Chilly evening breezes have cooled the fiery deserts, there’s snow on the mountains and the year is drawing to a close. It’s time to look back on the many books that came our way in 2015. The days have been full of great reading — more than 180 Southwest-oriented titles crossed our desk this year, and we’re delighted to share our favorite titles with this publication.
At the top of each reviewer’s lists this year was “All the Wild that Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West,” by essayist and nature writer David Gessner. Part travel journal and part meditation on the lives of writer-environmentalists Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner, Gessner’s engrossing book underscores the need to accept the reality of the West’s vulnerability. Also favored by the panel was “The Jaguar’s Children,” a brilliant debut novel by acclaimed nonfiction author John Vaillant about a human smuggling operation gone bad that is, says panelist Bruce Dinges, “an eloquent tribute to the enduring strength of the human spirit.”
The books that were considered for the best-reading list were published in 2015 and are set in the Southwest or deal with a Southwestern subject. In all, 28 books were identified by the Southwest Books of the Year panelists as exceptional reads, including three books for children. Ten of these titles are “top picks,” meaning they were selected by more than one panelist. We’re an eclectic group of readers, so there’s bound to be something here for every Southwest literature fan, whether you favor fact or fiction, history or mystery, current issues, cowboy art or hiking a Southwest trail.
For more book suggestions from the Southwest and beyond, visit Pima County Public Library’s website (library.pima.gov) to find out more about the next book you’re going to love. And book lovers take note: several of the authors mentioned in these pages will join hundreds more at the Tucson Festival of Books, March 12 and 13 on the University of Arizona campus — it’s a dream come true for Southwest book lovers.