Best Westerns

  • So I came across this list (I am an absolute sucker for a good list of books, hence my Want To Read list on Goodreads is currently well over 1000!) of Western books:

    21 Western Novels Every Man Should Read

    You’ll have to excuse the blatant sexism in the title - it’s the “Art of Manliness” web site after all - honestly, no idea how I came across it! But I think women would love the books too.

    Rider of the Purple SageLittle Big ManTrue GritCentennialLonesome DoveEl Paso

    I’ve always liked a good Western. Turns out I’ve already read (and really enjoyed) six of them:

    • Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey - this classic lived up to its reputation
    • Little Big Man by Thomas Berger - this one was fantastic, even better than the pretty darned good movie.
    • True Grit by Charles Portis - in this case, the movie (esp. the Brothers Coen version) was better than the book, but the book was still pretty darned good.
    • Centennial by James Michener - if you haven’t read any Michener’s, you really ought to and this one is a great place to start. Monster books, covering the history of a place from the Earth forming to modern day, they are all pretty riveting. My dad and I went on a roll reading these and they still bring back great memories. I also recommend Chesapeake and Poland.
    • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry - if you have read any Western, it’s probably this massive one. But the pages just fly by and it’s so good, the raves are all earned.
    • El Paso by Winston Groom - the most “historical fiction” novel of the bunch, it’s got a ton of action as Ambrose Bierce gets involved in the Mexican Revolution. Another big book, but one that goes by quickly.

    I added most of the others to my To Read list and currently have 2 Westerns going :

    The Ox-Bow Incident

    The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. It’s like he says in the article, it’s not the fastest moving Western but it’s pretty interesting. Still trying to get all the names straight.

    For some reason, this classic Western did not make his list and it most certainly should have.


    Warlock by Oakley Hall. It has the same problem as Ox-Bow - tons of characters you get introduced. But wow, is it a great read so far. Sort of a fictionalized account of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, it has all kinds of interesting subplots - some romance, some union organizing (and busting), deputies getting gunned down, everything.

    Sorry for carrying on. I gotta get back to my game of Gunslinger

Recommend for Front Page