Southwest Books of the Year
Southwest Books of the Year - A User's Manual
Greetings! What you have here is a handsome, old-style search engine (a list) to supply you with important, useful information on books about the American Southwest published in the last 12 months.
Look it over carefully. It doesn't take a password, just your interest.
Our 2004 total number of books was about 250 titles. In the printed publication, we had room for short reviews of 35 adult titles and 6 children's books. The rest of the books, with commentaries, are here on the Pima County Public Library website. The library is our principal sponsor. Please read our little article headlined "Thanks" for more sponsors. The website version contains longer reviews of the books listed here.
How do we find books? We look everywhere - in publishers' catalogs, in booksellers' catalogs, in book review publications, in bookstores. Word of mouth.
How to evaluate them?
A panel of volunteers interested in southwest literature works with the books. This year the panel was made up of five persons, each of whom selected his or her top 10 favorites. Their names are signed to all of their reviews and a short bio follows each of their lists. They meet several times a year to hash things out.
You may remember us as a tabloid-sized publication on newsprint. This year because our funds to print ran low, just the titles on the five "Top Ten" lists are printed. We've gone to the library's website for our Complete Book List.
Our titles run the gamut. We include fiction and non-fiction. In times past we have highlighted lively books such as the colorful (if doubtful) recollections of a Silver City, N.M. prostitute (Madam Millie) and serious books that are easy-reading, (Understanding the Arizona Constitution). Well-known regional authors such as Charles Bowden, Susan Lowell, Denise Chávez, Tony Hillerman, and Patricia Preciado Martin have been staples.
This year, our top book--that is the one selected by the most panelists (3) to be on their "Top Ten" list--is a graceful, heartwarming recollection of life almost a century ago on a small ranch in New Mexico, Bailing Wire & Gamuza. (Bailing wire you know, "gamuza," you will have to look at the book to find out!)
Efforts such as ours depend a lot on the good will of the people who make it possible. In 1962, Lawrence Clark Powell started a monthly publication at the University of California at Los Angeles. It was called, Books of the Southwest. In 1965, it moved to the University of Arizona. Books of the Southwest survived on subscriptions and the generosity of southwest history buffs, collectors and libraries. Sometime in the last couple of years, it has disappeared into the depths of Texas. We are in our 28th year, having started at the Arizona Daily Star, the morning newspaper in Tucson in 1977. In 2000, Pima County Public Library became our sponsor.
The print version of Southwest Books of the Year is distributed in libraries across the state. And, as long as they last, in bookstores and other places where readers gather. Let us know if you would like to be a distribution point.
-J.C. Martin, coordinator
Thanks & Sponsorship
Southwest Books of the Year - Best Reading 2004 is published by the Pima County Public Library in partnership with the the Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and Arizona Historical Society.
The publication is made possible by a gift from the Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and in part by grants from the Arizona Humanities Council and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records Agency under the Library Services and Technology Act, which is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
We owe special thanks to J.C. Martin, who, as coordinator, has been responsible for Southwest Books of the Year since it began in 1977.
For their help as ready references, Southwest Books of the Year wishes to thank The Trail to Yesterday Book Niche owned by bookseller Bob Pugh, P.O. Box 35905, Tucson, AZ 85740 and Southwest BookViews, a quarterly publication by nonprofit Walking Rain Inc. Single copies $5, annual subscription, $20. For more information contact Candelora Versace, editor, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank more than 100 publishers for sending review copies of their books.