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Cowboys: 30 books of Western fiction

Ronald Scheer "rockysquirrel"
The list author says: "Listed here are writers whose books represent the real west rather than the imagined west of Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, and all their imitators. Hardly any high-noon duels on Main Street, gunfights, or riding off into the sunset. The heroes of these stories are ordinary men who get themselves into believable situations with often unexpected but inevitable results. Some are set in the Old West; some are set in the world of shopping malls and rock and roll; some are in between. A few, like Larry McMurtry, are well known. Most are not. All of them are worth reading."
The Fruit of Stone
The Fruit of Stone
"Two cowboys in a pickup, with a horse in a horse trailer, go in search of a runaway wife."
An Unfinished Life
An Unfinished Life
"Made later into a movie with Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez, this book reads very much like a screenplay, but it's not without its pleasures, as two old cowboys portray a somewhat crusty but deep friendship and the appearance of a granddaughter has an unexpected emotional impact."
Close Range : Wyoming Stories
Close Range : Wyoming Stories
"Fine collection of short stories about cowboys and ranch life. Best of the bunch: "Brokeback Mountain," about the friendship between two cowboys, later made into a movie with a screenplay by Larry McMurtry, which won him an Academy Award."
Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2
Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2
"This is a continuation of Proulx' stories set in the modern-day west. Some are comic and far-fetched, one or two a bit chilling."
Fencing the Sky: A Novel
Fencing the Sky: A Novel
"When a cowboy kills a land developer, he is pursued by the law on horseback into the central basin of Wyoming."
Lonesome Dove
Lonesome Dove
"Texas author's Pulitzer Prize winning account of an 1880s cattle drive from Texas to Montana."
Horseman, Pass By : A Novel
Horseman, Pass By : A Novel
"An aging rancher, his wayward son, and a teenage grandson. The code of the west put to the test by hoof and mouth. Made into the film, "Hud.""
LEAVING CHEYENNE : A Novel
LEAVING CHEYENNE : A Novel
"Wonderful early novel by Larry McMurtry about three childhood friends (2 male, one female) who grow up in the ranch country of Texas. Funny and sad."
The Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of the Old Trail Days
The Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of the Old Trail Days
"Classic fictional account of 1882 Texas-to-Montana cattle drive, told in 1903 by a cowboy who wrote from first-hand experience."
The Blind Corral (Contemporary American fiction)
The Blind Corral (Contemporary American fiction)
"Beer's finely chiseled prose style is perfect for this melancholic novel of a man's return to his family's Montana ranch and a winter of discontent as he looks after his dying grandfather."
The Power of the Dog : A Novel
The Power of the Dog : A Novel
"Two brothers in an uneasy relationship on a Montana ranch in the 1920s. First published in 1967 and recently reissued."
On the Night Plain: A Novel
On the Night Plain: A Novel
"Set on the Great Plains after WWII, this novel tells a bleak story of two brothers living in stark isolation on a sheep ranch."
Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?
Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?
"Uproarious account of two cowboys riding the rodeo circuit. One darn thing after another, all the way to the Finals."
In Open Spaces
In Open Spaces
"A family saga set on a Depression-era cattle ranch in Montana."
All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)
All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)
"A young man's odyssey from the family ranch in Texas to a series of adventures in Mexico, involving cowboying, romance, and a prison sentence."
Last Buckaroo
Last Buckaroo
"A past-his-prime cowboy teams up with a young greenhorn, traveling from job to job in Nevada, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Excellent account of real-life cowboying."
The Weight of Dreams
The Weight of Dreams
"A man returns to his family's Nebraska Sandhills ranch to rescue it from the verge of bankruptcy, confront his dying father, and resolve the guilty memory of a youthful crime."
The Calling
The Calling
"Set in 1950s New Mexico, this novel is a bit of everything: mystery, romance, melodrama, Southwest history, and a tell-it-like-it-is account of cowboying, rodeo, and ranch work."
The Day the Cowboys Quit
The Day the Cowboys Quit
"Fact-based novel set in 1883 on the Texas plains. Protesting working conditions on the ranches of the open ranges, cowboys strike for higher wages, precipitating a long conflict with big ranch owners."
The Virginian
The Virginian
"The classic western (1902) that helped establish the cowboy hero in the West of the imagination."
Salvation Gap and Other Western Classics
Salvation Gap and Other Western Classics
"Great collection of early stories by Owen Wister, based on his experiences in Wyoming and Arizona at the turn of the last century. Early portrayal of the character who becomes "The Virginian.""
Lin McLean
Lin McLean
"Set in 1880s Wyoming, this book's cowboy hero is another early version of Wister’s Virginian, who came along just a few years later, and has the same boyish charm and natural nobility. He’s a son of the plains, a man of homespun character, mostly unschooled, but both fiercely egalitarian and gallant. An excellent horseman, good with a gun, handsome and loved by all."
The Brave Cowboy
The Brave Cowboy
"Early novel by wilderness advocate Edward Abbey about a cowboy resisting the encroachment of the modern world. Made into a movie, "Lonely are the Brave," starring Kirk Douglas."
The Work of Wolves (Alex Awards (Awards))
The Work of Wolves (Alex Awards (Awards))
"A young cowboy in modern-day South Dakota joins two Indians and a German exchange student to rescue three horses. Beautifully written, thoughtful meditation on making hard choices."
Last Go Round: A Real Western
Last Go Round: A Real Western
"Fictionalized account of the 1911 Pendleton (Oregon) Round-up and the crowning of the "first" world champion "broncbuster," a match between a white boy, a Nez Perce Indian and a black cowboy."
Monte Walsh
Monte Walsh
"The old west is rapidly passing into history, and two cowboy pals go their separate ways."
The Hanging Tree
The Hanging Tree
"Collection of western stories by the author of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.""
The Hi Lo Country
The Hi Lo Country
"Two cowboy pals from New Mexico fall in love with the same woman."
Cow Country (Tumbleweed)
Cow Country (Tumbleweed)
"One of many books by early Montana writer James (1892-1942), who lived in the old West and witnessed its gradual evolution to the modern age.."
Cowboy
Cowboy
"A fine, wonderfully written, well controled narrative about a teenager growing up in a man's world of cowboying in New Mexico and Arizona of the early 20th century. Based on the story of a real-life cowboy known by the author."
Bat Wing Bowles
Bat Wing Bowles
"This early novel by prolific western writer Dane Coolidge (1873-1940) was first published in 1913. Having grown up in California, Coolidge knew the West and ranch life, and his novels describe the business of working cattle, living conditions on a ranch, and the ins and outs of cowboy culture."