"It really does encapsulate the spirit of our community," said Libby Cowles, community relations manager of Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colo., as she reflected on the store's list of bestsellers for the week ended April 20. "You see adventure stories, great fiction, some nonfiction mixed in and some humor as well. It's a good snapshot of Durango."
Atop the list is Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend, which tells the life story of Richard "Frosty" Hesson, one of the first surfers to ride the massive waves known as "mavericks." The book serves as a companion of sorts to the film Chasing Mavericks, starring Gerard Butler. Last week, Hesson visited the store for a packed, SRO event.
"Frosty started 20 minutes early and stayed until closing," Cowles recalled. "He said the only thing missing in Durango was the ocean. It was a really fun community event; we hope to bring him back again sometime."
Jonathan Evison's new book, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, was the store's fourth-bestselling book in advance of an appearance on April 22. The event was held at a local brew pub called Ska Brewing Company World Headquarters, where Evison was in conversation with Ted Holteen, an editor at the Durango Herald, and Bryant Liggett, the manager of local radio station KDUR. Beyond the buzz created by a large, much-anticipated event, Cowles and other staff members have given The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving a strong push. Said Cowles: "Half of our staff has read it, and are really behind it."
One of two books from local authors is Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche by Bill Plotkin, founder of the Animas Valley Institute, a Durango nonprofit organization that specializes in wilderness- and nature-focused spiritual programs. The book is Plotkin's third, and he will come to the store in early May. "He's got something of a local following," Cowles explained. "But the book is also doing pretty well nationally."
The guidebook The Best Durango Hikes, edited by a writer from the Durango Herald, is another local favorite and longstanding bestseller. "It's on the list most weeks of the year," Cowles commented.
Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail has also been a consistent performer. "It's huge all over the country, but there's something in that book that really speaks to our community," said Cowles. "We're a community of hikers; it goes beyond just the national push."
The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin's debut novel about an orchard caretaker's decision to shelter two young women who have fled from life in a brothel, has also performed well over time. Maria's Bookshop caters to nearly 100 local reading groups, and The Orchardist has been a popular pick with those groups.
At number seven on the list is M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans, which tells the story of a married couple who live an isolated existence as lighthouse keepers off western Australia. The novel has also been supported by Durango's local reading groups. Cowles explained: "Our biggest customer base consists of strong readers who like literary fiction."
Dan Schultz's nonfiction book Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West, is at number three on the list. Although Schultz is not a local author, the book has a local connection, recounting the search through the Colorado and Utah wilderness for three men who killed a Cortez, Colo., police officer in 1998. "Folks remember when it happened," said Cowles. "They still have questions about it."
"Every week there's some kind of 'wild card' on the list," Cowles said, and last week it was The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Cowles figures that both World Book Night, for which The House on Mango Street was one of the selections, and an order placed by a local school factored into it being number two on the bestseller list. "For a couple weeks now we've had a display in the front of the store with World Book Night books. People have always heard about it, now they're picking it up."
Rounding out the list is Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Kitty) by Jeremy Greenberg. "We do really well with bad kitty or bad dog books," said Cowles, laughing. "There's usually an impulse-buy humor book on the list. For the last few weeks it was T-Rex Trying, now it's this.
"We keep them on our front counter, and they do really well, with our staff always giggling at them." --Alex Mutter
The Maria's Bookshop Bestsellers:
- Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend by Frosty Hesson (Skyhorse Publishing, 9781620878750)
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage, 9780679734772)
- Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West by Dan Schultz (St. Martin's Press, 9780312681883)
- The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, 9781616203153)
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Vintage, 9780307476074)
- Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche by Bill Plotkin (New World Library, 9781608681785)
- The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Scribner, 9781451681758)
- The Best Durango Hikes by the San Juan Group of the Colorado Mountain Club, with Jeff Eisele (Colorado Mountain Club Press, 9780984221356)
- The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Harper Perennial, 9780062188519)
- Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed: (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Kitty) by Jeremy Greenberg (Andrews McMeel, 9781449427047)