Best Books of 2019: The staff at the Bookworm of Edwards picked their favorite titles across 10 categories

The Bookworm in Edwards has participated in Small Business Saturday since the event's inception in 2010. Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro said the Saturday after Thanksgiving is now a better sales day than Black Friday.
Townsend Bessent |

Getting more than 30 professional readers to agree on what makes for a great book is not easy. But each year the Bookworm staff duke it out over thousands of titles, eventually (and peacefully) selecting their ten favorite books of the year.

“If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that life is too short to read bad books,” said Nicole Magistro, owner of the Bookworm of Edwards. “I truly survive on recommendations. That’s the great part about having so many readers on our staff that all read different types of books.”

Still, with many voices comes many opinions.

“It’s rare that we all agree on books, but this time of year we manage to come to a consensus,” longtime manager Christopher Green says. “We hotly debate the merits of most books year-round, but these are the books we can all get behind.”

Here are the 10 books the Bookworm staff ultimately decided on as the best books of the year. Head out to the shop in Edwards for Small Business Saturday and pick up some titles.

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Universal Favorite

“This Tender Land” by William Kent Kreuger

“This Tender Land” by William Kent Kreuger earned the title of Best Book of the Year for its Huck Finn-esque coming of age story.
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This pick earned the Best Book of the Year status.

“It’s a coming-of-age odyssey, a modern Huck Finn,” said bookseller Lisa Ekelman. “This riveting story is an absolute must read and is destined to be an American classic!”

“The story lies at the intersection of coming of age and adventure,” Green said. “It recounts a river voyage in the Summer of 1936 as a group of children find family in each other. They face adversity and tragedy with indomitable hope, and they capture your heart along the way.”

Best of the West

“Deep Creek” by Pam Houston

“Deep Creek” by Pan Houston does a great job of showcasing Colorado’s landscape though a classic Western memoir.
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Having a book that really reflects the Colorado landscape is important to everyone on the indie bookshop’s staff.

“I love the mountains and well written memoirs, so this book spoke to me from the first page. It’s a true western classic,” Magistro said. “You know Pam from ‘Cowboys are my Weakness,’ but she’s all grown up now – writing about the landscape as much as herself. Its writing is redemptive and empowering.”

Best of Narritive Nonfiction

“The Mosquito” by Timothy Winegard

“The Mosquito” by Timothy Winegard explains how and why the mosquito has affected so much of human history and scientific development.
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Great for science nerds and history buffs alike, this book took the Best Narrative Nonfiction category.

“This book is perfect for any reader,” event manager Makena Burner said. “It’s a detailed account of the mosquito’s impact on the course of human history as we know it. It’s a fascinating and unique book full of unputdownable science, history, and political intrigue, with a good dose of memoir mixed in.”

Best Page Turner in Hardback

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides is a dark, twisted page turner bound to keep readers hooked right to the surprise ending.
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Resident thriller reader and gift buyer Allie Gilliland loved “The Silent Patient.”

“This debut novel is dark, twisted, suspenseful, and just generally unputdownable,” she said. “The ending caught me off guard for sure.”

Best Page Turner in Paperback

“November Road” by Lou Berney

“November Road” by Lou Berney combines crime story, love story and road trip story against the backdrop of John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.
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Bookseller Ekelman found excellent storytelling in“November Road.”

“The writing is smart, gritty, and exceptional,” she said. “It’s a crime story, a love story and a road trip set against the assassination of JFK. I raced through this blockbuster of a novel.”

Best Literary Fiction

“The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christi Leftari

“The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christi Leftari uses flashbacks and dreams to paint a picture of loss, which eventually ties into experiences in an asylum.
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This title proved to be one of lead bookseller Karin Barker’s favorites this year.

“It’s an amazing rendering of a journey to asylum after tragic loss,” she said. “This is beautifully written with flashbacks and dreams. Very effective, wonderful, and moving!”

Best Cookbook

“Half Baked Harvest Super Simple” by Tieghan Gerard

“Half Baked Harvest Super Simple” by Tieghan Gerard breaks down recipes into their simplest ingredients and steps, without sacrificing taste.
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Give the chefs in your life some new reading material.

“The carne asada tostadas are to die for,” technical support manager Bartas Urba said. “I didn’t think that three or so ingredients and three simple steps in a pressure cooker could make food that mouthwatering and delicious.”

Best of the Mountains

“Man Behind the Maps” by James Niehaus

“Man Behind the Maps” by James Niehaus features stories and hand-painted ski trail maps from the artist and cartographer behind nearly all the ski maps we recognize today.
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Skiers and snowboarders in your life will love this book, as it tells a story few have heard, and has lots of hand-painted pictures.

“The ski trail maps you see on brochures are all made by one man.” Urba said. “He draws and paints them by hand. It’s a gorgeous gift and full of breathtaking masterpieces.”

Best Family Read Aloud

“Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly

“Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly was the staff’s collective favorite children’s book.
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This was a staff-wide favorite.

“It’s a heartwarming story about one girl who takes a journey in order to connect with a whale who has no one else,” Children’s Specialist Ali Teague said. “I absolutely loved it.”

Magistro loved reading it to her eight-year-old son, Silas.

“The writing quality is fantastic, so reading this novel aloud to kids is a treat for any grownup. Independent readers will find science, adventure and their own empathetic pulse beat harder,” she said.

Best Book About Books

“How to Raise a Reader”by Paul and Maria Russo

“How to Raise a Reader” by Paul and Maria Russo, the editors of the New York Times Book Review, wrote this for parents, teachers and anyone who hopes to help children discover a love of reading early in life.
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The renowned editors of the New York Times Book Review shared their thoughts on building a love of reading in children.

“This lovely book is great for parents, teachers and anyone who wants to foster a lifelong love for books,” Magistro said. “It’s full of great references, age appropriate suggestions, new research and awesome recommendations. It should be in every home and classroom.”

Magistro encourages customers and readers to stop by and talk to a Bookworm staff member about of these suggestions, and perhaps others that would appeal to you or the loved ones in your life. The Bookworm is open all day on Small Business Saturday, which is typically busier than Black Friday for Eagle County’s independent bookseller.

“Books make great gifts, for both you and the people you love,” Magistro said. “No matter which one you pick, you can’t go wrong.”

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