New Mexico Books: The Best Books Set in the Land of Enchantment

Whether you’re participating in our Read Around the USA Challenge or simply found your way to our website researching books set in New Mexico, we’ve curated a diverse list of highly-rated titles about the Land of Enchantment! If you’re looking for another state, check our comprehensive list of books set in every state.

Image of orange rocks and skies of Bisti park in New Mexico with three book covers

A Few Things New Mexico is Known For…

The origin of New Mexico parallels Arizona as they were both “discovered” by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in 1540 as he searched for cities made of gold. While he didn’t find gold, he started the colonization of the region for Spain, despite the presence of indigenous people groups. Like Arizona, the formerly tribal land was controlled by Spain, then Mexico, and then the US after the Mexican-American war.

For more than 1000 years, Pueblo people have lived continuously at Taos, Pueblo. Their influence can be seen in the art produced in the region. Both the Taos and Sante Fe regions are known for their vibrant arts community, from local artisans to internationally known artists like Georgia O’Keeffe.

The landscape of New Mexico is diverse, from the Rocky Mountains in the north to the 119 caves that make up Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument, the world’s largest field of gypsum sand dunes, in the south.

The Best Novels Set in New Mexico

Atomic Weight of Love book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

94% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Meridian is smart and ambitious, which isn’t the expectation of young women in her time. She’s obsessed with birds and is pursuing her PhD to become an ornithologist. However, her brilliant physics professor, Allen, becomes quite a distraction from her plans when they fall in love.

When Allen is recruited to Los Alamos for a secret wartime project, Meridian reluctantly gives up her goals to join him. Before long, she’s unwillingly taken on the role of traditional housewife. Years later, Meridian meets a Vietnam Vet who opens her eyes to how much she has given up. But is it too late to pursue her dreams now?

The Book Girls Say…

Our readers who selected this book as their New Mexico title for the Read Around the USA Challenge call it beautifully written and thought-provoking. They also say you’ll need to keep the tissues within reach.

Hannah's War book cover

Book Summary

Groundbreaking physicist Dr. Hannah Weiss is on the verge of splitting the atom for the first time in 1938 Berlin. However, she’s also a Jewish woman living under the Third Reich. She knows that the energy created by her discovery has the power to change the world – for the good through energy creation or for the bad through mass destruction. While her research is originally belittled, it’s eventually stolen by German colleagues.

Seven years later, in New Mexico, Major Jack Delaney arrives in town to catch a spy. Someone at Los Alamos has been leaking secrets to Hilter’s scientists. Jack’s top suspect is Hannah, an exiled physicist working on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s mission.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

23 Historical Fiction Books About Women in STEM

Gateway to the Moon book cover

Book Summary

The small New Mexico town of Entrada de la Luna has a lot of challenges, from poverty and poor healthcare to broken marriages. It’s the kind of town that kids strive to leave when they grow up. Which is why Miguel Torres jumps at the chance when he sees an ad for a position caring for two small boys in a different town. But he never expected to end up working for a woman like Rachel Rothstein.

Rachel is a frustrated artist from New York. She was hoping that New Mexico would give her a fresh start, but it has yet to solve any of her problems. As he learns about the Jewish faith from Rachel’s family, Miguel recognizes many of the traditions from his own Catholic community.

Through historical vignettes dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, a story unfolds about a community of “Crypto Jews” – Catholics who, in the 1990s present-day setting of the novel, observe these Jewish traditions without knowing anything about the origin of the traditions or their own Jewish ancestry.

Five Wounds book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

86% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo is preparing to play the role of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. While he practices and hopes for personal redemption, his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up on his doorstep pregnant. She only has a few weeks to go before her baby is born, and has fled her mother’s turbulent home. 

The book shows the baby’s first year through five members of the Padilla family, which also includes Amadeo’s mother, Angel’s mother, and a disapproving uncle. Each person has expectations that Amadeo fears he cannot live up to. 

The Book Girls Say…

Kirsten Valdez Quade also has a short story collection set in New Mexico called Night at the Fiesta.

Bad Day for Sunshine book cover

Book Summary

The small town of Del Sol, New Mexico has always been known for its fry-an-egg-on-cement summers and strong cups of coffee. Newly elected Sheriff Sunshine Vicram, recently returned to town after her parents nominated her for the role. Historically the biggest crime wave in town involved an elderly flasher named, Doug, so Sunshine certainly never expected the town to suddenly become the focal point of a nationwide manhunt.

A teenage girl is missing and a kidnapper is on the loose. In addition to a major crime to solve, there is also trouble at Sunshine’s daughter’s new school, not to mention a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy. And now the manhunt has brought a sexy US Marshall named Levi to town, making it even harder for Sunshine to keep her cool.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers describe A Bad Day for Sunshine as a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud cozy mystery. This is the first in a series that currently includes three titles, but readers hope that more will be coming from author Darynda Jones.

Hollow Beasts book cover

Book Summary

After spending years in academia, Jodi Luna left Boston and returned home to New Mexico to take a position as a game warden. Determined to protect the land her family has called home for generations, she nabs poachers in her first week on the job.

Things quickly take a dangerous turn when the poacher retaliates by stalking Jodi and her teenage daughter. The cat-and-mouse game through rugged New Mexico leads Jodi to a terrorist group of white supremacists. Their new recruits are kidnapping women of color to prove their mettle to the leader of the organization.

When she can’t get any cooperation from the local sheriff, Jodi teams up with a young deputy named Ashley. Together they are determined to use their knowledge of the land, and their commitment to its people, to take down the terrorist network.

The Book Girls Say…

The second book in this series is anticipated to be published later in 2024.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/28/2024
Too Soon for Adiós book cover

Book Summary

Gabby’s dad abandoned her and her mother when she was just a baby. Twenty-nine years later, the last thing she expects is to meet him the day of her mother’s funeral. Not only does he show up wanting to get to know her – he also wants to give her a house. Gabby is not ready to forgive him, but she really needs the money, so she accepts the house under two conditions. The first is that she can sell it whenever she wants. The second is that accepting the house doesn’t mean she accepts him.

Gabby hires a contractor to help her prepare the house for a quick sale, but things quickly get more complicated. As she becomes acquainted with the town and with these two new men in her life, she begins to learn more about herself than she thought possible.

The Book Girls Say…

This is a novel about life and love. Gabby is navigating all the typical ups and downs of life in your late twenties, and the book addresses some difficult themes in addition to romance. Reviewers loved seeing Gabby connect with her Mexican-American roots.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/28/2024
The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing book cover

Book Summary

We first meet the Eapen family in 1979 when Thomas visits his mother’s home in India. She tries to convince him to stay in India with his young family, but Thomas, a surgeon, has already built a new life for himself in New Mexico. His wife, Kamala, however, would love to stay in India.

In 1998, Thomas’ now grown daughter is a photographer living in Seattle. She learns from her mother that her dad is sitting on the porch talking to dead relatives, but she assumes her mom is exaggerating. When she returns home, the situation is much more complicated than her mother lets on. To help her father, they’ll all have to come to terms with the family’s painful past.

The Book Girls Say…

Readers say this is a sad story, but it also has plenty of lighter moments that will make you smile. It’s a long book – over 500 pages – so choose this epic when you have plenty of time to cozy up and read.

ICE by Kevin Tinto. book over

Book Summary

When Archaeologist Leah explores a Native American cliff dwelling that had been abandoned for 800 years, she finds a previously undiscovered massacre. With the human remains, she finds rare, brilliantly colored granite crystals. These crystals are only known to exist in a frozen mountain range in central Antarctica, so how did they end up in New Mexico?

Leah’s estranged husband is a hiking guide and the only person who can help her unravel the mystery. But, when they make a major discovery in Antarctica that impacts both science and history, governments get involved.

The Book Girls Say…

This one is for those who love a good dose of science fiction and don’t mind if unrealistic situations make their way into your reading. We don’t want to share any spoilers, but just know that it’s very much not a straightforward adventure novel.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

80% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

One day before Allan’s 100th birthday, he’s still in good health. However, he’s not excited about the big celebration planned at his nursing home, so he decides to escape. After crawling out the window, he goes on the adventure of a lifetime. On his laugh-out-loud funny journey, he encounters a cast of quirky characters, from unpleasant criminals to a friendly hot dog vendor. There’s even an elephant!

The Book Girls Say…

If you’re looking for a humorous and charming listen, download this one before you hit the road!

In addition to the present-day adventure, you’ll see flashbacks to some of Allan’s Forest Gump-like life, which will appeal to history lovers. The story starts out a bit slower, but the pace picks up as the story gains momentum.

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Books With Characters in Their 90s and 100s

A Piece of Heaven book cover

Book Summary

Luna McGraw lives in the sun-baked hills of New Mexico. She also lives with many regrets. She is struggling to overcome the alcoholism that destroyed her marriage and caused her to lose custody of her teenage daughter. She desperately wants to rebuild a relationship with her daughter, all the while being haunted by childhood memories of the father she barely knows.

Thomas Coyote and Luna have seen each other around town for years, but have never spoken until a chance meeting on the night that Thomas’s grandmother nearly set her house on fire. Like Luna, Thomas has plenty of baggage of his own.

The Book Girls Say…

Barbara O’Neal, who previously published under the name Barbara Samuel, is best known for her 2019 best-seller When We Beleived in Mermaids. A Piece of Heaven was her debut novel.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/08/2024

Highly-Rated Non-Fiction About New Mexico

Three Cornered War book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This riveting non-fiction takes you to the American West during the Civil War. While plenty has been written about the South during this period, it wasn’t the only region of conflict. In the territory that later became Arizona & New Mexico, there was a three-sided fight between the Union, the Confederacy, and several tribes, including the Navajo and Apache. 

The book shares the history of nine individuals, including a Texas legislator, a Union Army wife, a Navajo weaver, and a gold miner. Each of the nine demonstrates the difference individual actions can make amid a larger battle. The book is based on their letters, diaries, military records, photographs, and more. 

The Book Girls Say…

This book was a Pulitzer Prize Nominee for History in 2021. We learned a lot about the region just while researching the book, so it’s a great one if you want to add to your knowledge of US history.

Read Around the USA – Books Set in Other States

We hope you enjoyed this book list of books about New Mexico and found some great titles to add to your TBR. If you’re participating in our Read Around the USA Challenge, be sure to check out our alphabetical index of books set in each state.

You can read all about the Read Around the USA Challenge and sign up for a free printable challenge book tracker here.

Image of orange rocks and skies of Bisti park in New Mexico with three book covers. Text overlay reading 15 of the Best Books Set in New Mexico


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One Comment

  1. I lived in NM the majority of my life and didn’t realize so many books were set there. I used to live where Darynda Jones is from, she was supposed to be a guest speaker at our library book club but I moved just before meeting her.