A few weeks into this self-isolation and looking for an escape? We wish we could tell you to escape the city, come to the ranch, hop in a saddle, and ride the mountains with us. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.
By summer, we’ll know more about life than we ever have. By summer, the horses will be ready to take you and your family on a backcountry adventure. We wish the timing on both were different. We wish we could offer you an escape now, right now, as being out town is likely what we all need.
Instead of offering to share our horses for an immediate getaway, let us offer something else. We want to share our western lifestyle with you and your family using a figurative saddle: a good read. We’re aiming to provide you with a read that helps you both escape from and dive into life. We’ll call it a ranch read. Ranch reads, like beach reads, are not usually heavy. You can enjoy them, share them, and reread them without much of an emotional toll.

We have compiled a list of ranch reads you can share with your family, pulled from our very own bookshelves. As you know, we’re big on family around here. Most of these your can read and share with the whole fam, although some have cowboy humor only the parents will get. So put on your hat, pull on your boots, and saddle up on that couch for a literary trip to the ranch.

After you’ve read a few, you will know some sentiments of our ranch lifestyle and some new cowboy lingo. Consider yourself one step closer to a western escape. Summer will be here soon.

Hank the Cowdog Book
1. Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erikson
This book is one of the most hilarious, true to life books about ranch dogs I’ve ever read. I read this as a kid then we listened to it with our kids on a roadtrip. Justin and I both had tears in our eyes laughing at Hank’s take on ranch life from a dog’s perspective.
This book is the first in a long series. We’ve tried a few and, while they are all hilarious, the first is our favorite. Try this one where you get your audiobooks. The narration makes the story even more laughable.
Blaze Book
2. Blaze written and illustrated by C.W. Anderson
The Blaze books are an older series of stories of a boy and his horse. I love them for two reasons: 1. In a world of unlimited stories of girls and horses, these stories are of a boy’s adventures with his horse. 2. The artwork.
Each book in the series tells as story of the boy, Billy, his horse, Blaze, and an adventure the two share. The pair show the imperative trust required between horse and rider. If you have a boy that is into horses, these are must reads. If you have a girl that is into horses, these are must reads. And, if you are into horses, you’ve gotta read these.
For the artist in you, the life-like sketches transport. If you haven’t already, try to draw a horse that looks anything like the real thing. Then try to draw a boy. Billy and Blaze come to life on their adventures in the sketches.
Cowboy Poetry
3. Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering edited by Hal Cannon
Cowboy Poetry transports readers to the plains and the prairies. It takes readers to the mountains and the meadows. Cowboy poetry captures the humor and heartbreak real to ranch life.
Read some here then dive into your favorite poet. We especially like poet Baxter Black, a Colorado poet and veterinarian. From the importance of friendships to the habits of cows, Black “gets” our ranch life with wit and honesty.
Lonesome Dove
4. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
An iconic tale of the American West. The characters come to life and take you on an adventure with horses, cows, romance and heartbreak. You’ll go back in time yet meet folks like you know in life today.
Doc Susie
5. Doc Susie by Virginia Cornell
This biography tells about an amazing female doctor living in our area in the early 1900’s. She rides the train to the Fraser Valley and makes a life caring for patients. She was a pioneer in many ways and led a life of adventure in Colorado’s mountains.
Have another ranch read you’d recommend? Let us know what it is and we’ll add it to our library.