Great Books

By: Elena Acoba

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November 17, 2017

Meet authors with connections to Arizona at book festivals and local bookshops throughout the state.

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

Zane Grey, Barbara Kingsolver, Edward Abbey, J.A. Jance, and Tony and Helen Hillerman have sent readers to Arizona for decades through their tales from the Wild West to modern desert metropolises. Authors love Arizona and Arizona loves authors – and books. Explore the works and lives of writers at the state’s many independent bookstores and festivals.

Local Authors in Payson

Visit Arizona’s only museum dedicated to an author. A furnished replica of Zane Grey’s forest cabin near Payson re-creates the rustic surroundings that inspired his stories of cowboys, bandits and frontier settlers. It’s part of the Rim Country Historical Museum.

Time your July museum visit to take in the Arizona-focused Payson Book Festival. Some 80 regional authors of children’s, non-fiction, romance, fantasy and other genres participate in panels, book signings and readings.

Tucson & Southern Arizona Reading Festivals

The Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona is a spring weekend love fest of reading and writing. More than 300 local and internationally best-selling authors – “Divergent” series author Veronica Roth and “Goosebumps” series creator R.L. Stein are expected in 2018 – appear before some 145,000 bibliophiles. Enjoy author panels, writing workshops, readings and book signings. The gathering features a Science City, too.

For something more lyrical, listen to national and local poets at the spring Tucson Poetry Festival. For more than 30 years the event has brought readings and workshops to the public.

Tucson & Southern Arizona Bookshops

If you can’t make the festivals, check out the independent bookstores that host author signings, book clubs and other events.

Antigone Books is a popular feature in the funky Fourth Avenue shopping district. Its selection heavily emphasizes local authors and independent thought.

Pick up the latest from Arizona residents J.A. Jance, Shannon Baker or Susan Cummins Miller at Clues Unlimited, Tucson’s collection of mysteries by authors around the world.

If the Southwest and West interest you, check out the quaint Singing Wind Bookshop. It’s on a remote ranch in Benson, but worth the drive for an eclectic selection that also goes beyond regional interests.

Bisbee Books & Music has quickly become a community gathering place and the go-to store for books about the former mining boomtown. You can also find musical instruments and a carefully curated selection of vinyl records, as well as art supplies and unique gifts.

Places for Books in Flagstaff

An intimate sharing of writing and reading is the hallmark of the Northern Arizona Book Festival, the oldest book fest in Arizona. Regional authors, such as Arizona resident Diana Gabaldon of the “Outlander” series, hold sway in coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

One festival venue is Bright Side Bookshop, a new Flagstaff stop for books about Northern Arizona. It hosts the likes of author and Grand Canyon river guide Kevin Fedarko and wilderness writer Annette McGivney.

Greater Phoenix Bookstores

Arizona resident Clive Cussler is one of several authors who regularly make appearances at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. Mystery-book collectors like the store for its signed first editions and British imports. It boasts a section of novels set in the Southwest.

Changing Hands in Phoenix and Tempe has new and used books with a section dedicated to books about Arizona. The stores are all about local – local author appearances, locally made gift and art items and locally brewed beer and coffee at First Draft at its Phoenix location.

Arizona Books and Collectibles

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange describes itself as the state’s largest local used bookstore. Visiting authors have included Adam Rex, Tom Leveen and Kanyata White. You can also find used books, movies, vinyl records, music, video games, musical instruments, gifts and more at stores in Phoenix, Mesa, Flagstaff and Tucson.

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