Reviewed by Jennifer Nelson
Our 2022 nonfiction books will inspire, inform and conjure emotion, so settle in and let these books by Colorado authors take you away.
By Laura Lieff
When Brian Fleming, known as Wookie by most people, had his season pass taken away by Vail Resorts in March 2014 for organizing an unauthorized event on Forest Service Land, the community rallied around him and sent him lift tickets so he could continue to snowboard. This outpouring of love spurred Wookie’s partner-in-everything, Laura Lieff, to begin writing his biography with much help from family and friends who knew the various aspects of the real Wookie.
In this informative and entertaining book, Wookie Is Not His Real Name, Wookie’s story is told from his beginnings as a child in gymnastics, BMX biking, surfing and eventually learning to snowboard in 8th grade. Wookie transitions into focusing on snowboarding, becoming a professional snowboarder and then trying to figure out a way back from a career-ending crash in 1998.
Through his pain and frustrating path back to health, Wookie and his friend Mark Jero come up with the idea for a unique log riding snowboard competition with golf rules—and Log Masters was born. The game became a huge success, with people from around the world following the sport, despite it being an unauthorized event. Yet nothing could rival the joy and purpose Wookie found as a dad when his son was born in 2019.
Follow Wookie’s life journey, its ups and downs, his good moments and bad, his perseverance and his love for others, in this unique look at his life. It is a wonderful story of a local kid who became a legend and who continues to impact everyone he meets.
By Lindsey Vonn
The dream of a 9-year-old girl may often seem lofty and just that—a dream. But when Lindsey Vonn told her dad she wanted to ski in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, he didn’t brush her off or laugh. Instead he saw her sincerity, believed in her talent and made a strategic plan for the next eight years of her skiing career. Lindsey dove in wholeheartedly, working as hard as or arguably even harder than anyone else to make her dreams a reality.
Her dream really began when she was 7, at which point she had already been skiing with her family and her extended family. But when she met Picabo Street in 1995, Lindsey began to see how skiing could become something that you could not only do for fun but pursue as a job and make a difference. That’s when she voiced her seemingly unattainable goal to her dad.
From that point on, Lindsey’s life—and sometimes her family’s life—revolved around her training and her races. And she doesn’t regret any of it.
Yet it wasn’t always an easy path. There were coaches who didn’t truly believe in her, injuries that would have brought any other human to their career’s end, and mental health issues that threatened to overtake her, but Lindsey fought through it all with an impressive focus and drive to succeed.
She ended up becoming a legend and impacting the sport in myriad ways. In her fascinating memoir, Lindsey chronicles her strategies, her triumphs and her inner life from its beginnings in Minnesota to her 2019 retirement with the title of Most Decorated Female Skier of all Time.
By Erika Krouse
In 2007, a landmark sexual assault case concerning a college football program in Colorado was settled for millions of dollars, paving the way for additional future rulings. Erika Krouse was the key private investigator behind the case, breaking it wide open with her uncanny ability to get people to voluntarily open up to her.
In Tell Me Everything, Erika shares her experience with the case, beginning her story with the lawyer who offered her the investigative job within 10 minutes of meeting her. With no experience in this line of work, Erika was shocked at first, but then it made sense. Random people would often spontaneously spill their deepest, darkest secrets to her, for what she felt was no real reason at all—maybe just a face that invited others to share their story.
It was a trait that she could fully put to work and use to earn a decent living. But her job quickly becomes all-consuming, as she embarks on what would become a personal mission for acknowledgement and justice for sexual assaults. As Erika struggles with her own haunting past, she is driven to success for herself and these women, especially as the case gains nationwide attention and takes on historic civic rights issues.
Erika’s riveting, emotional memoir is a fascinating read, as it details not only her personal journey and the unprecedented legal aspect but also the true-crime facets of the story.
by Lisa Forbes
Author Lisa Forbes grew up poor in a cramped apartment on the south side of Chicago. Sexually molested as a youngster and facing a variety of traumas, she strives for a life beyond the projects. She graduates high school at 15 and tries to start a new life. But she doesn’t make it.
Instead, she finds herself in prison for an uncharacteristic act of violence, the stabbing death of her baby’s father. Yet, it is in prison where Forbes discovers writers, completes college courses and prepares for a better life once she is released.
This time she makes it and, today, has a successful career in Colorado. It wasn’t easy. Two-thirds of those released from prison each year are re-arrested within three years. This book is a gritty and raw call to action to support those coping with post-prison life. It is a book about second chances.
by Penny Rafferty Hamilton
Nominated for the National Indie Excellence Awards, this powerful book by Mountain Parks Electric member Penny Hamilton, is filled with amazing stories of brave women aviators and crew members.
Some famous, some not, many of these women have Colorado ties. They were groundbreaking leaders in an industry that did not readily welcome them. Their stories have been collected in easy-to-read vignettes that include practical career and life tips, as well as a look back at what it was like for women in the aviation industry not that long ago. It is a good read for those who are interested in these early aviation pioneers as well as the next generation of girls ready to careers in air and space.
Jennifer Nelson, once the editorial assistant at CCL, loves nothing more than curling up with a good book. She treasures sharing her love of reading with her children in their Texas home.