Tattered Cover Book Store is a literary hero and beacon in the Denver community. As an independent bookstore, it stands out in a world of chain-owned retailers with its five locations across the city, plus shops in the concourses at Denver International Airport.
In many ways, Tattered Cover is more than a shop; it’s a cultural center. While books are at the heart of the matter, the modern icon also offers a myriad of programs that serve the city. From children’s educational efforts aimed at supporting literacy in schools to the nearly 500 literary luminaries Tattered Cover draws to town each year, the 46-year-old bookshop constantly reinvents itself and finds new ways to connect and encourage dialogue around books.
From day one, the team has placed a heavy emphasis on supporting local stories. One of the most beloved features is the Denver-centric section found at each location. The “Denver History” collections feature books covering the city’s past, the surrounding communities and current events, including titles from celebrated Colorado authors like Peter Heller and Eleanor Brown. We browsed through Tattered Cover’s hyper-local selection and enlisted the staff to help us identify five books every Denverite (and Denver lover!) should read.
Dana Crawford: 50 Years Saving the Soul of a City
by Mike McPhee
Developer and preservationist Dana Crawford is one of the most impressive and important Denver women you should get to know. She pioneered the redevelopment of Larimer Square in the mid-1960s. You can witness her preservation work and urban renewal efforts all over town, including the Crawford Hotel at Denver Union Station. Now well into her eighties, Crawford continues her work with projects in the nearby mining towns of Idaho Springs and Trinidad. This book tells the fascinating story of a tenacious visionary, who figures heavily in Denver’s past and present.
by Mark Barnhouse
Locals and visitors alike gravitate toward history books and those that illustrate how the town once looked. One of the staff’s favorites at Tattered Cover is Lost Denver. Published in 2016, the book shows images of Denver’s old hotels, factories and streets, as well as snapshots of the early settlers who laid the groundwork for what the city is today.
The Asphalt Warrior Series
by Gary Reilly
Kansas native Gary Reilly moved to Denver when he was a kid and fell in love with the city. Inspired by his part-time gig as a local cab driver, Reilly wrote a series of comic novels that explore the city through the lens of a fictional cabbie. Though he died before the books were made public, two of his friends, following instructions in Reilly’s will, published his work posthumously starting in 2012. The eight books acquired a sort of cult following and encouraged his friends to release another batch of titles Reilly wrote about military life in Vietnam. The final installment of the Vietnam War Series comes out this June.
East of Denver: A Novel
by Gregory Hill
Equal parts poignant and funny, the novel centers around a father on the verge of senility and his son, Shakespeare Williams, who has come back to the crumbling family farm to take care of his ailing father. The Colorado author traces the complexities of real life without taking itself too seriously or losing its comic spark. It’s the perfect mix of smart and laid back storytelling that suits our city’s personality just right.
Murder at The Brown Palace: A True Story of Seduction and Betrayal
by Dick Kreck
We all fancy a little mystery in our lives and there is something thoroughly engrossing about learning the dark history that dwells beneath beautiful institutions we frequent today. Murder at the Brown Palace, vividly depicts one of the most storied nights in the historic hotel’s history when a high society love triangle came to its tragic end. There’s wealth, romance, intrigue and 1900s glamour all wrapped into 224 pages.