Literature

Catch Up With the Colorado Book Awards 2021 Finalist Readings

You might not be able to go to BookBar this year for the CBA finalist readings...but you can still have wine and apps.
You might not be able to go to BookBar this year for the CBA finalist readings...but you can still have wine and apps. Herry Lawford at Flickr
The early ’90s might not seem that long ago to some of us, but it’s been thirty years since America launched the Hubble telescope, Terminator 2 topped the box office, and C&C Music Factory was insisting it was “Gonna Make You Sweat,” much to the delight of every cardio class since. And it was in this fertile ground that the seeds for the Colorado Book Awards were planted.

In the years since, Coloradans have been invited to partake in an annual celebration of local literature, whether that means a book set in our state or one written by a writer who calls Colorado home.

Of course, the pandemic has changed things a little — Colorado Humanities had to take steps to develop online programming to continue reaching communities statewide despite social distancing requirements. “The need to turn to digital programming has opened new possibilities for us,” the group's website states, “and we believe it will become an important addition to our in-person program implementation in the future.”

The spring 2020 Colorado Book Awards finalist readings and the awards celebration were both hosted online, and the same holds true now in 2021. This first week in May offers back-to-back chances to see and hear finalist readings online: the short-listers for Children’s Lit will present on May 4 at 4:30 p.m. (in plenty of time for young ones to watch with their parents!), and finalists in General Fiction and Sci-Fi/Fantasy will read and answer questions at 7 p.m. on May 5. Registration is available at the CBA website, where log-in information and more details are available. All finalist books will be available for online order through BookBar.

But there are still popular categories left to read in the coming weeks: Biography and Creative Nonfiction will read on Wednesday, May 12; Literary Fiction and Poetry on May 19; and Mystery and Thriller will round out the 2021 readings on May 26. All readings begin at 7 p.m., and registration is at the CBA website. Winners will be announced at the online celebration event on June 26. Sign-up for that event is also available now.

Here’s a complete rundown of the finalists in all categories; consider it a wish list for all the bookish goodness Colorado has to offer from the past year:

Anthology
Stories That Need to Be Told 2020: A Tulip Tree Anthology edited by Jennifer Top (TulipTree Publishing)
Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers edited by Rachel Delaney Craft and Natasha Watts (RMFW Press)
Monsters, Movies & Mayhem edited by Kevin J. Anderson (WordFire Press)

Biography
Chasing Excellence: The Remarkable Life and Inspiring Vigilosophy of Coach Joe I. Vigil by Pat Melgares (Soulstice Publishing)
Heartbreak Kennel: The True Story of Max and His Breeder by Cary Unkelbach (Walden Resources Press)
The Scholar and the Struggle: Lawrence Reddick’s Crusade for Black History and Black Power by David A. Varel (University of North Carolina Press)

Children’s Literature
Cow Boy Is NOT a Cowboy by Gregory Barrington (HarperCollins)
Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration written by Donna Guthrie, illustrated by Åsa Gilland (Page Street Publishing)
I Will Dance written by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (Simon & Schuster)
Snoozapalooza written by Kimberlee Gard, illustrated by Vivian Mineker (Families)

Creative Nonfiction
The Unreality of Memory and Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
Edge of the Map: The Mountain Life of Christine Boskoff by Johanna Garton (Mountaineers Books)
No Option but North: The Migrant World and the Perilous Path Across the Border by Kelsey Freeman, photography by Tess Freeman (IG Publishing)
Bridging Worlds: A Sherpa’s Story by Pemba Sherpa and Jim McVey (Sherpa Publishing)

General Fiction
Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside by Stephanie Harper (Propertius Press)
Memories in the Drift: A Novel by Melissa Payne (Lake Union Publishing)
Other People’s Pets: A Novel by R.L. Maizes (Celadon Books)

General Nonfiction
Lean & Strong: Eating Skills, Psychology, and Workouts by Josh Hillis (On Target Publications)
Caregiving Done Differently: A Commonsense Approach for Families, Caregivers, and Seniors by Loretta J. Gilbert and Nancy E. Walker (The Common Sense Approach)
Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary by Sasha Geffen (The University of Texas Press)

Historical Fiction
Creatures of Charm and Hunger by Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Fierce Dreamer: A Novel by Linda Lafferty (Linda Lafferty)
Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan (Lake Union)

History
Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks written by Jeri Norgren, photography by John Fielder (John Fielder Publishing)
Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions From Starvation During World War I by Jeffrey B. Miller (Rowman & Littlefield)
The Bad Old Days of Colorado: Untold Stories of the Wild West by Randi Samuelson-Brown (Two Dot/Rowman & Littlefield)

Juvenile Literature
Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists written by Martha Freeman, illustrated by Katy Wu (Simon & Schuster)
When You Know What I Know by Sonja K. Solter (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel written by Fleur Bradley, illustrated by Xavier Bonet (Viking/Penguin Random House)

Literary Fiction
St. Christopher on Pluto by Nancy McKinley (West Virginia University Press)
The Gringa: A Novel by Andrew Altschul (Melville House Press)
The Loneliest Band in France: A Novella by Dylan Fisher (Texas Review Press)

Mystery
Death of a Car Salesman by Collin Brantmeyer (Ready Demolition Books)
Shadow Ridge: A Jo Wyatt Mystery by M.E. Browning (Crooked Lane Books/The Quick Brown Fox & Company)
Gone to Darkness by Barbara Nickless (Thomas & Mercer)

Pictorial
The Aspen Cookbook: 100+ Favorite Recipes From Local Chefs and Restaurants edited by Amanda Rae Busch, illustrated by Julia Bridgforth (Aspen Board of Realtors)
Chicana Activists of Colorado: Powerful Women, Paper Dolls and Their Stories by Deborah Martinez Martinez, illustrated by Robert W. Pacheco (Vanishing Horizons)
The American West in Art edited by Thomas Brent Smith and Jennifer R. Henneman (5 Continents Edition)

Poetry
A History of Kindness by Linda Hogan (Torrey House Press)
This Way to the Grand As-Is: New and Selected Poems by Aaron Anstett (Sagging Meniscus)
Anodyne by Khadijah Queen (Tin House)

Romance
A Cowboy State of Mind: A Creedence Horse Rescue Novel by Jennie Marts (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Shall We Dance? by Shelley Shepard Gray (Blackstone Publishing)
Custodian of the Spirits by Bronwyn Long Borne (The Wild Rose Press)

Science Fiction/Fantasy
Tower of the Four: The Champions Academy Episodes 1-3 by Todd Fahnestock (F4 Publishing)
White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton (Blackstone Publishing)
Once Again: A Novel by Catherine Wallace Hope (Alcove Press/Crooked Lane Books)

Thriller
The Burn Patient: A Vega and Middleton Novel by Sue Hinkin (Literary Wanderlust)
Winter Counts: A Novel by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Her Perfect Life: A Novel by Rebecca Taylor (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Young Adult Literature
10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon (Simon & Schuster)
Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario (Simon & Schuster)
Offline by Donna Cooner (Point/Scholastic)

For more information on the Colorado Book Awards and Colorado Humanities, check out the website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen