I’m a sucker for Westerns. If I land on a TV channel and see horses and riders moving across the landscape, I’m there for the duration of the film. Here are some of my favorite novels that have had the same kind of effect on me on the literary side.
The Red PonyBy John Steinbeck
Four stories detailing a boy’s awakening to the cycle of life and death, and the finding of purpose and potential through the lens of elders and the natural world. In roughly 100 pages, Steinbeck leaves the reader with much to ponder in this dark and spiritual work of art.
Lean on PeteBy Willy Vlautin
Troubled 15-year-old Charley Thompson absconds with an aging thoroughbred horse named Lean on Pete and takes to the road in this poetic, moving novel. Vlautin is one of the most original voices in current American fiction.
The Border TrilogyBy Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy’s violent and elegiac trilogy of mid-20th-century Western novels (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plains) is hallmarked by impressionistic prose, natural dialogue, and narrative brilliance. Unforgettable and classic.
Monte WalshBy Jack Schaefer
Originally a series of short stories, later compiled as a novel, describing the life of the title character—cowboy, ranch hand, and expert horseman—from his teens in 1872 to his death in 1913. A quiet, powerful ode to male friendship, the pleasures of work, and living one’s life by a personal code.