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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Westerns for the 21st Century

I am in the final stages of getting ready for the new semester of RA students (classes begin for me on 8/29), so I am busy gathering up new resources for the students, and I came across Joyce Saricks' newest column in Booklist on the enduring appeal of Westerns.

Each semester I spend part of day talking about Westerns in the classic sense, and generally get a few students to try one for themselves.  You can click here to see their annotations.

Although many of them read a Western grudgingly, most come away having greatly enjoyed the reading experience.

In her column, Joyce does give a basic definition of the classic Western, but then goes on to say this:
"Few titles that fit this classic definition are being published now.  ...If we want to promote westerns as a thriving genre and attract new readers, though, we need to expand our thinking. Western-based genre blends now dominate the market, and almost every genre offers titles—and even series—that build on our ongoing fascination with the West."
One of these newer books she features is The Sisters Brothers.  You can use the link to read my review. It was one of my favorite reads for 2011.

There are plenty of Westerns or novels that feature the west that would appeal to a wide range of readers.  Let;s not forget about them when we are offering books to patrons looking for their next good read.

Start with yourself. Why not try a Western? As Joyce argues in her column, a Western does not have to be by a dead author or set in the 19th Century to qualify.  There are many modern options that evoke the timeless sense of place of the amazing American West.  This setting is something unique to America.  There is no other place like the West in the entire world.  No wonder people continue to  read and write about it.

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