With a daughter who is learning to read, I’ve rediscovered my love for horse-related books and Western novels.

When I was growing up, the Internet wasn’t really a thing. Kids either watched television, put on a movie or (some of the weird, nerdier kids) read books for entertainment. I happened to be one of the nerds who loved to read. Weirder yet, I had a deep obsession with learning more about horses. If I wasn’t riding or hanging around the animals, my mind was lost in books about horses

Of course, now that I’m grown, wind-beaten and fairly weary from my workdays, I don’t allow myself the privilege of diving into the magic of books nearly as often. However, I still love them just the same. When I do read, it is often not a horse-related book. But, as a mother with a horse-crazy little girl who is just about reading age, I’m revisiting my old favorites. I’ve had fun stepping away from my computer and into the world that used to embrace me years ago.   

A young cowgirl learns to read a Western book
Reading is a fun way to get lost in another time and place. Kelli Neubert’s daughter is learning to read with the book “J is for Jackalope,” by Teal Blake.
Photo by Kelli Neubert

My younger years held tight to the Black Stallion books, Will James stories and anything Marguerite Henry produced. I loved historical fiction about the Old West, from settlers to Native Americans to cowboys and beyond. I learned a ton about horses and bloodlines from monthly equine publications. I’d cut the most personally inspiring pictures out and tape them to my wall, much like equine and cowboy wallpaper. I spent my teens lost in the haunted, unforgiving world of Cormac McCarthy. I also spent time with the incredible characters that Larry McMurtry brought into my life. As an adult, I’ve enjoyed many historical novels and stories about the men and women who built the American West. 

I hope that we all carve out a little time to read time and again. It’s fun to visit with others about what they read and always want to know what a reader’s favorite book is and why. I jump at the opportunity to read recommendations of others and enjoy all kind of books, from memoirs to instructional manuals to cookbooks and beyond. However, there is something about great characters, accurate representations of the Western lifestyle, and a fantastic plot that can’t be beat for me. I love a Western novel. 

Sure, I’m thankful for the Internet and how it brings the world to me in my home, but I think I prefer a book that transports me to another world. And strangely enough, although much of my life is now wrapped up in horses, cacti and cowboys, it seems I just can’t get enough of the stories in which they play a part. 

And as far as my favorite book goes? It’s cliché, but I’d have to say Lonesome Dove, for all the right reasons. 

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