Books on display at Barrio Books, one of the local bookstores who gave recommendations for this year's reading challenge. 

Our annual #ThisIsTucson Summer Reading Challenge for Grown-Ups is turning 4 this year!

And there are a few things we've learned along the way, like so many incredibly talented authors live in Tucson and other parts of Arizona. And you'll want to read all the books (but it's totally OK to read one or five).

It's also really hard to choose which books will make the final list when you have a running list with more than 200 titles to choose from.

We are so grateful to the Pima County Public Library, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, Antigone Books, Mostly Books and Barrio Books, for sending so many great recommendations our way. The library and our local, indie bookstores will also carry selections from this year's list so you can support local when gathering your reads.

This year, we have nine categories with two books each. Many books are written by Tucson authors, set in Tucson or the southwest, or explore topics relevant to our community. 

Our 2021 categories are:

• Bacon-wrapped reads: Food

• Babbling books: Nature

• Prickly Prose: Poetry

• Saguaroscura: Graphic novels

• Jave a helping hand: Expert guidance

• Cactus spine tinglers: Thrillers

• Nonsoon novels: Fiction

• Desert roots: Biography

• Sunny stories: Children's books (to share with the littles in your life)

We'll release all the titles and a (super cute) downloadable PDF checklist on Wednesday, May 26 at thisistucson.com/readingchallenge.

But this year, #ThisIsTucson members will get early access to the list a week in advance on Wednesday, May 19. This means a few extra days to get those library holds in. Learn more about becoming a member and supporting our work here.

The Pima County Public Library also has many of these books in a digital format — it might just require hopping into a long hold line.

If you want to get a head start on your summer reading or take a trip down memory stravenue, check out our 2020,  2019 and 2018 Summer Reading Challenge for Grown-Ups lists. 

We love to see your progress and hear what you're reading, so be sure to use the hashtag #thisistucsonbookchallenge on your Facebook and Instagram posts. 

You can also join us in our #ThisIsTucson Book Club Facebook group for some book-ish conversations and to connect with a community of other bibliophiles. 

This year we're excited to have Tucson writer and entrepreneur Genevieve Dahl (the pen name of Hotel McCoy's creative founder Nicole Dahl which she uses to separate her writing life) help us moderate the Facebook group and write book-related stories for us. 

You'll hear more from her in the book club group soon, but for now here's a few things to know about Dahl: 

Things she loves: "Fiction that transports me to another place, hanging out with (my) daughters, nonfiction that changes my mind, tacos, red wine, and Arizona sunsets." 

What she writes about: Parenting, career, wellness, mental health and books

Fun facts: She's from northern California, but has lived in the southwest off and on for more than a decade. She's a University of Arizona grad and she's previously worked at Tucson staples — Hotel Congress and The Buffet. She's also working on her first novel. 

Happy reading!


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