Books To Read After “Lonesome Dove”

After immersing ourselves in the riveting saga of “Lonesome Dove”, it’s only natural to crave more. Larry McMurtry painted a vivid picture of the American Frontier, leaving an indelible impact with unforgettable characters, an enthralling plot, and a setting that’s almost a character in itself.

This post seeks to guide you on your journey beyond the dusty trails of “Lonesome Dove”. We aim to introduce books that echo the essence of McMurtry’s masterpiece, transporting you back to the Wild West, or whisking you away to other environments with a similar spirit of adventure and character depth.

Stay with us as we embark on this literary journey, seeking books to read after “Lonesome Dove”. It’s time to saddle up for an exciting adventure in the vast landscape of frontier literature.

Understanding the Appeal of Lonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” is a testament to the power of character-driven narratives. From the retired Texas Rangers, Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae, to the complex ensemble that surrounds them, each character is exquisitely drawn. They are authentic, deeply flawed, and profoundly human. It’s this nuanced portrayal that leaves readers eager to meet more such characters in their subsequent reads.

Importance of Setting

The setting in “Lonesome Dove” is more than just a backdrop; it’s a critical element that shapes the story. The harsh yet beautiful landscapes of the American frontier, the dusty Texas town, and the perilous journey to Montana are as much a part of the narrative as the characters themselves. Fans of the book often seek this deeply intertwined relationship between character and setting in their next read.

Examination of Themes

“Lonesome Dove” is not just a Western novel; it’s a study of various themes like friendship, unrequited love, heroism, the harsh reality of the frontier, and the passage of an era. These themes, explored against the backdrop of the Wild West, give the book its depth and emotional resonance. For many readers, books addressing such themes with similar poignancy and depth would be an ideal follow-up to “Lonesome Dove”.

Criteria for Post-Lonesome Dove Reading

Emphasize Similar Themes or Settings

To satiate your longing for more “Lonesome Dove”-like narratives, the first factor to consider is the themes and settings. Books that echo the themes of friendship, unrequited love, heroism, and the raw reality of frontier life would likely resonate with you. Also, settings that are intrinsically woven into the narrative, much like the American Frontier in “Lonesome Dove”, would enhance the reading experience.

Comparable Character Development

“Lonesome Dove” is renowned for its strong and nuanced characters. When selecting your next book, seek those that prioritize character development. Look for complex, flawed, and authentic characters that drive the story, whose growth and evolution you can appreciate and engage with.

Comparable Writing Styles

Lastly, Larry McMurtry’s detailed and immersive writing style significantly contributes to the appeal of “Lonesome Dove”. His ability to paint a vivid picture of the setting, bring the characters to life, and depict the raw realities of the Frontier is remarkable. Thus, consider books that offer a similar storytelling approach, creating a vivid and immersive reading experience.

Detailed Book Recommendations

“The Son” by Philipp Meyer

“The Son” is an epic tale of a Texas family’s rise and fall over five generations. The story spans the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century. Its focus on family dynamics, struggle for power, and the harsh realities of life in the frontier may remind you of “Lonesome Dove”.

“True Grit” by Charles Portis

This classic Western tale features Mattie Ross, a young woman seeking revenge for her father’s murder. She hires the gruff U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to aid in her quest. “True Grit” offers memorable characters and a stirring narrative, much like McMurtry’s masterpiece. The bond that forms between Mattie and Cogburn might remind you of the friendship between Call and McCrae.

“Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy

A grim, violent depiction of the American West, “Blood Meridian” centers around a teenage runaway known only as “the kid” and his experiences with the Glanton gang, a band of Indian-hunters. Its unflinching look at the brutality of the frontier and deeply flawed characters offer echoes of “Lonesome Dove”, albeit with a darker tone.

“Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey

A classic of Western literature, “Riders of the Purple Sage” tells the story of Jane Withersteen and her battle against the oppressive Mormon community of her Utah town. Grey’s detailed depiction of the landscape, complex characters, and exploration of themes like religious intolerance and personal freedom, may resonate with fans of “Lonesome Dove”.

Lesser Known Western Books to Explore

While the classics of the Western genre are a great place to start, there are several lesser-known novels that capture the essence of “Lonesome Dove”. These hidden gems offer compelling narratives, complex characters, and evocative settings, providing an immersive reading experience.

“The Ox-Bow Incident” by Walter Van Tilburg Clark

This novel delves into the darker side of the frontier mentality, exploring themes of justice and mob mentality in a Nevada town. Its exploration of the human condition, particularly under pressure, offers a nuanced and thought-provoking reading experience.

“The Whistling Season” by Ivan Doig

Set in early 20th century Montana, this novel explores themes of family, education, and the human capacity for change. Its rich, evocative setting and authentic characters make it a worthy follow-up to “Lonesome Dove”.

“Warlock” by Oakley Hall

This Western novel goes beyond the typical tropes of the genre to provide a complex exploration of law, order, and morality in a frontier town. It’s an excellent choice for readers seeking a deeper, more philosophical reading experience, with a setting and characters reminiscent of McMurtry’s work.

Exploring Different Genres with a Lonesome Dove Flavor

While the Western genre is filled with books that might appeal to fans of “Lonesome Dove”, it’s worth looking beyond it to other genres that can provide a similar reading experience. Themes of friendship, unrequited love, heroism, and the struggle against the elements are universal and not confined to a particular setting or time period.

“East of Eden” by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s magnum opus tells the story of two families over several generations in the Salinas Valley in California. It explores themes of identity, guilt, and redemption, and its focus on landscape and character relationships may appeal to fans of “Lonesome Dove”.

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

Although a post-apocalyptic novel, “The Road” shares a similar focus on the relationship between characters and their struggle against a harsh and unforgiving landscape. The relationship between the father and son echoes the deep bonds of friendship seen in “Lonesome Dove”.

“A Land Remembered” by Patrick D. Smith

This historical novel spans over a century and three generations of the MacIvey family, who journey from Georgia to Florida in the 19th century. The book’s exploration of pioneering life, family bonds, and changing landscapes could resonate with fans of “Lonesome Dove”.

Additional Book Recommendations

“Centennial” by James Michener

An epic novel that traces the history of Colorado through the eyes of its settlers, cowboys, farmers, and businessmen. Selected for its detailed narrative and rich character development.

“The Big Sky” by A.B. Guthrie Jr.

A tale of fur trappers in the Rocky Mountain High Country. Selected for its exploration of frontier life and a focus on friendship and survival.

“All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy

The story of a young cowboy who sets off on a dangerous journey to Mexico after the ranch he grew up on is sold. Selected for its focus on cowboys and McCarthy’s evocative writing style.

“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper

Set in the American frontier during the French and Indian War, this novel offers thrilling adventure and exploration of friendship. Selected for its historical context and gripping narrative.

“Little Big Man” by Thomas Berger

The life story of Jack Crabb, the only white survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn. Selected for its satirical and poignant take on Western life.

“Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner

A retired historian explores his grandparents’ experiences in the American West. Selected for its intricate narrative and exploration of historical themes.

“The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah

Set in 1974 Alaska, this novel follows a family struggling to survive in a harsh and isolated landscape. Selected for its focus on survival in a harsh environment.

“The Virginian” by Owen Wister

A classic Western novel that follows the life of a cowboy known only as the Virginian. Selected for its embodiment of the Western genre.

“Butcher’s Crossing” by John Williams

A young man leaves his life in Massachusetts to join a buffalo hunting expedition in Kansas. Selected for its exploration of frontier life and man’s struggle against nature.

“The Searchers” by Alan Le May

A man embarks on a quest to find his abducted niece. Selected for its exploration of morality, obsession, and the brutality of frontier life.


“Lonesome Dove” leaves a lasting impact on its readers, with its vivid characters, captivating narrative, and rich depiction of the American Frontier. Our hope is that these recommendations provide a starting point for your post-“Lonesome Dove” reading journey.

Whether you choose to stay in the Western genre with classics like “The Son” or “True Grit”, delve into lesser-known works such as “The Ox-Bow Incident” and “The Whistling Season”, or venture into other genres with books like “East of Eden” and “The Road”, the key is to find narratives that capture the essence of what made “Lonesome Dove” special for you.

We invite you to share your own recommendations and thoughts. Happy trails and happy reading!

rj adams books

R.J. Adams

My first job was at Barnes & Noble, so books and reading have been a big part of my life for as long as I could remember. My Kindle is jam-packed with books I likely will never get around to reading and my To Be Read pile is even longer!

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