A trip to New Mexico leads to an award-winning book collection


One East Coast author’s interest in New Mexico books and culture has grown over the years into a collection that has gained notable recognition.

Maida Tilchen, who resides in Sommerville, Massachusetts, said it was on her first trip to New Mexico in 1993 that her interest began. She says many trips over the years to used bookstores around the state have helped her grow her book collection in New Mexico. Tilchen says her favorite books are non-fiction, like memoirs or biographies.

“I love reading the ones about women who held trading posts with their husbands in general and befriended their Navajo neighbors.”

The collection of Maida Tilchen “In celebration of New Mexico Books and People of the Bookwas awarded the George and Anna Eliot Ticknor Book and Book Culture Collecting Prize 2020.

Traveling to New Mexico also motivated Tilchen to write her own books.

“I decided that if I wrote books about New Mexico, the journey would never end,” Tilchen said.

Tilchen has published two historical novels set in 1920s New Mexico “Land Beyond Maps” (2009) and “She’s Gone Santa Fe” (2013).

Nearly thirty years later, Maida Tilchen still reads many historical books about New Mexico. The oldest book in his collection was published in 1866 and features a Civil War soldier describing his travels through New Mexico. It’s an experience that Tilchen says is very different from her trips to the state, but with some similarities she notices as a tourist today.


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