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Good Summer Reads in Paperback and Colorado Book Awards Announced

In time for economical summer reading, two of my favorite novels of 2009 are out in paperback this month: Vestal McIntyre‘s Lake Overturn (available now), and Jim Lynch‘s Border Songs, which hits bookstores July 13.

McIntyre grew up in Yampa, Idaho, and Lake Overturn is set in the fictional Idaho town of Eula. Boy did I gush over that book—I wrote: “Lake Overturn is a Novel with a capital N—it does everything that great novels have always done: entertaining, transporting, edifying, and ultimately satisfying the reader, and McIntyre has written it with incredible heart.” Lake Overturn won several awards and was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and a Washington Post Best Book of 2009, not to mention one of my top 5 Western books of last year.

In my review of Jim Lynch’s Border Songs, I wrote, “Strange things are going on around the border between Washington state and British Columbia in Jim Lynch’s rich, imaginative novel…Quirky, funny, fresh, and lyrical, Border Songs will win over just about any reader.” Border Songs was picked as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Toronto Star, St. Louis Dispatch, and New West, among others. Lynch will be in Missoula at the Montana Festival of the Book in October.

• The winners of the 2010 Colorado Book Awards were announced at the Aspen Summer Words Festival recently. We’ve featured many of the books that rose to the top here on New West. According to the Grand Junction Sentinel, 146 books were entered in the 13 categories this year.

It’s nice to see A Dozen on Denver: Stories, the anthology of Denver fiction that Patti Thorn, Books Editor of the Rocky Mountain News, put together just before the newspaper ended its 150-year run was the winner in the Anthology/Collection category. That anthology also has a design that is just about my favorite one of last year, with mountains and Denver’s skyline embossed directly on the cover. (I’m not the only one who thinks this: the cover, by Margaret McCullogh, won PubWest’s Gold Award for design). The Colorado Book Award win is a welcome memorial to the Rocky.

And the other winners are:

Biography: Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists by Dyana Z. Furmansky.

Children’s Literature: Grandmother, Have the Angels Come? by Denise Vega, illustrated by Erin Eitter Kono.

Creative Nonfiction: Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe.

General Nonfiction: Voices of the American West by Corinne Platt and Meredith Ogilby.

General Fiction: Historical & Romance: A Land Beyond Ravens: Book 4 of the Macsen’s Treasure Series by Kathleen Cunningham Guler.

Genre Fiction: The Radio Magician and Other Stories by James Van Pelt.

History: First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army by Peter Eichstaedt.

Juvenile Literature: Artsy-Fartsy: An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel by Karla Oceanak, illustrated by Kenddra Spanjer.

Literary Fiction: Spoon by Robert Greer.

Pictorial: Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament by George Stranahan and Nicole Beinstein Strait.

Poetry: Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems by Bin Ramke.

Young Adult Literature: The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau.

• And just to reiterate what I mentioned last week: I’m looking for guest bloggers to report on the many literary events taking place throughout the summer and fall in the West. Are you going to the Equality State Book Festival in Casper or the Jackson Hole Writers Conference? The High Plains Book Festival in Billings or the Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula? Attending the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe or the Taos Summer Writers Conference? Hitting the Hemingway Festival in Ketchum? Or attending any of the other literary festivals and conferences that are so numerous in this region that I can barely keep up with them? Please send an email to me at for more details.

Please follow me on Twitter and {encode=”” title=”email me”} with any regional books news or events.

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  1. Congratulations on the award, Jim.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more about Border Songs. We’re thrilled to have Jim at the Montana Festival of the Book, along with Brady Udall (The Lonely Polygamist), Jess Walter (The Financial Lives of the Poets), Kevin Canty (Everything) and over 50 other authors. I hope someone will blog the Festival!

    Thanks for continuing to provide the best coverage of Western literature out there.

  3. Kim,

    That sounds like a great lineup for the Montana Festival of the Book, as usual. What I like best about the four writers you mentioned is that they are all funny. I hope this is a new trend in Western literature.