When I was 13 or 14, my grandad handed me a copy of Jubal Sackett by Louis L'amour. I remember it clearly. I was at my aunt Kari's house, and we were standing on the front porch discussing books. He had a copy in his truck, I guess, because he promptly went to get it and showed it to me. He said, "This is much better than anything else you'll read." He was so right. My life was changed that day.
Over the next few years I read everything Louis L'amour wrote. Now I am 37 years old, and my favorite author is still Louis L'amour. I read and re-read all of his books. He had a way of writing stories that drew me in and made me feel like I was there. So much so, that when I get very busy and stressed, I feel myself wanting to escape to the mountains or the desert on horseback, with my saddlebags full of hardtack, my canteen full of mountain spring water, my six-shooter loaded, and the wind at my back. It's similar to a chocolate craving for me. No, seriously.
He wrote so vividly that you could "see" the miners panning for gold in streams, or deep under the mountain with their picks and shovels searching for that big vein of silver; you can smell the pines and hear the cottonwoods rustle as the wind blows; you can imagine the simple yet exquisite taste of buffalo steaks cooked over an open fire and served with beans and biscuits; you can taste the dust of hundreds of cattle being driven from Texas to Kansas; you can hear the arrows of angry Indians as they zing past your ear; and you can see the great expanse of prairie as you sit on your horse and watch the sun set at the end of a glorious day.
I've read westerns by other writers, and they are good; but Louis L'amour's books are the best out there.
Thanks to my introduction to Louis L'amour, I have become a lover of all things western. I gravitate to western movies, TV shows, and home decor.
My grandad has the entire leather bound collector's editions. During the time I started reading them, my great-grandmother was reading them, too. Since there are so many in the collection, and three of us were reading them at the same time, we came up with a system to mark each book. Each of us has a "brand." My grandad has a star, my great-grandmother has a bullet hole, and I have a rocking N.
Now, to my great delight, my 12-year-old daughter has fallen in love with Louis L'amour's stories! We have many of them on cassette and CD, and that is how she prefers them. We both like to listen to them as we go to sleep at night.
Someday, my grandad promises that his entire collection will belong to me. I couldn't ask for anything more.