Kick off spring with the Tucson Festival Of Books

This column, part of the monthly Heavy Metal Librarian series, originally ran in the Get Out! section of the Green Valley News on February 26, 2023. The series is authored by Charlie Touseull, Tween/Teen Librarian at Joyner-Green Valley Library. 

Here at the Joyner-Green Valley Library, a large portion of our patronage during the winter months are seasonal visitors. Most of them come here to bask in the relatively calm southern Arizona weather and experience a new perspective for a few months a year. Working the circulation desk in the winter months, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all over North America. I have met visitors from as far away as Ottawa, Minneapolis, Calgary and Fairbanks.

It is not just the weather that brings those folks coming back to our little corner of the world year after year; it is also the sense of community and a recognition that this is a unique place, one that exists nowhere else. From the biodiversity of the Sonoran Desert to the region’s culinary heritage, there are many things that make living in our distinctive corner of the world feel special.

One extraordinary community and cultural event in our area is the Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB). The annual gathering will take over the University of Arizona on March 4 - 5. Authors and literary fans from around the world will converge on campus and celebrate their love for the written word. It is a huge and fun event, one I have been attending, working, and volunteering at since it began in 2009. It is now considered to be one of the largest such book festivals in the nation. This distinction shows how much our community loves books. As a librarian, that really makes me smile.

Over the years at TFOB I have heard some of my favorite authors discuss their craft during panel discussions and have often waited in line afterwards for those authors to sign my book. My favorite panel discussion was hearing Luis Alberto Urrea and Jim Harrison discuss the life and legacy of Chuck Bowden, one of my favorite writers. It was an especially touching and genuine discussion about art, passion, and the pain associated with writing that happened just months after Bowden passed away. These ephemeral moments happen all throughout the festival, letting attendees in on the fleeting discussions that can only happen when great minds discuss the works that have such deep meaning to them.

Annually at the festival, Pima County Public Library sponsors the Nuestras Raíces tent where we celebrate the culture and voices of our Latinx community. Each year it is such a pleasure to hear and learn from these diverse voices—the perspectives and stories shared are always educational and engaging. This year I am personally looking forward to hearing a few of the panel discussions, especially “The Meaning of Home” and “Chillona Pero Chingona.” The authors in these panels share a common bond regarding home and homeland, resiliency, identity and getting stuff done. It should be a good time.


The Tucson Festival of Books happens during the University of Arizona’s Spring Break, so it officially kicks off the end of winter. Sadly, that means that a lot of our Green Valley seasonal visitors will soon be leaving, but just like the migration of the Sandhill cranes that travel between southern Arizona and Siberia, we will be happy to welcome them all back again next year. Happy festival season everyone!

Good Night, Irene

The Hummingbird's Daughter

The Devil's Highway

The Charles Bowden Reader


The Ancient Minstrel

Jim Harrison