Getting closer to home with this week’s Top 5 Friday post. We’re going to chat a little about my favorite western novels. It’s not secret, western is most likely my favorite genre. Take a look at any of my reading posts, and my point will quickly be validated.
Where It Began
My love for tales of the wild west, began when I was just short of a teenager. I believed Grandpa hung the moon, still do. In their den/office they have two huge book cases full of books. I remember skimming through the titles and coming across a number by Louis L’Amour. Naturally, I was drawn to their covers’ illustrations. However, it wasn’t until the 7th grade that I actually read one. From my school’s library, I checked out Hondo. Why that one? There had to be 50 different L’Amour books on the shelves, but there was a collie/heeler looking dog on the cover of Hondo.
From that book on, my appreciation for these westerns has failed to cease. So with some thought, I have curated my Top 5 Western Novels, as of May 19, 2017. As we know, things could all change as I continue to frequent the western section of my local Half Priced Books!
Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour
I love Lonesome Gods so much, I have read it three times. And it is no short story either. Latest paperback version stands at 576 pages long. But the story is not only rich in plot, but the characters are so magnificently wonderful, you are torn apart when reading. You want to get to the end of the book, but at the same time you don’t want it to be over! This was actually the first book I downloaded with Audible. I found that I was wanting to be stuck in traffic so I could listen to more. Now that just doesn’t make sense. As I have said a thousand times already, I love L’Amour books; however, few get close to being as great as .
Dead Man’s Walk by Larry McMurtry
Don’t be fooled by Amazon trying to say this is the 3rd book in the Lonesome Dove saga. It may have been written 3rd, but this is the first book. Read this before the rest. I actually read Lonesome Dove before Dead Man’s Walk, but that was because I was ignorant that there were three other books in the series. And while I loved Lonesome Dove, I believe Dead Man’s Walk was even more memorable. After appreciating Lonesome Dove so much, I decided I ought to listen to the rest of the saga. Dead Man’s Walk is by far the most reasonable in length, far less than half of Lonesome Dove’s length, without sacrificing any in terms of depth of story. This would be at the top of my list of recommendations if you are going on a long road trip and need to download an audio book.
Hard Country by Michael McGarrity
I can’t believe I’d consider this one of my favorites. This book lives up to its title. Although I was hooked after reading only a few chapters, there were times when I wanted to stop reading, because it gets downright sad. Once I had read all four of the Lonesome Dove books, my reading list lacked another western that could fill the need I had for a long western full of story. To my amazement, Hard Country was able to do just that. Spanning three generations, you’ll be brought along on a ride that has its ups and more than its share of downs. More realistic than my L’Amour westerns, perhaps. If you’re looking for a fairy tale, stay far away from this one. But if you want to test the waters on something a bit harder, pick up a copy of Hard Country.
Cloudy in the West by Elmer Kelton
Unique from the a-typical western, I have found Elmer Kelton’s books to be. Sure there are cowboys, horses, guns, dust, cattle and a slight romantic nod, but how he combines these pieces and sets a plot is what makes them unique. Over the last two years I have read six of Kelton’s: The Pumpkin Rollers, The Time It Never Rained, The Day the Cowboys Quit, Cloudy in the West, The Good Old Boys, and Six Bits a Day. All have been 4-5 stars in my book. Actually, I had quite a time choosing which to feature on this list. Nonetheless, the characters and challenges overcame were far to appealing not to pick Cloudy in the West. I’m eager to read more Kelton books. Comment below if you have any recommendations!
I’m beginning and ending this list (well kind of) with Louis L’Amour books. Not surprising, but I tried to talk myself out of it for the sake of diversity and fairness. But I cannot ignore how legendary the Sackett series is. Rich in tradition, strong characters, history and plot. These books are a contradiction in comparison with many other titles from him. But it’s that contradiction that makes them as intriguing. It’d be impossible to pick only one out of the lineup since they continue to build off of each other. I’m not even close to being halfway through the collection, but after loving three of the first four as much as I have, I’m determined to read the series in its entirety.
Of course with a list like these, there had to be a list of honorable mentions.
- Wagons West Series by Dana Ross Fuller
- Comstock Lode by Louis L’Amour
- Hopalong Cassidy by Clarence E. Mulford
- The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton
As always, I appreciate any reading suggestions you leave in the comment section. I have been pleasantly surprised at how great many of them are! Looking forward to posting in a month or so another Hot Reads update!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click and or purchase thru on of them you would be supporting sheerheart.org. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, audible.com or other sites in the Amazon family.
The picture in the feature image is one I took on a trip I made out to West Texas. It has been quite some time since I looked thru those pictures. Maybe it would be a good idea to share some of them with you in a Top 5 Friday post. What do you think??