Seven Must-Read Books by Tucson Authors

Not sure where to start in the bookstore? Tucson boasts its own vibrant community of authors spanning across genres. Here’s some suggested reading by local authors to get you started: 


  1. The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú

    Written in the wake of the 2016 election, The Line Becomes a River is a sobering memoir about the realities of the Mexican/American border. In it, former Border Patrol Agent, Francisco Cantú, shares his experiences and lays bare the cognitive dissonance that still haunts him 

  2. Where Clouds are Formed by Ofelia Zepada

    Native American Poet and Linguistics Professor, Ofelia Zepada captures  moments and memories of her experience as a member of the Tohono O’odham Tribe in Southern Arizona.  Her poetry is imbued with her observational insight of the contemporary world through personal experience and through the eyes of her Tohono O’odham Ancenstors.  Through small vignettes she shares her perspective, her humor, and her appreciation for the world around her. 

  3. The Nature of Desert Nature by Gary Paul Nabhan

    In this book of Essays, The Nature of the Desert, Ethnobiologist and nature writer, Gary Paul Nabhan observes the unique landscape of the desert in unexpected, beautiful, and at times, humorous ways. He also draws upon his community of friends, colleagues, and advisors to share their unique perspective. The result is a renewed vision of the wonder of the desert. 

  4. Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer by Richard W. Shelton

    As a young English professor in the 1970s, Richard Shelton was asked to critique the poetry of a convicted Tucson serial killer. In this memoir, Shelton reflects on the thirty-year journey he had organizing creative writing workshops and helping prisoners express themselves. He shares the power of creativity in this environment  and the complexity of “What it means to be human.” 

  5.  In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing up Brown & Queer by Lydia Otero

    This book, which combines personal memoir and family history with historical archives, explores the Author, Lydia Otero’s experience as a brown, queer person in a poor barrio that was further separated and isolated by the expansion of Interstate 10 (I-10).  Otero reveals the day-to-day survival mechanisms they depended upon, the exhilaration of first love, the love of reading and the support the author received from key family members as they tried to gain a sense of belonging in a world mired in change and dislocation.


  6. The Daughters by Adrienne Celt

    “The Daughters” follows renowned opera sensation, Lulu after the difficult birth of her daughter and tragic death of her grandmother. Haunted by a curse that traces back through the women in her family, she fears that the loss of her remarkable talent and the birth of her daughter are somehow inexplicably connected. As Lulu tentatively embraces motherhood she sifts through the stories she’s inherited, about her elusive, jazz-singer mother and the nearly-mythic matriarch, her great-grandmother Greta. Each tale is steeped in the family’s folkloric Polish tradition and haunted by the rusalka — a spirit that inspired Dvořák’s classic opera.

  7.  Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet

    Love in Infant Monkeys is a collection of short stories about famous people and their encounters with animals, including Madonna experiencing remorse after she shoots a pheasant on her English estate, Noam Chomsky in a garbage dump with a gerbil cage, Sharon Stone’s husband’s run-in with a Komodo dragon, and Thomas Edison’s reaction to a filmstrip he’s made of the electrocution death of Topsy, a rogue circus elephant.