dimensions, speaking into those spaces usually left silent between mothers and sons. In a book of truth and life as much as it is about AIDS and death, Garner sheds lights both warm and bright on the darkest corners of gay existence in the 1980s and 90s from a perspective continually surprising and, as strange as it may seem, delightful.
The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom, by Helen Thorpe
From an award-winning, “meticulously observant” (The New Yorker) writer comes a powerful and moving account of how refugee teenagers at a Denver public high school learn English and become Americans. The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family. At the center of The Newcomers is Mr. Williams, the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of South’s very beginner English Language Acquisition class. If Mr. Williams does his job right, the newcomers will leave his class at the end of the school year with basic English skills and new confidence, their foundation for becoming Americans and finding a place in their new home. With the US at a political crossroads around questions of immigration, multiculturalism, and America’s role on the global stage, Helen Thorpe presents a fresh and nuanced perspective. The Newcomers is a transformative take on these timely, important issues.
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, by Pam Houston
On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, beloved writer Pam Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Houston’s ranch becomes her sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of parental abuse and neglect. In a work as lucid and invigorating as mountain air, Deep Creek delivers Houston’s most profound meditations yet on how “to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief . . . to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive.”
The House That Love Built: Why I Opened My Door to Immigrants and How We Found Hope Beyond a Broken System, by Sarah Jackson
The House That Love Built is the quintessential story of one woman’s questioning what it means to be an American–and a Christian–in light of a broken immigration system. Through tender stories of opening her heart and home to immigrants, Sarah Jackson shines a holy light on loving our neighbor. Sarah Jackson once thought immigration justice was administered through higher walls and longer fences. Then she met an immigrant–a deported young father separated from his US-citizen family–and everything changed. As Sarah began to know fractured families ravaged by threats in their h omeland and further traumatized in US detention, biblical justice took on a new meaning. As Sarah opened her heart–and her home–to immigrants, she experienced a surprising transformation and the gift of extraordinary community. The work she began through the ministry of Casa de Paz joined the centuries-old Christian tradition of hospitality, shining a holy light on what it means to love our neighbor.
Click here to support the work that Casa de Paz does.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. Ken Kesey’s extraordinary first novel is an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.
East of Denver, by Gregory Hill
Mixing pathos and humor in equal measure, East of Denver is an unflinching novel of rural America, a poignant, darkly funny tale about a father and son finding their way together as their home and livelihood inexorably disappears. When Stacey Shakespeare Williams arrives at his family s farm in eastern Colorado to bury a dead cat, he finds his widowed and senile father, Emmett living in squalor. He has no money, the land is fallow, and a local banker has cheated his father out of the majority of the farm equipment and his beloved Cessna. With no job and no prospects, Shakespeare suddenly finds himself caretaker to both his dad and the farm, and drawn into an unlikely clique of old high school classmates: Vaughn Atkins, a paraplegic confined to his mother s basement; Carissa McPhail, an overweight bank teller who pitches for the local softball team; and longtime bully D. J. Beckman, who now deals drugs throughout small-town Dorsey. Facing the loss of the farm, Shakespeare hatches a half-serious plot with his father and his fellow gang of misfits to rob the very bank that has stolen their future.
Space Murder, by NL Haverstock
Once the star student of her training class, Captain Liz Laika is now an outcast, a casualty of family scandal. Now stuck in the worst post in the Fleet, she should keep her head down. But when a Cerulean passenger is found decapitated, and Liz is framed for the murder, she has no choice but to fight for her life. No easy feat when she’s facing kidnapping, ship-eating whales, horse-sized spiders and corrupt fleet officers with personal vendettas. And in the middle of the intergalactic murder drama, her ex-fiance reappears. Captain Liz needs to clear her name–and fast.
Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer
From the author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, This extraordinary work of investigative journalism takes readers inside America’s isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities, where some 40,000 people still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God.
At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.
Be the Artist, by Thomas Evans (aka Detour)
This go-to guide can be your handbook as you enter the art world and navigate the nuances of becoming self-sufficient. Instead of feeding you new techniques, it will provide you with insights to help you make decisions based on your specific situation and goals. By the end of this book, you will have a set of guidelines for scenarios that range from taking on commission work and conducting negotiations to dealing with rejection and improving your organization. Be the Artist is designed to help up-and-coming creatives educate themselves on essential yet seldom-discussed strategies, learn about new and relevant artists, and gather the resources they need to build their business.
Fig, by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Love and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant and provocative debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia and her own mental illness. Fig’s world lies somewhere between reality and fantasy. But as she watches Mama slowly come undone, it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is not, what is fun and what is frightening. To save Mama, Fig begins a fierce battle to bring her back. She knows that her daily sacrifices, like not touching metal one day or avoiding water the next, are the only way to cure Mama .The problem is that in the process of a daily sacrifice, Fig begins to lose herself as well, increasingly isolating herself from her classmates and engaging in self-destructive behavior that only further sets her apart. Spanning the course of Fig’s childhood from age six to nineteen, this deeply provocative novel is more than a portrait of a mother, a daughter, and the struggle that comes with all-consuming love. It is an acutely honest and often painful portrayal of life with mental illness and the lengths to which a young woman must go to handle the ordeals—real or imaginary—thrown her way.
If you are interested in receiving book club sets but are not already a member library, click here to get signed up. Click here to browse the catalog. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or to discuss donations. Thank you for supporting this fantastic collection!
*By local writers, we include not only living inhabitants but also those writers who were originally from Colorado, such as Ken Kesey.