Poor Richard's Book Shoppe 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 Poor Richard’s Books in Colorado Springs recommend “Go As a River,” “Gender Queer” and “Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones.”

Go As a River

By Shelley Read
Spiegel and Grau
February 2023


From the publisher: Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado — the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses. Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, “Go as a River” is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding courage, resilience, friendship, and, finally, home — where least expected.

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: Often when we are in a conversation and a question is asked about a moving experience, we involuntarily place our palm just below our throat, gently pat that area a few times to calm ourselves before we speak. We take a deep breath and dig for the words that can adequately express the tenderness we have experienced.

That is what it feels like when trying to describe this astonishing debut novel. This is a story of loss, and courage. Rather than witnessing the appalling and cruel events that shape the life of the main character, we are carried along as part of her in her journey. We are there during agonizing moments and the spur of the moment decision that forever alters the lives of a handful of people. In the end, there is solace and comfort that is graciously found.

Gender Queer: A Memoir

By Maia Kobabe
Oni Press
May 2019


From the publisher: In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, “Gender Queer” is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity — what it means and how to think about it — for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere. 

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: Gender identification options are overwhelming, incredibly so. Maia Kobabe’s inventive and insightful graphic novel memoir (think in the tradition of Alison Bechdel) gives us insight into the struggles and challenges of those around us when trying to find their pronouns or sexual identity they are comfortable with, and can embrace. 

We learn that there isn’t a “one size fits all” category anymore, and while it can be an issue (see any news report from any outlet on any given day…) Kobabe shows us just how important it is for those searching to find their kinfolk. Shared with humor, candor and complete sincerity, we learn to accept ourselves as Kobabe accepts eirs, and, most importantly, we are given permission to continually mess up the pronoun usage. It’s the effort and thought that count.

Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

By Hettie Judah
Penguin Books
March 2023


From the publisher: Inspired by the lapidaries of the ancient world, this book is a beautifully designed collection of true stories about 60 different stones that have influenced our shared history. Through the realms of art, myth, geology, philosophy and power, the story of humanity can be told through the minerals and materials that have allowed us to evolve and create. From the Taiwanese national treasure known as the Meat-Shaped Stone to Malta’s prehistoric “fat lady” temples carved in globigerina limestone to the amethyst crystals still believed to have healing powers, “Lapidarium” is a jewel box of far-flung stones and the stories that accompany them.

From Jeffery Payne, Assistant Retail Manager: I am a complete pushover for a beautiful book — ask anyone I work with. “Lapidarium” is simply a stunning book filled with alluring illustrations and lovely color. The book is a challenge to define by genre. It is a geological reference mixed with ancient history (it is about stones after all) with a bit of sociology, mythology and art tossed in. We get delightful morsels of knowledge and tidbits of stories that tease us just enough to wonder what else is hidden, in plain sight, about stones, gems and minerals. 


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.

The Colorado Sun

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