We truly love the West. We spent most of our first year of fulltiming there. We will probably return year after year. But as we visited and lived in the mountains, deserts, and scrublands, we began to read to better understand the 'West.' Here are our favorites.
Like the writers say, this is wide-open, wind-blown space
with incredible vistas and it has its own unique histories, cultures, and stories.
Photo is of the Church of San Jose de Gracia, completed in 1776 and located in Las Trampas, New Mexico.
Readin' Thru the West

Abbey, Edward (1996). John Macrae, Editor. The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Nonfiction and fiction. Abbey was an independent thinker, an extremist, a 'desert mystic,' and a prolific writier. Here his longtime editior, John Macrae, has put together a collection of essays, travel pieces, and works of fiction that parallel events in Abbey's unusual life. Abbey's earlier work, Desert Solitaire (1991), captures the heat, mystery, and rewards of a desert experience.
Brown, Dee (1994). The American West. New York; Touchstone Book.
Nonfiction. This western primer tells the stories of Native Americans, settlers, cowboys, miners, and ranchers. The narrative explains in a straightforward manner the conflicts, struggles, and conquests that led to settlement of the West..
Darlington, David (1996). The Mojave: A Portrait of the Definitive American Desert. New York: Henry Holt and Company Inc.
Nonfiction. Somewhere between the styles of Edward Abbey and John McPhee, Darlington focuses attention on the Mojave desert. Combining natural history with regional history and biography, the author conveys how people have uses and abused this unique region and leads to a sense of protectiveness for this harsh, yet perilously fragile and vulnerable location.
Hillerman, Tony (1999). Hunting Badger. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Fiction. A new mystery by Hillerman is a have-to-read for us. Of course, if you've never read any of his books featuring Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, fictional Navajo Tribal Police officers, that are set in the four-corners areas - - you may first want to start with one of his earlier titles like 'The Blessing Way' (1970).
Jance, J. A. (2000). Devil's Claw : A Joanna Brady Mystery. Avon Books.
Fiction. The newest in a series of mystery novels (seven so far) set in Arizona, this time Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County is working two cases in the weeks before her wedding to Butch Dixon. This series starts with 'Desert Heat.' Jance, an American Mystery Award-winner, is also the author of the popular J.P. Beaumont mystery series, set in Seatle, WA.
Nagle, P. G. (1999). Glorieta Pass. Forge Books.
Fiction. This historical novel combines fictional characters with real people to tell the story of the battle of Glorieta Pass, frequently referred to as the "Gettysburg of the West." In the Sangre de Christo Mountains outside of Santa Fe, Union forces, primarily made up of Colorado volunteers, smashed a Confederate force and ended southern hopes of controlling the gold fields of the west.
Nichols, John (1974). The Milagro Beanfield War. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Fiction. This novel is the first episode of Nichols' 'New Mexico Trilogy.' Reminiscent of the power and humor of Steinbeck's Cannery Row, this is a vivid, human portrayal of a downtrodden Hispanic - - one man who takes a stand for his individual rights and a democratic chance at improving life. The results are hilarious and unforgettable.
Preston, Douglas (1992). Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Nonfiction. This is engaging tale of a journey by horseback through the rugged mountain and desert wilderness of Arizona and New Mexico. The author retraces the route of the 1540-1541 expedition of the Spanish Explorer Coronado. Preston attempts to catch a glimpse of what this area was like when those Europeans first passed through. He survives the life-risking journey and unveils how much and how little the land and people of the Southwest have changed.
Reisner, Mark (1993). Cadillac Desert : The American West and Its Disappearing Water. Penguin USA.
Nonfiction. The winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, this is a history of the struggle to discover and control water in the American West. It is the tale of rivers diverted and damned, political corruption and intrigue, billion-dollar battles over water rights, and economic and ecological disaster.
Stegner, Wallace (1998). Marking the Sparrow's Fall: The Making of the American West. New York: Henry Holt and Company Inc.
Nonfiction and Fiction. This collection of nonfiction essays and a novella were written by Stegner, winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, in the years from 1948 to 1992. His son, Page selected them after his father's death, some having never before been published, to form an understanding of 'what it means to be a westerner.'

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/00
Updated by Larry Johnson, 8/00
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