Back in the Saddle (Read a western)
December 9, 2021
Read a western – and your options are as wide as the landscape in which they are set! Re-visit a classic western. Or perhaps a romance or mystery? Weird western? (Yes, that is a real sub-genre). Whether you prefer contemporary or historical, the western genre is known for its strong settings and stirring adventures so grab your cowboy hat and join the ride!
True Grit by Charles Portis
This classic western is so good it has been adapted into two award-winning films. A young Mattie Ross wants justice for her father’s murder so she turns to the grizzled and gritty Marshal Rooster Cogburn for help. Told from Mattie’s point-of-view, this adventure is a hit with both western uber-fans as well as the non-western readers.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
A National Book Award finalist for fiction, this story is set in 1870 and follows the travels of an elderly widower who visits different towns to read news stories to those who will pay him. When he is offered money to deliver a young orphan girl to her Texas relatives, the duo begins a 400-mile journey through unfriendly territory. They forge an unexpected bond and help each other along the way.
Ridgeline by Michael Punke
Historical fiction is at its best in this recounting of the 1866 Fetterman Massacre. Set in the Wyoming frontier, Punke does a brilliant job of bringing to life the varied perspectives and motives of all those involved – from Colonel Carrington and his cavalry, to Captain Fetterman and his new bride, to Crazy Horse and his men, to Kit Carson, and many others. Rich in historical details, strong setting, and plenty of action, readers will be immersed in this fascinating piece of western history.
The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin
On several “best of 2021” lists, this novel reimagines the classic Western through the eyes of a Chinese American assassin on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife. If you enjoy the atmospheric westerns of Cormac McCarthy then you’ll want to giddy-up and grab this new book.
Straight Outta Deadwood edited by David Boop
A perfect example of the Weird Western sub-genre is this collection of short stories set in the wild West – with a twist. Featuring elements of horror, science fiction, or fantasy these varied authors (such as Stephen Graham Jones and Charlaine Harris) offer a different, yet familiar, look at the Western genre.
Calder Brand by Janet Dailey
Is romance more your thing? Fan favorite Janet Dailey has several romance series set in the West, including her new spin-off series, starting with Calder Brand. This follows the story of ambitious Joe Dollarhide as he builds a large cattle ranch. Then Sarah rides back into his life…with a surprise.
Antler Dust by Mark Stevens
Prefer a quick-paced, contemporary mystery? Set in the Rocky Mountains, this first book in a popular series introduces readers to hunting guide Allison Coil as she tracks a violent threat. Colorado author Mark Stevens has created a strong female character, a suspenseful plot, and a beautiful but dangerous Western landscape.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
If you’ve not yet read this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic (or you want to re-read it) maybe now is the time! Appealing to a wide range of readers, this sweeping epic is loaded with friendship, humor, danger, cattle drives, love, and braving Western weather and wilderness. Come for the adventure and stay for the colorful and heartwarming characters!
Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale
Lansdale’s popular story of Nat Love, an African-American cowboy whose marksmanship and charm made him a legend. This novel highlights his adventures that take him West to become a Buffalo Soldier in Deadwood and befriending Wild Bill Hickok. Critics describe this as “Rowdy, funny, suspenseful.”
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
How about some literary fiction? This novel won the National Book Award and will transport you to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. Here you will journey with a boy on the cusp of manhood as he seeks justice. Erdrich is known for her ability to showcase Native-American culture in realistic and tender ways – and all her novels continue to win high praise and awards.