Books every Arizonan should read

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(Source: Amazon) (Source: Amazon)

Arizona may not have a deep connection with a famous author like Mark Twain is to Missouri or Stephen King is to Maine but nonetheless, there are plenty of good reads available that are based in, based on or based around the Grand Canyon State.

From a historical novel like "The Devil's Highway" by Luis Urrea to a fiction novel like "The Bean Trees" by Barbara Kingsolver, Arizona has had plenty of books based in, about or around the state.

Here is a list, based solely on opinion and not to be considered a complete list, of some of the best books everyone in Arizona should read.

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abby

"The Monkey Wrench Gang", a 1975 novel written by American author Edward Abbey, is based on an angry group of young environmentalists in the West.

It centers on a Vietnam veteran, George Washington Hayduke III, who returns to the West to find the desert canyons and rivers menaced by industrial development.

Hayduke partners up with Bonnie Abbzug, Doc Sarvis, M.D., and Seldom Smith to wage war on the bulldozers, dam builders, and other various construction equipment to help preserve the wilderness.

This is an excellent book, that some say reads more like a comic book, for anyone that has come to love Arizona's beautiful desert landscape and hopes to see its preservation in the future.

Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O'Connor and H. Alan Day

"Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest" is a non-fiction novel published in 2002 written by Sandra Day O'Connor.

Written with her brother, H. Alan Day, O'Connor, who was the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, tells the story of her family, early life, and journey to adulthood in Arizona.

Living on the Lazy B ranch in Arizona and O'Connor illustrates the true nature of growing up in the American Southwest, with lessons on self-reliance and survival. O'Connor and her brother also touch on how the Arizona land, people and values influenced their lives.

This is an extraordinary novel for every Arizonan who is interested in the history of the state and its people. It gives you a first-hand look behind one of Arizona's most influential people and what it was like growing up on a ranch in Arizona during the 1930s and 1940s.

These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner

"These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" written by American author Nancy E. Turner was originally published in 1998.

Turner weaves a fictional story, inspired by her own family memoirs, of a young woman coming of age near Tucson in the late 19th century.

The book follows Sarah Prine, who records her childhood to adulthood and the events that mold her into a mother. You learn about her love with a cavalry officer, Captain Jack Elliot, who gave her strength through her trials and tribulations. 

This is another excellent novel showing a young woman, coming of age, and finding herself in the State of Arizona. You learn of her struggles, successes and how the desert landscape shapes her into an adult.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Published in 1989, "The Bean Trees", written by Barbara Kingsolver, follows Taylor Greer who grew up in Kentucky but leaves it all behind and heads west.

Along her journey, Greer is unexpectedly given a 3-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle from a stranger in Oklahoma.

Greer and Turtle eventually end up in Tucson after their vehicle's two back tires blow out and decide to settle down.

Greer must come to terms with putting down her roots and facing motherhood. She discovers love, friendship, abandonment and belonging all while trying to find a new life in Arizona.

Kingsolver tells an interesting tale of a woman leaving everything she has behind to find a new life. During her journey, she discovers herself and what is important to her in Arizona. It offers a fantastic insight into what matters to her and how she can make the most of her life.

The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luís Alberto Urrea

"The Devil's Highway: A True Story", written by American-Mexican poet Luis Alberto Urrea, was published in 2004 and is based on a failed attempt at crossing the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona.

The novel tells the true story of a group of 26 men who attempted to cross the border into the U.S. in May 2001. However, only 12 men came back.

"The Devil's Highway: A True Story" was a national bestseller, Pulitzer Prize finalist and "book of the year" in multiple newspapers.

Immigration and the border is an everyday conversation in Arizona. How we can properly defend our border from illegal immigration is constantly brought up among Arizonans every day. However, rarely do you hear the story from the other side.

"The Devil's Highway: A True Story" paints a vibrant picture of the horrors and dangers that come into play when crossing the border into the U.S. and gives excellent insight into the life of an illegal immigrant.

Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend by Gary L. Roberts

Published in 2006, "Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend", was written by Gary Roberts, who tries to separate fact from fiction of the legendary Doc Holliday.

This book sheds new light on Holliday, who was a legendary gunslinger making a living as a dentist in several areas including Arizona Territory.

The novel gives new details into Holliday's adventures, relationships with other famous Western icons like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, and the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

This book is an excellent read for any Arizonan interested in the history of the Wild West and the gunslingers that helped make it famous. Roberts gives a brand-new perspective into one of the most famous gunslingers of all, Doc Holliday.

Vanished Arizona: Recollections of the Army Life of a New England Woman by Martha Summerhayes

"Vanished Arizona: Recollections of the Army Life by a New England Woman" was privately published in 1908 but was so well received, a new edition was published in 1911.

The story, written by Martha Summerhayes, follows her life as an Army wife, traveling from Wyoming Territory to Arizona after her husband's regiment was ordered to new quarters.

Here, Summerhayes discovers the harsh climate and perils that await her in the dangerous desert including rattlesnakes, cacti and desperadoes.

With her uncanny narrative skill, Summerhayes provides insight into the life of an Army wife, living in the frontier-military West during the 1870s. It provides Arizonans another opportunity to learn about the history of Arizona and what it was like living in the desert climate in the late 19th century.

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