“Books and booze,” is how one of my coffee buddies answered, when I asked his ideas for the perfect Wyoming-oriented Christmas gifts.
He had been giving out bottles of Wyoming Whiskey and Koltiska liqueurs over the past years plus he bought six of my Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders books and a bunch of Chuck Box and Craig Johnson western potboilers.
It is hard for me to argue with his selections, but this column is my annual attempt to compile a list of wonderful Wyoming-oriented books that will make both the giver and the receiver happy.
CJ Box of “Joe Pickett” fame has a new book The Highway and Johnson of “Walt Longmire” fame has a new book called The Spirit of Steamboat. Box lives in Cheyenne and Johnson in Ucross.
You can’t lose by buying a copy of the Roberts Brothers’ Wyoming Almanac, which is now in its seventh edition and 25th anniversary.
Rodger McDaniel’s incredible book about Wyoming called Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins is a wonderful read and a great present. It was a gift to yoming by Rodger for getting this story into print.
Then again, you can always give to local Christmas charities.
My wife puts in a plug for the spirit of giving, which she champions here in Lander with the big Christmas Food Basket drive, which she chairs. Over 300 baskets of food and gifts are given to the needy. Money is raised locally and dozens of families donate, many of them feeling this is their best chance to experience “giving is the best gift” at this time of year. Check out local charities in your town for ideal places to help with cash or your energy.
Some of the best Christmas presents might be gift subscriptions for your friends and loved ones of the newspaper you are reading right now. Most newspapers have special Christmas offers. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
Shopping in local-owned stores is another fun experience of the Christmas season. Not only do you get to support the local economy but also you can see all your friends when you go shopping. Also, shop the special ad sections in newspapers like this one for special hours for special deals.
Some companies are pushing “Buying American” this year, which makes a lot of sense. I would go a step further and promote “Shop Wyoming.” This is really fun!
Vicki Burger at Wind City Books in Casper says big local sellers include Cowboys and East Indians by Nimi McConigley plus she has sold hundreds of copies of Life and Spectrum (her biggest seller) by Casper’s Cliff Meloy illustrated by Zak Pullen.
Allen Warren, manager of City News, Cheyenne, suggests Haunted in Cheyenne by Jill Pope and Honed by Rich Slater, two local authors. Cheyenne author Stephen Horn’s The Pumpkin Eaters has also been a solid seller this season.
At Barnes and Noble in Cheyenne I ran across a series of paperback books by Cheyenne resident Joanne Kennedy. I am hoping that I am not offending her when I speculate these books might be described as cowboy-oriented “bodice rippers,” a genre favored by many female readers.
Robby Smith of Sheridan Stationery says that Where the Rivers Run North by Sam Morton, One Cowboy’s Dream by Cynde Georgen, Tom Ringley’s Wranglin’ Notes as some of the top books from her area.
Suzanne Young of Jackson helps out her friend at the Jackson Hole Book Traders and says Olaus and Margaret Muries’ book Wapiti Wilderness, the Craighead Brothers book A Naturalist’s Guide and Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door and Pukka are all big local sellers plus Tina Welling’s Crybaby Ranch tells a good story infused with ranching/conservation conflicts.
Former Pinedale newspaper publisher Ric Samulski has a wonderful book called Trekkerman about hiking the world’s best trails, including some in Wyoming.
Former long-time Associated Press writer Joe McGowan, born in Sheridan and who covered Wyoming for decades, has had good success with his book From Fidel Castro to Mother Teresa.
Gene and Jeannie Bryan are big fans of Muffy Mead’s books, the most recent was Its Head Came Off by Accident, A Memoir. She is a sister to Gov. Matt Mead.
I have read three books by Alexandra Fuller of Jackson and they are fantastic. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant is a modern (and tragic) story of contemporary Wyoming. Her most recent is Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which I have not read yet.
Happy reading and happy Wyoming book buying!
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.