100 Must-Read Books about The Southwest

I thought The Southwest was much bigger than it actually is, until Wikipedia told me otherwise. Turns out, The Southwest region consists of Arizona and its surrounding areas, but no other complete states: the southeasternmost part of California’s Inland Empire up into the bottom of Nevada; the lower areas of Colorado and Utah in the Four Corners region; the Western half of New Mexico, and a tiny corner of West Texas.

But there is still a huge literary tradition in the Southwest region of the United States, and here are the books you should read either about or taking place there.

Note: There is, amazingly, no crossover with this list of books about the American West.

 

Literary and Contemporary Fiction

The Bean Trees by Barbara KingsolverThe Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The King and Queen of Comezon by Denise Chávez

The Old Man’s Love Story by Rudolfo Anaya

Sunland by Don Waters

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge

The Guardians by Ana Castillo

Changing Light by Nora Gallagher

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Walks Away Woman by Ki Longfellow

In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde

Sizzle by Lee McClain

Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson

 

Historical Fiction

dawn comes earlyAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley

Wraiths of the Broken Land by S. Craig Zahler

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Meet Josefina by Valerie Tripp

These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Once in a Promised Land by Laila Halaby

Where they Bury You by Steven W. Kohlhagen

 

History and Current Events

detained and deportedDetained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire by Margaret Regan 

How the World Moves: The Odyssey of an American Indian Family Family by Peter Nabokov 

Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and their Adventures in the American Southwest by Lesley Poling-Kempes

Among Unknown Tribes  by Bill Broyles et al

Standing on Common Ground by Geraldo L. Cadava

Trauma Red: The Making of a Surgeon in War and in America’s Cities by Peter Rhee

Unreal City: Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and the Fate of the West by Judith Nies

At the Border of Empires: The Tohono O’odham, Gender, and Assimilation, 1880-1934 by Andrae Marak and Laura Tuennerman

Dragoons in Apacheland by William S. Kiser

Grandma’s Santo on its Head by Nasario Garcia

In the Shadow of Billy the Kid: Susan McSween and the Lincoln County War by Kathleen P. Chamberlain 

Miera y Pacheco: A Renaissance Spaniard in Eighteenth Century New Mexico by John L. Kessell

Under the Eagle: Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker by Samuel Holiday and Robert McPherson

House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest by Craig Childs

Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keefe by Laurie Lisle

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

The Grand Canyon and the Southwest by Ansel Adams

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus

 

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

jaguar's children - john vaillantThe Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant

The Quiet Streets of Winslow by Judy Troy

Bad Country by C. B. McKenzie

Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya

The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

Blackening Song by Aimée and David Thurlo

Rage against the Dying by Becky Masterman

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

Tainted Mountain by Shannon Baker

The Visitant by Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Desert Heat by J. A. Jance

Desert Dark by Sonja Stone

Cool in Tucson by Elizabeth Gunn

Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman

 

Memoir

all the wild that remainsAll The Wild That Remains by David Gessner

Chasing Arizona: One Man’s Yearlong Obsession with the Grand Canyon State State by Ken Lamberton 

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble

An Anthropologist’s Arrival by Ruth M. Underhill

Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto González

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Rondstat

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Tortilla Chronicles: Growing Up in Santa Fe by Marie Romero Cash

 

Speculative Fiction

water-knifeThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi 

Demigods on Speedway by Aurelie Sheehan

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Under Dark Sky Law by Tamara Boyens

Taming Shadows by Fiona Skye

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols and Rini Templeton

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Return of the Bones by Belinda Vasquez Garcia

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

 

Romance

pieces of skyPieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

She Who Remembers by Linda Lay Shuler

The Way Home by Megan Chance

What Price Paradise by Katherine Allred

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (A classic, 19th century Western romance)

Wake Up Maggie by Beth Yarnall

One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald

 

Short Stories and Poetry

night at the fiestasNight at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Sonoran Strange by Logan Phillips

The Tijuana Book of the Dead by Luis Alberto Urrea

Words Like Love by Tanaya Winder

Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland by Spencer R. Herrera et al

Three-Ten To Yuma and other Stories by Elmore Leonard

 

Picture Books

good rainbow roadThe Good Rainbow Road by Simon J. Ortiz and Michael Lapaca

Camille Carries the Mail by Lisa Hodgkins and Carlos Lemos

Legend of Ponciano Gutierrez and the Mountain Thieves by A. Gabriel Meléndez and Amy Córdova

My Tata’s Remedies/Los Remedios de mi Tata by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and Antonio Castro L. 

Hip, Hip Hooray! It’s Monsoon Day! by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and Richard Johnsen

 

What are your favorite Southwest reads?

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