When Ayja Bounous returned to her home at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains after college she began noticing changes in the environment where she had grown up. Skiing has always been a big part of their family culture, beginning with her grandfather, Junior Bounous, who was instrumental in developing ski areas around Salt Lake City.
“Shaped by Snow: Defending the Future of Winter” is Bounous’ first book, published by Torrey House Press, about a family deeply rooted in the culture of snow and skiing. The book also raises questions about climate change and how it relates to the ski industry.
Bounous said she was struck by the “lack of conversation” surrounding climate change after returning to her home state after college to earn a University of Utah Environmental Humanities Master’s degree.
While people talk about climate change in relation to California wildfires, rising oceans, and drought in the southwest, the impact from changing weather patterns on the ski industry is typically ignored, she said.
When she was a kid trick-or-treating on Halloween there was often snow on the ground – not so anymore, she said. She’s concerned future generations won’t have that same connection to place, or snow, that was so important in her family.
“I want to encourage conversation about climate change,” she said.
The Grand County Public Library and the Utah Humanities Center for the Book have partnered to bring the author to Moab for a reading and book-signing at the library on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m.
“We thought she’d be a great fit for our community as Moab is home to many snow sports enthusiasts,” said the library’s Head of Adult Services Jessie Magleby, in an email to the Moab Sun News. “Ayjas’ adventure stories alone will be thrilling, but her thoughtfulness about the implications of climate change and the future of winter will doubtless give us much to contemplate.”
Bounous will have copies of her book for sale, although its official release date is Nov. 19.
The library will have books available for checkout after its official release. Copies will also be available for purchase from Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.
The mission of Torrey House Press includes “identifying exceptional writers, nurturing their work,” and publishing “diverse voices with transformative stories that illuminate important facets of the American West and our ever-changing planet.”
That makes the publisher a good fit for her book, Bounous said.
“They value personal stories in the American West,” she said.
Bounous is already working on her next project – a biography about her grandfather, Junior Bounous, who, at 94, still skis. His accomplishments include being inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame, designing ski runs and lifts and helping develop ski areas like the Sundance Ski Resort.
You can also listen to an interview of Ayja Bounous on KZMU Community Radio, Monday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. The interview series is a collaboration between the library and Back of Beyond Books.
“I wanted to tell the story of snow - the Wasatchs, my perspective, my family history with skiing here,” Bounous said. For more information, go to www.torreyhouse.org/ayja-bounous or email Magleby at firstname.lastname@example.org