The best books about New Mexico

13 authors have picked their favorite books about New Mexico and why they recommend each book.

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Oddity

By Sarah Cannon,

Book cover of Oddity

A story about evil puppets? Sign me up! Oddity is a town only the Addams Family could love, with weird, strange, unusual, and downright wrong things taking place at all hours of the day and night. What I love about this book is the way it manages to give us an entire town of spookiness, and yet still find a plot that is even more spooky. The characters are unforgettable, and the villains are a joyous wonder.


Who am I?

I've been writing Spooky Middle Grade for a number of years, and before that, I wrote horror for Hollywood. Living in Sleepy Hollow, spooky is in my blood, and if I didn't write creepy stories, they'd kick me out. I'm also a professional storyteller and have scared the bejeebus out of kids and adults in places like Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and Washington Irving's Sunnyside. Halloween is my favorite time of year. It more or less becomes a month-long village-wide celebration in October. Being inundated with all this crazy rubs off on you, and I have been well-steeped.


I wrote...

Lillian Lovecraft and the Harmless Horrors

By David Neilsen,

Book cover of Lillian Lovecraft and the Harmless Horrors

What is my book about?

Lillian Lovecraft's world is forever changed when she is accidentally haunted by a horrific entity from beyond time and reality named Frank, who likes mustard, plays with people's toupees, and is more annoying than dangerous. Frank's arrival, however, is a harbinger of worse things to come as more and more horrors from Frank's dimension find their way into our world. If that weren't bad enough, a deranged madman is trying to open a portal into Frank's dimension that will allow a giant eyeball to enter our world and devour all of humanity.

It's up to Lillian, her friends, and Frank (if he feels like it) to stop the madman, deal with the horrors, and save the world.

Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Willa Cather,

Book cover of Death Comes for the Archbishop

Cather’s love of the land here is apparent here as missionary Father Jean arrives from France in the 1800s following the annexation of New Mexico to bring his faith to the reluctant indigenous people, Spanish settlers, and skeptical Mexican priests set in their own hybrid ways. I had to read this book in high school and as an adult in 2021 I have a wholly different take on its whole colonialism thing. But, by the end, even after he retires Father Jean chooses to stay in New Mexico than go back to France (!!) which truthfully speaks to how New Mexico grabs a hold of you. Plus his life’s dream was to build a grand church in Santa Fe like those he knew in Europe and then when he dies he gets to lie in state, right there, in his dream. 


Who am I?

I was born and raised in New Mexico and it’s a part of me. New Mexicans will tell you that it’s impossible to describe its uniqueness, that you must experience it for yourself. That may be partially true, but writers have done a great job incorporating the majesty of the landscape, the earthiness of the people, the eclectic nature of its values, and ultimately the spell it casts. I’ve set quite a few books in New Mexico and have tried to show how these layers fit together for me. Ultimately, it’s called The Land of Enchantment for many reasons and we do our best to share them with our readers. 


I wrote...

The Reminisce

By H.L. Cherryholmes,

Book cover of The Reminisce

What is my book about?

Curtis has literally dodged a bullet when he heads for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow money from his sister. The dilapidated desert town’s only mansion belongs to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks, in the final stages of what locals call “the reminisce,” for whom Curtis’s sister and her partner are live-in caretakers. Soon Curtis sees things no one else does and is convinced the unresponsive woman isn’t as disconnected as everyone thinks. Tales of Veronica’s associations with the occult lead him to believe she’s manifesting ghosts. As people from the past, including Veronica herself, appear in phantom rooms —he’s no longer certain she’s the cause. Each vision pulls Curtis further into Veronica’s world, until he fears he could become lost in her past.

Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar,

Book cover of Hour of the Bees

I am a retired sixth grade English teacher, and when I discovered this book, I knew my students would love it. Carolina is a 12-year-old girl who must leave her friends behind for the summer so that she and her family can move her elderly grandfather, Serge, to a nursing home. He lives in Albuquerque, and he talks about her late grandmother in mystical flashbacks that involve bees, a magical tree, and her grandmother’s wanderlust. Serge is an unreliable narrator because he has dementia, yet Carolina discovers clues that his crazy stories may be true. And even though I read this year after year with my students, I was moved to tears at the end. It reminds me of the importance of a family’s love and its roots.


Who am I?

Like most writers, I am extremely interested in the “what if” factor. What if food ingredients could make a person feel specific emotions? What if drinking from a spring in the woods could give you a superpower? What if fairies really do take care of and grow all plants and trees in the world? I love to read and write about ordinary people, living everyday life, who encounter threads of magic. Influenced by reading books in the genre of “magical realism,” I love to explore how a dab of magic can be used in realistic fiction to emotionally affect the characters and story arc.


I wrote...

The Fairies of Turtle Creek

By Jill K. Sayre,

Book cover of The Fairies of Turtle Creek

What is my book about?

Thirteen-year-old Claire is a science-minded girl who has deep concerns about her brother who is away fighting in the Iraq War. When her quirky and estranged grandmother comes to live with her, Claire is even more uneasy—especially since the elderly woman believes in fairies. In fact, they are nearly all she talks about. However, it's through Grandma Faye's stories of being a thirteen-year-old in Dallas, Texas in the 1920s that teaches Claire about love, growing up, and the importance of believing in things only seen with her heart.

The Milagro Beanfield War

By John Nichols,

Book cover of The Milagro Beanfield War

This is book one of John Nichols’ wonderful New Mexico trilogy and what I enjoyed about it the most was the humor - because New Mexicans can find humor in the most absurd or sad or irritating or even banal situations. Pursuit of wealth versus preservation of culture is at the center and Nichols does a great job of depicting the pride and quirks of the small-town poor farmers and wealthy developers as they battle over water rights. Of course, magic realism creeps in – or actually crawls in, as a long- dismembered arm allegedly bears the responsibility for the townspeople’s woes. Through and through these characters were all reminiscent of people I knew growing up.  


Who am I?

I was born and raised in New Mexico and it’s a part of me. New Mexicans will tell you that it’s impossible to describe its uniqueness, that you must experience it for yourself. That may be partially true, but writers have done a great job incorporating the majesty of the landscape, the earthiness of the people, the eclectic nature of its values, and ultimately the spell it casts. I’ve set quite a few books in New Mexico and have tried to show how these layers fit together for me. Ultimately, it’s called The Land of Enchantment for many reasons and we do our best to share them with our readers. 


I wrote...

The Reminisce

By H.L. Cherryholmes,

Book cover of The Reminisce

What is my book about?

Curtis has literally dodged a bullet when he heads for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow money from his sister. The dilapidated desert town’s only mansion belongs to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks, in the final stages of what locals call “the reminisce,” for whom Curtis’s sister and her partner are live-in caretakers. Soon Curtis sees things no one else does and is convinced the unresponsive woman isn’t as disconnected as everyone thinks. Tales of Veronica’s associations with the occult lead him to believe she’s manifesting ghosts. As people from the past, including Veronica herself, appear in phantom rooms —he’s no longer certain she’s the cause. Each vision pulls Curtis further into Veronica’s world, until he fears he could become lost in her past.

A History of the Jews in New Mexico

By Henry J. Tobias,

Book cover of A History of the Jews in New Mexico

This is a nonfiction book and typical of New Mexico, as there are whole chapters of its history nobody really knows about. The (probably) first white American woman to come into the territory was a Jewish woman who accompanied her merchant husband and brothers. Even more interesting, merchants and traders weren’t even the first Jewish people - “Crypto-Jews” who were fleeing the inquisition came to New Mexico long before it was part of the US and kept their identity secret to assimilate. This is depicted with a character in Alburquerque and that perfectly encapsulates one of the overriding things about New Mexico and its tales – a deep sense of connectedness, across people, across the land. 


Who am I?

I was born and raised in New Mexico and it’s a part of me. New Mexicans will tell you that it’s impossible to describe its uniqueness, that you must experience it for yourself. That may be partially true, but writers have done a great job incorporating the majesty of the landscape, the earthiness of the people, the eclectic nature of its values, and ultimately the spell it casts. I’ve set quite a few books in New Mexico and have tried to show how these layers fit together for me. Ultimately, it’s called The Land of Enchantment for many reasons and we do our best to share them with our readers. 


I wrote...

The Reminisce

By H.L. Cherryholmes,

Book cover of The Reminisce

What is my book about?

Curtis has literally dodged a bullet when he heads for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow money from his sister. The dilapidated desert town’s only mansion belongs to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks, in the final stages of what locals call “the reminisce,” for whom Curtis’s sister and her partner are live-in caretakers. Soon Curtis sees things no one else does and is convinced the unresponsive woman isn’t as disconnected as everyone thinks. Tales of Veronica’s associations with the occult lead him to believe she’s manifesting ghosts. As people from the past, including Veronica herself, appear in phantom rooms —he’s no longer certain she’s the cause. Each vision pulls Curtis further into Veronica’s world, until he fears he could become lost in her past.

The Crossing

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Crossing: Border Trilogy

Hundreds of pages into this book is a passage about the detonation of an atomic bomb which you could read and enjoy ten times and yet never catch the historical moment playing out before you. The Crossing is full of these layered, quiet chords that make you question what else you’re missing. No one makes me feel the profoundness of loss that our planet is experiencing more than McCarthy. Already we have lost landscapes and species, yes, but also individual creatures with their own wants and hurts and personalities. McCarthy’s deliberate but gorgeous writing makes you pause and dwell on that loss. In his own words, “Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.”


Who am I?

Seth Wynes is a climate researcher studying how everyday people can fight climate change more effectively. His work has been featured in media outlets from around the world including The New York Times, NPR, and The Guardian. Before pursuing an academic career, Seth was a high school science teacher in England and Northern Quebec, and still draws inspiration for his research from the questions and concerns raised by his students. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.


I wrote...

SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

By Seth Wynes,

Book cover of SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

What is my book about?

Your actions make a difference—even the smallest ones every day. Discover the simple ways to reduce your personal carbon emissions, proven to work by the latest scientific research. Make impactful changes at home, at work, to how you and your family shop, eat, live. Understand how to use your voice and voting power most effectively too, based on what statistics show really contributes to change. You'll be surprised how much power you have to make a change within your community and your country.

How many actions can you tick off the list in this book to help save our planet?

The Sea Of Grass

By Conrad Richter,

Book cover of The Sea Of Grass

The Sea of Grass is a short novel, standard in length for the time in which it was published (1936), close in time to other short classics such as The Grapes of Wrath and The Postman Always Rings Twice. It is written in first person, and in some respects, it suggests the influence of The Great Gatsby, another short masterpiece some ten years earlier, with an observer narrator, an elegiac tone, an evocative prose style, and interesting figurative language. This novel, like many, draws upon the range war (nesters versus the cattle empire) for its premise, but it becomes a very interesting exploration of human nature and the inevitable passing of time. 


Who am I?

As a college instructor and a student of Western American Literature for many, many years I have read a great number of western novels for my classes and for my literary studies. In addition to my doctoral dissertation on the topic, I have written and published numerous articles and reviews on western writers, and I have given many public presentations as well. I have a long-standing interest in what makes good works good. As a fiction writer, I have published more than thirty traditional western novels with major publishers, and have won several national awards for my western novels and short stories. 


I wrote...

Dark Prairie

By John D. Nesbitt,

Book cover of Dark Prairie

What is my book about?

Dark Prairie is a frontier mystery, the first in the series of novels and shorter pieces about the enigmatic agent of justice named Dunbar. This novel has the features of others in the series. The story is told by an observer who lives in the place where Dunbar arrives. In the course of events, Dunbar solves the mystery of an older crime and links it to crimes that occur during the narration. In Dark Prairie, a young Hispanic girl has been missing for several years, and the townsfolk do not consider her case important. Dunbar leads the townspeople to solve the case, and in so doing, he brings resolution to a crime that, unresolved, is a moral threat to the social body.

Die Noon

By Elise Sax,

Book cover of Die Noon

Matilda moves to the small New Mexico town of Goodnight after inheriting a house, a small newspaper, and two dogs. She learns just how odd the town is when she starts investigating the murder of a reporter. The town of Goodnight is pretty bizarre, but speaking as someone who lives in a small town in New Mexico, Goodnight is more believable than it might seem to an outsider. I prefer books where weirdness is something to celebrate, and here the characters embrace their crazy with enthusiastic joy. This story is part screwball comedy and part mystery, and both work.


Who am I?

When I make a snarky remark during a party, chances are one person will catch my eye with the amused look that says, “I saw what you did there.” Everyone else will keep right on talking. But in a book, the reader is right there in the character’s head, which lets your audience catch those subtle humorous comments. In my mystery series, The Accidental Detective, Kate shares witty observations about life with the reader – making Kate funnier than I am. I don’t do as much slapstick and joking (in life or in fiction), but I enjoy writers who pull off those forms of humor well. Humor makes life’s challenges bearable


I wrote...

Something Shady at Sunshine Haven

By Kris Bock,

Book cover of Something Shady at Sunshine Haven

What is my book about?

In the humorous Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty. When patients are dying at an Alzheimer's unit, a former war correspondent must use her journalism skills to uncover the killer and save her mother. Kate has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world, but can she survive going home? 

Old Cold Cannibal

By Todd Maternowski,

Book cover of Old Cold Cannibal

Old Cold Cannibal is a bit of an outlier in this list, as it doesn’t fully conform to the Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett style of humor/narration or plotting. But it’s a unique book with an amazing voice. I have a soft spot for harsh 1800s white narrators whose doubling down on arrogance and (historically accurate) racism wrap around from being awful to weirdly and unsettlingly charming. Old Cold Cannibal delivers on that 100% and allows it to infuse some humor into what is otherwise a very dark and disturbing narrative that follows a journey across the pre-Civil War U.S. to find and slay a dragon. It’s a rough, but entertaining read.


Who am I?

Growing up, I’d always been fascinated by science fiction narratives, having been suckered in by Star Wars at a very young age. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that I realized stories didn’t have to take everything so seriously. This pivoted to an obsession with comedy, leading me to write skits for the stage and screen in my late 20s as a fun side-gig along with my own comedic sci-fi novel series. I’ve always appreciated stories that lean into the lighter side of things. Reality is grim and dark enough as it is, our escapism doesn’t need to double down on that.


I wrote...

Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire

By G.M. Nair,

Book cover of Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire

What is my book about?

Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his best friend, Stephanie Dyer, only makes him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things get worse when they get evicted from their 5th-floor walk-up and find ads for their Detective Agency plastered all over the city. The only problem is: Michael and Stephanie don’t have one of those.

Despite their incompetence, Stephanie pursues this crazy scheme and they stumble upon a web of missing people linked by a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the hole they tore in the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, cease to exist.

The Vampire Tapestry

By Suzy McKee Charnas,

Book cover of The Vampire Tapestry

Charnas steps away from the idea of vampires as supernatural creatures. Her protagonist, Dr. Edward Weyland is a natural creature who must feed on blood to survive. He's not always presented as a "good guy" but I still found myself rooting for him as he moved through the story, trying to understand who and what he truly is. This was also one of the first novels I read where the vampire wasn't fabulously wealthy. Instead, he had to make a living as an anthropology professor. His background as a professor also made his quest for self-understanding feel authentic and relatable.


Who am I?

I first started reading vampire stories when I worked at Kitt Peak National Observatory in the 1990s. One of my co-workers suggested that we were the vampires of the mountain because we were only seen between sunset and sunrise. She encouraged me to read Anne Rice, whose work gave me a taste for heroic vampires. A while later, I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, known as the City of Crosses. Another friend suggested I write a story asking what a vampire would make of such a thing. That became an early chapter in Vampires of the Scarlet Order.


I wrote...

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

By David Lee Summers,

Book cover of Vampires of the Scarlet Order

What is my book about?

Over the centuries, an elite cadre of vampire mercenaries called the Scarlet Order has plied its trade to governments around the world. Now, in the twenty-first century, vampires are too expensive, too dangerous, and too untrustworthy for governments to hire any longer. Using nanotechnology, scientists can engineer reliable super soldiers.

Three vampires discover this technology is so advanced it'll tap into realms and dimensions humans can't understand. To save humans and vampires alike, the vampires Jane, Marcella, and Daniel must seek out the legendary master vampire Desmond, Lord Draco, and encourage him to resurrect the Scarlet Order in order to stop these dangerous experiments. After all, a vampire must do what's necessary for job security!

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