Southwest Books of the Year
What a milestone year!
With this publication, the 30th edition of Southwest Books of the Year, we mark our third decade of searching out and sorting through every book we can find published in the last 12 months that focuses on the great American Southwest--whether it be fact or fiction, if it portrays the region we call home it’s grist for our mill.
Over the course of 30 years thousands of titles have appeared on our lists; this year alone the list has topped out at more than 300 books. As our lists grow, so too does our reputation for bringing you the most complete annotated list of southwestern reading to be found anywhere.
Those titles that rise to the top, the ones that are, in our estimation, the best reads of the year, are reviewed for you in this publication. There are 25 of them, chosen by our panel of distinguished reviewers after careful deliberation and a great deal of thought. The books that excited the attention of the panelists range in subject matter from biography to botany, water harvesting to photography, public affairs to cookery and all manner of topics in between. They’ve also identified some compelling fiction you can take to the beach.
At the top of our list is perennial favorite Tony Hillerman, whose latest offering, The Shape Shifter, is considered by the four panelists who chose it to be one of his finest. Hillerman fans will welcome the return of legendary tribal policeman Joe Leaphorn, now widowed, retired and picking up the disturbing threads of an unsolved case he first encountered as a young man. This riveting pageturner will keep you guessing. It demonstrates, says Bruce Dinges, that Hillerman is still the grand master. Also heading our list is a title that represents a departure for us. Southwest Books of the Year typically does not consider books authored by panelists, but Bill Broyles’ Sunshot: Peril and Wonder in the Gran Desierto evoked such an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the rest of the panel that relegating it to a sidebar would have been a glaring omission.
Our panelists read widely and offer distinct subject-area skills and expertise, and they share an abiding interest in southwestern literature. They are Bill Broyles, Tucson author, naturalist, and retired teacher; Bruce Dinges, Arizona Historical Society director of publications; Pat Etter, curator emerita of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center at Arizona State University; and W. David Laird, former University of Arizona head of libraries and owner of Books West Southwest. We also welcome two newcomers this year, the dynamic duo of Sharon Gilbert, a PCPL librarian, and Solar Institute scientist Paul Huddy. Sharon and Paul co-authored their reviews and share a byline. I have selected the children’s titles, having earned my credentials first as a children’s librarian and now as librarian of PCPL’s Arizona and Steinheimer Special Collections.
Southwest Books of the Year relies on the support of a great many people. We’ve included their names, with gratitude, in the “Thanks and Support” section of this publication. We especially call your attention to our Appreciation of J.C. Martin, long-time coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year who retired this year. Without her vision and dedication there would be no 30-year milestone to celebrate.
Coordinator, Southwest Books of the Year and
Pima Public Library Southwest Collections Librarian
Thanks & Sponsorship
Southwest Books of the Year—Best Reading 2006 is published by the Pima County Public Library in partnership with the Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and the Arizona Historical Society. This is the 30th annual edition. It was begun by the Arizona Daily Star in 1977 and continued by the library in 2000.
The publication is made possible by a gift from the Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and with funds granted by 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.
Members of the Pima Public Library’s Southwest Literature Project Committee are: Deborah Bock; Kathleen Dannreuther; Bruce Dinges, director of publications for the Arizona Historical Society; Sharon Gilbert; Marly Helm, past board president of the Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library; Rona Rosenberg; Dianna Thor; and Helene Woodhams. Nancy Ledeboer is the director of the Pima County Public Library.
We thank the numerous publishers who provided the Southwest Books of the Year panelists with review copies of their books.
Publication designer Elizabeth Burden and proofreader Mary Carbonaro Canavan have also earned our appreciation for their efforts on behalf of Southwest Books of the Year.