Lose yourself in the pages of these western books recommended by the THIS crew.
Here has THIS, we take reading seriously. Take a peek inside each office at our head office and you‘You’ll find a shelf (or two) lined with literary wonders. So putting together our favorite Western books for our January 2022 issue was no daunting feat – but a divine diversion from our daily chores and the challenges of the world around us.
Below, find our picks of inspiring Western books ranging from photography to poetry to action-packed thrillers.
The Fonda yesterday and today
(available at detoursatlafonda.com)
Frequent Santa Fe visitors and first-timers alike will head to the different city in January to celebrate 100 years of La Fonda on the Plaza (lafondasantafe.com), the iconic hotel and must-see destination known for its Hispano-Pueblo architecture. Festivities will include a centennial gala and the premiere of a documentary about the hotel narrated by actress Ali MacGraw. There will also be a new addition to Santa Fe’s oldest hotel – updated luxury rooms and suites dubbed “The Terrace Inn at La Fonda”. To fully appreciate the legacy of La Fonda, one must walk through The Fonda yesterday and today, a groundbreaking book incorporating historical and modern photographs, the story of the influence of famous hospitality figure Fred Harvey, and essays on the architecture, food, art collections and cultural movements associated with the property. Not only does the book thoroughly tell the story of La Fonda; it also gives a sense of the wider rich culture of its city.
By Lisa Bird Wilson
(Random penguin house; released in April)
Award-winning author and poet Bird-Wilson (Saskatchewan Métis/Nêhiyaw) tells the story of Ruby, who sets out to discover her Aboriginal identity after a rocky upbringing with adoptive and foster parents. In advanced material for the already acclaimed novel, fellow author Imbolo Mbue calls it “a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.”
Western Wild Horses
By Jan Drake
(Gibbs Smith; available now)
“Wild horses, for the most part, are pretty quiet – they have their heads down, just grazing the wild landscapes under open skies,” Utah-based photographer Drake writes in the introduction to his beautiful tabletop book. low. “It’s cathartic to be in such a peaceful environment.” When she’s not just absorbing it, she turns her lens to majestic and resilient beings.
Dissolution: The Wyoming Chronicles: Volume 1
By W. Michael Gear
(Wolfpack Publishing; available now)
Need a shared activity for a book-loving parent and teen? Immerse yourself in the first novel in a modern saga and keep reading together as new books move the story forward. We recommend W. Michael Gear’s Wyoming Chronicles series. It’s compelling from the start, following graduate students who are trapped in the high country of Wyoming in the wake of a sudden nationwide financial apocalypse. They are forced to adapt without the luxuries of modern resources, and even more pressing threats are beginning to emerge.
By Michael Punke
(Henry Holt and Company; available now)
The writer of The ghost is back with another historical and action-packed epic. ridge line is set in Wyoming in 1866 and deals with the build-up to and climax of the battle between Lakota warriors and the United States Army in the lands of the Powder River Valley. The lives of key players Colonel Henry Carrington, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse should fascinate readers who share Punke’s passion for personalizing history. A television series based on the book is in development.
Warrior Poet: A Memoir
By Joy Harjo
(WW Norton & Company; available now)
Prose, song and poetry come together powerfully in this latest by three-term American poet winner Joy Harjo (Muscogee/Creek Nation). Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2021, she’s a powerhouse who not only writes prose and poetry, but sings, acts, plays sax and releases award-winning CDs. Her flagship project to date as Poet Laureate of the United States, a position she assumed in 2019, is “Living Nations, Living Words: A Map of Indigenous Peoples’ Poetry,” which maps the United States. with poets and poems from indigenous nations. Author Gabino Iglesias described this latest book as “a lyrical and heartfelt celebration of life, music, poetry and personal history”.
By Patricia Flander
(High Plains Press, Poetry of the American West Series; available now)
This Western Heritage Award winner for poetry comes from the Wyoming rancher who once gave us the award-winning prize Married in. In this latest collection of 61 elegant poems – divided into three sections: Old Pasture, Drought and Fresh Grass – Frolander takes us through the seasons of his life on a working ranch. “She gives us a landscape where horses are good people and where lives are measured in miles traveled on horseback,” says poet Connie Wanek.
Making a Hand: The Art of HD Bugbee
By Michael R. Grauer
(Texas A&M University Press, available now)
If traditional Western art is your passion, you’ll want to spend some quality time with this book filled with Western Heritage Award-winning artwork. It tells the story of Western artist, illustrator, and painter Harold Dow Bugbee, who was curator of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas.
George Carlson: The American West
Rizzoli, with essays by Todd Wilkinson
(Welcome books; available now)
There is power in the paintings of the phenomenal Carlson, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest figurative nature artists and considered by some to be as important as such greats as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran for his paintings of the modern American West.
The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West
By Peter Hillier
(Gibbs Smith; available now)
Anyone who knows the Byrds album cover Rodeo sweetheart will recognize the art of Jo Mora, now gloriously detailed here. This is the deep dive you seek to understand the Uruguayan-born Renaissance Man of the West cowboy, whose many hats included photographer, artist, painter, illustrator, muralist, sculptor, map and diorama maker, and historian. . Mora lived for a time among the Hopi and Navajo. His most recognizable piece might be his 1933 Cowboy evolutionfamiliar not only with the 1968 Byrds record but also with Levi Strauss commercials.
The art of national parks
By Fifty-nine Parks
(Earth Aware Editions; available now)
Transitioning from Mora’s colorful maps of Yosemite and Yellowstone to this book, which brings together posters representing each of our 63 national parks, made by contemporary artists inspired by WPA posters from the 1930s. The poster series is archived by the Library of Congress, with a portion of each poster sale going to support the conservation of U.S. public lands; this book represents the first time the posters have been made available as a collection.
The West Way
By Peter Kayafas
(Purple Martin Press; available now)
The West is presented in black and white in a book that manages to be both understated and profound. Shot over 10 years and thousands of miles away, the photographs effectively answer a question posed by the inimitable Rick Bass in his afterword: “What is the West? We think we know – cowboys, Indians, cows, dirt, sunsets, rodeos, right? One of the many things that are powerful in these photographs by Peter Kayafas is the cunning but also unassuming way in which old memes come off as secondary to the overriding power of youth and youth in a Western landscape.
Through an Indigenous Lens: Native American Photography
By Nicole Strathman
(University of Oklahoma Press; available now)
It recently won the Western History Association’s Joan Paterson Kerr Award, given annually to the best illustrated book on the history of the American West. It was not just Edward Curtis who photographed Aboriginal peoples, as this lavishly illustrated book cleverly demonstrates. Strathman explores how Indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada made photography part of their way of life. Analyzing images that date from the first 100 years of the medium, between 1840 and 1940, she exposes Indigenous participation in front of and behind the camera.
Bears: The Mighty Grizzlies of the West
By photographer Julie Argyle
(Gibbs Smith; available now)
Beautiful, strong, intelligent and endangered, the incredible North American brown bear known as the grizzly bear takes center stage here in striking photographs and a woven essay throughout. Learn about bruins’ behavior, family dynamics, and how they live in the wilderness of the greater Yellowstone region. And learn about the individual bears Raspberry and Snow, the Beryl Sow and Obsidian Sow, and Snaggletooth and the threats and conflicts humans face.
Bison: portrait of an icon
(Gibbs Smith; available now)
The first print sold out before it was even published, but the book is back, with its stunning photos of Montana’s Audrey Hall and an essay by Chase Reynolds Ewald, both passionate about our national mammal. You hear the voices of ranchers, policymakers, artists and tribal herd managers in the Great Plains and Mountain West, as well as author, filmmaker and conservationist John Heminway and Montana Poet Laureate Henry Real Bird. And you see the distinctly American symbol of the frontier rescued from the brink of extinction, now alive and thriving on the Western Range in all its iconic wonder.
Excerpt from our January 2022 issue
Photography: (Cover Image) Courtesy of Anouk Masson Kranz/Images Publishing