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Reading Regionally

Stack of books from 2024 Reading the West

This past winter, I participated in a bookseller commitee for the Reading the West book awards. The Reading the West book awards is an annual contest hosted by the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association. It honors books that showcase the spirit of the region and/or written by authors from the member states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming,

For my part, I was placed in the adult fiction group and I worked with booksellers from several states to create a short-list of five nominees. The picture above shows the stack of books that comprised the long-list of nominees.

You can visit Reading the West to see the short-lists in all of the catagories and vote for a winner.

Participating in the awards process made me consider how much I read regionally. I read some fantastic books that might not have been on my radar if not for the awards. One of my favorites was Alex Grecian's Red Rabbit, a hybrid western/horror/journey story with a surprising dose of heart. I loved Latoya Watkin's short story collection, Holler, Child. Watkin's characters are unforgettable. It didn't make the cut for the short-list, but I connected deeply with Karin Anderson's novel, What Falls Away. Set in rural Utah, Anderson's story had similarities to my paternal side of the family and made me feel an understanding towards my own roots.

All of this reading regionally made me think about my mission for Books Inside Boxes. At the forefront is my goal to bring awareness to indie bookstores, but I also want to showcase authors in different regions and give a sense of traveling throughout the US via book.

I'm curious about what books you'd recommend from your region? I've been thinking about how bookstores might stock their stores differently depending on location and that authors might be very popular in one area, but completely unknown in another. Who are you reading from your area? Do you read regionally?

When I'm working at Tattered Cover and I meet customers who are visiting from out-of-town, I generally ask them about their favorite local bookstore. I love this, because I'm nosy and I want to plan my vacations around bookstores. Of course, I'm also scoping out ideas for future Books Inside Boxes collaborations. However, I rarely ask what local authors people are reading.

Moving forward, I'm going to start asking this question. Starting here, starting now. Who are your local author recommendations? What books do you feel represent your area? I live in Colorado, which authors from your area might not be on my radar?


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