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SunLit

What the staff at Out West Books thinks you should be reading right now

Ideas for your next great read

As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. >> Click here for more SunLit

This week’s bookstore: Out West Books, 533 Main St., Grand Junction

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The Bears Ears

By David Roberts
W.W. Norton
$27.95
Feb. 23, 2021

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From the Publisher:  The Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, created by President Obama in 2016 and eviscerated by the Trump administration in 2017, contains more archaeological sites than any other region in the United States. It’s also a spectacularly beautiful landscape, a mosaic of sandstone canyons and bold mesas and buttes. This wilderness, now threatened by oil and gas drilling, unrestricted grazing, and invasion by Jeep and ATV, is at the center of the greatest environmental battle in America since the damming of the Colorado River to create Lake Powell in the 1950s.

In “The Bears Ears,” acclaimed adventure writer David Roberts takes readers on a tour of his favorite place on earth as he unfolds the rich and contradictory human history of the 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears domain. Weaving personal memoir with archival research, Roberts sings the praises of the outback he’s explored for the last twenty-five years.

From Out West Books:  David Roberts’ book is a wonderful tribute to the area of southern Utah we used to call Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge and will hopefully now be encompassed in its entirety as Bears Ears National Monument.  Roberts has always written beautifully about the outdoor life and his love for this part of our west is apparent as he recounts the historic and present day travails of this unique landscape. Fred Blackburn (Mancos, CO), historian, archaeologist, raconteur,  figures prominently in David’s book, as he was an early mentor to many early devotees to Bear’s Ears’  preservation and protection .  It’s a great read and fitting final book by a great outdoor author.  

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Desert Chrome

By Kathryn Wilder
Torrey House Press
$18.95
June 18, 2021

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From the publisherKathryn Wilder’s powerful story of grief, motherhood, and return to the desert entwines with the story of America’s mustangs as Wilder makes a home on the Colorado Plateau, her property bordering a mustang herd. Desert Chrome illuminates these controversial creatures—their complex history in the Americas, their powerful presence on the landscape, and ways to help both horses and habitats stay wild in the arid West—and celebrates the animal nature in us all.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

From Out West Books:  Both a love song to the American West and its still extant mustang herds, and a deeply moving personal narrative written in spare and powerful prose, “Desert Chrome” has many passages that will resonate with its readers.  “In the midst of the wild horses I felt something  either new, or very old.  We were all someone before…”  This book will stay with you long after you are done.  Kathryn lives in Durango.  

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The Guide

By Peter Heller
Knopf
$27.00
August 24, 2021

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From the publisher:  Kingfisher Lodge, nestled in a canyon on a mile and a half of the most pristine river water on the planet, is known by locals as “Billionaire’s Mile” and is locked behind a heavy gate. Sandwiched between barbed wire and a meadow with a sign that reads “Don’t Get Shot!” the resort boasts boutique fishing at its finest. Safe from viruses that have plagued America for years, Kingfisher offers a respite for wealthy clients. Now it also promises a second chance for Jack, a return to normalcy after a young life filled with loss. When he is assigned to guide a well-known singer, his only job is to rig her line, carry her gear, and steer her to the best trout he can find.  But then a human scream pierces the night, and Jack soon realizes that this idyllic fishing lodge may be merely a cover for a far more sinister operation. 

From Out West Books:  Peter Heller writes about western Colorado in a way that few authors get right; his descriptions of the landscape and wildlife are dead on. Since I hail from the part of Colorado that is the setting of this book, I know exactly where and to what he is referring,  but in reality it could take place along any one of our rivers in Colorado these days.  The “No Stopping or Fishing” signs show up more and more frequently now, and though it is not the main idea of the story, it really resonated.    The Guide continues on in the thriller vein of Heller’s “The River,” including the main character, Jack, and I loved it. 

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Powder Days

By Heather Hansman
Harper Collins
$2483
Nov. 9, 2021

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From the Publisher: The story of skiing is, in many ways, the story of America itself. Blossoming from the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, the sport took hold across the country, driven by adventurers seeking the rush of freedom that only cold mountain air could provide. As skiing gained in popularity, mom-and-pop backcountry hills gave way to groomed trails and eventually the mega-resorts of today. Along the way, the pioneers and diehards—the ski bums—remained the beating heart of the scene.

From Out West Books: “Is it even possible to be a ski bum anymore?  With real estate in Western ski areas impossible to afford, can someone really live minimally enough to spend most of their time on the slopes?  Heather Hansman’s book is an homage to the last days of the ski bum. With a background as an actual “dirtbag,” Hansman insightfully articulates what many of us from mountain towns are feeling these days….that we are the outsiders. Although Hansman mourns her ski bum days from 2005, she clearly expresses what those of us who began skiing in the ’60s and ’70s feel.”

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