Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Poor Richard’s Books in Colorado Springs recommend “The Book of Phobias & Manias,” “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us” and “To Speak for the Trees.”

To Speak for the Trees

By Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Timber Press
October 2021


From the publisher: Diana Beresford-Kroeger — a world-recognized botanist and medical biochemist — has revolutionized our understanding of the natural world with her startling insights into the hidden life of trees. In this riveting memoir, she uncovers the roots of her discoveries in her extraordinary childhood in Ireland. Soon after, her brilliant mind bloomed into an illustrious scientific career that melds the intricacies of the natural world with the truths of traditional Celtic wisdom. 

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: “To Speak for the Trees” is a treasured tonic of personal recollections and a mystical grimoire. We are incredibly lucky to have those among us who are a bridge to the natural world. It is through their senses, insight and magical touch that we are given the tools to listen and learn. In the second part of this amazing book, we learn the lore of the Celtic alphabet and how it is tied to trees and related plants.

The author is able to whip up a brew of science, ancient world traditions and her own compassion into a compelling mixture of knowledge and know-how that nurtures an understanding of how nature is capable of healing. 

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

By Hanif Abdurraqib
Two Dollar Radio
November 2017


From the publisher: In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib’s is a voice that matters. Whether he’s attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown’s grave or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.

In essays that have been published by The New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others — along with original, previously unreleased essays — Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times.

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: Mr. Abdurraqib’s articulation and perspectives are so spot-on and engaging that this book must be savored. Don’t rush through to get to the next essay, let what you just read stew a bit. Let it make you smile, remembering those times where music moved you as much as music flows through the writer’s veins. Let the simmering anger and frustration come to a full boil when he shares his experiences as an unapologetic Black man. Let your spirit heal when he sees and experiences grace. I confess I have not finished this book, I am making this one last as long as I can.

The Book of Phobias & Manias

By Kate Summerscale
Penguin Books

September 2022


From the publisher: Phobias and manias are deeply personal experiences, and among the most common anxiety disorders of our time, but they are also clues to our shared past. The award-winning author Kate Summerscale uses rich and riveting case studies to trace the origins of our obsessions, unearthing a history of human strangeness, from the middle ages to the present day, and a wealth of explanations for some of our most powerful aversions and desires.

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: Of all the phobias and manias that Summerscale presents, I will admit, reluctantly and under duress, to four (phobias), and oddly enough, the one I will gladly publicly acknowledge, trypanophobia (fear of needles) isn’t listed. I TRIED to read the section on one of my greatest fears but slammed the book closed when I got to the part when the subject let a spider skitter across their palm (shudder)…I don’t know what happened after that…(shudder, again)…I don’t care.

I have been a huge fan of Summerscale ever since I happened onto her book “The Queen of Whale Cay” years ago. Her writing style is like having a nice conversation with a trusted friend, affable and casual. There is dry wit, and an incredible amount of reference and history. While it would be incredibly easy to make light of any and all of the conditions she presents, there are no judgments made by the author. With care, we are shown the humanity of these disorders, and an understanding of some things we just cannot control. 


Poor Richard’s Books

320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs


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

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