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

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

By Amanda Montell
Harper Wave (HarperCollins Publishers)
June 2021

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From the publisher: What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Amanda Montell’s captivating book explores how loaded language is used to lure, ensnare, and hold us hostage, whether it be our workout equipment, skin-care products, weight loss regime, or the religion of our choosing, well, sometimes we get to choose…

The author breaks down the way language is used against us while empowering us to move forward. After reading this book, you will find your listening skills more aware. Key words and phrases will make you squint your eyes toward the speaker or their written messages. “Cultish” brings a new perception on how easily language can be directed to misguide or manipulate our thoughts and “freewill.”

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The Kingdom of Sand

By Andrew Holleran
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

June 2022

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From the publisher: This book is a poignant tale of desire and dread – Andrew Holleran’s first new book in 16 years. The nameless narrator is a gay man who moved to Florida to look after his aging parents during the height of the AIDS epidemic and has found himself unable to leave after their deaths. With gallows humor, he chronicles the indignities of growing old in a small town.

This novel displays all of Holleran’s considerable gifts; it’s an elegy to sex and a stunningly honest exploration of loneliness and the endless need for human connection, especially as we count down our days.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  We all search. We long for a place of happiness, strive for kinship or a connection of some sort. Mr. Holleran’s main character is lost, alone and aging. We don’t know his name but we are engaged and invested in his thoughts, observations and desires. Whether we will readily admit it or not, we all yearn for someone to bond with. Some of us are incredibly lucky, others will always be seeking. Moving through the character’s self isolation, we silently plead for him to find comfort and caring. 

The writing embraces the humid and lackadaisical days of a Floridan mindset, the well-crafted words will give one pause, and make us thankful for the friendships we have in our lives.

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The Library at Night

By Alberto Manguel
Yale University Press
April 2009

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From the publisher: Inspired by the process of creating a library for his 15th-century home near the Loire, in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. “Libraries,” he says, “have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.” In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Indeed, I am a book geek. Luckily, and delightedly, I get paid to be a book geek. I am fortunate to have the means and knowledge to espouse bookish terms to those like-minded and curious. I support and encourage those neophytes who just discovered books, not reading, but the physical, tangible tome that rests in the hands. When someone inquires about a book about books, this is the first volume that always comes to mind. 

This adroit work is a masterclass in library science, better yet, ‘book keeping.” Through the author’s own experiences in creating his own incredible library, we get a better understanding of how and why books have always created heated interactions and rapturous passions.  We lean in closer to hear Manguel’s graceful voice as it  takes us through bits of history, wise knowledge and undeniable love and regard for literature.

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Kevin Simpson is a co-founder of The Colorado Sun and a general assignment writer and editor. He also oversees the Sun’s literary feature, SunLit, and the site’s cartoonists.

A St. Louis native and graduate of the University of Missouri’s journalism school, Kevin began his career in sports at the St. Cloud (MN) Daily Times in 1978 before moving to the Rocky Mountain News a year later. In 1984, he joined The Denver Post and spent 33 years there as a sports writer, city desk reporter, city columnist and long-form writer.

He was part of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at the Post and his individual work has been recognized with a wide variety of awards.