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 (5:30PM on third Tuesdays) 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 Barefoot Cowgirl Bookstore, 18 N. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff. Please try to buy your book local; Barefoot Cowgirl will even give you a discount if you're buying the book for the club!
May 23: Lonesome Dove
Bestselling winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize.
Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.
Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.
June 27: A Thousand Deer: Four Generations of Hunting and the Hill Country
06/25: Sportsmen & Recreation Day on the Land
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.
July 25: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take “us on a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.
August 22: Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland
08/19-20: Annual Campout Under the Stars
A Kirkus Best Book of 2016
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.