Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones. Courtesy Photo.

Add Boulder to Your Reading List


While winter reading typically brings to mind bulky tomes, logs crackling in the fireplace and perhaps a tot of good whiskey, the 2018 winter thus far has been more suitable for the fluffier reads of warmer days.

Not to worry, that big blizzard (fingers crossed) is bound to arrive sometime soon. In the meantime, here’s a list with a mix of light and heavier reading with ties to Boulder.

Jon Krakauer

Just about any of the narrative nonfiction by this writer who lives in Boulder is a good bet. Here are some of the best:

Into the Wild
“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

“Into the Wild” chronicles the journey of an idealistic young man who quit college to test himself in the wilderness of Alaska, where he died.

“Into Thin Air” describes Krakauer’s experience on Mount Everest, during which eight climbers died on the world’s highest peak.

“Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” is about the former NFL player who enlisted in the military after Sept. 11 and the U.S. government cover-up of the circumstances of his death by friendly fire.

“Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” is about the handling of college sexual assault cases.

Margaret Coel
Margaret Coel at a book signing with a reader. Courtesy Photo.

Margaret Coel

The Boulder author is likely best known for her 20-book Wind River mystery series, which is set on the Wyoming reservation of the Arapaho tribe.

However,  her biography, “Chief Left Hand” (Niwot in the Arapaho language), is worth a read for anyone curious about the man for whom many Boulder County landmarks are named. Fluent in English and desirous of co-existence with settlers, Chief Niwot is believed to have died of wounds sustained in the Sand Creek Massacre, in which an estimated 180 members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, mostly women and children, were killed as they camped peacefully.

Carrie Vaughn

It’s hard to go wrong with an author who lists herself as a werewolf psychologist on her website. Vaughn, who lives in the Boulder area, earned the distinction through her multi-book series featuring Kitty Norville, a werewolf talk show host in Boulder who counsels others with “supernatural” issues.

Vaughn has also written other urban fantasy novels, such as “Discord’s Apple,” as well as young adult books.

Stephen Graham Jones

This University of Colorado professor is the author of more than 20 novels, as well as short stories. His books span several genres, including science fiction, crime and horror, as well as comic books. Jones’ 2016 book, “Mongrels,” is a coming of age werewolf story, where the adolescent main character awaits the day when he is able to “wolf out.”

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones. Courtesy Photo.

A different element in the story is the description of the family’s hardscrabble, nomadic life, similar to the author’s own upbringing. In the book, family members take odd jobs and then move on after their true nature causes them to wreak havoc. The book, which was nominated for several awards, has been characterized as violent and funny.

Stephen King

No, of course, King doesn’t live here, but he did make Boulder his home for a year. It was during that time that he conceived the plot of “The Shining.” King and his wife spent a night at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park in 1974. They were the only guests, since the hotel was closing for the season the next day. On his website, King describes how he conceived of the plot:

“That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. …  I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”

If you’ve only seen the movie, the book is definitely worth reading. Side note: You could turn those pages in the hotel’s most requested room, 217, where King stayed.

The Boulder Book Store

If you need more ideas, this Boulder institution highlights local authors in addition to carrying more than 100,000 titles.

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december, 2023

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