August Reading Challenge

Books that celebrate western heritage and rodeo. 

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The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford

The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford

Hansen, Ron, 1947-
2007

Jesse James was a fabled outlaw, a charismatic, spiritual, larger-than-life bad man whose bloody exploits captured the imagination and admiration of a nation hungry for antiheroes. Robert Ford was a young upstart nobody torn between dedicated worship and murderous jealousy, the "dirty little coward" who coveted Jesse's legend. The powerful, strange, and unforgettable story of their interweaving paths--and twin destinies that would collide in a rain of blood and betrayal--is a story of America in all her rough, conflicted glory and the myths that made her.

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Blood meridian, or, The evening redness in the West

Blood meridian, or, The evening redness in the West

McCarthy, Cormac, 1933-
2001

"The fulfilled renown of Moby-Dick and of As I Lay Dying is augmented by Blood Meridian, since Cormac McCarthy is the worthy disciple both of Melville and Faulkner," writes esteemed literary scholar Harold Bloom in his Introduction to the Modern Library edition. "I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable."

Cormac McCarthy's masterwork, Blood Meridian, chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians and sell those scalps. Loosely based on fact, the novel represents a genius vision of the historical West, one so fiercely realized that since its initial publication in 1985 the canon of American literature has welcomed Blood Meridian to its shelf.

"A classic American novel of regeneration through violence," declares Michael Herr. "McCarthy can only be compared to our greatest writers."

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Brown, Dee
2012

The "fascinating" #1 New York Times bestseller that awakened the world to the destruction of American Indians in the nineteenth-century West ( The Wall Street Journal ).
First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefs--from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse--who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author's personal collection.

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Hard times on the prairie

Hard times on the prairie

Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957.
1998

Frontier life isn't always easy, and in this book, Laura and her family struggle against prairie fires, grasshoppers and winter blizzards. But with their fighting pioneer spirit, the Ingalls family always manages to make it through the hardest of hard times.

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The haymeadow

The haymeadow

Paulsen, Gary.
1992

Fourteen-year-old John Barron is asked, like his father and grandfather before him, to spend the summer taking care of their sheep in the haymeadow. Six thousand sheep. John will be alone, except for two horses, four dogs, and all those sheep.



John doesn't feel up to the task, but he hopes that if he can accomplish it, he will finally please his father. But John finds that the adage "things just to sheep" is true when the river floods, coyotes attack, and one dog's feet get cut. Through it all he must rely on his own resourcefulness, ingenuity, and talents to survive this summer in the haymeadow.

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Hondo

Hondo

L'Amour, Louis, 1908-1988, author
2019

As part of the Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!

He was etched by the desert's howling winds, a big, broad-shouldered man who knew the ways of the Apache and the ways of staying alive. She was a woman alone raising a young son on a remote Arizona ranch. And between Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe was the warrior Vittoro, whose people were preparing to rise against the white men. Now the pioneer woman, the gunman, and the Apache warrior are caught in a drama of love, war, and honor.

Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures is a project created to release some of the author's more unconventional manuscripts from the family archives.

In Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures: Volumes 1, Beau L'Amour takes the reader on a guided tour through many of the finished and unfinished short stories, novels, and treatments that his father was never able to publish during his lifetime. L'Amour's never-before-seen first novel, No Traveller Returns, faithfully completed for this program, is a voyage into danger and violence on the high seas. These exciting publications will be followed by Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures: Volume 2 .

Additionally, many beloved classics will be rereleased with an exclusive Lost Treasures postscript featuring previously unpublished material, including outlines, plot notes, and alternate drafts. These postscripts tell the story behind the stories that millions of readers have come to know and cherish.

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Lonesome dove

Lonesome dove

McMurtry, Larry
2010

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning classicLonesome Dove, the third book in theLonesome Dovetetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, and always dramatic,Lonesome Doveis a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

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My Antonia

My Antonia

Cather, Willa, 1873-1947.
1954

After the death of his parents, Jim is sent to live with his grandparents on the Nebraska plains. By chance on that same train is a bright-eyed girl, Antonia, who will become his neighbor and lifelong friend. Her family has emigrated from Bohemia to start a new life farming but soon lose their money and must work hard just to survive. Through it all, Antonia retains her natural pride and free spirit.

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Riders of the purple sage

Riders of the purple sage

Grey, Zane, 1872-1939.
2006

The saga of the gunman known only as Lassiter and his search for his lost sister has been restored from Grey's original handwritten manuscript and missing and censored material reinserted.

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Rodeo time

Rodeo time

Murphy, Stuart J., 1942- author
2017

Yee-hah! It's rodeo time!

Bareback bronc riding, barrel racing, calf roping, the livestock show, the fiddling contest, and don't forget lunch -- how are Katie and Cameron going to fit it all in and still have time to help their uncle, Cactus Joe, with chores? By making a schedule, of course. But making a schedule and sticking to it turn out to be two very different things!

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The Sisters brothers

The Sisters brothers

DeWitt, Patrick, 1975- author
2011

Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and the Stephen Leacock Medal. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Walter Scott Prize.

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die: Eli and Charlie Sisters can be counted on for that. Though Eli has never shared his brother's penchant for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. On the road to Warm's gold-mining claim outside San Francisco -- and from the back of his long-suffering one-eyed horse -- Eli struggles to make sense of his life without abandoning the job he's sworn to do.

Patrick DeWitt, acclaimed author of Ablutions, doffs his hat to the classic Western, and then transforms it into a comic tour-de-force with an unforgettable narrative voice that captures all the absurdity, melancholy, and grit of the West -- and of these two brothers, bound to each other by blood and scars and love.

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The son

The son

Meyer, Philipp, 1974- author
2013

A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming- of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim

Spring, 1849. The first male child born in the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanches storms his homestead and brutally murders his mother and sister, taking him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and language, answering to a new name, becoming the chief's adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men--which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized nor fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong--a journey of adventure, tragedy, hardship, grit, and luck that reverberates in the lives of his progeny.

Intertwined with Eli's story are those of his son, Peter, a man who bears the emotional cost of his father's drive for power, and Jeannie, Eli's great-granddaughter, a woman who must fight hardened rivals to succeed in a man's world.

Philipp Meyer deftly explores how Eli's ruthlessness and steely pragmatism transform subsequent generations of McCulloughs. Love, honor, even children are sacrificed in the name of ambition as the family becomes one of the richest powers in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege. Yet, like all empires, the McCulloughs must eventually face the consequences of their choices. Harrowing, panoramic, and vividly drawn, The Son is a masterful achievement from a sublime young talent.

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There once was a cowpoke who swallowed an ant

There once was a cowpoke who swallowed an ant

Ketteman, Helen, author
2014

"There once was a cowpoke who swallowed an antâ A fiery thing with a Texas-sized sting. The cowpoke panted, and his voice got higher. 'Yippie-ti-yay! My stomach's on fire!!'" In this Texas-styled reworking of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," a cowboy downs a variety of native Southwest creaturesâa spider, a roadrunner, a lizard, an armadillo, a snake, a boar, and moreâall to catch that ant! Another hilarious and vividly illustrated tale from the team behind Senorita Gordita and The Three Little Gators.

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The toughest cowboy : or how the wild west was tamed

The toughest cowboy : or how the wild west was tamed

Frank, John
2004

How do you tame the roughest, toughest pack of cowboys to ever ride the open range?

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True grit : a novel.

True grit : a novel.

Portis, Charles.
1968

True Grit is the basis for two movies, the 1969 classic starring John Wayne and the Academy Award® winning 2010 version starring Jeff Bridges and written and directed by the Coen brothers. True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through. This mass-market edition includes an afterword by award-winning Donna Tartt, author of The Little Friend and The Secret History.

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