America’s Best Places to Live 2003

2. Denver, CO
Denver is a great place for those concerned about the economy. The city has a low unemployment rate and affordable housing. Denver is winning the battle against the air pollution problem that threatened in the 1990s, and its 554,636 residents now breathe some of the cleanest air in the country. The ninth-safest big city in the country, Denver has a low violent crime rate. With little rain and few days over 90 degrees F, the climate is comfortable, with no noticeable humidity. There’s also great recreation indoors and out, including world-class theater, opera, dance and of course, skiing.

5. Tucson, AZ
The Sunbelt is the fastest growing region of the United States, and for good reason. Few places can compare to Tucson’s natural beauty. Set in the Sonoran Desert, the city’s air is amazingly pure, there’s little snow and rain, and it rarely gets too cold. To top it off, Tucson gets 287 days of sunshine a year! It’s no surprise that this warm, sunny city has many spas, resorts, and golf courses. The economy is also excellent in Tucson, with very low health care costs and a low unemployment rate. For those looking to start a family, houses can be quite affordable in Tucson.

Number 1 is Raleigh, NC. See full report from MSN.

West-Side Stories

In 1999 San Francisco Chronicle readers ranked the best fiction and non-fiction books of the 20th century written in, about, or by an author from the Western United States.

1. “Land of Little Rain,” Mary Austin
2. “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian,” Wallace Stegner
3. “Desert Solitaire,” Edward Abbey
4. “This House of Sky,” Ivan Doig
5. “Son of the Morning Star,” Evan S. Connell
6. Western trilogy, Bernard DeVoto
7. “Assembling California,” John McPhee
8. “My First Summer in the Sierra,” John Muir
9. “The White Album,” Joan Didion
10. “City of Quartz,” Mike Davis

1. “Angle of Repose,” by Wallace Stegner
2. “The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck
3. “Sometimes a Great Notion,” by Ken Kesey
4. “The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London
5. “The Big Sleep,” by Raymond Chandler
6. “Animal Dreams,” by Barbara Kingsolver
7. “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” by Willa Cather
8. “The Day of the Locust,” by Nathanael West
9. “Blood Meridian,” by Cormac McCarthy
10. “The Maltese Falcon,” by Dashiell Hammett