Reading the West 2016 – Winning Titles



The Reading the West Book Awards are announced in 2017,
for books published in calendar year 2016.

Congratulations to these winning authors,
titles, and publishers!

Winning authors will be recognized at the 2017 Mountains & Plains
Fall Discovery Show’s Reading the West Book Awards Luncheon
on October 14, 2017, at The Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel
in Denver, Colorado.



Adult Fiction

by Paulette Jiles
HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Hardcover $22.99
This exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.


Novelist, poet, and memoirist Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, and raised in the Missouri Ozarks. She attended the University of Missouri where she earned a degree in Romance Languages. She moved to Canada when she was in her twenties to work as a journalist in the Canadian Arctic, and it was there that she won a Canadian Governor General Award (Canada’s highest literary honor) for her 1984 poetry collection, Celestial Navigation. She returned to the United States in 1989 and still holds dual citizenship with Canada.

In 2002, her novel Enemy Women won Canada’s Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and America’s Willa Cather Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Jiles’s latest novel, News of the World, is a National Book Award Finalist. She is also the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the bestselling novels Stormy Weather, Lighthouse Island, and The Color of Lightning.

Jiles currently resides on a small ranch outside San Antonio, Texas, where she writes and takes care of her two horses and one donkey and a cat. In her spare time she sings alto with her church choir and plays Irish tin whistle with a bluegrass group. With friends she has explored the Texas Big Bend country and Caprock Canyon on horseback, and rides the Ozark Trail every year.

Jiles says that “writing is a necessity and a joy.” She loves glittery and outrageous high heels, finds that stories often present themselves in one piece and that characters demand to be heard, and believes that poetry has taught her to “mind my prose style with minute care.”



Adult Nonfiction

A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks
by Terry Tempest Williams
Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Hardcover $27.00
For years, America’s national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why close to 300 million people visit the parks each year. As an ode to our national parks and to honor the centennial of the National Park Service, Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, what they mean to us, and what we mean to them.

Through twelve carefully chosen parks, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Tempest Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America. Our national parks stand at the intersection of humanity and wildness, and there’s no one better than Tempest Williams to guide us there.

Beautifully illustrated, with evocative black-and-white images by some of our finest photographers, from Lee Friedlander to Sally Mann to Sebastião Salgado, The Hour of Land will be a collector’s item as well as a seminal work of environmental writing and criticism about some of America’s most treasured landmarks.


Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books. Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, she is the author of the environmental literature classics, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert; The Open Space of Democracy; and Finding Beauty in a Broken World. The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks was published in June, 2016, to coincide with and honor the centennial of the National Park Service.

Williams received the Robert Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2009, Terry Tempest Williams was featured in Ken Burns’ PBS series on the national parks. She is also the recipient of the 2010 David R. Brower Conservation Award for activism. The Community of Christ International Peace Award was presented to her in 2011 in recognition of significant peacemaking vision, advocacy, and action. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation.

Terry Tempest Williams is the Provostial Scholar at Dartmouth College. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She and her husband, Brooke Williams, divide their time between Castle Valley, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.




by Joan M. Wolf
Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date: October 1, 2016
Hardcover $16.99
In 1880, Four Winds, a ten-year-old Lakota girl, must find a way to hold on to her heritage when she is sent to a white boarding school and expected to assimilate.

Ten-year-old Four Winds is a young Lakota girl caught up in the changes brought about by her people’s forced move to the reservation. Set in the Dakota Territory, it is the year 1880. Four Winds has been taken away from her family and brought to a boarding school run by whites. It is here she is taught English and learns how to assimilate into white culture. But soon she discovers that the teachers at this school are not interested in assimilation but rather in erasing her culture. On the reservation, Four Winds had to fight against starvation. Now she must fight to hold on to who she is.


Joan M. Wolf has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She began at the age of three when she kicked her dad off his manual typewriter and started typing away. She has been writing ever since. Born in Dickinson, North Dakota, she grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. Now, she lives in Minnesota (following the rule that she must always reside in a state that ends in “ota.”)

Joan considers herself lucky to have found a way to be able to work with both of her passions: teaching and writing. After receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University, she began publishing fiction. The idea for Runs with Courage was sparked by a childhood spent exploring the beautiful forests of the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In the summers, she walks along the many lakes of Minnesota, and in the cold winters, she enjoys spinning her own yarn from wool on her spinning wheel and creating intricate Ukrainian (Pysanky) eggs. Currently, Joan lives in Minnesota with her two very literary cats, Franz (named after Franz Kafka) and Nadeje (a Czech word meaning “hope”).


Posted May 31, 2017




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