What makes a great western book?
If you enjoy the lore of the Wild West and stories of cowboys, saloons and life on the ranch, you probably like curling up by the fireplace, or the campfire, with a western book. Whether they are historical or contemporary, western novels are typically set in the American west.
Historical westerns may favour areas like California during the Gold Rush, while many modern offerings in the genre are set in states with a lot of wide open areas, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Montana or Wyoming. Many westerns are action-packed and full of adventures, the inclusion of elements from other genres, such as romance is also fairly common. If you like a supernatural or futuristic touch, some authors also build these concepts in their stories.
5 things to look for when choosing a western book
- Look for a story that is set in a time that interests you. You can read about the Old West or enjoy a contemporary story full of modern cowboys and life on the ranch.
- Consider geography and decide whether you prefer stories set in Texas or other parts of the southwest, or if the Great Plains are more your bag. The characters and story that takes place in Texas will be quite different from one in Montana.
- Find a book that combines with another genre you enjoy, such as romance or a weird west or space frontier story that blends with science fiction. In the case of space frontier books, the story may closely resemble a western in plot and character, but be set on a different (frontier) planet.
- There are several different types of perspectives that are often used in western novels. Some are more traditional or may be targeted primarily to male readers, while others seek to appeal to a female audience and may be less likely to feature characters that stick to strictly defined gender roles. A contemporary western or a western romance will be quite different from a 1950’s era pulp fiction tome about cattle rustling.
- Pick a story that is as accurate or as fanciful as you desire. You can seek out authors who aim to depict the old west based on careful research or those who would rather create their own unconventional version of the American West
5 great western books
- Western themed books have been around almost since the actual days of the Old West. For example The Prairie (published 1827) by James Fenimore Cooper is set in the years immediately following the Louisiana Purchase.
- The golden age of the traditional classic western was the first half of the 20th century and many of these books ended up becoming movies or television shows in the 50’s and 60’s. A sampling of works from this era include Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage (published 1912)
- Another book from that era is Clarence E. Mulford’s Hopalong Cassidy (published 1910).
- Yet another is The Virginian (published 1902) by Owen Wister.
- Finally, consider The Big Sky (published in 1947) by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.
Western books in the Any Subject Books library If you’re looking for something uncompromising and raw, why not choose one of our titles? All books are available in Kindle, ePub and PDF formats.
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