This week at The Bookworm: Reading the West

Special to the Daily
All books mentioned in this article are available for purchase at The Bookworm of Edwards.
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Everyone who visits or lives in our region knows that it is a truly unique place. So it is no surprise that the books that come out of our region are just as unique. Every year, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association hosts the Reading the West Awards to honor these books.

“Reading the West was conceived to celebrate the courage, tenacity and indie spirit of the bookstores in the MPIBA. The goal is to bring books to readers, to promote the best regional authors and stories, and to feature the passionate recommendations of booksellers,” according to the Reading the West website. “The awards celebrate the rich variety of writing in and about this region, and reflect the extraordinary diversity of the reading public.”

The books are nominated by publishers and authors as the best fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children set in one of the states, or created by an author living in the region, and then voted on by committees of regional booksellers.

The winners are announced at a live public event in the spring. This year, the event is hosted on June 7 via Zoom by Julie Murphy, who won the 30th RTW Award for Young Readers.

There is at least one staff pick, Bookworm best book, or favorite author in every category. For the full list of short-list titles visit:

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“Cloud Cuckoo Land,” by Anthony Doerr, was nominated in the adult fiction category. This was The Bookworm’s Best Genre Bending Book of 2021, although Karin Barker of The Bookworm says it could be the best book of the decade. “Five characters from three time frames are connected by an ancient manuscript and their search for a ‘Utopia in the Sky.’ The characters become stewards of the book and their actions reverberate through time. Doerr’s writing is awe-inspiring and the Odyssey he takes us on is brilliant; it shows the power of stories to connect us,” she said.

Matt Lee, Bookworm proprietor, loves adult nonfiction, and this is what he had to say about one of the finalists, “After One Hundred Winters,” by Margaret O. Jacobs: “University of Nebraska historian, Margaret Jacobs, urges readers to face our nation’s violent and duplicitous past with Native Americans and to work towards a truth and reconciliation process. Jacobs details the way the U.S. government ravaged The Ponca and Pawnee people of what is now Nebraska, and it is a truly sad story.”

Poetry enthusiast, Caely McHale, said the following about “The Antrobus Perseverance” by Raymond Antrobus, one of the poetry finalists: “This collection of poetry amplifies emotion like a cathedral amplifies sound, and then transcends the gilded ceiling — ‘I have left earth in search of an audible god.’ These surprising and powerful poems reach towards literary canon, outer space, and his own childhood to redefine perseverance, which comes to mean the precious balance between loss and the memory of the lost, surviving a life lived in duality, and the continuously brave act of compassion.”

Another Bookworm Best Book of 2021 found its way into the adult biography category; “Powder Days,” by Heather Hansman. Bookseller, Amy Guercio, said: “The author takes a year to travel throughout the ski industry to answer the question: Is it still possible to live the ski bum lifestyle? Her research dives into every important topic — housing shortages, low wages, mental health issues and impending climate changes.”

Young adult fantasy lover, Adri Durbin, said the following about “This Poison Heart,” by Kalynn Bayron: “An exciting new story from the author of ‘Cinderella is Dead.’ Eurydice wants to quietly get control of her ability to make plants grow. She spends the summer in a poison garden, in close proximity to some of the most deadly species on earth. Loved the elements of Greek mythology.”

Former Bookworm owner, Nicole Magistro, wrote a picture book called, “Read Island,” which was the Bookworm’s Best Picture Book of 2021. Bookseller Kathleen Dawson said, “A very charming book with absolutely beautiful illustrations! This is a celebration of, and a love letter to, reading and books. It encapsulates the feelings books gave me as a child.”

Register for the virtual awards ceremony by reading this story on and clicking the registration link, and find out which books were voted Best of the West. All books are available for purchase at The Bookworm of Edwards.

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