The best westerns to read if you don’t read westerns

Who am I?

My grandfather introduced me to Westerns at a young age—he always had a Louis L’Amour or a Zane Grey in hand. I also grew up watching Westerns with my father, especially the classics with John Wayne, or Lee Marvin, James Garner, or Clint Eastwood. There’s just something about stories dealing with good vs. evil that pulls me into the genre. Besides, we all could use a hero/heroine these days. All of my books are heavy on action adventure, mainly because I enjoy keeping myself and the reader entertained. As Elmore Leonard wrote in his 10 rules for writing, “Skip the boring parts.” I hope you enjoy exploring these great books!


I wrote...

Retribution

By D V Berkom,

Book cover of Retribution

What is my book about?

Retribution: They took everything. Now she wants revenge. Claire Whitcomb's gunning for the men who destroyed her life—and won't settle for anything less than retribution. Gunslinger: On her way to start a new life in tough-as-nails Tombstone, Claire meets Isabella, an actress and a railroad magnate’s mistress. When Isabella’s security man is killed, Claire’s hired to take his place and finds that Isabella is a target—making Claire one too… Legend: In the aftermath of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Claire accepts a job transporting a convicted murderer to prison. The only catch? She and Harry, a hotheaded bounty hunter, need to bring him in alive. Will the convict’s gang kill Claire and Harry to rescue their leader, or can the two gunfighters bring the outlaw to justice?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of True Grit

D V Berkom Why did I love this book?

This is one of those classic books you remember for a long time after reading. Great characters and a great story. I especially enjoyed Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn’s interactions, and appreciated the young female protagonist.  Mattie is one of the bravest kids I’ve ever run across in literature. 

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked True Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down…


Book cover of News of the World

D V Berkom Why did I love this book?

After all the hubbub surrounding the movie with Tom Hanks, I was curious to read the source material. The book doesn’t disappoint, and, I thought, was better than the film (although the film was good, too.) Yet again, a female protagonist (hmmm… I sense a theme here ☺) the wild, former Kiowa captive Johanna, and her mentor, Captain Kidd, the traveling news reader. My heart was in my throat as I traveled with the two of them through 1870 Texas, and cheered for them both as they fulfilled their character arcs.

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked News of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his…


Book cover of Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

D V Berkom Why did I love this book?

I love me some Elmore Leonard, and 3:10 to Yuma was no exception. Although a short story, it’s a classic Western in the sense that it’s good vs. evil, and of course, there’s a shootout. A deputy marshal escorts a train robber/fugitive (another Kidd, this time Jimmy) who is headed to Tucson to be tried for his crimes. I love the dialogue and the fact that it takes place in a small town named “Contention.” Leonard was indeed a master storyteller.

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America's frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man's life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first…


Book cover of Lonesome Dove

D V Berkom Why did I love this book?

What can you say about this fabulous story that hasn’t been said? You can’t beat cattle drives, Texas Rangers, strong women, and a wagon-load of action and adventure. I only wish I could read it for the first time again! The miniseries was great, and introduced so many of us to Larry McMurtry’s enduring story, but the book has nuances and scenes that can’t be duplicated on screen. A must-read!

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…


Book cover of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

D V Berkom Why did I love this book?

Although it’s non-fiction, if you want to get a sense of what the Native American population endured during the settlement of the Old West, this is the book to read. Heartbreaking, yes, but this shameful era in America’s history deserves to be told. Brown does so with finesse, focusing on specific tribes including the Navajo Nation, the Sioux, the Utes, the Apache, and the Kiowas, among others. Definitely a must-read if you’re interested in the history of the Old West.

By Dee Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The American West, 1860-1890: years of broken promises, disillusionment, war and massacre.

Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos and ending with the massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee, this extraordinary book tells how the American Indians lost their land, lives and liberty to white settlers pushing westward. Woven into a an engrossing saga of cruelty, treachery and violence are the fascinating stories of such legendary figures as Sitting Bull, Cochise, Crazy Horse and Geronimo.

First published in 1970, Dee Brown's brutal and compelling narrative changed the way people thought about the original inhabitants of America, and focused attention…


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Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in American frontier, the American West, and revenge?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about American frontier, the American West, and revenge.

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