A gift that always fits? A book! Here are some recommendations with Colorado connections

· Dec. 13, 2023, 11:13 am
(Clay Banks/Unsplash)

Books make great gifts. They’re entertaining, enlightening, and — to the relief of some — easy to wrap. This gift-giving season, Colorado Matters asked Emily Sinclair, owner of Paonia Books on Grand Avenue in Paonia, for recommendations of good reads with Colorado connections.


Gilded Mountain” by Kate Manning

This novel is set in 1907 in the fictional town of Moonstone, which is based on Marble, Colorado. At a time of harsh working conditions and the struggle to unionize, the daughter of an immigrant miner falls in love with the son of the robber baron boss. “It's got a love story. It's got a really pressing social concern. It's got a wonderful bit of Colorado history and it has some really fabulous characters.”


On Censorship” by James LaRue

LaRue, a librarian, discusses the impact of book banning on public institutions like libraries and schools. “His take on those who want to ban books is often very compassionate and understanding. He seeks to understand why certain books make them so anxious, but he's also pretty clear about there's a process and you don't always get what you like. And it's a really important manual for people who want to engage more with those issues.”


Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of our Planet” by Ben Goldfarb

This book studies the impact of Earth’s 40 million miles of roadways on wildlife, often through the lens of roadkill. Sinclair offers one example: “He's talking about swallows, and over a relatively short period of time, just around 20 years, swallows who are surviving are developing a different feather pattern and wingspan, because the ones that can swoop and dive and get away from cars are going to live longer than the ones who have the traditional broader wingspan and can't quite navigate. And that's happening across the globe. So this is really a call for us to think about how we use roads, and our larger ecosystems, and the world that we are a part of and our impact on that world.”

Older children

Different Kinds of Minds” by Temple Grandin

The renowned animal behaviorist’s new book for 8-12 year olds encourages them to celebrate their own unique way of seeing the world. “She goes through the history of famous people from Einstein, to Elon Musk, to her own experience and says, ‘These people are a little different, and here's what they've been able to give us because they see the world differently than we do.’ She never talks down to children.”

Younger children

Over and Under the Canyon” by Kate Messner

“It's a hardback children's book and it's quite beautifully illustrated. It tells the story of a mother and child who go out into the desert. And what's so interesting about it is that it talks about canyons, which we have an abundance of over here on the Western Slope. And not many children's books focus on canyons. We have books about mountains and ponds and rivers and oceans, but a canyon is a fascinating thing for a child.” 


Wise to the West” by Wendy Videlock

Videlock is the Western Slope poet laureate. “One of my favorite things about poetry is to read it aloud by myself, or to the dogs. And her poetry is just wonderfully sonic.”

A good laugh

Rocky Mountain High: A Tale of Boom and Bust in the New Wild Westby Finn Murphy

The author, who “has this wonderful kind of raconteur style where he's just a fun storyteller,” recounts his foray into the hemp business and everything that goes wrong. “So if you've got one of those people in your life who says, ‘well, I just want to read business books,’ this is kind of a hybrid. It's funny, it's smart, and good for a lot of people on your list.”

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