Southwest Books of the Year 2017


If you’ve been hankering for the latest and greatest in Southwest reading, your wait is over. Southwest Books of the Year is back with the finest regional books of 2017, hot off the press and ready for you to sample.

As they have for the past four decades, the Southwest Books of the Year panel of reviewers—subject specialists and voracious consumers of Southwest literature—are delighted to offer up their favorite titles of the year, complete with thumbnail reviews to whet your appetite. Books selected by two or more panelists become Top Picks, the Southwest Books of the Year designation for the best of the best.

This year the panelists have selected 35 titles, including eight books for kids and young adults. High on the list are two stellar works of fiction. Best-selling author and part-time Arizona resident Philip Caputo’s Some Rise by Sin speaks to questions of morality in a violent, unprincipled world. Caputo, says panelist Bruce Dinges, captures “…the desperate uncertainties of border life and the complex ethical issues at play in modern-day Mexico.” Also a favorite of the reviewers is Brynn Chancellor’s debut novel, Sycamore, in which the decades-old, unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl comes back to haunt the residents of a small Arizona town.

Nonfiction readers will find topics that range widely, from history and memoir to true crime, paleontology, nature writing, art and a remarkable book of poetry.  A number of photography books attracted the panelists’ attention, chief among them a stunning collection (A Photographer's Life) by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga. And with a nod to Tucson, our hometown and a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, our list features two great titles for Southwest foodies.

We were honored to receive well over 150 books for consideration this year. You can find their titles, and many other great Southwest books, at Southwest Books of the Year and browse panelist picks here.

“Books are like meals,” observes panelist Bill Broyles, because no matter how satisfying a volume may be, “…we’ll need another in a few hours.” You’ll find hours of non-stop reading pleasure here. Indulge yourself!

--Helene Woodhams

Coordinator, Southwest Books of the Year

Literary Arts Librarian, Pima County Public Library