Consider the Cowboy

By Kat La Mantia | December 20 2023 | BlogAdultsGeneralAllGiftPop Culture

Cowboys and western wear aesthetics are making a comeback in a brand new way. Cowboy boot-shaped match holders, mugs, and neon signs sit next to cowboy hat candles and stickers on the shelves of trendy gift shops. Modern western wear-inspired outfits in bright, whimsical colors are your favorite TikTok creator’s outfit of the day, perfect for a fun night out with friends. Musicians Orville Peck and Lil Nas X have reimagined the cowboy as a symbol of queerness and couture. French-American painter Mark Maggiori has made his name in the art world with romantic visions of the American Southwest–lone cowboys riding their horses on the edge of a vast, wild landscape with blazing blue skies and soft pink clouds.

The cowboy has long been a legendary figure in the American imagination as much as an actual profession. While macho, John Wayne-esque cowboys as portrayed in classic Western films have long reigned supreme as the main image of a “true cowboy,” a new generation is reexamining that old stereotype and reclaiming it for themselves.

The John Wayne cowboy is only one interpretation of the iconic image. Mexican vaqueros, Black cowboys, women cowgirls, rodeo performers, country stars, anyone who feels like an outlaw depending on their own self-reliance for survival and success–these are the cowboys of today.

Celebrate the rebirth of the cowboy with our favorite books that take a closer look at this horse-riding figure of the American West.

Cowboy
978-0-8478-7375-3
The Cowboy, Reconsidered: the enduring myth of the cowboy is a richer, more diverse story than most understand. In this survey, some of the most important artists working today take up the cowboy through the lens of queer, Black, Asian, and Latinx perspectives.
$75.00 US
Oct 10, 2023
9 x 11
Hardcover
224 Pages
Rizzoli Electa

Burn After Writing (Cowgirl)
978-0-593-54301-6
The national bestseller.Write. Burn. Repeat. Now with new covers to match whatever mood you’re in."This book has made me laugh and cry, filled me with joy, and inspired me."-TikTok user camrynbanks
$14.00 US
Oct 04, 2022
5-5/16 x 8
Paperback
160 Pages
TarcherPerigee

Dan Colen: High Noon
978-0-8478-6816-2
This book celebrates two new performance pieces and a recent body of paintings by the artist, drawing on desert landscapes, Road Runner cartoons, and Hollywood Westerns.
$80.00 US
Mar 25, 2020
12-1/2 x 9-3/4
Hardcover
104 Pages
Gagosian / Rizzoli

C Is for Country
978-0-593-30078-7
Parents who play Grammy winner Lil Nas X's 12-times platinum single Old Town Road on repeat will want to take their kids and ride on over to this ABC picture book from the music mega-star!
$18.99 US
Jan 05, 2021
11 x 9
Hardcover
40 Pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
Age 3-7 years

Concrete Cowboy: Movie Tie-In (Ghetto Cowboy)
978-1-5362-1735-3
See the film on Netflix, starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin When Cole’s mom dumps him in the mean streets of Philly to live with the dad he’s never met, the last thing he expects to see is a horse—let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys ain’t black, and they don’t live in the ‘hood. But in this ‘hood, horses are a way of life, and when the City threatens to shut down the stables, Cole realizes it’s time to stand up for what’s right—the Cowboy Way.
$7.99 US
Jun 01, 2021
5-1/8 x 7-5/8
Paperback
240 Pages
Candlewick Entertainment
Age 10 and up

Cowboy Bebop: Making The Netflix Series
978-1-78909-776-4
Official companion book to the Netflix TV series featuring concept art, sketches, behind-the-scenes photography and interviews with cast and crew.
$39.95 US
Jun 21, 2022
11-15/16 x 10-3/4
Hardcover
176 Pages
Titan Books

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
978-0-525-42164-1
In Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse, Nellie Sue does everything with a western flair. Whether it is cleaning up the animal sty (picking up her stuffed animals) or rounding up cattle (getting the neighborhood kids together for her birthday party), she does it like a true cowgirl. All she really needs is a horse. So when Dad announces at her birthday party, “I got a horse right here for you,” Nellie Sue is excited. But when her horse turns out to be her first bicycle, it will take an imagination as big as Texas to help save the day.Activities for Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni
$18.99 US
Feb 23, 2010
8-1/2 x 11
Hardcover
32 Pages
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Age 3-5 years

This Is Texas
A Children's Classic
978-0-7893-1389-8
Following the runaway bestsellers This is New York and This is Paris, Universe is pleased to reissue another title from M. Sasek's beloved and nostalgic children's travel series. Like the other Sasek classics, This is Texas is a facsimile edition of his original book that is still timely and current in every way. The stylish, charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek's witty, playful narrative, make the book a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember it from their childhood. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than forty years later and, where applicable, facts have been updated for the twenty-first century, appearing on a "This is ... Today" page at the back of each book. In This is Texas, first published in 1967, M. Sasek rides high in the saddle, lassoing all the color and colossal span of Texas as he tours the state from Dallas, Houston, and Austin to the Alamo. From its cattle, coyotes, and cowboys to its oil wells, rodeo and rattlesnakes, everything in the biggest state is bigger than anywhere else.
$17.95 US
Feb 21, 2006
8-3/4 x 12
Hardcover
64 Pages
Universe
Age 7 and up

Who Was Annie Oakley?
978-0-448-42497-2
You want girl power? Meet Annie Oakley! Born in 1860, she became one of the best-loved and most famous women of her generation. She amazed audiences all over the world with her sharpshooting, horse-riding, action-packed performances. In an age when most women stayed home, she traveled the world and forged a new image for American women.
$6.99 US
Feb 18, 2002
5-5/16 x 7-5/8
Paperback
112 Pages
Penguin Workshop
Age 8-12 years

What Was the Wild West?
978-0-399-54424-8
Saddle up and get ready for a ride back into the wild and wooly past of the American West.
$5.99 US
Apr 25, 2017
5-5/16 x 7-5/8
Paperback
112 Pages
Penguin Workshop
Age 8-12 years

Sock Monkey Rides Again
978-0-7636-7760-2
Yee-haw! Sock Monkey lassoes a part in a singing cowboy movie — if he can only get up the nerve to kiss the leading lady.Sock Monkey, the famous toy actor, can hardly believe his ears. He's landed the starring role in a singing cowboy movie! Now he'll get to yodel, ride a horse, lasso a cow, and — yikes! — kiss the leading lady. Sock Monkey doesn't want to kiss anyone! But it's the role of a lifetime, so the woolen thespian corrals all his friends to help him prepare. Can he resist the urge to ride into the sunset when the big moment comes? In a brilliant performance of (inadvertent) bravery in the face of panic, Sock Monkey is back — to do his fans proud.
$14.00 US
May 12, 2015
9-5/8 x 9-5/8
Hardcover
32 Pages
Candlewick
Age 4-8 years

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
978-0-679-76786-2
Drawing on contemporary accounts, period photographs, dime novels, and his own prodigious fund of empathy and imagination, Michael Ondaatje's visionary novel traces the legendary outlaw's passage across the blasted landscape of 1880 New Mexico and the collective unconscious of his country. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is a virtuoso synthesis of storytelling, history, and myth by a writer who brings us back to our familiar legends with a renewed sense of wonder.
$17.00 US
Mar 19, 1996
5-3/16 x 8
Paperback
128 Pages
Vintage

National Geographic The Old West
978-1-4262-1555-1
The lives, legends, and epic events that made the American West a world-renowned symbol of true grit are showcased in this gorgeous volume featuring the gold rush, the Indian Wars, cowboys, outlaws, and more.
$45.00 US
Nov 03, 2015
9-1/8 x 10-7/8
Hardcover
320 Pages
National Geographic

Poems of the American West
978-0-375-41459-6
In this provocative and thoughtful anthology, many voices join in illuminating the remarkably vast and varied American West. The verse collected here ranges from American Indian tribal poems to old folk songs like “The Streets of Laredo,” from country-western lyrics to the work of such foreign poets as Bertolt Brecht and Zbigniew Herbert. Here is the West in all its rich variety–the harsh life of farms and ranches; man’s destructive invasion into forest and desert solitudes; the bars and bistros of San Francisco and Hollywood; Pacific surf and endless highways; the ghost towns, the poverty, and the legendary world of cowpunchers and gunslingers.From Robert Frost’s “Once by the Pacific” to Charles Bukowski’s “Vegas,” from Fred Koller’s “Lone Star State of Mind” to Thom Gunn’s “San Francisco Streets”–the West is evoked in all its incarnations, both actual and mythic.
$20.00 US
Sep 10, 2002
4-1/8 x 6-1/4
Hardcover
256 Pages
Everyman's Library