You might be feeling a bit burnt out after the onslaught of “best books of the year” lists, but we have one more very important group to add: best of Winter Words 2016! From poetry and graphic memoir to historical fiction and short stories, there truly is something for everyone on this year’s list. Each of the AW staff members have selected a title to review below, so you can pick and choose what sounds most compelling, or just read them all!

Aspen Words members get 10% off all Winter Words book titles at our local independent bookstore Explore. Read the book, see the author live at Winter Words, and get your copy signed in person! For those of you interested in following Winter Words from afar, we will be posting about the events on our blog and sharing videos and photos throughout the season.

Happy reading!


Herrera book jacketNotes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera 

Juan Felipe Herrera has crafted a body of protest poetry, beating with a pulse so passionate there is no doubt it will make things happen. Notes on the Assemblage manages to call attention to a world fraught with violence and injustice, while reminding us of those things that make all of us human.  This is a collection for anyone living in this moment – not just the poetry fanatics.


Fun Home PB copyFun Home by Alison Bechdel

It’s deliciously satisfying to finish reading Alison Bechdel’s book. Alison reveals her father as playing pretend as a regular Dad for an entire lifetime. But Alison learned much from Dad, artfully telling her complex story in a graphic novel disguise. Don’t be deceived by the outward appearance of her chosen medium – this memoir is as sophisticated, nuanced and literary as any of the great memoirs you’ll ever read, vividly depicting the startling mysteries of human relationships and behavior.



Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Just after Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Adam Johnson, agreed to speak about his new story collection, Fortune Smiles, at Winter Words, it won the National Book Award for Fiction, and for good reason! These six unnervingly dark stories are elegant, heartbreaking and somehow funny, even though they are wrenchingly sad. I put the book down feeling simultaneously exhilarated and rattled. As one character put it, “The most vital things we hide even from ourselves.” How true.


The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

In The Secret Chord Geraldine Brooks has made the life of King David a living, breathing story. All of the backstory on biblical tales you ever wanted to know exists in this one tome. A brilliantly researched and imagined story.




Horwitz-Midnight Rising

Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz

I usually shy away from history books, but lucky for me, Tony Horwitz turns complex events into a thorough but highly readable narrative in this account of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. Though the events of the book happened on the eve of the Civil War, I found myself drawing many parallels to our current social and political climate. It’s an interesting time to look back at U.S. history—especially with a book as engrossing as Midnight Rising.


Cisneros-Book Cover Art


A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros

In A House of My Own, Sandra Cisneros opens wide the doors to her life with such unabashed honesty that reading it felt like sitting down at her kitchen table and sharing tea (or at times a stiff drink).




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