The most recommended books about Arizona

Who picked these books? Meet our 69 experts.

69 authors created a book list connected to Arizona, and here are their favorite Arizona books.
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Book cover of Things to See in Arizona

Katie O'Rourke Author Of Blood & Water

From Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Introspective Political junky Optimist

Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Katie O'Rourke Why did Katie love this book?

YA is not my usual genre, but since I've loved so many of this author's adult work, I thought I'd give it a try. And I'm glad I did.

Tuesday is going through some typically age appropriate, post-high school graduation angst, but on top of these things, a recent health diagnosis has her struggling with some very grown up things I found deeply relatable.

By Mary Vensel White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Things to See in Arizona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of If I Fix You

Sara Fujimura Author Of Faking Reality

From my list on teens who are builders and makers.

Who am I?

I write books for intelligent, adventurous, globally-minded teens who aren’t afraid to fall in love with someone different from themselves. I started as a journalist, so it is no surprise that my YA books contain a lot of facts to go along with the fiction. Whether you want to know about Japan (Tanabata Wish), the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (Breathe), what it’s like to be an Olympic-caliber skater (Every Reason We Shouldn’t), or how unscripted television works (Faking Reality), I take readers on swoony journeys to unusual places. So, if you like books that educate as they entertain, I hope you’ll check this book list—plus my books—out.

Sara's book list on teens who are builders and makers

Sara Fujimura Why did Sara love this book?

All of Johnson’s books are swoony and awesome, but I love that Jill works in the family business—just like Dakota and Leo do—fixing cars in her family’s auto shop. It’s not something you see a lot of girls doing in YA books, but it makes so much sense in her bigger struggle of being a “fixer” in her everyday life. I have no mechanical skills, but boy, do I relate to trying to fix things that were never really my problem to solve in the first place. Teens with complicated family dynamics will appreciate seeing themselves portrayed in an authentic, nuanced way. Johnson leaves the reader with a powerful but gentle message that when faced with impossible situations, sometimes you need to fix yourself first.      

By Abigail Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If I Fix You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A young girl struggles to face an uncomfortable truth about her mother in this romantic contemporary YA novel for fans of Cammie McGovern & Morgan Matson.

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things—cars, relationships, romances, people—is all broken up. It used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even…


Book cover of Animal Dreams

Alexia Casale Author Of The Best Way to Bury Your Husband

From my list on a historic crime driving the current story.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved books where something in the past of the main storyline surges into its present, demanding that an old wrong be righted or an old mystery solved. It’s why my first degree was in Social and Political Sciences (Psychology major) instead of English Literature or Creative Writing: I knew that learning how to write would be useless if I didn’t understand the things I wanted to write about. The role of the past in shaping our present – our behaviours, sense of self, relationships – is endlessly fascinating, and stories that unpick this are often the ones that surprise me the most with their insight into the human condition.

Alexia's book list on a historic crime driving the current story

Alexia Casale Why did Alexia love this book?

The ‘crime’ in Animal Dreams is a legal technicality, and this is a literary contemporary novel rather than a crime one, but its narrative drive comes from the same need to untangle the past to set the characters free (or as free as they can be) in the present.

The writing is glorious – rich, deep, surprising, layered – reaching levels of technical mastery that few other writers even glimpse. There are several point-of-view characters and, unlike most books with this structure, Kingsolver wrings every last drop of drama and interest from the nuances this offers.

Instead of longing to get back to a preferred perspective, the reader revels in how vivid, how real, each character feels in turn. If you love LP Hartley’s The Go-Between, you’ll probably adore this.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Animal Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the southwestern mining town of Grace, Arizona, this novel revolves around Codi, her sister Hallie and their severe and distant father, Doc Homer. The author has previously written "The Bean Trees" and "Homeland", the latter a collection of short stories.


Book cover of The Circus of Dr. Lao

Andy Kaiser Author Of In Tents

From my list on dark altered realities and other creepy places.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to the dark, mysterious, and weird. Originally influenced by science fiction and fantasy, then later by mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and horror, I loved the mental visuals and excitement of being in extreme, reality-bending situations. Combine these aspects, and that’s why I told my own story with these same themes: In Tents is my homage to small-town culture… twisted into a darker reality. 

Andy's book list on dark altered realities and other creepy places

Andy Kaiser Why did Andy love this book?

The earliest publication date of this collection goes all the way back to 1935. A strange circus comes to town, with the performers consisting of creatures who talk less about circusy things than they do about philosophy and some strangely specific moralizing. Those thought-provoking aspects are what stick in my mind now. What first drew me to the story was the mystery of the circus itself, and the wonderfully creative creatures inside of it. 

By Charles G. Finney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Circus of Dr. Lao as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abalone, Arizona, is a sleepy southwestern town whose chief concerns are boredom and surviving the Great Depression-that is, until the circus of Dr. Lao arrives and immensely and irrevocably changes the lives of everyone drawn to its tents.

Expecting a sideshow spectacle, the citizens of Abalone instead confront and learn profound lessons from the mythical made real-a chimera, a Medusa, a talking sphinx, a sea serpent, witches, the Hound of the Hedges, a werewolf, a mermaid, an ancient god, and the elusive, ever-changing Dr. Lao himself. The circus unfolds, spinning magical, dark strands that ensnare the town's populace: the sea…


Book cover of Die for You

Angelia Bailey Author Of Death 2 My Past

From my list on suspense with a romance to die for.

Who am I?

I never write anything without having first experienced it. To give you context, I’d never been slapped before, couldn’t tell you what it felt like or even sounded like. So, I legit had someone slap me so I could accurately depict it. Every mental health aspect in Death 2 My Past, I’ve personally experienced. Every loss, heartbreak, trauma, life event, etc. On some level, I’ve experienced it. And through everything, I learned something very important. Embrace it. I can’t stop the bad things from happening. But I can embrace the suspense of it, experience the romances, and grieve the death that encompassed my life. Death is a Butterfly.

Angelia Nichole Bailey's book list on suspense with a romance to die for

Angelia Bailey Why did Angelia Nichole Bailey love this book?

For starters, this book was so important to have in my top 5 that I just spent the past 3 hours searching for it while only remembering a few key details. This is the only book to this day that made me angry cry and chuck it across the room. I can relate on a personal level to the toxicity of the relationship between Emma and Dillon. Don’t even get me started on Dillon’s mother. I hate her as a character. This entire story represents a reality a lot of teens face. The suspense, toxic romance, and a hint of a forbidden love did it in for me.

By Amy Fellner Dominy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Die for You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Not everything is as perfect as it seems in this dark romance by A Matter of Heart author, Amy Dominy. 

Theirs was the perfect love story.
 
After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.
         Then she meets Dillon Hobbs and something just clicks.
         Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past and the security of a commitment that he promises will last…


Book cover of The Sportswriter

Sid Garza-Hillman Author Of Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

From my list on fiction books that are secretly philosophy books.

Who am I?

This list is specifically “secret” philosophy books. There were plenty of novels (Victor Hugo, Milan Kundera, Robert Pirsig) that I love, but they don’t hide the fact that they’re significantly philosophy books. My degree is in philosophy (BA, UCLA), with a special interest in ethics, ethical questions. I still really love the marriage of fiction and philosophy especially when it’s done subtly and beautifully. I am the author of three books: Approaching the Natural, Raising Healthy Parents. and Six Truths. I hold a BA in Philosophy from UCLA, am a public speaker, podcaster (What Sid Thinks Podcast), certified nutritionist & running coach, Oxygen Advantage breathing instructor, and founder of Small Steppers

Sid's book list on fiction books that are secretly philosophy books

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did Sid love this book?

I’m not a sports fan. My good friend, Ryan Harty (author of one of my favorite short story compilations: “Bring me your saddest Arizona”) recommended this book to me many years ago. I’m not a sports fan but he assured me it had very little if anything to do with sports. He was right about that! I gave it a shot and was immediately transported into the narrative. It’s still in my top 5 all-time favorite book list. Ford’s ability to communicate existential crises in deeper but simple ways is so, so good. Frank Bascombe, the protagonist is detached in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling.

By Richard Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sportswriter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people--men, mostly--who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. But at thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford's moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring.


Book cover of Volcanoes of Northern Arizona

Who am I?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

Who knew there were volcanoes in northern Arizona? Wendell Duffield takes readers on a visual and literary tour de force of this amazing region. The San Francisco Volcanic Field contains over 600 vents and cones with one large stratovolcano, a half a dozen or more silicic dome volcanoes, and hundreds of basalt cinder cones. All are explained in clear, concise prose. And who knew the Grand Canyon had volcanoes too, some of which spilled cascading lava flows into the canyon, damming the river at least 17 times. It’s all here in this little book that has a big impact.

By Wendell A. Duffield, Michael Collier (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Volcanoes of Northern Arizona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a popular look at the fiery origin of Northern Arizona’s landscape. With magnificent aerial photographs, original geologic illustrations, and detailed road logs to many of the key features, this book is an indispensable tool for the traveler, the educator, and all who are interested in the remarkable landscape of northern Arizona.


Book cover of A Little War of Our Own: The Pleasant Valley Feud Revisited

David Grassé Author Of The Bisbee Massacre: Robbery, Murder and Retribution in the Arizona Territory, 1883-1884

From my list on Arizona territorial history.

Who am I?

There is nothing I detest more than what I have dubbed the “John Wayne Mythos” – the idea the West was populated with righteous gunslingers going about “taming” the West by killing anyone who was not abiding by or submitting to white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant standards and morality. The West, of which Arizona was an integral part, was much more complex than this, and the heroes of legend were oft-times the real-life villains. I consider myself to be a historian of the “New Western History” school, which recast the study of American frontier history by focusing on race, class, gender, and environment in the trans-Mississippi West.

David's book list on Arizona territorial history

David Grassé Why did David love this book?

Most meticulously researched book on the worst blood feud in U. S. History, but, being Mr. Dedera was a news journalist and columnist with The Arizona Republican, it is very readable. Prior to the publication of this manuscript, books about the feud between the Tewksbury and Graham families tended to be biased, sympathizing with the latter while condemning the former (in part because the Tewksburys were half Native American). Dedera was one who discovered the document which proved it conclusively was the Graham who had turned on the Tewksburys. Still, Dedera does not take sides, and he does not pull his punches. He lays out the facts before the reader, and when he does draw conclusions, they are based on the evidence presented. Highly recommended.

By Don Dedera,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little War of Our Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of the American West is punctuated by range wars, and the Pleasant Valley feud was among the most famous. Waged largely in northeastern Arizona, it had all of the classic elements: cattle and horse rustling, massacres, and dramatic courtroom confrontations. A LITTLE WAR OF OUR OWN incorporates more than thirty years of research by the author, including material from recently opened archival sources, and his journalistic vision, which penetrates to the heart of the story.


Book cover of Lost Children Archive

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Author Of Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

From my list on turning immigration policies into human stories.

Who am I?

As an immigration legal scholar and lawyer, I read about immigration a lot. From laws that seem written to confuse to articles in academic journals written for an audience of experts, I’m lucky to love what I do—and so I enjoy most of what I read. But these books are special. They drew me in and wouldn’t let go until the last page. Whether fiction or non-fiction, they are written by storytellers who bring laws and policies to life.

César's book list on turning immigration policies into human stories

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Why did César love this book?

At times, immigration policies are so ludicrous that only fiction can tell a credible story of what’s happening.

In Luiselli’s novel, modern asylum policies in the United States get the storytelling they deserve through the lens of one New York family struggling with the ordinary challenges of life only to learn, bit by bit, just how close their lives are to the migrants attempting to navigate the extraordinary demands of immigration policies along the US-Mexican border.

By Valeria Luiselli,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lost Children Archive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • “An epic road trip [that also] captures the unruly intimacies of marriage and parenthood ... This is a novel that daylights our common humanity, and challenges us to reconcile our differences.” —The Washington Post

In Valeria Luiselli’s fiercely imaginative follow-up to the American Book Award-winning Tell Me How It Ends, an artist couple set out with their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to fray: a fracture is growing between…


Book cover of Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History

David Grassé Author Of The Bisbee Massacre: Robbery, Murder and Retribution in the Arizona Territory, 1883-1884

From my list on Arizona territorial history.

Who am I?

There is nothing I detest more than what I have dubbed the “John Wayne Mythos” – the idea the West was populated with righteous gunslingers going about “taming” the West by killing anyone who was not abiding by or submitting to white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant standards and morality. The West, of which Arizona was an integral part, was much more complex than this, and the heroes of legend were oft-times the real-life villains. I consider myself to be a historian of the “New Western History” school, which recast the study of American frontier history by focusing on race, class, gender, and environment in the trans-Mississippi West.

David's book list on Arizona territorial history

David Grassé Why did David love this book?

The Arizona territory was an intersection for people from many different cultures, and they sometimes did horrible things to one another. This is the story of the brutal Camp Grant Massacre of 1871, one of the pivotal events in the war on the aboriginal tribes in the Arizona Territory. This is a difficult book to read as it lays bare the inherent racism of the so-called settlers of the territory, and uncompromisingly addresses their genocidal inclinations. Worse, it shows how the policies of the U.S. Government encouraged such acts of mass murder. Though one hundred of the participants, including a number of upstanding citizens from Pima County, were indicted for 108 counts of murders, and tried, not one was found guilty. A shameful, but important history.

By Karl Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadows at Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterful reconstruction of one of the worst Indian massacres in American history

In April 1871, a group of Americans, Mexicans, and Tohono O?odham Indians surrounded an Apache village at dawn and murdered nearly 150 men, women, and children in their sleep. In the past century the attack, which came to be known as the Camp Grant Massacre, has largely faded from memory. Now, drawing on oral histories, contemporary newspaper reports, and the participants? own accounts, prize-winning author Karl Jacoby brings this perplexing incident and tumultuous era to life to paint a sweeping panorama of the American Southwest?a world far…