From a young age I was a big fan of history, including the genre of books I read growing up. My grandfather was an avid reader of anything Western. Growing up on the back of a horse, I was as well. I always loved admiring his grand collection of books. This included Western novels, old horse training books, and rare collector books by old cowboy authors.
When he passed, I inherited his collection of Louis L’Amour books. I continued to add to it with the likes of Elmer Kelton, and Zane Grey. My collection of Westerns now is quite expansive and sits proudly on its own bookshelf. Many of the books have seen better days. The pages are dog-eared, the covers are worn, and with the passing of time they grow a bit more yellow and fragile. However, every time I pick up one up and read about another Western adventure, it’s like sitting in the saddle next to the hero.
Some of my all-time favorites to read in my collection are The Time it Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton. A few of L’Amour’s are Long Ride Home, and any of the Sackett series. And of course, The Last Buckaroo by Mackey Hedges.
Admittedly, the writing might not be grandiose, and sure, the trope can be the same for many of the books, but it’s more than that to me. Each time I pick one up at a secondhand store, I wish I could turn and ask my grandfather if he’s read it. Every time I re-read one, I’m reminded of sneaking them into restaurants and reading in the booth. Reading these old Western’s takes me back to sitting in a barrel chair, next to grandpa’s recliner, reading about places and times long ago. It’s charming that I can still pick one up, and be transported back in time.