Ten Great Gift Books by Colorado Authors in 2018

Don't bother shaking it; it's a book.
Don't bother shaking it; it's a book. Jodimichelle @ Flickr
Gift-giving can be a challenge. After all, we can’t all afford to buy our loved ones new Audis, each with a big red bow and parked at a jaunty angle in the manicured driveway of an Architectural Digest house while a light and completely unthreatening snow falls but does not accumulate. (Can we all agree that we do not like people who live like that?) So what is a real person with a real budget to do for presents this year? Books, folks, books.

In that spirit (the holiday one, not the one in which we hate on the Audi people), here are ten home-grown Colorado books with a little something for every paginated taste, from literary fiction to memoir to poetry to the spectrum of genre: fantasy, thriller, romance and more. Any one of these books would make a great gift under whatever tree you might have handy. Or, you know, your Festivus pole. We’re all-inclusive.

Europa Editions
Mad Boy, Nick Arvin
Let’s start the list with the inimitable Nick Arvin, a graduate of the famed Iowa Workshop, a recipient of awards from Isherwood, the American Academy of Arts and the NEA, to name only a few. Oh, and he makes his home here in Denver, where he just keeps writing books that are damn fine reading. His latest, Mad Boy: An Account of Henry Phipps in the War of 1812, is set during America’s “Forgotten War,” but it’s really about the same things that all of his books are deliciously about: the human condition, and the things we’ll do to survive.

click to enlarge BANCROFT PRESS
Bancroft Press

Her Kind of Case
, Jeanne Winer
Boulder attorney Jeanne Winer first came to the attention of readers with her novel The Furthest City Light, and she returned to bookshelves in 2018 with Her Kind of Case. Winer’s unique take on the legal drama is effective evidence of every day of her decades of service as a criminal defense lawyer, and also reveals a quick wit, characters that convince, and what ends up being much more than a mystery.

Rough Beauty, Karen Auvinen
Award-winning poet, University of Colorado Boulder instructor, and former Colorado Artist-in-Residence Karen Auvinen at one point retreated to a primitive cabin in order to live in peace as a working writer while embracing all that nature has to offer. When a fire consumes not only the cabin, but also every word she’d written in her time there, Auvinen is faced with having to reconcile her want for solitude with her need for community. Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living is the lyric, pitch-perfect telling of that reconciliation, capturing both the spirit of the Rocky Mountains and the people who make it home.

In the House in the Dark of the Woods, Laird Hunt
The New Yorker praises University of Denver professor Laird Hunt's In the House in the Dark of the Woods as “striking, sensual prose.” Fans of Hunt’s work have come to expect lyric journeys into strange and entrancing places, and this new novel is no exception. A story centering on colonial New England and the witchcraft-obsessed culture of its leaders has been written before, but not like this: with true horror. You’ll never think of American history in the same way again — and that’s a good thing.

click to enlarge WORDFIRE PRESS
Wordfire Press
Steampunk Banditos: Sex Slaves of Shark Island, Mario Acevedo
Denver’s Mario Acevedo returns to his Felix Gomez series (which began with the titillating local title Nymphos of Rocky Flats) with book seven, Steampunk Banditos: Sex Slaves of Shark Island. Is it subtle? Not at all. But it ain’t supposed to be, and Acevedo knows exactly how to pour on the sex, violence, sci-fi and horror in exactly the right rollicking measures. If you’ve been reading the Felix Gomez series, you’ll want to continue it with this book — and if you haven’t, you’ll want to consider starting. Side note: Acevedo was one of the editors of the short fiction collection Blood and Gasoline, which we covered earlier this fall, and is also worth a hard (boiled) look.

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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