The most recommended rodeo books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to rodeos, and here are their favorite rodeo books.
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Book cover of The Solace of Open Spaces

Karen Gershowitz Author Of Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine

From my list on making you want to travel.

Who am I?

I’ve been traveling since age seventeen when I boarded a plane and headed to Europe on my own. Over the next three years I lived in London, took weekend jaunts across the continent, and became completely bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve traveled to more than 95 countries. I’ve lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change so that I could afford my travel addiction. Like my readers, I am an ordinary person. Through travel I’ve learned courage and risk-taking and succeeded at things I didn’t know I could do. My goal in writing is to inspire others to take off and explore the world.

Karen's book list on making you want to travel

Karen Gershowitz Why did Karen love this book?

This book of essays are meditations on her life in Wyoming. Part travelogue, part memoir, it drew me in with its gorgeous language, evocative images, and insights into a landscape and lifestyle about which I knew nothing. 

Erlich is a filmmaker, and her descriptions of people and places are as vivid as any I’ve ever seen on film or read in any book. 

By Gretel Ehrlich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Solace of Open Spaces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of transcendent, lyrical essays on life in the American West, the classic companion to Gretel Ehrlich's new book, Unsolaced

"Wyoming has found its Whitman." -Annie Dillard

Poet and filmmaker Gretel Ehrlich went to Wyoming in 1975 to make the first in a series of documentaries when her partner died. Ehrlich stayed on and found she couldn't leave. The Solace of Open Spaces is a chronicle of her first years on "the planet of Wyoming," a personal journey into a place, a feeling, and a way of life.

Ehrlich captures both the otherworldly beauty and cruelty of the natural…


Book cover of Phoebe Clappsaddle and the Tumbleweed Gang

Doris Fisher Author Of Jackson Sundown: Native American Bronco Buster

From my list on cowboys and rodeos.

Who am I?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have always been fascinated by the Wild West. Native Americans, cowboys, rodeos, settlers, farmers, and the great National Parks of the West. I’ve been fortunate to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and many western national monuments. My first elementary school was Sequoyah, named for the great Cherokee who created the Cherokee alphabet. While researching early library methods of transportation, I came across books being delivered by stagecoach in the west. That eventually led me to discover the amazing life of Jackson Sundown. I hope these books on cowboys, buckaroos, and rodeos enchant you and your little ones like they have me.

Doris' book list on cowboys and rodeos

Doris Fisher Why did Doris love this book?

Phoebe Clapsaddle was a southern belle who lived on a ranch. This fiction book involves the Tumbleweed Gang who made an acquaintance with Phoebe after they visited her town. Appalled by their lack of manners and impolite speech, Phoebe decides they need her southern charm and culture. Phoebe teaches them lessons in riding, roping, and good manners. There are more Tumbleweed Gang adventures in other books, too. I know the author personally. Phoebe Clapsaddle’s name is in her family tree. Though she didn’t know if Phoebe was a southern belle cowgirl, the author loved her name so much, she wanted to write a book about her as a main character.

By Melanie Chrismer, Virginia Roeder (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Phoebe Clappsaddle and the Tumbleweed Gang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Long ago in south Texas lived a Southwestern belle named Phoebe Clappsaddle. When the good-for-nothing Tumbleweed Gang blew into town, it was time for Phoebe to teach them a lesson in riding, roping, and good manners.


Book cover of Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla

Kali Bate Author Of Bailey Brings Her Friends Together with Music

From my list on to introduce kids to music.

Who am I?

I’ve been playing the violin since I was 3, so as of 2022, it’s been 15 years. I believe that music unifies, and is a catalyst for social change, social justice, and equity. I’ve written two children’s books about different powers of music: Bailey Brings Her Friends Together with Music and The Aria in Me. With both of these books, I donate 100% of my proceeds to Kidznotes, a local North Carolinian organization, which provides underserved youth ensemble-based music instruction for personal, social, academic, and musical development and growth. I chose this list to inspire and captivate young readers and hopefully help them fall in love with music. :)

Kali's book list on to introduce kids to music

Kali Bate Why did Kali love this book?

This inspiring picture book explores and celebrates Selena’s life while underscoring the struggles she overcame in both her personal life and the music industry. It is often hard to find books with representation, but this story invites all children to follow their dreams. I gave this book to my friend’s sister who truly became empowered by López’s writing and Selena’s story and ultimately told me how she wants to learn how to sing because of her. Representation matters!

By Diana López,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sing with Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena's rise to stardom, from front-lining her family's band at rodeos and quinceaneras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena's dedication - learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family - sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.


Book cover of Rodeo Road: My Life As a Pioneer Cowgirl

Tracey Hanshew Author Of Oklahoma Rodeo Women

From my list on cowgirls and ranching women.

Who am I?

I grew up around ranch and rodeo life, having always been fascinated by it, attended several rodeos each year. Watching Jonnie Jonckowski ride bulls and Martha Josey break records wining barrel races—they were an inspiration. When an opportunity arose for me to build a career around researching and writing about cowgirls, rodeo, and cattlewomen, it was a dream come true.  Hope you enjoy the books about them that I’ve recommended.

Tracey's book list on cowgirls and ranching women

Tracey Hanshew Why did Tracey love this book?

This book is fun! A rare autobiography of one of early rodeo’s star athletes, Vera McGinnis tells her story as a non-ranching woman who began a career in rodeo riding broncs and relay racing. This book reads like an action film with an early twentieth-century style of prose. We get bronc rides, relay wrecks, barns even stowaway rides on trains as Vera breaks into rodeo life. Through her firsthand account, readers are introduced to the rodeo “family.” Vera tells of the physical setbacks that rodeo contestants faced, the personal sacrifices cowgirls made to keep rodeoing, and perhaps most enlightening is the almost addictive lure of rodeo that resulted in cowgirls prioritizing it in their life.  

By Vera McGinnis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rodeo Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first woman to travel the rodeo and wild-west-show circuits records her twenty-year career when she successfully competed with the male riders for championships, trophies, prize money, and broken bones


Book cover of The Rounders

Rod Miller Author Of Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range

From my list on cowboys who are actually cowboys.

Who am I?

Cows and horses were part of daily life in my family. For many years of my youth, my father was a working cowboy, running the cattle ranch on a large agricultural operation. We also had our own herd and trained horses as well. While we watched the popular TV Westerns of the time, we were always aware that they had no connection to the reality of cowboy life, and that “cowboy” was a term misused and abused on the screen and in the pages of shoot-’em-up Western novels. Authenticity and a sense of the reality of cowboy life are important to me, and have been since boyhood. 

Rod's book list on cowboys who are actually cowboys

Rod Miller Why did Rod love this book?

Max Evans knows cowboy life and he writes about it authentically. In The Rounders, we laugh along with Dusty and Wrangler as they do battle with one of literature’s best horses, “Old Fooler.” The boys break horses, hunt for cows in rough country, rodeo, drink, and chase the girls—and it’s all in good fun. 

By Max Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rounders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bawdy and moving story of two contemporary bronco busters, The Rounders, originally published in 1960, was Max Evans's first novel and is still his best known work, thanks largely to the success of the 1965 movie version starring Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford. Acclaimed for its realistic depiction of modern cowboying and for its humor, it is also a very serious work, described by the author as a tragicomedy.


Book cover of Tad Lucas: Trick-Riding Rodeo Cowgirl

Doris Fisher Author Of Jackson Sundown: Native American Bronco Buster

From my list on cowboys and rodeos.

Who am I?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have always been fascinated by the Wild West. Native Americans, cowboys, rodeos, settlers, farmers, and the great National Parks of the West. I’ve been fortunate to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and many western national monuments. My first elementary school was Sequoyah, named for the great Cherokee who created the Cherokee alphabet. While researching early library methods of transportation, I came across books being delivered by stagecoach in the west. That eventually led me to discover the amazing life of Jackson Sundown. I hope these books on cowboys, buckaroos, and rodeos enchant you and your little ones like they have me.

Doris' book list on cowboys and rodeos

Doris Fisher Why did Doris love this book?

Tad Lucas was an amazing cowgirl! Born in Texas, she amazed crowds at rodeos all over the world for more than 40 years. She was known for trick riding, bronco riding, and steer riding. She is the only woman honored in the National Rodeo Hall of Fame. Her daring horse riding was astonishing in the rodeo world of men and cowboys.

By Laura Edge, Stephanie Ford (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tad Lucas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A different take on women’s prowess and accomplishments that equine lovers will find appealing.” —Kirkus[green]

Texan Tad Lucas traveled the world dazzling rodeo crowds with her daring trick riding, bronc riding, and steer riding. She competed for more than 40 years and is the only woman honored by the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. In her will, she established the Tad Lucas Memorial Award to honor women who excel in any field related to Western heritage. Illustrations from cowgirl and Western artist Stephanie Ford accompany the text…


Book cover of The Time It Never Rained

Candace Simar Author Of Follow Whiskey Creek

From my list on historical stories with great character development.

Who am I?

I’ve always liked to imagine how things might have been. In my thinking, a good historical novel is a story set inside the larger world of the time, like a nesting doll with a story inside a story. I look for accurate research, well-developed characters, a unique storyline, and dialogue that comes alive on the page. I expect the history to be a backdrop for a story of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. This is what I like to read and how I have written my novels set during the Civil War, Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, and the home front of World War 2.

Candace's book list on historical stories with great character development

Candace Simar Why did Candace love this book?

The Time It Never Rained tells the grim battle between ranchers and drought in 1950s western Texas.

I grew up on a small Minnesota farm and remember my father’s struggle to keep the farm going, but at least he never faced a seven-year drought. A stubborn rancher who reminded me of my father, refuses to give in or ask for help.

I especially liked the secondary story of illegal immigrants, attitudes of ranchers toward the Feds tasked with arresting and deporting them, and the government programs that backfired in the end. It’s an excellent read that left me thankful for every drop of rain and blade of green grass. Its lessons of racism and kindness are pertinent to today’s world.

By Elmer Kelton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Time It Never Rained as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1950s, West Texas suffered the longest drought in the memory of most men then living. By that time, Charlie Flagg, the central character of this novel, was one of a dying breed of men who wrested their living from the harsh land of West Texas. The struggle made them fiercely independent, a trait personified in Charlie’s persistence throughout the seven dry years, his refusal to accept defeat, his opposition to federal aid programs and their inevitable bureaucratic regulations, his determination to stay on the land he loves and respects even as he suffers with that land. Charlie is…


Book cover of B Is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet

Doris Fisher Author Of Jackson Sundown: Native American Bronco Buster

From my list on cowboys and rodeos.

Who am I?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have always been fascinated by the Wild West. Native Americans, cowboys, rodeos, settlers, farmers, and the great National Parks of the West. I’ve been fortunate to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and many western national monuments. My first elementary school was Sequoyah, named for the great Cherokee who created the Cherokee alphabet. While researching early library methods of transportation, I came across books being delivered by stagecoach in the west. That eventually led me to discover the amazing life of Jackson Sundown. I hope these books on cowboys, buckaroos, and rodeos enchant you and your little ones like they have me.

Doris' book list on cowboys and rodeos

Doris Fisher Why did Doris love this book?

What a terrific book to learn about the cowboy’s way of life! All things related to the western lifestyle are described. There is detailed information from A-to-Z, plus a short poem using each letter for younger readers and listeners. Examples are chuck wagon, lariat, and rodeo. I think this book is so informative with its focus on western culture and western history.  

By Louise Doak Whitney, Gleaves Whitney, Susan Guy (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked B Is for Buckaroo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

"L is for lariat or lasso, a loop of rope coiled just so. Swing it wide or swing it low. Hook those horns and yell whoa!" Hold on to your hat and strap on your spurs! Cowpokes and buckaroos of all ages will enjoy this A-Z gallop through the facts, feats, and folks of the cowboy way of life. Even greenhorns are invited to ride this fun-filled range!


Book cover of Cowboy Camp

Doris Fisher Author Of Jackson Sundown: Native American Bronco Buster

From my list on cowboys and rodeos.

Who am I?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have always been fascinated by the Wild West. Native Americans, cowboys, rodeos, settlers, farmers, and the great National Parks of the West. I’ve been fortunate to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and many western national monuments. My first elementary school was Sequoyah, named for the great Cherokee who created the Cherokee alphabet. While researching early library methods of transportation, I came across books being delivered by stagecoach in the west. That eventually led me to discover the amazing life of Jackson Sundown. I hope these books on cowboys, buckaroos, and rodeos enchant you and your little ones like they have me.

Doris' book list on cowboys and rodeos

Doris Fisher Why did Doris love this book?

Who doesn’t want to be a cowboy or cowgirl when they grow up? Avery certainly does. Cowboy Dan will help his campers become true rootin’ tootin’ cowboys. Although Avery tries to dress like a cowboy like the other campers, things aren’t quite right for him. He is allergic to grits and beans, he sneezes around horses, and develops rope burn when is tries his hand at twirling a lasso. But his problems come in real handy when Black Bart appears one night.

By Tammi Sauer, Mike Reed (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cowboy Camp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Giddyup and gallop right over to read this rootin' tootin' tale of an unlikely cowboy. Avery's at camp, training hard with his horse and his lasso. But he's just not feeling up to the challenge. Then a bully threatens all the campers-and Avery proves his mettle in his own unique way. Kids will love the story's lively language and wildly playful pictures.


Book cover of The Wildest Ride

Christina Berry Author Of The Road Home

From my list on Native romance by Native authors.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning author of sex-positive contemporary romance and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. As a reader, I’ve grown weary of Native American romance characters who are mostly caricatures and stereotypes. Last year, I went on a quest to find romance stories that portrayed contemporary Native characters experiencing love as they navigated real life in the 21st century. And who better to tell those stories than Native authors using their own voice? Now that I’ve found several great Native romance authors, I want to share these recommendations far and wide. Come, come, read Native romance!

Christina's book list on Native romance by Native authors

Christina Berry Why did Christina love this book?

I really enjoyed this tale of two people who’ve faced discrimination in rodeo their entire lives for being Black, Native, and, in Lil’s case, a woman. What I love is that it’s not primarily a story about racism. It’s a beautiful romance first, an exciting rodeo competition second, and while racism is there, of course, they succeed despite it. It’s such an uplifting read about strength, hard work, love, and passion.

By Marcella Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wildest Ride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Filled with deep emotion and intense spark, Marcella Bell brings grit, spark and brilliance to western romance! Marcella Bell is one to watch!”—Maisey Yates, New York Times bestselling author

The world watches on as reality TV meets rodeo in this competition like no other. In front of the cameras, Lil and AJ are each other’s biggest rivals. Off-screen, it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated…

At thirty-six, undefeated rodeo champion AJ Garza is supposed to be retiring, not chasing after an all-new closed-circuit rodeo tour with a million-dollar prize. But with the Houston rodeo program that saved him…