Breathing Stone: Author Betsy James and her time in Placitas

The Placitas Community Library is delighted to host local author Betsy James on Saturday, August 12 at 2 pm.

Breathing Stone: Living Small in a Southwest Village

“Time is passing, better pay attention to the curve of the red road beside the field of yellow grass. The western horizon is white, Cabezón is cloaked in snow and hung above the yellow-brown-russet valley.”

For four years in the 1990s, writer, artist, and backcountry hiker Betsy James shared an old adobe in the village of Placitas at the northern foot of the Sandias. Of that sojourn she says:

“I had worked for years with cultures very like those that had shaped Placitas—in Mexico, Albuquerque, Zuni Pueblo. I decided I would regard each day as I would a hike off-trail in new country: I would notice. I would give this place my best mortal attention, and record what I could. This book is the result.”

Breathing Stone is a cache of warm, minute observations of nature and neighbors—the dogs and birds, cats and children, weather and weeds of rural New Mexico. It is both a small haven and a quiet suggestion that we observe our own lives, nudging us to catch the details so easy to forget. It is illustrated with field sketches from James’ own journal.

“Breathing Stone: Living Small in a Southwest Village immerses you in the magic of the New Mexico desert. Mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and plants spring to life through the sharp, observant eye of Betsy James. This book is an unexpected gem sparkling in sunlight.”

            —Judith Schiess Avila, author of Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

“Transcendentalist poet and iconoclast Henry David Thoreau wrote in the 1850s that ‘The question is not what you look at, but what you see.’ … [James has] bested Thoreau, in my opinion, with a keener eye and a broader sensitivity to her environment. … This book is a genuine addition to New Mexico literature.”

            —Don Bullis, historian, New Mexico Centennial Author

Click here for the flier.

Betsy James is the author-illustrator of seventeen books. Her latest novel, Roadsouls, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. A watercolorist, she is represented by Nedra Matteucci Galleries, Santa Fe. She leads writers’ workshops in the University of New Mexico Honors College and lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley. Learn more at

The Placitas Community Library is delighted to welcome Betsy James back to our community on August 12 at 2pm. Betsy will share stories of her time in Placitas and be happy to sign copies of Breathing Stone: Living Small in a Southwest Village.