9 books about Colorado history for your summer reading list
Summer is a time for camping trips, relaxing by the pool, and grilling on the patio - all of which are even better when accompanied by an incredible book.
You probably already know about American gems like The Shining and On the Road that feature Colorado destinations. Here’s some lesser-known books about a variety of topics related to Colorado history we recommend you check out this summer.
Colorado Excursions with History, Hikes and Hops by Ed Sealover. This unique guide features ten three-day excursions full of natural wonders, historical landmarks and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Find out where in the state you can find a brewery, a winery and a distillery all on one block. An awarded journalist, Sealover also wrote the book as well as the article Holding Tight to a Local Food Heritage: The Rio Culebra Cooperative in Colorado Heritage.
Colorado Then & Now by Grant Collier. If you missed Collier’s lecture, you can find out about his incredible adventures in this book featuring 200 photographs from across the state. For the past two decades, Collier has been literally retracing the steps of his great-great-grandfather, the pioneer photographer Joseph Collier, to capture images that show in detail the changes that have occurred in Colorado over the past 145 years.
Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies by Thomas G. Andrews. This small high-country valley tells a specific story about the environmental and societal changes that have taken place since the last ice age. Integrating geology and archaeology as well as the experiences of the creatures and peoples who have graced this corner of the Earth, this book underlines the importance of understanding local history in order to comprehend broader issues. Andrews also wrote about the conflicts leading up to the Ludlow Massacre for Colorado Heritage.
Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country by William Philpott and William Cronon. With more changes anticipated for I-70, there couldn’t be a better time to revisit this book about the dramatic transformations that have taken place in our state as the result of tourism, population booms in destination towns, and environmental politics.
Appealing for Justice: One Lawyer, Four Decades and the Landmark Gay Rights Case: Romer V. Evans by Susan Berry Casey. This book tells the story of Jean Dubofsky, the first woman appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court and the lawyer who won a U.S. Supreme Court case that was pivotal for gay Americans. In addition to highlighting Dubofsky's many legal accomplishments, it provides an honest look at the challenges of a being a woman trying to do it all. It is considered a must read for anyone who wants to know more about historic breakthroughs in civil rights and social justice. Author Casey also wrote an article about Romer v. Evans in a 2016 issue of Colorado Heritage.
One Man’s West by David G. Lavender. Read the captivating words of a mid-century pioneer as he recounts a lonely, demanding life in southwest Colorado when it was home to prospectors, cowboys, ranchers, and mountaineers. Lavender also wrote a book about Colorado’s Bent’s Fort and is a featured author in Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing.
The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe. Recent winner of the Colorado Book Award for Nonfiction, this book centers around the lives of immigrant children attending Denver's South High School and their dedicated teacher. Thorpe’s perspective on some of the most pressing political issues of our time is at once fresh, personal, and nuanced. If you’re a teacher or parent, check out our recommended children’s books.
Red Rocks: The Concert Years by G. Brown. It all began in 1906 when Denver's own Pietro Satriano and his 25-piece brass band took to the stage now known as Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Learn about the history of this legendary venue through hundreds of photographs and interviews compiled by the director of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Music Lovers, be sure to stay tuned for the continuation of our Tiny Library Concert series this fall.
Walking into Colorado’s Past by Ben Fogelberg and Steve Grinstead. Few things are better than a hike through a Colorado landscape, and one of them is a hike that also take you through time. This book features 50 walks to historic places for all ages, like former mines, old homesteads, art-filled canyons. Grinstead is the editor of Heritage Magazine as well as the anthology Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing.