The best books about Denver

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Denver and why they recommend each book.

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A Short History of Denver

By Stephen J. Leonard, Thomas J. Noel,

Book cover of A Short History of Denver

An outstanding history book of Denver filled with interesting details. Short enough not to bore me. Detailed enough to grasp the significant events, people, buildings, and aspects of Denver that give it a well-rounded and thorough view. Well organized and researched. This book is a treasure for Denver's history. I applaud and appreciate the authors for putting their knowledge and research into the hands of the public is such an easy-to-read book form.


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Secret Denver

By Eric Peterson, David Lewis,

Book cover of Secret Denver: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure

After reading a lot of Denver history and guidebooks, I found Secret Denver a fun addition to my collection. Sometimes I enjoy going off the beaten path of traditional guidebooks, and Secret Denver has ideas of what to explore and obscure facts that are interesting. Not all entries are in Denver proper, so one can also go outside the city limits for a few outings if desired. 


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Denver Then and Now

By Joshua Dinar,

Book cover of Denver Then and Now

I like reading about Denver's history, but I love seeing pictures bring that history to life. This book shows old pictures of buildings and compares them with the present-day look. In some cases, beautiful old buildings no longer exist or have been drastically altered. This is a great coffee table book. 


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Hell's Belles, Revised Edition

By Clark Secrest,

Book cover of Hell's Belles, Revised Edition: Prostitution, Vice, and Crime in Early Denver, With a Biography of Sam Howe, Frontier Lawman

This is a no-holds-barred account of prostitution in Denver’s Market Street district with all the accompanying Wild West behavior this implies. Secrest’s account is well researched, the photographs are fascinating, and it brings the seedy side of old Denver back to life! Be prepared for rather graphic descriptions of “the trade” replete with accounts of alcohol, drugs, and varying forms of violence and crime. A must-read for people interested in Denver’s History, the Wild West, or frontier prostitution.


Who am I?

I recall the exact moment when my interest sparked about frontier prostitution and Denver’s underbelly — a friend mentioned the ‘bad blood’ in her family — an ancestor who was a second-rate madam and who employed her own daughters. The quest started. Who were these women, and why did they make the choices they did? I’ve spent years chasing down traces of the old west’s prostitutes, fascinated by their identities and lives. The west had opportunities for women who were willing to take chances. As a fifth-generation Coloradoan, I hoped to capture the story of these enterprising and overlooked women, their lives, and the world around them.


I wrote...

Market Street Madam

By Randi Samuelson-Brown,

Book cover of Market Street Madam

What is my book about?

A rollicking tale of blurred lines, flowing booze, played-out miners, and upstairs girls.

Annie Ryan is running a second-rate brothel in 1890s Denver with an eye toward expansion. By chance, she encounters Lydia Chambers, a society woman suffering from a laudanum habit and a bad marriage, who owns a property on the infamous Market Street. Annie’s fortunes at the brothel turn on her niece Pearl, a pretty young woman swept up in Denver’s underworld of jealousy, booze, and vice – until murder stalks the good-time girls and puts everyone’s future in doubt. Market Street Madam delivers a compelling look at the intrigues of the Wild West, where women were enterprising and justice could be had…for a price.

If the Ice Had Held

By Wendy J. Fox,

Book cover of If the Ice Had Held

I love the complex, nuanced way in which this novel explores the long-range consequences of a single tragedy: in the case of this book, the death of a young man who was on the edge of becoming a father. As we enter the perspectives of his sister, the mother of his child, and (in later years) his child, we learn how lives can be rebuilt in the aftermath of a loss, a time when survivors can feel hopelessly broken. We also learn how new—and sometimes unexpectedbonds can be formed. In other words, we see that tragedies can leave more than darkness in their wake. I took hope from this book, and it provided a refreshing perspective, especially in these troubling times.


Who am I?

All of my novels explore, in some way, how the characters are affected by trauma or loss, and how they respond to these difficulties over time. This comes partly from my impatience with the notion of “closure” and with the idea that we can ever truly find it after a traumatic event or a significant loss. I’m drawn to fiction and nonfiction that doesn’t shy away from the messiness of finding a way to live with these difficulties, or trying to. In addition to writing fiction, I’ve spent nearly ten years recommending novels and story collections through my Small Press Picks website.


I wrote...

I Mean You No Harm

By Beth Castrodale,

Book cover of I Mean You No Harm

What is my book about?

Layla Shawn has spent most of her thirty-two years estranged from her career-criminal father, Vic Doloro, and haunted by the mysterious death of her mother. Then Vic dies, leaving Layla—an unemployed artist—a tempting inheritance of ill-gotten money. 

Urging her to take the money is Vic’s other daughter, Bette, with whom Layla shares a troubled past. On a cross-country road trip, the two women mend fences, but Layla finds herself caught in the middle of an unsettled and lethal score between her father and a man who knows more than he should about her mother's death. As Layla zeroes in on the truth and wrestles with her own demons, she finds herself face to face with a killer.

A History Lover's Guide to Denver

By Mark A. Barnhouse,

Book cover of A History Lover's Guide to Denver

As the title indicates, history lovers will enjoy this book. I appreciated the short, easy-to-read entries. It was a well-written book with excellent photography. The author Mark Barnhouse is a Denver native and has published six history books on Denver. As a result of his experience, this book is of high-quality and polished.


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Walking Denver

By Mindy Sink, Sophie Seymour,

Book cover of Walking Denver: 32 Tours of the Mile High City's Best Urban Trails, Historic Architecture, and Cultural Highlights

I had fun learning more about Denver by walking. I decided to take 32 different friends or family members on the 32 different walks outlined in the book. It was a great way to spend time outdoors in conversation and exploration. It is fabulous if you are new to Denver or if you want to rediscover the city where you have lived for a long time. 


Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Laughing Boy

By Oliver La Farge, Wanden Lafarge Gomez,

Book cover of Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story

LaFarge’s first novel, Laughing Boy, about the love affair between a reservation Indian and one who had been raised in a religious school, won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize. LaFarge spent much of his life fighting for Native American rights, sometimes in the “dark of Washington.” I wanted to grow up to be an Indian. I still do.


Who am I?

I was a computer programmer (BA and MA in math) for several organizations, including NASA and the Savannah River Ecology Lab before retirement, went to the Clarion and Tulane SF&F Workshops, and read the slush pile for Amazing/Fantastic. I’ve done a lot of theatre as actor and lighting tech, have always liked to hike in the woods, have written 11 novels (including 3 published SF novels), had 5 plays given full production, and have 2 CDs of my original songs. In my copious spare time, I sleep.


I wrote...

Down in the Barraque

By Grant Carrington,

Book cover of Down in the Barraque

What is my book about?

A group of young musicians wind up in possession of a device to be used on a starship and use it for their own purposes while authorities try to find out what happened to it and where it is.

Pastrix

By Nadia Bolz-Weber,

Book cover of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

Founder of a church called House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, Nadia Bolz-Weber describes her path from a Fundamentalist upbringing to agnostic comedian to Lutheran pastor. Walking with people who had long been forgotten, dismissed, or condemned by mainstream American Christianity, Bolz-Weber has brought the traditional Reformation message of God’s unconditional love to life in new ways. With stories that range from vulnerable to hilarious, this book is fun to read and full of refreshing insights about God, church, hospitality, and grace.


Who am I?

When I was going to church as a kid, I noticed there were a lot of things about faith that were really important to people but that they rarely talked about. In my work as a pastor, professor, and church historian, I’ve tried to identify and name those core values, so that we can learn from one another, share our beliefs in meaningful and respectful ways, and grow together as we explore life’s big questions and practice living out our beliefs in the here and now.


I wrote...

Stories from Global Lutheranism: A Historical Timeline

By Martin Lohrmann,

Book cover of Stories from Global Lutheranism: A Historical Timeline

What is my book about?

There are about 80 million Lutheran in the world today. While Lutheran communities started in central and northern Europe, there are now more Lutherans in Ethiopia than in Sweden, more in Tanzania than the United States, and more in Indonesia than in Norway. Selecting ten vignettes from each of the five centuries since Martin Luther started the Reformation in 1517, I wrote this book to show how Lutherans have lived out their faith in a variety of times and places to become a truly global branch of Christianity.

Zero Proof

By Elva Ramirez, Robert Bredvad (photographer),

Book cover of Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking

With recipes from renowned bars all over the world -- including Death & Co in Denver and NYC, Employees Only, The Aviary NYC, Broken Shaker in LA, Everleaf Drinks in London, and Little Red Door in Paris -- the book serves as the ultimate guide to making (and enjoying!) well-balanced non-alcoholic cocktails. The beverages are tasty, visual, creative, and fun to concoct, and will motivate you to stay dry for a month (and beyond).


Who am I?

I’ve been completing Dry Januarys (and other sober months) since 2017! In turn, I’ve felt more energized, more positive, have experienced better sleep and better skin, among other benefits. I think giving up alcohol for any amount of time is beneficial and I encourage people to try it.


I wrote...

The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month

By Hilary Sheinbaum,

Book cover of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month

What is my book about?

This book is ideal for anyone who wants to complete a dry month challenge, giving up all forms of alcohol—wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails, including no shots, no low ABV cocktails, and absolutely no champagne toasts—for thirty-one days. 

Whether you’re thinking of participating in Dry January, Sober October, or want to choose a time of your own, this book walks you step-by-step through one drink-free month, from making a plan to sharing the news with friends and family (and what to do when someone tries to sabotage it) to getting back on track if you slip up and have a drink (or two).

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