NOTE - Like my top ten western movies these books are not in order of preference. This will be a list of what I consider the ten essential western books and films.
As with any list it is bound to divide opinion but it's deeply personal and it would be great if anyone fancies placing their essential westerns in the comments box.
originally published: 1949
Shane is such a slim novel that these days it would be considered a novella but despite its brevity it's big on story. Most are familiar with the movie starring Alan Ladd (please let's not ever remake this one) but not so many have read the original source novel.
By any standard of measurement Shane is a great piece of writing - Shane dresses in black and doesn't take no trouble from no man, he stands tall the embodiement of male strength. At the centre of the story is the love the young boy feels for Shane - but the kid is in love with the mythical elements of the wild west and to him, and us, Shane represents this. A tough no-nonsense man with a strong sense of right and wrong.
The fact that we see the story through the young boy's eyes works really well and when we see Shane back down from a fight, we don't initially think that he is trying to escape violence and his past. No we, like Bob, see him as a coward but that is something we don't want to believe.
The novel was originally serialised in Argosy under the title, The Rider from Nowhere but it wasn't until the book was published as Shane that it became a massive success. And of course the movie came in 1953 and made the character world famous. Incidentially the film is also in my list of 10 westerns you must watch.