Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Westward Ho!: A Reading Project


Several months ago, I wrote about certain topics that I’d like to explore through books. The biggest of those is a topic I’ve found to be even bigger and broader than expected, and to sum this topic up as succinctly as possible, I’d just have to call it “The West.” The topics I am using this label to cover include:

  • Westward expansion in relation to history and politics
  • Stories of people who experienced the homestead life first-hand
  • The American Indian experience, both past and present
After a recent visit to the library, during which I went a little crazy in the nonfiction section, I realized I had picked up a lot of books related to this topic, so I decided the Westward Ho reading project has officially begun! For this project, I’m planning to read a variety of books—fiction, nonfiction, modern, historical. I’d like my reading to paint a vast portrait of the “western experience” to discover the stories, the history, and the culture of life out there beyond the Mississippi River.
Last year, I read Dorothy Wickenden’s Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West, an NPR recommendation that helped with sparking an interest in this topic. So far, other titles I have on my list include:

  1. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
  2. The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure
  3. Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of Westward Expansion by Robert Morgan
  4. West of Here by Jonathan Evison
  5. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart
In the next couple of months, I’ll be tackling this topic from as many perspectives as I can find, and I welcome your comments, discussion, and book recommendations! I’ll also later be joined by another book blogger for a cooperative effort on tackling Lions of the West so we can share and dispute our own preconceived notions and accepted histories of the characters Morgan credits with westward expansion. If you’re interested in participating, get a head start now—we won’t be starting that one for several more weeks!

Until then, share your favorite western-themed books below and pack your bags…


Jonathan Evison said…

west of here representin', yo!

Aarti said…

Oh, I have Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven!  Also, Vasilly and I have been discussing reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee together for quite a while, if you want to hop on that- maybe then we'll actually schedule it!