Inspired by the state’s Centennial, last year a group of seven bibliophiles set out to develop a list of fiction and non-fiction books essential to Arizona. Surveying works from Spanish times to the present, the final 100 titles were "selected on the basis of their historical importance and literary merit." A special edition of The Journal of Arizona History is the culmination of this yearlong effort and offers an in-depth bibliography of the selected titles with a summary, assessment of significance, and suggestions for further reading for each title.

Among the titles selected is The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, published in 1833 and the oldest book on the list.The most recently published title, the 2010 book A Gift of Angels: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac by Bernard Fontana and Edward McCain offers an identification of nearly 200 saints and angels that adorn San Xavier del Bac.

The bibliography is the result of more than a year of rereading, reviewing and lengthy discussion by the seven reviewers, all of whom have deep connections with the literature of the Grand Canyon State:

  • Bill Broyles, retired teacher, writer, Southwest Books of the year contributor, research associate at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center
  • Steve Cox, director emeritus, University of Arizona Press, more than 40 years of experience as a writer, editor, and publisher
  • Bruce Dinges, director of publications and editor of The Journal of Arizona History at the Arizona Historical Society
  • Alfredo Gonzales, bookseller, owner of the Chiricahua Book Company
  • W. David Laird, author, editor, Southwest Books of the Year contributor, and former director of the University of Arizona Libraries
  • Roger Myers, librarian at Special Collections in the University of Arizona Libraries
  • James J. Owens, antiquarian book dealer and the owner of Thorn Books in Tucson.

Their goal in developing the Centennial bibliography and in showcasing the selections in "Arizona 100: Essential Books for the Centennial" was to provide Arizonans with "a collection of emblematic works that, taken as a group, define who we are and what we are."

Download the reading list