Cover of Southwest Books of the Year 2008Books are alive and well in Arizona, and the state of Southwest letters thrives. We’ve perused plenty of titles in the past year–more than 250–and are pleased to be able to offer our suggestions for the best reading to be had west of the 100th meridian.

Thirty-three years have passed since Southwest Books of the Year first saw the light of day. When the Arizona Daily Star requested holiday gift-giving suggestions for Southwest book lovers, this publication’s founders took the idea and ran with it. We’ve been running (and reading, and reviewing) ever since, and that shopping list has turned into the most extensive guide to Southwest literature to be found anywhere. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, too, thanks to the generosity of the Arizona State Library, who makes it possible for Southwest Books of the Year to be distributed for free in libraries across the state.

The enthusiasm that made Southwest Books of the Year a reality hasn’t waned one bit from its earliest days, and for that all thanks go to the intrepid panelists who work 12 months out of every year to bring you the best of the Southwest. They are Bill Broyles, author, naturalist, and retired teacher; Bruce Dinges, Arizona Historical Society director of publications; Patricia Etter, curator emerita of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center at Arizona State University; Paul Huddy, Solar Institute scientist; and W. David Laird, former University of Arizona head of libraries and owner of Books West Southwest. Cathy Jacobus, a librarian with the Pima County Public Library system, reads and reviews books for children and young adults.

This year we celebrated a landmark event in the literary Southwest, in the form of the Tucson Festival of Books. For one unforgettable weekend in March, 55,000 people of all ages gathered on the University of Arizona Mall to meet authors, talk books, and revel in this celebration of the written word, the recorded word, and the illustrated word. It underscored the fact that the Southwest is home to great writers and avid readers and Tucson is right at the heart of it. It will happen again March 13-14, 2010 and you won’t want to miss this opportunity to come meet many of the authors whose works have appeared in these pages. Visit to learn more.

In the meantime, why not catch up on your Southwest reading? Whether you prefer fiction, nonfiction or poetry, we’ve got some great books we’d like you to know about and you’ll find them here in this publication.

-Helene Woodhams
Pima County Public Library Southwest Collections librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year.

Thanks & Sponsorship

Southwest Books of the Year–Best Reading 2009 is published by the Southwest Literature Project of Pima County Public Library in partnership with theFriends of the Pima County Public Library Friends of the Pima County Public Library and the Arizona Historical Society. This is the 33nd annual edition. The publication was begun by the Arizona Daily Star in 1977 and continued by the library in 2000.

Arizona Historical Society 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.

We thank the numerous publishers who provided the Southwest Books of the Year panelists with review copies of their books.

Many hands make light work, and we’re grateful for the handiwork of many. Elizabeth Burden, publication designer extraordinaire, has our thanks, as does Library Associate Jenn Berry, for her unfailing dedication and thoroughness. Thanks also to PCPL’s Virtual Library for their invaluable service in sending Southwest Books of the Year into cyberspace

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; and Helene Woodhams, chairman. Nancy Ledeboer is the director of the Pima County Public Library.

Southwest Books of the Year considers titles published during the current year that are about Southwest subjects, or are set in the Southwest. For information about submitting a book for consideration, please contact us.

Pima County Website