Southwest Books of the Year
Eureka! There's gold to be found in the literature of the Southwest, and we've mined a rich vein of literary ore to bring you the finest of this year's titles. Digging through the 250 volumes received during the past 12 months, our panelists have uncovered some rare gems guaranteed to dazzle readers prospecting for regional writing.
For 31 years Southwest Books of the Year has brought you the best of the Southwest in this annual publication. Our panelists, distinguished subject specialists and devoted bibliophiles all, read all year to identify the books they think are the cream of the crop. This year they've noted 39 favorites, including some good reading for children. Titles selected by two or more panelists are the Top Picks, and these are books that stand alone by virtue of their high quality and readability.
At the top of the 2007 list is University of Arizona professor and award-winning author Richard Shelton, who swept the panel with his memoir of thirty years as a volunteer teacher in the Arizona prison system. Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer was characterized by the panelists as "gut-wrenching," "inspiring," "disturbing," and "superb." "With its insights into the human condition amidst the ruins of our failing justice system," notes the writing team of Sharon Gilbert and Paul Huddy, "this is an eye-opening, powerful and memorable work in so many ways." And don't assume there's nothing new to be said about Billy the Kid; author Michael Wallis has produced what panelists agree is a carefully constructed, page-turning synthesis of all the research on one of the Southwest's most enduring legends.
The census of the best Southwestern Reading of 2007 is as diverse as the southwestern landscape. Among histories, mysteries, books of botany and some exceptional poetry, you'll also find the saga of a snakebite, some hair-raising supernatural tales, the long-lost memoir of a pulp writer, and the exploits of a Colorado River runner. But our commitment to regional literature doesn't end with our personal favorites; we're determined to provide the most complete, annotated list of literature produced on or about the Southwest to be found anywhere.
The annual quest for the best is undertaken by a cadre of readers who view each book through the lens of their particular expertise and their delight in the written word. These dedicated panelists are
- Bill Broyles, Tucson author, naturalist, and retired teacher
- Bruce Dinges, Arizona Historical Society director of publications
- Patricia Etter, a member of Arizona State University's Emeritus College
- David Laird, former University of Arizona head of libraries and owner of Books West Southwest
- The writing team of Sharon Gilbert, formerly a librarian at Pima County Public Library and her partner, Solar Institute scientist Paul Huddy
- librarian Margaret Guerrero of Pima County Public Library, who brings her interest in Latino and Native American literature
- Cathy Jacobus, also a librarian with Pima County, whose avowed love of children's literature and first-hand experience growing up in Southern Arizona make her a natural for zeroing in on the best regional reads for kids.
Southwest Books of the Year relies on the good deeds, hard work and generosity of many; we call your attention to their names in the "Thanks and Sponsorship" section of this publication. And finally, we invite you to quench your thirst for Southwest reading all year long by signing up for our monthly electronic newsletter. Go to www.library.pima.gov/books/ and click on "Ravenous Readers" to sign up for "New Books of the Southwest."
Pima County Public Library Southwest Collections librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year.
Thanks & Sponsorship
Southwest Books of the Year–Best Reading 2007 is published by the Pima County Public Library in partnership with the Friends of the Pima County Public Library and the Arizona Historical Society. This is the 31st annual edition. The publication was begun by the Arizona Daily Star in 1977 and continued by the library in 2000.
Southwest Books of the Year is made possible by a gift from the Friends of the Pima County 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 County Public Library's Southwest Literature Project Committee are:
- Kathleen Dannreuther
- Bruce Dinges, director of publications for the Arizona Historical Society
- Margaret Guerrero
- Marly Helm, past board president of the Friends of the Pima County Public Library
- Rona Rosenberg
- Dianna Thor
- Helene Woodhams, chairman
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 Canavan have our sincere appreciation for rising to the occasion as they never fail to do, and we also send special thanks to library associate Jenn Berry and library school student and volunteer Oscar Hernandez for their many hours of dedicated and tireless effort on behalf of Southwest Books of the Year. We are also indebted to PCPL's Virtual Library for their invaluable assistance with our online version of this publication.