Friday, August 27, 2010

Reading about Horses

When I was a horse-crazy kid (before I became a horse-crazy adult) I read everything I could get my hands on about horses. I made a goal of reading every horse book I could find in our library, in the kids section - anyway. That habit has carried over to this day, so I'm always on the look-out for a good horse book. (Hint: Writers love books - so we read a lot, too :-))
Here are two recent horse novels (published in 2010) that I truly enjoyed - and you might, also:

The Outside of a Horse, by Ginny Rorby
Dial Books for Young Readers/2010

The Outside of a Horse deals with the power of horses to heal. We all know the expression, right? The Outside of a Horse is good for the Inside of a Man (or Woman.)
This novel is the story of Hannah Gale, whose dad returns from the war in Iraq a different man than when he left. With her family structure in shambles, Hannah retreats to the solace of horses at a nearby stable. There's lots of details here for horse-lovers, from Parelli techniques to Triple Crown winners to rescue animals, but it is ultimately Hannah's story. She's a wonderful character, who has been dealt a raw hand in life. How she deals with it, and how she attempts to heal both her dad and herself, makes for a very moving story. Highly recommended.

Riding Invisible, by Sandra Alonzo

Hyperion/ 2010

Riding Invisible is told in journal format, and when you first pick up this book, it appears to appeal to a younger audience. Don't be dissuaded, though, the story packs a punch. It's the journal of Yancy, who runs away with his beloved horse Shy, after his brother Will (diagnosed with conduct disorder) has threatened harm to Shy. We've all threatened to run away with our horses, right? But what if you had to, to save your horse? And considering that Yancy starts out without much of a plan, riding through the paved streets of Southern California without telling his parents he's leaving, well . . .

Riding Invisible is both an adventure story and a serious story of a family coming to grips with a difficult situation, and a boy finding his own courage and voice through it all. Wonderful book, and highly recommended.

You can probably find both of these books in the YA (young adult) section of your nearest bookstore or library. Or you can put them on your Christmas list. I bet you'll like them.

Can you recommend any good horse books you've read recently? We'd all like you to read ours, of course, but there are lots of other good books out there, and we love to share. Tell us what you'd recommend.


Alison said...

Thanks Linda--I have such a huge list of books to read and that I want to read that it's great to get recommendations. One of my favorites is still Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley.

Francesca Prescott said...

How did you find these books, Linda? It's not always easy to discover good books on such a specific subject.

I can't think of any books I've read recently involving horses. In fact, the last horsey books I read were Jami's "The Gift Horse" and "The Dance".

I remember reading a funny book maybe two years ago about divorced woman taking a job in a stable. There was a lot of angst about her "level" in dressage, but sadly I can't remember the title or the name of the author. I leant it to someone and never got it back. Anyone know which book I'm talking about? Also, has anyone read "Riders", by Jilly Cooper? It's was written in the eighties, and it's very entertaining. I recently re-read it and it definitely made me smile.

Linda Benson said...

Alison - I loved Horse Heaven also. Wonderful book.

Francesca - I belong to Goodreads, a site where readers can list everything they're reading, and give recommendations. I love it, and it's a great place to find good reading material.

Anonymous said...

Francesca, the book is Horseplay by Judy Renee Singer. Riders is still a big favorite of mine. It's good trashy fun. Another excellent recent YA book is The Perfect Distance by Kim Ablon Whitney. The best horse novel ever (in my opinion) is The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss.

Linda Benson said...

Anonymous - Thanks for those titles. I'll look for those. I loved Molly Gloss's The Hearts of Horses, and also her other books, especially The Jump-Off Creek, about a woman homesteading in Oregon. Here's the first line of that book:
"6 April Bought the black hinny Mule today, $18, also the spavint gray as my money is so short and I hope he will put on wt, his eyes are clear w a smart look in them and his feet not tender. Believe I am now outfitted, shall start out at Day Break." Love it :-)

Unknown said...

Linda: Thanks for your lovely review of RIDING INVISIBLE. Your support is appreciated! Honestly, I love the concept of THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE. I'll be purchasing that one soon! Sandra Alonzo

Jan said...

Good to hear about these new books! The last horse books I've read are 1. Why We Ride, edited by Verna Dreisbach (women writers on the horses in their lives) - good to dip into a few stories from time to time, 2. Saddled, by Susan Richards (which I didn't care for a great deal; too much about alcoholism and too little about horses, in my opinion) and 3. a mystery by Craig Johnson, Dark Horse, set in Wyoming, which I loved.
Always good to hear about new books, or rediscover old favorites, and this is the perfect blog to do that! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hope I'm not too late to join in, I've been on holidays for the past week!!!

Loved the book suggestions, I'm always looking for good books to read. Some of my favorite horsei ones are:

In Service to the Horse: Chronicles of a Labor of Love by Susan Nusser. The book follows the life of three grooms who work with champion thoroughbreds. Wonderful, true to life and very well written!! Loved it.

For those who love Canadian authors there is a book by Brad Smith called All Hat. It's a story about thoroughbred racing and how a nasty owner gets his just reward delivered to him by a gang of misfits and ex-cons. Very funny.

The current book I'm reading is called Ride the Rising Wind: One Woman's Journey Across Canada by Barbara Kingscote. Barbara records her journey as a young single woman in 1949 starting out on a journey across Canada, just her and her little mare Zazy. Traveling the country in the time between WWII and the automation of Canadian agriculture it is a story rich in history and personal struggles and growth. Barbara goes on to vet school to become an equine vet.

And lastly, I promise!!! is the story of Lily Casey Smith a young girl who is helping her father break horses by the age of six, and at age 15 she left home to ride 500 miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job teaching in a frontier town. She ran a ranch in AZ with her husband Jim. Written by her granddaughter Jeannette Walls. Fascinating reading!!!

Just a few of my absolute fav's!!!

Linda Benson said...

Jan and mommyrides - Really appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Jan - I have heard of the book "Why We Ride," but haven't got my hands on a copy yet.

mommyrides - the last memoir you mentioned, by Jeanette Walls is called "Half-Broke Horses," and I loved it also.

I also just learned that Jane Smiley has a new book coming out in October, called "A Good Horse." I'll put that on my list to read, too. At the moment, I'm reading a book called "Bull Rider," and it is wonderful.

Thanks for sharing, everybody!

Jan said...

Just wanted to add that I have just gotten Molly Gloss' "The Hearts of Horses" and am enjoying it.

I, too, loved Jane Smiley's "Horse Heaven," so am delighted to hear about another book from her.