Out West Books staff picks

Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Out West Books in Grand Junction recommends “Go As a River,” “Geology Underfoot on Colorado’s Western Slope” and “City of Gold” — all by local authors.

Go As a River

By Shelley Read
Spiegel and Grau
February 2023


From the publisher:A stunning debut novel that follows the life of a woman from 1947 to 1970 as she experiences love, loss, and healing in a small Colorado mountain town. The true-life town of Iola is where she is born, before its eventual flooding to make the Blue Mesa Reservoir, and where we meet her as a 17-year-old experiencing first and illicit love with a young Native American boy who is a stranger in town. 

From Marya Johnston, Owner: This is one of the more well crafted stories I’ve read in ages.  There are no spare words or characters here — everything just fits seamlessly into a meticulously woven river of prose.  

This is a story of life, of surviving heartbreak and hard times, of living past grief and keeping one foot in front of another because there is no other option. Or as the character Will says, quoting his Ute grandfather, “Go as a river”; over the rocks, stuck in the eddys, down the waterfall. Just keep going.  

I fully expected to be underwhelmed by this novel that takes place in my part of the world. I am a native of the Gunnison Country, and any writer who sets a novel there has to meet a high bar with me.  Few writers get the details right.  Shelly Read not only gets it right, she’s dead on.  I know the author is too young to remember the the Gunnison Country before Blue Mesa Dam, but I do, and I’m astonished the descriptions are so accurate. Thanks, Shelley, for reminding me of the Gunnison Country of my childhood with such a beautifully written captivating story. She lives in the Gunnison Country.

Geology Underfoot on Colorado’s Western Slope

By Amy Ellwein, George Englemann, Carol Englemann, Jack Shroder.
Mountain Press
June 2022


From the publisher: This 10th book in the Geology Underfoot Series offers an inside view of the uniquely enigmatic landscape west of the Continental Divide in Colorado. In this arid region where mountain snowmelt drains through deep canyons en route to the Gulf of California, the crumpled gneisses of the Colorado Rockies meet the famous red rocks of the Colorado Plateau. Join a team of geologists as they use clear prose, concise illustrations, and dramatic full-color photographs to tell the deep-time stories of 26 geologic sites, including four giants of the national park system: Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado National Monument, and Dinosaur National Monument.

From Marya Johnston, Owner:  Finally, we have a geology book specifically for the Western Slope. The “Underfoot” series is geared to all levels of geologic interest and this book includes maps, photos, directions and tidbits that will make your drives and excursions in western Colorado a lot more interesting.  Amy Ellwein is a senior partner at Paradox Geologic and a research professor at Western Colorado University. She lives in Gunnison Country.

City of Gold

By Will Hobbs
Quill Tree Books
August 2021


From the publisher: Just weeks after arriving in Colorado to start a new farm, the Hollowell family is looking at disaster when15-year-old Owen witnesses the theft of their mules. Learning that Hercules and Peaches will likely be sold to the mines, Owen sets out to track the rustler over the mountains. The outlaw’s trail leads to Telluride, the turbulent “City of Gold.” For readers who love adventure and humor, Will Hobbs delivers a stirring tale of two brothers who will risk it all to overcome every odd against them.

From Didi Herald, Bookseller: This adventurous quest, set in the familiar beautiful and rugged terrain of the Western Slope, is a joy to share with others. I have always loved traditional Westerns but finding good new stories in the genre is challenging. I enjoy sharing this enthralling book with adults, kids, and teens who like adventure, authentic history, or accounts of travel with an unassuming but heroic protagonist. The local connections add to the appeal and it gets additional points for including a map of Owen’s journey through the Western Slope.  Will Hobbs lives in Durango.


Out West Books

533 Main St., Grand Junction


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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