Horses Are HOT Right Now–Here Are Five Books to Help You Cash In on the Trend

According to my October issue of Boston Magazine, horses are HOT in home design. “Equine imagery appeals to the untamed beast in all of us,” says the monthly mag.

The October issue of Boston Magazine says horses are HOT right now.

So how can you cash in on the equestrian trend without spending a lotta dough?

You can add just the right touch of “horseyness” to your abode, while keeping your checking account intact, with an equine-themed book or two, prominently positioned on an end table, coffee table, or bookshelf. And here are five affordable options that will help you say different things about your equestrian interests while melding in easily with your current decor:

1  LORENZO: THE FLYING FRENCHMAN

Have you seen the cover of this book? Who doesn’t want a cute guy in tight pants riding a team of white horses through their living room? (See our earlier post comparing Lorenzo to Brad Pitt HERE.) The pictures inside this book are stunning, and the story of this French stunt rider is biographical in nature, and certain to interest the most casual reader, as well as the studied horseman.

2  MEDITATION FOR TWO

Poems, prose, and “deep thoughts” about the relationship between man (or woman) and horse, beautifully accented by the stunning photography. This book perfectly walks the line between dramatic coffee-table book and philosophical fireside reading.

3  TEX

A kid’s picture book, yes, but charming as all get-out. Full of authentic photographs of the American West, and the boot-stomping explorations of one very serious little cowboy, this book says, “I like children. I like cowboys. I love our country and the great outdoors.” The cover will grab you–or whoever it is passing through your apartment.

4  THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES

Okay, so if you’re 24 this might not be the choice for you. But any older than that, and especially if you’re one of those grown-up-girls who used to be a horse-crazy little girl…but never quite got the horse….this is the self-help, make time, make-it-happen, you-can-do-it guide to one day seeing your horse dreams become reality. Even if it can’t be right now, this book will help you plan for when it can. And, it is a far more intriguing choice for the end table than the usual diet-relationship-money-making bestseller-list fare.

5  HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

Didn’t you know, everyone’s talking about this book! Denny Emerson lays it all out for you with the character traits he knows make the difference between being a “wannabe” and a “gonnabe.” Yeah, all the examples are horse-specific, and success stories are for the most part those of top riders, but the really cool thing about this book is that Denny’s advice translates seamlessly to the rest of your life. Trust me. I read it. And I reevaluated a whole lotta “stuff” after I did, which led to changes that I believe will bring me success. FYI, I don’t own a horse right now, so we’re talking general application here.

Don’t miss out on the equestrian fad–it’s too fun to be part of it, and horses are too fascinating to not take a closer look, even for a little while.

You can find all of the books mentioned above at the Trafalgar Square Books online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Cute Cowboys–10 Reasons Why We Love ’em…and How You Can Get One of Your Own!

Trafalgar Square Books just released its new children’s book TEX by Dorie McCullough Lawson, and my two-and-a-half-year-old son can’t get enough of it. Of course, I willingly participate in his game of pretend, as we page through the book and talk about the adventures of one very small cowboy….and not once do I doubt that Western hat, boots, and horse can come vibrantly to life in our Boston apartment.

I admit my heart does a little pitter-patter when my son dons his own cowboy hat and assumes a “tough” stance, his feet slightly apart, a slight bow in his legs, and a serious crease to his brow. I probably should be wishing for medical school or computer wizardry, but honestly, I’d be awfully proud if he grew up to be a cowboy.

This got me to pondering—what IS it about the “cowboy” mystique that women love so much? Here are 10 reasons I think cowboys hold our attention, whatever their age:

1  They can fix things and heal things, usually without much fuss.

2  They use words that mean something, only when they need to be used.

3  Their eyes crinkle in the corners.

4  They can drive a rig, a tractor, a digger…even backward when need be.

5  When they fall down, they get back up again.

6  They like dirt, sky, and wind…and a little rain doesn’t hurt, either.

7  Those jeans. Usually Wranglers.

8  They’re willing to dance when the music is right.

9  They listen to their mothers….most of the time. 

10  They love horses as much as we do.

Have a look at my little cowboy in the video below…I admit, I’m a pretty lucky lady, but with a little help from TEX, you can raise one of your very own!

TEX by Dorie McCullough Lawson is available now, just in time for the holidays, at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor (and proud mother of a cowboy-to-be)

TSB Author Dorie McCullough Lawson Joins Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, Garrison Keillor, David McCullough, and Other Top Authors at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC—What a Fabulous Launch for Her New Children’s Book TEX!

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This past weekend the Library of Congress celebrated the “joys of reading aloud” on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The 2011 National Book Festival featured over 100 of today’s most influential authors, including Toni Morrison, Russell Banks, Sherman Alexie, Garrison Keillor, and two-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian David McCullough, among many others. TSB author Dorie McCullough Lawson was featured in the Children’s Pavilion, where she spoke and signed copies of her wonderful new children’s book, TEX.

Although just out, TEX has already won the hearts of reviewers with its vivid color-block design and authentic photographs of the American West. You can order a copy of TEX for your favorite little cowboy or cowgirl at the TSB bookstore (its available NOW!), where shipping in the US is always FREE.

While at the National Book Festival, Dorie sat down with the LOC and shared a little about her writing process, as well as her advice for passing on a love of books and reading to young children:

LOC: What sparked your imagination for your book – TEX?

DL: I have always been captivated by children of a certain age, usually from about 3 to 5, who in their pretend play become totally transported and transformed by the power of their imaginations. They become what they imagine. The little cowboy, Tex, was photographically interesting and a character simply waiting for a book.

LOC: What challenges do you face in your writing process? How do you overcome them?

DL: I have to hear a book in my head before I can write and sometimes I have trouble hearing it. If I’m not hearing it, then time is really the only thing that helps me with that challenge. Ideas (and I have many of them) usually have to stew and settle, get disrupted, and then stew again before I am ready to write.

LOC: What tips or advice can you share with young students who hope to start writing?

DL: Write about something that matters to you. If you are writing about a subject you don’t know much about, learn about it, study it, look at it until you care about it. You can’t write about anything if it doesn’t matter to you, so make it matter.

LOC: Can you suggest a fun writing topic to get them started?

DL: When I was working on my book Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to their Children (Doubleday, 2003) I realized that many of the best letters were written when a parent was very angry or very sad – when emotions were running high. I would suggest writing a letter to someone about a subject that makes you spitting mad!

LOC: What is your list of favorite children or teen books?

DL:

  • Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion
  • Huge Harold, Bill Peet
  • The Amazing Bone, William Steig
  • James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, James Herriot
  • Old Yeller, Fred Gipson
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George – Speare
  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • Carry On Mr. Bowditch, Jena Lee Latham
  • The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, Farley Mowat
  • Light in the Forest, Conrad Richter

LOC: How do you decide on themes for your books?

DL: I have written a non-fiction book, a novel and TEX is my first children’s book. Although the three books are of different genres, I would say in each case, the themes have been arrived at by the characters. I don’t choose themes, the characters choose them for me.

LOC: How important is research in the development of your books? Can you explain that process as well?

DL: Research is always very important! Authenticity is essential. Authenticity requires knowledge and knowledge is arrived at by research. I consider research to come in all shapes and sizes – everything from digging in archives to simply soaking it up. In the case of TEX, research came in the form of spending years in the West – in towns, on ranches, with animals and with cowboys. The photographs had to be authentic and the language had to fit with the subject and the character.

LOC: What is your advice to parents for passing the joys of reading on to their children?

DL: Talk about what you, yourself are reading. Be sure your children see you reading for pleasure and by that I mean reading books – not newspapers or magazine, not online, not on an e-reader – BOOKS!

Don’t give up reading aloud when your children are proficient readers themselves! We are always reading a family book. Every night for about a half an hour our whole family sits together in the living room to listen while my husband or I read aloud a chapter or two to the family. Sometimes the older kids protest and sometimes the younger kids don’t understand everything that is happening in the book, but they all hear it. With a family book always in the mix, no matter what is going on we all have something in common and that something is a book.

TSB Author Dorie McCullough Lawson Talks About Her New Book TEX, Sheridan Roots, Serious Faces on Little Kids, and Ponies in Living Rooms

TEX by Dorie McCullough Lawson is available from the TSB website NOW.

Last week TSB had a chance to catch up with Dorie McCullough Lawson before she and her family left the East Coast for a visit to Wyoming for a wedding. We asked her about her new children’s book TEX, as well as the Wranglers that appear regularly within it, the olives in her fridge, and the importance of inspiring imagination in young people. TEX is now available, and you can order your copy from the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE!

Dorie will be talking about TEX and signing copies at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, at the end of this month–check out the TSB website for more information.

TSB: Your new children’s book TEX is based, in part, on the adventures your son Luke had on the Wymont Ranch in Wyoming during his early childhood. How did you come to know the Wymont Ranch, and do you still regularly visit?

DL: Wyoming is a big part of our lives because my husband—the painter T. Allen Lawson—was born and raised in Sheridan, and we lived there for many years. Wymont Ranch is owned by our wonderful friends, the Tates, and we spend as much time there as we possibly can. Luke imagined he was “Tex” (the main character in my new children’s book), but when he got to Wymont, Tex found his “home” and really came to life.

TSB: The photographs that appear in TEX are incredibly charming, and your son seems for the most part unaware of the presence of a camera. How did the photos in the book come about? Were any of them “staged”?

DL: The photographs in the book were not staged at all.  Instead of staging shots, I just followed “Tex” around and photographed everything. The story came out of the photographs.  Occasionally, we would put Tex in situations that might lead to some good photographs, but they weren’t staged.

The picture of Honey Pooh (aka “Thunder” in the book) in the ranch house was somewhat of a subdued photograph given how often the pony was really in the house.  One time the Tates were having a party for the Belmont Stakes with a lot of people over.  “Tex” took it upon himself to go get the pony and walked him right through the kitchen, hallway, and living room, over and over.  The best part was no one really seemed to take much notice!

"Thunder" makes an appearance at the annual Wymont Belmont party...

People are often interested in the photograph that’s on the cover of the book.  They ask me, “How did you get ‘Tex’ to make that face?”  I didn’t get him to do anything!  In that particular shot, he was walking with his rope out into that field and we were following him. Mimi Tate said, “Hey Tex, what are you doing?”  He turned around and faced us with that stance and that face and said, “I’m goin’ to rope that cow!”

He wore the clothes he wears in the book every single day, and I just followed him around and got as many photographs as I could.  I think there are more than 3,000 photos!

TSB: Speaking of his clothes, perhaps most convincing is the real “Cowboy Gear,” including Wranglers, boots, and hat, in which Luke (“Tex”) appears. Was this his natural choice of wardrobe at all times when he was five, or just when you were visiting Wyoming?

DL: The clothes “Tex” is wearing in the book are the clothes he wore on-and-off for about two years, from the time he was about four to around six.  Any time we were in Wyoming, he wore only those clothes, every day.  It was a little bit of a laundry challenge.

TSB: This is your third book, although your first for children. Where does your writing passion lie—in books for “grownups” or a younger readership?

DL: If I have a writing passion it lies entirely with the idea that is compelling me at the time.  I don’t look for ideas or plan for books, I wait until something strikes me, and if the idea survives and continues to occupy my thoughts and develop in my mind, then maybe it will be a book.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

DL: Generally, I like sturdy little horses like Quarter Horses and Connemaras.  I notice that the older I get, the littler I like my horses!  I’m currently on a Haflinger kick, so that’s what I would have on a desert island.

For a book, I would choose Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton to remind me of New England’s bleak winters and Spartan people.

Honey Pooh (aka "Thunder") in the Wymont Ranch main house.

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

DL: Olives

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

DL: Riding on a beautiful September day.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

DL: I have no memory of my first time sitting on a horse and I have a pretty good memory, so I must have been young.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

DL: I remember falling off a pony when I was about three years old.  I was in Vermont headed up a hill, riding double with our babysitter, Gloria.  I don’t remember what happened, but I do remember the shock of being on the horse and then on the ground in an instant. Gloria was a fantastic horsewoman and she was from Sheridan, Wyoming.  I think my interest in the West must have started with Gloria.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

DL: Honesty.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

DL: Honesty.

"Thunder" and "Tex" in the kitchen...

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

DL: I would love to ride an upper level dressage horse.  I dream of it!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

DL: A big, loud meal with my family.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

DL: I love horses and I love the West, but for a vacation, nothing beats the beach.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

DL: This is a question I can only answer if I feel I can answer it differently tomorrow.  One person just isn’t enough!

Today, I would say Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason was an important nineteenth century English educator. She had fascinating and wonderful ideas about educating young children and how to spark the imagination in the realm of history and literature.  Imagination is entirely essential and I don’t think we as a culture give nearly enough attention to its development, nor to its importance.

 

TEX, the New Children’s Book by Dorie McCullough Lawson, Gets Great Review in PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

It isn’t every book that earns a review in PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, the the international news website and print magazine of book publishing and bookselling, but Dorie McCullough Lawson’s charming new children’s book TEX has done it, and done it well.

Here’s what PW had to say:

“Certain childhood dreams are elemental—growing up to be a firefighter, a ballerina, or a cowboy—and adult author Lawson, in her first children’s book, taps into that third option with a photographic ode to a boy’s imagined life on the ranch. Lawson begins by introducing readers to Luke (her son), who first appears in grayscale photos. ‘He lives in a house near the ocean…. But Luke imagines he is… Tex.’ Color photographs, on the right side of each spread, portray Tex as one serious cowpoke, wearing a jean shirt, boots, and a black brimmed hat against an expansive landscape of mountains and ‘wide open spaces.’ Spare prose plays into the taciturn image of a cowboy on the job (‘All day long Tex works hard. He rides. He irrigates. He checks fence’), and even with her son in the starring role, Lawson avoids both cutesiness and the feel of a vanity project, focusing on the simple pleasures of hard work and a job well done. The seriousness with which the book takes Tex’s role on the ranch validates children’s dreams and ambitions. Ages 3–5.”

Dorie, wife of renowned painter T. Allen Lawson and daughter of two-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian David McCullough, will also appear at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, in late September. Watch the TSB website for details regarding her appearance there, including reading and signing times.

TSB recently traveled to Wyoming and visited the Wymont Ranch outside of Sheridan, where the book TEX is set. You can read more about it on our TSB Riding Adventures blog (click HERE).

Watch for TEX in your local bookstore in October, 2011, or preorder your copy now at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.