Essentials for an Aspen Bookshelf

Andrew Travers | March 26, 2020 | Lifestyle


Looking for some classic Aspen reads? Add these books—from gonzo to avant-garde—to your list.

The Quiet Years
By Kathleen Krieger Daily and Gaylord T. Guenin ($50, Red Ink Inc.)
The definitive story of Aspen before skiing, told in first-person accounts by residents of this forgotten mining town between 1893 and 1947.

To Aspen and Back: An American Journey
By Peggy Clifford ($70, St. Martin's Press)
It's the inside story of how Aspen was made and remade from the 1950s through the 1970s, from the acerbic local columnist who chronicled it in real time.

One Hour Ahead: The Avant-Garde in Aspen, 1945-2004
By Dean Sobel ($40, Aspen Art Museum)
An enthralling account of how Aspen became an unlikely outpost for the bleeding edge of contemporary art, detailing local adventures of Herbert Bayer, Christo, Andy Warhol and an art world who's who in modern Aspen.

The Great Shark Hunt
By Hunter S. Thompson ($20, Simon & Schuster)
This grab bag of gonzo journalism from the Woody Creek-based legend of letters includes his seminal Rolling Stone piece, "The Battle of Aspen," about his quixotic 1970 run for Pitkin County sheriff.

Freak Power
By Daniel Joseph Watkins ($40, Meat Possum Press)
It's a coffee-table book feast for the senses, vividly telling the story of the hippie influx and Thompson's sheriff campaign through the art, photography and journalism of the time.

Lost Sheep: Aspen's Counterculture in the 1970s
By Kurt Brown ($15, Conundrum Press)
Sex, drugs, poetry, Ted Bundy and Aspen's hippie heyday rendered in Technicolor prose from the founder of the Aspen Writers Conference, now Aspen Words.

Whiteout: Lost in Aspen
By Ted Conover ($20, Vintage)
This is a lively portrait of Aspen at a turning point in the late 1980s from a clever and unsparing author posing as a cab driver and local reporter.

The Complete Half-Aspenite
By Bruce Berger ($25, Who Press)
A local gives his witty recollections of the good life in Aspen, from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Don't Save Anything
By James Salter ($17, Counterpoint)
It includes elegant essays on skiing and mountain living from the longtime Aspenite, novelist and unparalleled prose stylist.

Today Will Be Different
By Maria Semple ($17, Little, Brown and Company)
Want to know what it's like to grow up in Aspen? This Aspen native and bestselling novelist mines her childhood for an authentic and hilarious rendition (including a must-read graphic novel interlude).

By Rowan Ricardo Phillips ($17, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
A winter residency in Aspen inspired gorgeous and unpredictable nature poems from the New York-based poet.

First Tracks
By Catherine O'Connell ($29, Severn House Publishers)
It's a page-turner about a murder-by-avalanche and a sleuthing Aspen Mountain ski patroller, the first in an ongoing series from the Aspen-based mystery writer.


Photography by: Radu Marcusu/Unsplash