As a lover of Western fiction, one of the best ways to enjoy it is by listening to audiobooks. The allure of these audiobooks goes beyond the excitement of the genre itself. It’s also because of the benefits that listening to audiobooks offers. In this article, we take a closer look at the best Western audiobooks, why they are worth listening to, and the best narrators to bring them to life.
The Allure of Western Audiobooks
Western fiction has been enjoyed for years, with numerous authors creating a wealth of stories based on the Wild West. From classic tales of cowboys riding across the open range to modern stories of sheriffs battling gun-slinging outlaws, Western fiction captures the imagination with its unbridled adventure, suspense and excitement.
The History of Western Fiction
The roots of Western fiction can be traced back to the dime novels of the 19th century. These cheap, sensationalized books became incredibly popular with readers looking for escapist entertainment. The stories often featured rugged heroes, damsels in distress, and dastardly villains. Authors such as Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Max Brand saw the potential of the genre and went on to create numerous works that have become classics in their own right.
Western fiction has evolved over the years to encompass different sub-genres, including the traditional Western, the “weird” Western, and even the Western romance. Each sub-genre has its own unique elements that appeal to different audiences, but they all share the same sense of adventure and excitement that makes Western fiction so popular.
Why Westerns Make Great Audiobooks
One of the reasons why Westerns make great audiobooks is that they are ideally suited to the format. These stories are often action-packed, with memorable characters and vivid landscapes. Listening to an audiobook can transport the listener directly to the Wild West, immersing them in an adventure like no other.
Another reason why Westerns make great audiobooks is that they often have a strong sense of narrative. The stories are usually told from a single point of view, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This makes them easy to follow and engaging for listeners of all ages.
The Benefits of Listening to Audiobooks
Audiobooks offer numerous benefits. For one, they’re very convenient – allowing listeners to multitask, listen on the go or even while doing mindless chores. Additionally, audiobooks are an excellent alternative for those who struggle to find the time to read traditional books. They can be a great way of exploring new genres or authors, and their narrators inject emotion into stories in a way that print simply can’t match.
Listening to audiobooks can also be a great way to improve literacy skills. Hearing the words spoken aloud can help with pronunciation, vocabulary, and comprehension. Audiobooks can also be a great way to introduce reluctant readers to the joys of literature.
In conclusion, Western fiction has a timeless appeal that continues to captivate readers and listeners alike. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the genre or a newcomer looking to explore new worlds, Western audiobooks offer an immersive and engaging experience that is sure to entertain and inspire.
Top Western Audiobook Recommendations
For those in search of great Western audiobooks, here are our top recommendations:
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of two former Texas Rangers who set out on a cattle drive to Montana. With a cast of memorable characters and stunning landscapes, it’s a must-listen for any Western fan.
Lonesome Dove is a sprawling epic that captures the spirit of the American West in all its glory. With vivid descriptions of the harsh terrain and the rugged individuals who inhabit it, this novel is a masterpiece of Western literature. McMurtry’s characters are complex and nuanced, and their interactions are both humorous and poignant. From the gruff but lovable Gus to the stoic and enigmatic Woodrow, the characters in Lonesome Dove will stay with you long after you’ve finished listening.
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey – First published in 1912, this novel helped establish the Western genre. It’s the story of a young widow fighting to protect her land from a greedy Mormon elder.
Riders of the Purple Sage is a classic tale of good versus evil set against the backdrop of the American West. The novel’s protagonist, Jane Withersteen, is a strong and independent woman who refuses to back down in the face of adversity. Her struggle to protect her land from the powerful Mormon church is both thrilling and inspiring. Grey’s vivid descriptions of the landscape and the characters who inhabit it make this novel a must-listen for any Western fan.
True Grit by Charles Portis
True Grit by Charles Portis – This novel is the story of a 14-year-old girl who hires a U.S. Marshal to avenge her father’s murder.
True Grit is a gripping tale of revenge and redemption set in the rugged terrain of the American West. The novel’s protagonist, Mattie Ross, is a determined and resourceful young woman who will stop at nothing to avenge her father’s death. The relationship between Mattie and the grizzled U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, is both humorous and touching, and the novel’s climactic showdown is a thrilling and unforgettable moment in Western literature.
The Revenant by Michael Punke
The Revenant by Michael Punke – Set in the early 1800s, this novel tells the tale of a frontiersman left for dead by his companions after being mauled by a grizzly bear. It’s a thrilling story of survival and revenge.
The Revenant is a harrowing tale of survival set against the backdrop of the American wilderness. Punke’s vivid descriptions of the brutal conditions faced by the novel’s protagonist, Hugh Glass, are both shocking and awe-inspiring. The novel’s themes of revenge and redemption are universal, and its message of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds is both inspiring and uplifting.
The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo by Ian Stansel
The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo by Ian Stansel – This novel tells the story of two brothers who are trying to hold on to their family’s ranch in a changing world. It’s a poignant tale of what it means to be a cowboy in the modern era.
The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo is a moving and insightful novel that explores the changing landscape of the American West. Stansel’s characters are complex and relatable, and their struggles to hold on to their way of life in the face of encroaching modernity are both heart-wrenching and inspiring. The novel’s themes of family, tradition, and resilience make it a must-listen for any Western fan.
The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson – This novel is the first in the Longmire series, following the adventures of a Wyoming sheriff as he solves crimes in his small town.
The Cold Dish is a gripping mystery novel set in the rugged terrain of Wyoming. Johnson’s protagonist, Sheriff Walt Longmire, is a complex and compelling character, and the novel’s cast of supporting characters is equally memorable. The novel’s themes of justice, loyalty, and redemption make it a must-listen for any fan of Western literature.
The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday
The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride is a heartwarming romance novel set in the rugged terrain of the American West. Broday’s characters are complex and relatable, and their struggles to find love and redemption in a harsh and unforgiving landscape are both inspiring and uplifting. The novel’s themes of forgiveness, second chances, and the power of love make it a must-listen for any fan of Western romance.
The Promise Bride by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham
The Promise Bride by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham – This historical romance is set in 1880s Colorado and tells the story of a mail-order bride who finds herself in a small mining town with a man who wasn’t what she expected.
The Promise Bride is a charming and romantic novel set against the backdrop of the American West. Welborn and Whitham’s characters are both relatable and endearing, and their struggles to find love and happiness in a harsh and unforgiving landscape are both touching and inspiring. The novel’s themes of love, trust, and the power of community make it a must-listen for any fan of Western romance.
Heart of Gold by Jodi Thomas
Heart of Gold by Jodi Thomas – This novel is the third in the Ransom Canyon series and features a former football player who falls for a schoolteacher in a small Texas town.
Heart of Gold is a heartwarming and romantic novel set in the charming town of Crossroads, Texas. Thomas’s characters are both relatable and endearing, and their struggles to find love and happiness in a small town setting are both touching and inspiring. The novel’s themes of love, family, and the power of community make it a must-listen for any fan of Western romance.
Western Mystery and Suspense
The Bitterroots by C.J. Box
The Bitterroots by C.J. Box – This novel is the latest in the Joe Pickett series and sees the titular character investigating the disappearance of a former rodeo star in Montana.
The Bitterroots is a gripping and suspenseful mystery novel set in the rugged terrain of Montana. Box’s protagonist, Joe Pickett, is a complex and compelling character, and the novel’s cast of supporting characters is equally memorable. The novel’s themes of justice, loyalty, and the power of community make it a must-listen for any fan of Western mystery and suspense.
The Wild One by Danelle Harmon
The Wild One by Danelle Harmon – Set in 19th century Texas, this novel follows a former Union soldier who finds himself in the middle of a dangerous game of cat and mouse after he rescues a woman from a band of outlaws.
The Wild One is a thrilling and suspenseful novel set in the rugged terrain of Texas. Harmon’s protagonist, Jack Langdon, is a complex and compelling character, and the novel’s cast of supporting characters is equally memorable. The novel’s themes of justice, redemption, and the power of love make it a must-listen for any fan of Western mystery and suspense.
The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie Jr. – This novel follows the adventures of a fur trapper as he navigates the dangerous wilderness of the American West.
The Big Sky is a classic Western novel that captures the spirit of the American West in all its glory. Guthrie’s protagonist, Boone Caudill, is a complex and compelling character, and the novel’s cast of supporting characters is equally memorable. The novel’s themes of adventure, perseverance, and the power of the human spirit make it a must-listen for any fan of Western literature.
Award-Winning Western Audiobooks
For those looking for some incredible Western audiobooks that have been recognized with awards, here are three of the best:
Spur Award Winners
The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy
The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy – This trilogy includes All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain. It follows the journeys of John Grady Cole across the American Southwest in the 1940s.2. The Son by Philipp Meyer – This epic novel tells the story of a Texas family over the course of 150 years. It was awarded the Spur Award for Best Western Historical Novel in 2014.3. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – Set in the 1850s, this novel follows a teenage runaway known only as “the Kid” as he joins a group of scalp hunters in the American Southwest. It won the Spur Award for Best Western Novel of the 20th century.
Western Writers of America Awards
The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry
The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry – This novel follows the adventures of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as they navigate the American West. It won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Novel in 2015.2. The Wister Award-Winning Series by Elmer Kelton – Elmer Kelton is one of the most celebrated Western authors, and this series includes a number of award-winning novels. His works have won multiple Spur Awards, Owen Wister Awards, and Western Heritage Awards.3. The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins – This novel follows a hitman in the 1930s as he seeks revenge for the murders of his wife and child. It won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Novel in 1999.
Audie Award Winners
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt – This novel follows two brothers as they track down a prospector during the California Gold Rush. It won the Audie Award for Best Audio Book in 2012.2. True Grit by Charles Portis – This novel won the 2011 Audie Award for Best Western Audiobook.3. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – This novel follows the hunt for a drug deal gone wrong in Texas. It won the Audie Award for Best Audio Book in 2006.
The Best Narrators for Western Audiobooks
A good narrator can make all the difference when listening to an audiobook. Here are some of the best narrators for Western audiobooks:
The Importance of a Good Narrator
A good narrator will bring the story to life, immersing the listener in the action and creating a sense of atmosphere. A great narrator will also give each character a unique voice, helping the listener to distinguish between them easily.
Top Male Narrators
1. Will Patton – This talented narrator has narrated numerous Western audiobooks, including the Longmire series by Craig Johnson and The Son by Philipp Meyer.2. Luke Daniels – Daniels has narrated a number of Westerns, including Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and The Border Trilogy by the same author.3. Tom Stechschulte – This narrator has received multiple awards for his work, including the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator for his work on Lonesome Dove.
Top Female Narrators
1. Kate Reading – Reading has narrated a number of Westerns, including The Revenant by Michael Punke and The Other Side of the Mountain by Michel Bernanos.2. Joyce Bean – Bean is an accomplished audiobook narrator, and some of her Western audiobooks include The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt and The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry.3. Laural Merlington – Merlington has narrated many Westerns, including the Hap and Leonard series by Joe R. Lansdale and Blood Medicine by Kelly Lyonns.
In summary, there are many great Western audiobooks available, and this list will surely keep any fan entertained for days on end. From classic novels to contemporary romances and mysteries, there is something for everyone. And with fantastic narrators like Will Patton and Kate Reading bringing these stories to life, there’s no better way to experience the Wild West than through audiobooks.
What are the benefits of listening to audiobooks?
Audio books provide readers with an immersive experience as they are transported into fictional worlds via the voice of the narrator. They are ideal for people who want to enjoy novels on the go because they can be listened to while traveling.
When did the Western genre gain popularity?
Western novels first gained popularity in the late 1940s and remained popular into the 1960s. This is many attributed to the many Western films and television shows produced at the time.
Who writes the best Western novels?
Louis L’amour, Cormac McCarthy, and Willa Cather are considered to be some of the greatest authors of Western fiction.