This season’s best reads

A roundup of the new and upcoming books that have caught our eye.


High Country News has compiled a list of some of our favorite books to read by the fireplace — including books that will publish early next year as well as those released in recent months. These titles, all relevant to the West in some way, are ordered alphabetically by the author’s last name. If the book is already available, no publication month is given. 


The Penguin Book of Migration Literature, Dohra Ahmad (ed.), Penguin Classics 

Ballad of a Slopsucker: Stories, Juan Alvarado Valdivia, University of New Mexico Press

Hollow Kingdom, Kira Jane Buxton, Grand Central Publishing

Your House Will Pay: A Novel, Steph Cha, Ecco

Kafka in a Skirt: Stories from the Wall, Daniel Chacón, University of Arizona Press

American Dirt: A Novel, Jeanine Cummins, Flatiron Books (January 2020)

Kingdomtide, Rye Curtis, Little, Brown and Company (January 2020)

The Butterfly Girl: A Novel, Rene Denfeld, Harper

Exquisite Mariposa, Fiona Duncan, Soft Skull Press

If the Ice Had Held, Wendy J. Fox, Santa Fe Writer’s Project

Trinity Sight: A Novel, Jennifer Givhan, Blackstone Publishing

Unforeseen: Stories, Molly Gloss, Gallery/Saga Press

Church of the Graveyard Saints, C. Joseph Greaves, Torrey House Press

Wyoming, JP Gritton, Tin House Books

gods with a little g: A Novel, Tupelo Hassman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

The Unpassing: A Novel, Chia-Chia Lin, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

After the Flood: A Novel, Kassandra Monag, HarperLuxe

Inland: A Novel, Téa Obreht, Random House

Prairie Fever, Michael Parker, Algonquin Books

Dead Blow: A Horseshoer Mystery, Lisa Preston, Arcade Crimewise

On Swift Horses: A Novel, Shannon Pufahl, Riverhead Books

Shine of the Ever: Short Stories, Claire Rudy Foster, Interlude Press

Creatures: A Novel, Crissy Van Meter, Algonquin (January 2020)

Not a Thing to Comfort You, Emily Wortman-Wunder, University of Iowa Press


Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the U.S.-Mexico Divide, C.J. Alvarez, University of Texas Press

The Skinned Bird, Chelsea Biondolillo, KERNPUNKT Press

America’s Most Alarming Writer: Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden, Bill Broyles and Bruce J. Dinges (eds.), University of Texas Press

Prison Truth: The Story of the San Quentin News, William Drummond, University of California Press (January) 

Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement, Nick Estes and Jaskiran Dhillon (eds.), University of Minnesota Press

What is a Western?: Region, Genre, Imagination, Josh Garrett Davis and Patricia Nelson Limerick, University of Oklahoma Press

Becoming America’s Playground: Las Vegas in the 1950s, Larry Gragg, University of Oklahoma Press

Wilderness of Hope: Fly Fishing and Public Lands in the American West, Quinn Grover, University of Nebraska Press 

I Am a Stranger Here Myself, Debra Gwartney, University of New Mexico Press

Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration, Julie Hirschfield Davis and Michael Shear, Simon & Schuster

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, Mitchell S. Jackson, Scribner

A Diné History of Navajoland, Klara Kelley and Harris Francis, University of Arizona Press

All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, Michael T. Klare, Metropolitan Books

The Making of an Ecologist: My Career in Alaska Wildlife Management and Conservation, David Klein, University of Alaska Press

Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff, Anthony McCann, Bloomsbury

Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Jessica McDiarmid, Atria Books (January 2020)

The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog, Rick McIntyre, Greystone Books

Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s, Tiffany Midge, University of Nebraska Press

Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health, Devin Mihesuah, Elizabeth Hoozer, Winona LaDuke, OU Press

The Way to Rainy Mountain: 50th Anniversary Edition, N. Scott Momaday, University of New Mexico Press

Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, A Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State, Nick Neely, Counterpoint

Confluence: Navigating the Personal & Political on Rivers of the New West, Zak Podmore, Torrey House Press

This Land is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth, Jedidiah Purdy, Princeton University Press

Re-Bisoning the West, Kurt Repanshek, Torrey House Press

Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles from Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis, Barry Siegel, University of California Press 

In the Country of Women: A Memoir, Susan Straight, Catapult

Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West, John Taliaferro, Liveright

Invisible People: Stories of Lives at the Margins, Alex Tizon, Temple University Press 

The West Will Swallow You: Essays, Leath Tonino, Trinity University Press

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir, Anna Wiener, MCD (January 2020)

In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch, John Zada, Atlantic Monthly Press

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of the novel Trinity Sight.

Elena Saavedra Buckley is a contributing editor at High Country News. Email HCN at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

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