I’ve never been a fan of westerns–neither on film or paper. I’ve always considered westerns to be the domain of the older male, which is often the case. But over the last number of years there has been a burgeoning of a new kind of western—the literary western. The literary western is like the traditional western in that it is frequently set in the American (or sometimes Canadian) west and usually (but not always) takes place during the 19th century. Like the traditional western genre, the literary western is comprised of themes of land, livestock, relations between the white and native world, complete with gunfights and lawmen. But unlike the conventional western, this genre often contains a weightier message—revealing the darker side of western expansion…racial inequality, entitlement, and greed. More often than not, the lines between good and bad are blurred, leaving the reader to assess the ethical climate of the time. And literary westerns often have a hard-boiled grittiness, bringing a more authentic voice to the world of the west. So, if you love history, action, fascinating characters, and a story well-told, then give literacy westerns a shot.