Monday, June 15, 2020

My 10 favorite Louis L’Amour novels by Kaye Spencer #louislamour #westernfictioneers #westerns

It seems altogether fitting and proper to remember Louis L'Amour for my June article, since June 10, 1998 was, sadly, the day he passed away. There are any number of biographies about him on the Internet, so I won't include a bio here, but his website has entertaining reading about him: Louis L'Amour – Website

The first book of his I read was Last Stand at Papago Wells during my junior high years (c. 1966 – 1968). Long about 10th grade, my literature teacher looked down her nose at his books, because they were so far below my reading level that I wasn't challenging my brain or expanding my literary knowledge. We agreed to disagree, because I was reading plenty of challenging books: The Godfather, Catch-22, Lost Horizon, The Man in the Iron Mask, Pride and Prejudice... You get the idea.

When she finally admitted she'd never read any of his novels, I challenged her to read my favorites at the time (five or so – don’t recall which ones). She agreed if I'd read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.

I read War and Peace and went on to read other books by Russian authors. While she didn't love Louis L'Amour, she admitted for reluctant readers, especially boys, his books had value.

So, Win-Win. She never openly criticized my choice of books again.

This is my commemorative Louis L'Amour coin (front and back).

Front Inscription: Louis L'Amour

Back Inscription: The Dream is in the mind – Realization in the Hand – Act of Congress 1981
(The image is a mountain in the background with a miner/frontiersman walking ahead of his pack mules.)

 Here are my Top 10 favorite Louis L'Amour books.

  1. Last Stand at Papago Wells (1957)
  2. The Key-Lock Man (1965)
  3. The Man Called Noon (1970)
  4. Down the Long Hills (1968)
  5. How the West was Won (1962)
  6. Conagher (1969)
  7. Brionne (1968)
  8. The Sackett Brand (1965)
  9. Sitka (1957)
  10. The Haunted Mesa (1987)

What are your favorite Louis L'Amour books? If you have a Louis L'Amour anecdote or story, it would be great if you'd share your story in the comments or leave a comment on the Facebook post of this article.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

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  1. I've read all you listed, but "Flint" was and is still my favorite, although I've not read any of his work I didn't like. Non-Western, "The Walking Drum" is fabulous. Doris

    1. I agree completely. I like Flint, too. It's right up there in the top twenty. I have always wondered, though, why he titled his novel "Galloway", when the story is really about Flagan. hmmm...

    2. Not a big Flint lover, and a few of his non- westerns are not exactly my favorites either, especially 'The Walking Drum' which I consider too complicated, wordy and too much like James Fennimore Cooper, but these are just me opinion, and I always say 'To each his Own'......

  2. Kaye, I love Louis L'Amour. You know, my dad was an avid reader, but read a lot of non-fiction, how-to, and so on. He did read fiction, but more "classics" type work. So after he watched The Sacketts on TV, I told him I would bring him the books. Well, he didn't know if he'd like that or not, yada yada. I brought them anyhow. He devoured those books and asked me "Are there any more?" Well, yes, as a matter of fact--maybe not any more SACKETT books, but what a wonderful library of L'Amour stories there were for him to plow through at our local second hand bookshop. I went down there and bought one of everything they had and took them to him. A big grocery sack full. He had those finished in no time at all. Thoroughly enjoyed them all and he was such a fast reader (and I'm a slow one) I think we were still talking about some of the first ones he read by the time he finished them all. LOL I love LL, but one of my favorite books of his is not a western. It's called The Last of the Breed. That is usually not my type of story, but it was fabulous and I bought two copies of it so I'd never be without one. LOL Great post!

    1. The Last of the Breed is a good one, too. I have multiple copies of many of my favorites of LL's for the same reason you do. I'd hate to misplace the only copy. lol

  3. I love LL's books. My brother-in-law was a big fan and had a huge collection of hardcover books. A co-worker handed me Last of the Breed at least 25 years ago and I've never forgotten the gist of that story. Not my usual type of reading, but I was fascinated by it. He then gave me The Walking Drum, another amazing read. I confess I haven't read any of LL's westerns and I should because I absolutely love the movies: The Sacketts and Conagher. As always, Kaye, love your posts.

    1. Elizabeth,
      I think because The Walking Drum, Last of the Breed, and The Haunted Mesa aren't LL's typical westerns, they offer us a different perspective of his storytelling ability. They are great books.

  4. I had seen Louis L'Amour books in stores (grocery stores and drug stores as well as bookstores) for years as a kid when I finally checked out one from the library: Sackett's Land. I enjoyed it so much that I read all the rest of the Sackett stories. As much as I like westerns, my single favorite L'Amour novel is Fair Blows the Wind. I think that story shows how he sought out adventure before settling down to be a writer (as anyone who has read Education of a Wandering Man can attest). I'm also fond of Comstock Lode; to me, the publication of that book coincided with wider acknowledgment he was an excellent storyteller. Finally, I liked Yondering if for no other reason than I got it autographed by L'Amour at a Nashville bookstore in 1980.

  5. Louis,
    How wonderful that you have an autographed book of LL's. Your experience of picking up one of his books then devouring the others is my experience, also. Such a storyteller. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. The first one I ever read, Shalako, is probably still my favorite. I also really like Taggart and Heller With A Gun. My uncle got me into Louis L'Amour. His favorites were Flint and Last of the Breed.

  7. Looking at, and occasionally reading again from my Louis L'amour collection. is like visiting an old friend. A few of my personal favorites are, Last Stand at Papago Wells, Kiowa Trail, Dark Canyon, and possibly my favorite Reilly's Luck, many others already mentioned are quite good as well.