Thirty-seven Years of Southwest Books of the Year

Cover of Southwest Books of the Year 2013


There are great books in abundance awaiting fans of Southwest literature, and the Southwest Books of the Year panelists have spent the last 12 months -- as we've spent the last 37 years -- happily reading our way through piles of them in order to bring you the year's best writing about our corner of the world.

And what a fine selection of books we have this year! In all, 34 titles made it to the winner's circle, and they include adventure, history, biography, poetry, nature writing and fiction by award-winning authors, as well as a great selection of books for kids. At the top of every panelist's list this year was Kevin Fedarko's The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon, a high-octane read about river-rafting madness guaranteed to keep you turning pages compulsively.

Books considered for inclusion in Southwest Books of the Year are set in the Southwest or deal with a southwestern subject, and those identified as best reading by more than one of the reviewers--Southwest subject specialists and dedicated readers all---become Top Picks. With so many titles to choose from, singling out the best of the Southwest is never an easy task.

I close with a note about our dear friend, long-time Southwest Books of the Year reviewer Patricia Etter, who passed away on February 21, 2013. Pat was a force of nature who loved all things Southwest: she was Director of the Labriola Center (Arizona State University's American Indian Research Library), a member of the Arizona Historical Society and Sheriff of the Scottsdale Corral (Westerners International). She also served on the Board of Editors of the Western History Association, the Oregon-California Trails Association Board and University Club Board of Arizona State University. We were dazzled by her accomplishments and grateful for the time she spent with us at Southwest Books of the Year, regaling us with her adventures and sharing her keen insights about books, authors, and Southwest writing. One of her favorite activities, she often said, was talking books with the Southwest Books of the Year panelists. The pleasure was all ours, Pat. Vaya con Dios.

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

Thanks & Sponsorship 2013

Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2013 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 37th 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 Graphic Design Specialist Lori Thayer for making Southwest Books of the Year a beautiful publication. Thanks, too, to Librarian Sara Hayden and Library Associate Jenn Berry for their invaluable assistance, patience and good humor. We also thank the 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