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: Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts, 320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs

On Animals

By Susan Orlean
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Oct. 12, 2021

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From the publisher: These stories consider a range of creatures—the household pets we dote on, the animals we raise to end up as meat on our plates, the creatures who could eat us for dinner, the various tamed and untamed animals we share our planet with who are central to human life. Equal parts delightful and profound, enriched by Orlean’s stylish prose and precise research, these stories celebrate the meaningful cross-species connections that grace our collective existence.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Susan Orlean, self-admittedly, thankfully, is unabashedly, “animalish.” This group of essays takes us on a safari of sorts. We begin with backyard chickens (yeah, I cried also when my hens met their untimely demise – not a big fan of raccoons to this day…) and drift through tigers, mules and pigeons (oh my!). Anyone who has had that quiet moment, an interaction or if they are lucky, a lifetime, with a furry, feathered or scaly creature will appreciate and relate to this collection. With her observations and wit, she challenges us to focus on the things we do to animals, both good and bad. 

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Blue: In Search of Nature’s Rarest Color

By Kai Kupferschmidt
July 20, 2021

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From the publisher: Search human history and you’ll quickly conclude that we’ve been enamored of blue at least since the pharaohs. So, it’s startling to turn to the realms of nature and discover that “true” blue is truly rare. From the rain forest’s morpho butterfly to the blue jay flitting past your window, few living things are blue—and most that appear so are performing sleight of hand with physics or chemistry. Cornflowers use the pigment found in red roses to achieve their blue hue. Even the blue sky above us is a trick of the light.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  This book is beautiful, absolutely alluring. Rarely is there a book that appears on the shelf that when one picks it up, holds it, and leafs through the fine heavy pages filled with color and acuity, that it really doesn’t matter what the book is about. The book, in and of itself, must be appreciated.

Fortunately for us, the content of this  book is equally captivating. The search for the color blue in the natural world (flora, fauna and minerals) throughout history is explored and explained. The science behind the discoveries and our perceptions are easily described with dynamic illustrations and photographs. Through the author’s astute commentary we are able to expand not only our knowledge but fascination with this wondrous color. 

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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

By George Saunders
Random House
April 12, 2022

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From the publisher: For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In this book, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  George Saunders’ latest release is a master class in creating and enjoying the short story. In a gentle yet persuasive voice, he helps us understand the dynamics of great storytelling by using classical Russian authors as counselors and coaches. Saunders, a great narrator himself, allows us to see how a story evolves, pivots and leaps forward (sometimes back) as words dance on a page. We see how, especially in a short story format, the need to be precise in a fluid sort of way. A great book not only for writers but to those of us who enjoy the well-written word.

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