In 1976 Gerald Ford was president of the United States, Steve Jobs started the Apple Computer Company, gasoline cost $0.56 a gallon, and the Arizona Daily Star presented a holiday shopping list of recommended Southwest books.
With this, our 2016 edition, Southwest Books of the Year marks 40 years of connecting readers with the best in the literature of our region. We’ve spent this landmark year as we spend every year, reading our way through hundreds of titles so that we can tell you about what's new and notable. And we continue to be amazed and delighted by the literary riches we find.
Thirty-four books, including seven rollicking reads for kids, are included on this list. The Top Picks (those books selected by more than one reviewer) are ten in number and feature several fiction titles sure to keep book clubs buzzing, including new works by TC Boyle, Paulette Jiles and Ron Hansen. Arizona authors Scott Thybony, Fernanda Santos and Melissa Sevigny offer compelling nonfiction that will keep you turning pages compulsively. Ms. Sevigny, in fact, has two titles that attracted the admiration of the panelists. “She’s balanced, funny, and perceptive,” observes panelist Bill Broyles, “[and] brings a youthful exuberance to her alluring narrative.” Riches, indeed!
Singling out the best of the Southwest is never an easy task with so many great titles to choose from, and we’re grateful for the efforts of Southwest Books of the Year reviewers—40 years-worth of them—who have contributed to making this such a thoughtful, unique, and lively publication—an anniversary toast to you all!
We’re grateful, too, for the vision of Pima County Public Library, where books, authors, and the readers who love them are celebrated every day.
You can meet many of the authors included in this publication at the Tucson Festival of Books, March 11-12, 2017 on the University of Arizona Mall. It’s a booklover’s dream come true.
Coordinator, Southwest Books of the Year
Literary Arts Librarian, Pima County Public Library
Thanks and Sponsorship
Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2016 is published by Pima County Public Library in partnership with the Friends of the Pima County Public Library and the Arizona Historical Society. This is the 40th annual edition. The publication was begun by the Arizona Daily Star 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.
We thank the numerous publishers who provided the Southwest Books of the Year panelists with review copies of their books.
Special thanks go to the Library’s Graphic Designer Lori Thayer for making Southwest Books of the Year a beautiful publication. Thanks, too, to Librarian Vicki Ann Duraine for her good humor, dedication and abiding passion for Southwest books.
Amber Mathewson is Interim Library 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: Helene.Woodhams@pima.gov.