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!
November 02: 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.
November 29: American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella
11/18: BUffalo Day on the Land
In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite the odds—there’s only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit, and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successful—Rinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia. Throughout these adventures, Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14,000 years’ worth of buffalo hunters in North America, as well as the buffalo’s place in the American experience. At the time of the Revolutionary War, North America was home to approximately 40 million buffalo, the largest herd of big mammals on the planet, but by the mid-1890s only a few hundred remained. Now that the buffalo is on the verge of a dramatic ecological recovery across the West, Americans are faced with the challenge of how, and if, we can dare to share our land with a beast that is the embodiment of the American wilderness.
Rinella’s erudition and exuberance, combined with his gift for storytelling, make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a quirky blend of facts and observations about history, biology, and the natural world. Both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance, American Buffalo tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos.
December 20: One Man's West by David Lavender
12/15: Annual Chirstmas Party
The American West of the 1930s and 1940s was still a place of prospectors, cowboys, ranchers, and mountaineers, one that demanded backbreaking, lonely, and dangerous work. Still, midcentury pioneers such as David Lavender remembered “not the cold and the cruel fatigue, but rather the multitude of tiny things which in their sum make up the elemental poetry of rock and ice and snow.” And as the nation exhausted its gold and silver veins, as law reached the boomtowns on the frontier, and as the era of the great cattle ranches and drives came to an end, Lavender felt compelled to document his experiences in rugged southwest Colorado to preserve this rapidly disappearing way of life. One Man’s West is Lavender’s ode to his days on the Continental Divide and the story of his experiences making a living in the not so wild but not yet tamed West. Like stories told around a campfire, One Man’s West is captivating yet conversational, incredible yet realistic, and introduces some of the most charming characters in western literature.
January 31: The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie
A classic portrait of America's vast frontier that inspired the Western genre in fiction.
Originally published more than fifty years ago, The Big Sky is the first of A. B. Guthrie Jr.'s epic adventure novels set in the American West. Here he introduces Boone Caudill, Jim Deakins, and Dick Summers: traveling the Missouri River from St. Louis to the Rockies, these frontiersmen live as trappers, traders, guides, and explorers. The story centers on Caudill, a young Kentuckian driven by a raging hunger for life and a longing for the blue sky and brown earth of big, wild places. Caught up in the freedom and savagery of the wilderness, Caudill becomes an untamed mountain man, whom only the beautiful daughter of a Blackfoot chief dares to love.