Thirty-six Years of Southwest Books of the Year

Cover of Southwest Books of the Year 2012


This has been a banner year for Southwest celebrations, with both Arizona and New Mexico marking statehood centennials. Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2012 is happy to join in the festivities, celebrating the finest reading to be found west of the 100th Meridian. In this, our 36th year of publication, we're pleased to announce that the state of Southwest literature continues to thrive: there's a bounty of great new books guaranteed to captivate anyone with a yen to read their way around this unique part of the world.

So, pull up an armchair and get ready for some memorable books that speak to the diverse facets of the Southwest experience. Topping the list compiled this year by the Southwest Books of the Year subject specialists are William de Buys' book on climate change in our arid region, Thomas Cobb's powerful novel revisiting the Southwest's largest manhunt and a glorious survey of artists of the Painted Desert by Gary Fillmore. Readers of fiction and nonfiction alike will savor this year's fine crop of books, which also includes wonderful Southwest titles for children.

Singling out the best of the Southwest is never an easy task, with so many great titles from which to make selections. We hope that readers will brose this site for a list of all the great Southwest books we've had the pleasure to see this year, annotated with comments from the reviewers. Be sure, too, to subscribe to our online newsletter, New Books of the Southwest, for monthly updates on the books under consideration.

If you harbor a particular fondness for Arizona books, be sure to visit Reading Arizona: The Literary Landscape, an online literary map produced by Pima County Public Library in cooperation with the Arizona State Library. There you'll find 100 favorite Arizona books selected by librarians statewide, placed geographically according to each book's Arizona setting. It includes fiction and nonfiction for adults, youth, and children, as well as an interactive list to which you can contribute your own Arizona favorites.

To meet several of the authors whose books are mentioned here, you'll want to mark your calendars for the Fifth Annual Tucson Festival of Books, the desert's own springtime celebration of books and authors, which will be held March 9 and 10 on the University of Arizona mall.

-Helene Woodhams
Coordinator, Southwest Books of the Year
Librarian, Pima County Public Library

Thanks & Sponsorship 2012

Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2012 is published by Pima County Public Library in partnership with the Friends of the Pima County Public Library Friends of the Pima County Public Library and the Arizona Historical Society. This is the 36th annual edition. The publication was begun by the Arizona Daily Star in 1977 and continued by the Library in 2000.

Arizona Historical Society logo Southwest Books of the Year is made possible by a gift from the Friends of the Pima County Public Library 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.

Arizona State Library logoWe thank the numerous publishers who provided the Southwest Books of the Year panelists with review copies of their books.

Special thanks go to Publication Designer Lori Thayer for cheerfully taking on the challenge of Southwest Books of the Year and making it a beautiful publication. Thanks, too, to Library Associate Jenn Berry for organizing book requests, reviews and panelists in a masterful way, as well as for her tender ministrations to the Southwest Books of the Year monthly online newsletter. The folks at Southwest Books of the Year also send hearty congratulations to Jenn on her newly-minted degree from the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science. We also thank Pima County Public Library's Communications and Systems Office for securing our place in cyberspace.

Melinda Cervantes is Executive Director of Pima County Public Library. Helene Woodhams coordinates the publication.

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, contact Helene Woodhams:

Pima County Website