Good Reads for the Western Life Book Club

We started our book club in May 2016, and have grown with every new book and engaging meeting since! Join us every month to discuss all aspects of each novel and memoir we choose to read!

You don't have to read the books to come to the meetings – although it's helpful.

We meet at the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library, 300 W. Aspen Ave. Please try to buy your book local; Bright Side Book Shop, 18 N. San Francisco St., will even give you a discount if you're buying the book for the club!

Upcoming book selections are listed below.
Some months' selections are related to Diablo Trust events that month.
Please visit our calendar or Facebook page for more information on events.

 
 

In November, countless families across Texas head out for the annual deer hunt, a ritual that spans generations, ethnicities, socioeconomics, and gender as perhaps no other cultural experience in the state. Rick Bass's family has returned to the same hardscrabble piece of land in the Hill Country—"the Deer Pasture"—for more than seventy-five years. In A Thousand Deer, Bass walks the Deer Pasture again in memory and stories, tallying up what hunting there has taught him about our need for wildness and wilderness, about cycles in nature and in the life of a family, and particularly about how important it is for children to live in the natural world.

The arc of A Thousand Deer spans from Bass's boyhood in the suburbs of Houston, where he searched for anything rank or fecund in the little oxbow swamps and pockets of woods along Buffalo Bayou, to his commitment to providing his children in Montana the same opportunity—a life afield—that his parents gave him in Texas. Inevitably this brings him back to the Deer Pasture and the passing of seasons and generations he has experienced there. Bass lyrically describes his own passage from young manhood, when the urge to hunt was something primal, to mature adulthood and the waning of the urge to take an animal, his commitment to the hunt evolving into a commitment to family and to the last wild places.

 

August 30: Claiming Ground by Laura Bell

08/19-20: Annual Campout Under the Stars

08/22: Hanna Ranch (movie)

A Providence Journal Best Book of the Year

In 1977, Laura Bell left her family home in Kentucky for a wild and unexpected adventure: herding sheep in Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. The only woman in a man's world, she nevertheless found a home among the strange community of drunks and eccentrics, as well as a shared passion for a life of solitude and hard work. By turns cattle rancher, forest ranger, outfitter, masseuse, wife and mother, Bell vividly recounts her struggle to find solid earth in a memoir that's as breathtaking as it is singular.

 

 

September 27: Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland by Miriam Horn

09/20: Ridin' for the Brand (movie)

Many of the men and women doing today’s most consequential environmental work—restoring America’s grasslands, wildlife, soil, rivers, wetlands, and oceans—would not call themselves environmentalists; they would be too uneasy with the connotations of that word. What drives them is their deep love of the land: the iconic terrain where explorers and cowboys, pioneers and riverboat captains forged the American identity. They feel a moral responsibility to preserve this heritage and natural wealth, to ensure that their families and communities will continue to thrive.

Unfolding as a journey down the Mississippi River, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman tells the stories of five representatives of this stewardship movement: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf fisherman. In exploring their work and family histories and the essential geographies they protect, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman challenges pervasive and powerful myths about American and environmental values.

 

November 01: The Day the Cowboys Quit by Elmer Kelton

10/18: Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman (movie)

The time is 1883, the place is the Texas Panhandle. Cowboys refuse to be stigmatized as drinkers and exploited by the wealthy cattle owners who don't pay liveable wages. Those very same ranchers want to take away the cowboys' right to own cattle because this ownership, the ranchers believe, would lead to thieving. So, in 1883, the dictum is set: If you're a cowboy, you can't own a cow. When rumors of such legislation travel from wagon to wagon, the cowboys decided to rally and fight for their rights--they gather together and strike.

When big syndicates moved into the Texas Panhandle, they fenced in the open range and replaced tradition and trust with written rules of employment until the cowboys had finally had enough. The cowboys of the Canadian River country went on strike against the big ranches. Listed as one of the Best Western Novels of all time.