Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dec Book Club - Education of a Wandering Man

Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L'Amour
December's book for the Blue Twig Studio book club was Education of a Wandering Man, an autobiography by Louis L'Amour. L'Amour is an interesting character and lived an interesting life. He dropped out of school at the age of 15, as he felt he could not learn what he needed to learn through the public school system. He started wandering the country and the globe, working various jobs, all while reading avidly to continue his education.

L'Amour always knew he wanted to write - as he was a storyteller. His early years of traveling, he worked various jobs like mining, being a hobo, being a seaman, along with other jobs, as well as fighting as a boxer to improve his education and to learn stories and backgrounds for stories he would later write. I found the stories he included of hobos interesting, as the original hobos in the 1920s and 30s were a far different man than today. Hobos in L'Amour's time were hard-working men traveling the country by catching the rails to work any job that needed to be done before traveling to the next job. L'Amour would stay in one location long enough to earn  money to travel to the next location, and have time to frequent local taverns, eateries, and other places men would gather to learn the local stories from the men who lived them. He also spent much time in local libraries and bookstores to continue reading. He read any book he could get his hands on, from popular stories, poetry, history, politics, economics, obscure titles and so on. He also wrote when he had time, but this was infrequent during his wandering years. This was all part of his education.

After moving his parents to Oklahoma, his life took a different direction and he started writing more, researching anything that interested him, which was mainly people - how they lived, what they did, their culture, and history, especially those on the frontier - any frontier - not necessarily the West, although he is most well-known for his stories of the Western frontier.  L'Amour also researched other successful writers to learn how to improve his writing. He submitted his writings from poetry, short stories, and novels to many publishers and magazines, not waiting to hear back before submitting another manuscript. He didn't take rejections personally, but as a tool to continue to improve his storytelling.

Even after L'Amour became a successful writer, he still strove to continue to improve his writing, doing his own research, reading, and building his library of books. He feels that anyone can get an education by reading. He kept a list of books he read, which is very extensive, as he read 100 or more books every year. He built a library collection of those books that most interested him, especially those that talked of man's history and people's cultures.

I have read several of L'Amour's books and enjoyed every single one. I have also enjoyed many of the movies that were created from his books.  One interesting tidbit I really found fascinating is that L'Amour was at Camp Hood, Texas for training for WWII at the same time my father was at Camp Hood, Texas doing his infantry training for WWII. That helped put L'Amour's life in more perspective for me, realizing that he and my father are of the same generation.

I admire L'Amour's artistry as a writer. He persevered through many rejections, he continually strove to improve, and he never stopped learning. I think these are qualities that any artist would do well to model - learn from other successful artists, never stop learning about our chosen area of art, keep improving, and continually submit work for shows or publications, in spite of any rejections.

I think this was a book worth reading and would recommend it to others. Also, I would like to read some of the books included in L'Amour's list of books he read.

Next month's book is Frida: a biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera.

Keep creating!
Happy New Year!!


  1. A great review of the book. I really enjoyed it and was amazed at the list of books he kept. I wish I had done that from the beginning. I don't read nearly as much as he does, but I do read a lot and it would be interesting to have a list of everything I have ever read. I've already started the Frida book and it is very engaging. She was a contemporary of Louis L'Amour but there lives were vastly different.

    1. I also wish I'd kept a list. I recently started a list of my favorite books and art/quilting reference books I really like. But should do all the books I read, since I read so much. (But not as much as L'Amour did!). I've also started the Frida book. Hard to believe she and L'Amour were contemporaries - they seem to be from whole different worlds!