Books on the West we think you might like — High Country News – Know the West

Some are brand new, some are off the shelves, some are for kids and some are yours.

When you live in the West, with its gorgeous mountains and sublime deserts, sometimes you feel like you need the dark as an excuse to stay indoors instead. To enjoy another afternoon in the great outdoors. But now that daylight saving time is over, early evenings season has arrived — and it’s time to indulge in the joy of reading. Since there are so many great books about the West out there, we asked the staff what attracted them this year, either for the first time or again. We hope you find something that keeps you informed, inspires, and has fun, at least until it snows and it’s time for waxing. Until then, we wish you a happy read!

Site Fidelity: Stories

by Claire Boyles
208 pages, hardcover: $16
W Norton & Company, June 2021

I loved these interconnected short stories, spanning decades and distances but continuing back to the high plains of northeastern Colorado. The characters grapple with the landscape – its beauty, its frailty, its cruelty – and with each other, and while a few find peace, they all discover new ways to coexist. The audiobook, performed by a diverse crew, is a treat.

—Michel Nigues, Contributing Editor

Watch Raven: An Alaskan Life by Richard K. Nelson

by Hank Lentfer
Hardcover, 256 pages: $22
Mountaineer Books, 2020

It was Richard K. Nelson is a devoted Athabascan and Alaskan Native student with whom he has lived and learned. As an anthropologist, he broke with tradition every step of the way, and his life and work were richer for that. Alaskan colleague Hank Lintefer does an amazing job of bringing up touching moments from Nelson’s life and work, weaving them into a beautiful homage that illuminates what makes life extraordinary.

– Jennifer Sahn, Editor in Chief

Dangerous Topics: James De Souls and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon

by Kenneth R. Coleman
Softcover, 240 pages: $20
Oregon State University Press, October 2017

I stick to a good historical work that reads like fiction. The story of James Souls, a black whaler who settled for a stint in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1800s, seems relevant in 2021. I love the way it challenges the original Oregon legend, painting a picture of a diverse and multi-ethnic community in the midst of a battle over identity and belonging. and sweat.

— Sarah Sacks, Associate in Climate Justice, NorthDisk

Pancho rabbit and wolf

by Duncan Tonatiuh
Hardcover, 32 pages: $18
Harry N. Abrams, 2013

Drought, border politics, corruption, and agricultural justice don’t usually appear in children’s books, but Tonateo has crafted a vivid adventure story about a boy’s perilous journey to… North To find his father, a migrant worker lost in large fields of carrots and lettuce. It engages children pre-kindergarten and up, and promotes themes of family dedication, courage, togetherness and determination.

We are the protectors of water

By Carol Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Jawad
Hardcover, 40 pages: $14
Roaring Brook Press, 2020

Gentle enough for preschoolers while still being honest with the seriousness of pipeline issues, this book has garnered heaps of acclaim for its poetic presentation of contemporary Indigenous protest movements. This year Jawad became the first Native American to win the Caldecott Medal for lush illustrations that evoke the book’s themes of resistance and resilience, biological interdependence, brave vulnerability, stewardship, and the triumph of life.

—Brian Oster, Clerk for the Bureau of Aboriginal Affairs

The Way Winter Comes: Alaskan Stories

By Sherry Simpson with pictures of Charles Mason
Hardcover, 164 pages: $26
Sasquatch Books, 1998

I returned to this book after the unexpected death of the author and my previous mentor this year. The collection takes you deep into the tranquil land of Alaska and its diverse wildlife. If you are looking to discover intimate details of the situation or fall in love with the place again, this slim size will not disappoint. Stories that are personal in nature and written in lyrical prose, delight and calm like the first snow.

The Oak Flat: The Battle for the Holy Land in the American West

by Lauren Redness
Hardcover, 288 pages: $23
Random House, 2020

This visual non-fiction book gives a personal look at the battle against the copper mine at Chi’chil Bildagoteel, or Oak Flat, in Arizona, a culturally important site for the San Carlos Apache and other indigenous people. While High Country News Having covered the topic, Redniss’ lively illustrations add depth to the story as she follows three generations of Apaches, and others, in their efforts – political, emotional and spiritual – to stop the mine. The book remains in time as the conflict continues. A paperback version was released this month.

— Gretchen King, Digital Editorial Director

Why There Are No Fish: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

by Lulu Miller
Hardcover, 225 pages: $17
Simon & Schuster, April 2021

In this autobiographical, part memoir, Miller explores questions in her life as she tries to find answers in the life of a dead fish scientist nearly a century ago. In a tale that connects centuries and coasts, it is ironically grounded in the power of chaos. When I first sat down with the book in the middle of last winter and with the pandemic spreading, I felt like an intimate, fun conversation with a good friend.

Battleborn: Stories

by Claire Faye Watkins
Softcover, 304 pages: $16
Riverhead Books, 2012

Battle BornHis cliched, short stories from another world can be revisited frequently, transporting the reader into the desperate lives of Faye Watkins’ characters. Flavorware Best said, her stories “carry the weight and destruction of entire novels.” A decade after it was published, Vaye Watkins’ debut is still radioactive.

—Luna Anna Archey, Assistant Photo Editor

Idaho: a novel

by Emily Roskovic
Softcover, 336 pages: $11
Random House, 2017

Intimate and unsettling, Ruskovitch’s first book made the hair on the back of my neck stand up several times. Set in the mountains of northern Idaho—inspired by where the author grew up—the story of a family’s grief and reckoning unfolds against the backdrop of a lively landscape. It’s a captivating tale that all begins with a seemingly harmless journey to cut wood. If you love the local fantasy, mystery, and suspense of Celeste Ng, then this might be the western novel for you.

Wild Billionaire: Super Riches and the Remaking of the American West

by Justin Farrell
Softcover, 392 pages: $17
Princeton University Press, March 2020

A year later, I can’t stop coming back to this book. Farrell delves into the attitudes of the wealthy in Jackson Hole, and his analysis of their approaches to conservation, open spaces, Western metaphors and the small towns they hail from is quite remarkable. I’ll never think about conservation easements in the same way again, and find myself applying ideas from this book to areas across the region grappling with income inequality. Although it is sometimes read more like an academic essay than an accessible work of non-fiction (Farrell is a professor, after all), the method wild billionaire Connecting themes of franchise, US Western and nature is well worth the read.

—Kylie Mohr, Intern, NorthDisk Bureau

Floating Coasts: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

by Bathsheba Demuth
Hardcover: 448 pages, $16
W Norton & Company, 2020

floating coasts It is my favorite book of the year. In this complex history of Beringia, its people, and the vital ecosystem of a contested Arctic region, Demuth explicitly refuses to treat history as stories of human progress. It comprises an entire vibrant landscape, shaped by the modern ideologies of the American Empire and the Soviet Union, as well as by geological forces. Demuth nicely tells the story of resource extraction and control, committed by aliens and their vision of progress, through animals, people, and ideas.

— Theo Whitcombe, Intern, South Office

The Unreality of Memory and Other Essays

by Elisa Jabert
Softcover: 256 pages, $16
Farrar, Strauss and Giroud, 2020

Julian Green (or someone else) once admitted: “Without a doubt, I buy a lot of books. What a pity I can’t buy time to read them.” This is always true, but every now and then a book pulls you in and refuses to let you go. That’s exactly what Denver writer Elisa Gabert does unrealistic memory, which the back cover aptly describes as a collection of “provocative and scholarly essays on disaster culture, climate anxiety, and our growing sense of death.” Gabert analyzes deadly transformations and our strange obsession with disasters past, present, and future, from the plague to Chernobyl. These articles made me look at and see this strange world, me, with eyes – and mind – wide open.

cold millions

by Jess Walter
Hardcover: 337 pages, $28.99
Harper, 2020

Imagination has an extraordinary ability to transport us to other times and places. in a cold millions, Jess Walter sweeps us up in the lives of two brothers caught up in the violent labor struggles of the early twentieth century. Spokane, Washington, and Butte are vividly revived in Montana, as are real-life figures such as activist and feminist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. I searched for this book because my grandfather was imprisoned for IWW activism in Spokane when he was at the age of the ideal young protagonists, but soon the impulsive party and cautious Rye won my heart for them.

—Diane Sylvan, copy editor

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