Best Cowboy or Western Novels to Read

cowboys on horsebackIf you happen to be a lover of a time when horses and stagecoaches were the main methods of transportation, you’re in for a real treat this winter. Some of the best western or cowboy novels available this season follow up on the lives of characters previously introduced in other books. It’s time to saddle up and put on your spurs because you’re about to get a taste of life in the Wild West.

“A Rocky Mountain Christmas” by William W. Johnstone and J. A. Johnstone

“A Rocky Mountain Christmas” by William W. Johnstone and J. A. Johnstone is the latest in a line of action-packed westerns produced by this literary duo. You get the backdrop of a wintry Christmas, the ice-cold thrill of an unexpected yet foolishly precipitated avalanche, seemingly insurmountable odds, heart-tugging drama, and enough action to make you want to read this novel through to the finish in one seating.

If you have your lariat in hand, take aim and snag this book for a good read by an open fire with a cup of cocoa. It won’t disappoint, and you’re sure to fall in love with the hero, giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling that a strong cowboy character creates.

“True Grit” by Charles Portis

“True Grit” by Charles Portis is a must-read book. You simply have to pick this up if you haven’t read it from cover to cover already. A true western classic – this is an oldie but goodie that you’re already familiar with if you’re a John Wayne or western movie fan.

This western novel has made it to the big screen – not once, but twice – with a recent remake as well as the original with the Duke. If that isn’t a good enough reason, you must read this book just to see why this story so deserves the attention it’s gotten over the years. The protagonist, Mattie is as strong and determined as any feminist today. She tackles the odds of avenging her father’s vicious murder and earns the respect of a grizzled old cowboy in the process. Gruff and grim – but totally engrossing.

“Panhandle” by Brett Cogburn

“Panhandle” by Brett Cogburn is set in the early 1880s. It has everything you need for a great western romance – heroes, bullies, action, killing, and love! As all good westerns go, this book has a lot of rocky travel to it. You’ll find yourself easing into the story at first until you get revved up with all of the excitement.

Young cowboys traveling the countryside create a big stir, because they’re looking to put an end to trouble. Life is good for them until a woman gets in the middle – then the fireworks begin to fly. You’ll need a hanky for this one, but you’ll be glad you picked it up because it grabs your undivided attention when you least expect it.

What’s the last cowboy or western novel you read? Tell us in the Comments section below.


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  1. My favorite new Western novel is Rattlesnakes, Ghosts and Murderers by Len Francis Monahan. It has great characters and is interesting and entertaining.

  2. Far and away, Larry McMurtry and the Lonesome Dove franchise. I'm not a fan of Westerns AT ALL but I like these books. Larry McMurtry is great at characterization. His most famous novel (and the fab movie that came from it) is "Terms of Endearment." That gives an indication of his depth.