It seems like everyone is talking about Yellowstone these days. And for good reason! The violent Western drama follows the Dutton family as they manage the largest ranch in Montana and fend off anyone and anything that tries to get in their way. USA Today calls it the “biggest series on TV” as its fifth season wraps up. With its spin-offs, 1883 and 1923, there’s more than enough to jump into for the long haul. Full of soap-opera-esque family drama, bloody violence, and gorgeous landscapes, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for more books like Yellowstone, we’re here to help.
Some point out the narrow point of view the show takes with diversity, focusing — as often happens in Westerns — on the problems of white male cowboys. While the show does portray some Indigenous, queer, and Black stories, the focus is the Duttons and their desperation to keep their land the way it is despite issues with looming developers and the nearby Native reservation. It’s fairly well known the Western genre tends to have a one-track mind when it comes to whose stories it tells.
So, here are 10 great books like Yellowstone, with some alternate perspectives to the typical Western included, too!
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
After serving as a sniper for the Army, Llewelyn Moss is out in the desert shooting when he finds a left-behind pick-up truck with dead men all around. Inside is a briefcase full of money that he can’t resist taking. Now, the men who did this are on his tail, wanting the money back that they so willingly killed for already. For fans of the violence and blood in the Yellowstone series, this one’s for you!
A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo
More wilderness than Western, this follows the investigation into the murder of a journalist in remote Montana by the Canadian border. When FBI agent Ali Page sees that the finger is being pointed at her ex-boyfriend and daughter’s father, who last saw the journalist alive, she starts to poke around to clear his name. Set against a brutal landscape and with interpersonal drama at risk of getting out, Yellowstone fans will still enjoy the tale despite the not-so-Western aspects.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
After the death of their mother, Lucy and Sam have only their father, who spends his days hunting for gold in the West. That is, until he dies, turning them into orphans in a mining town. Now, the siblings need to find the perfect place to bury their father while navigating an unforgiving landscape during the Gold Rush. The familial themes and the harsh world are perfect for Yellowstone fans.
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz
On the way to the United States from Sweden, Hakan and his brother have a long journey ahead. When they get separated while headed for New York, Hakan jumps on a ship, hoping to reunite with him there. But when his ship ends up in California, he starts the long slog of traveling across the United States to find him. If the landscape of Yellowstone is your thing, this book has some of the most beautiful descriptions of the West as Hakan travels through it.
Wounded by Percival Everett
John Hunt is a Black horse trainer running his ranch in remote Wyoming in the aftermath of his wife’s death. When a young gay man is murdered, and nearby animals start to turn up dead, violence creeps closer to his life. Taking a young man from Chicago under his wing, John shows him the ways of farm life. With community tension rising and a blizzard on the way, John’s life is about to get a lot less stable.
The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich
After Gretel Ehrlich journeys to Wyoming for work, grieving the death of her partner, she finds herself staying in the wilderness for longer than intended. This nonfiction collection of personal essays sheds light on the reality of the American West in the 1970s and the people who lived and loved there.
Outlawed by Anna North
After Ada marries her husband as a teenager, a clock starts ticking down. She must have a child within a year or risk being hanged. As time passed with no child, Ada decided to run away, joining an outlaw group called the Hole in the Wall Gang. To get a safe and comfortable life, they must put their lives on the line to make it happen.
Inland by Téa Obreht
Left on his own to survive as a child, Lurie takes up employment with The Coachman, a grave robber and outlaw, where he finds a semblance of family. That is, until his involvement gets him wanted and on the run. Years later, Nora is responsible for maintaining her family farm while her husband goes off in search of water. When her sons go off too, she’s worried about their return and just how thirsty she’s getting. The storylines weave together in unexpected ways as both haunted people seek solace in their memories.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
For three decades, Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call were Texas Rangers fighting whoever crossed their path. As the turmoil of the time calmed, they formed a stable in Lonesome Dove, where they planned one last hurrah before they settled down, driving cattle from Texas to Montana. The relationships are at the forefront of this touching Western.
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down by Ishmael Reed
In the Western town of Yellow Back Radio, Loop Garoou, a Black cowboy, is out for revenge. Drag Gibson is the white and wealthy owner of basically the whole town, and he does what he pleases, including killing anyone and everyone he can. Loop decides to use his voodoo powers to get back at the violent man. More of a satire of the Western, this one’s beautiful and surreal — perfect for someone interested in a different take on the genre.
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