This is the time of the year when we finally have time to crack open a book on vacation, right? We sure hope it turns out that way. Here are nine books from Southern Arizona to add to your reading list.
Little Lamb of Heaven. Acclaimed Tucson novelist Lydia Millet's swing at a psychological horror novel has earned big praise and landed on whole bunch of lists of the best books of 2016. Just released in paperback, it's the story of a mom on the run with her 6-year-old from a cold-hearted husband pursuing a career in politics. When she takes refuge at a run-down motel on the New England coast, things start to get seriously creepy in this metaphysical tale of suspense.
The Winter in Anna. Tucsonan Reed Karaim's second novel is a hauting tale of a young journalist at a small North Dakota paper who meets a woman with a tragic secret. Kirkus Review called it a "melancholy, earnest study of friendship."
Spent Saints. Brian Smith doesn't just find amazing tales of local characters for his Tucson Salvage column in the pages of Tucson Weekly. He also crafts meticulous short stories about characters who crash their lives on the dark side. Spent Saints, released just weeks ago, is his first collection of short stories, but we surely hope it's not his last. This is an ideal book for reading when summer's heat fever hits and you're in that delusional state of desperation that happens to all of us somewhere around late July or early August.
Mars. The UA Lunar and Planetary Lab has been running the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for more than a decade, mapping the gorgeous features of our neighbor. Now some of the finest photos have been collected in a single volume that will dazzle any space cadet.
The Daughters. Tucson author Adrienne Celt's debut novel of motherhood and music earned great fanfare when it was published last year and a paperback edition is due out in June. Publishers Weekly said that the book's "luminous prose, subtle structure, and rich contrast between present-day Chicago and Old World folklore help craft a resonant meditation on the way our stories at once shape and sabotage our lives."
Celluloid Pueblo. Way back in the late '30s, Charles and Lucile Herbert founded Western Ways Features with an eye toward filming the astounding world of Arizona and Northern Mexico. Celluloid Pueblo examines how for three decades, the couple helped forge the image of the Southwest in the imagination of Americans during one of the most astounding boom-and-bust periods of our homeland.
The Haunting of the Mexican Border. Author, filmmaker and activist Kathryn Ferguson passed away all too early last month after a brief battle with cancer. Her book, The Haunting of the Mexican Border, tells of her life shooting a film about Mexico's Tarahumara people, her efforts to save the lives of undocumented immigrants as they crossed our inhospitable desert crossers and other adventures she had in the frontier along the border.
Our Dreams Might Align. Tucsonan Dana Diel's debut collection of short stories, Our Dreams Might Align, slipslides between a science lab and the Twilight Zone, taking readers through dreamlike tales of magical worlds from beneath the seas to outer space. It's the book you want to reach for when you're ready to escape Tucson, at least in your imagination.
Fastpitch. Sports junkies will feel like they're watching from the on-deck circle when they read Erica Westly's Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game. The nonfiction book, just out in paperback, goes way back to the game's early days in the 1880s and carries through to glory days of Jennie Finch's extraordinary record here at the University of Arizona.