Book Club – Education of a Wandering Man

29 Dec

We met for book club this week and had a lively discussion about our book of the month – The Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour. This book came highly recommended for our book club group.

Education of a Wandering Man

Education of a Wandering Man

We often forget that writing is an art form also, so a memoir from a writer is certainly a book we could gain insight from. I must say that the book was not what I expected.

I really have very little knowledge of Louis L’Amour. I only know him as a western novelist. I remember my grandfather always reading westerns and Louis L’Amour was one of the authors that he liked. I may have read one or two of these myself as I tended to read anything that was available to me when I was younger, and certainly these were available, but I don’t really recall that I did.

Our book club members felt like he reminded them of their grandfathers – perhaps because they were from the same era, or perhaps because they led very similar lives, with similar experiences. It was also noted that reading was a much more common activity in the time when there wasn’t television or computers or facebook, etc. Reading was a regular entertainment activity for most people. While many of us still read a lot, it isn’t at nearly the volume as it used to be, and many people don’t read books at all (gasp!).

I found the memoir quite entertaining. Mr. L’Amour led a very exciting life, traveling all over the world, having a variety of jobs when he was younger (he dropped out of school at age 15), meeting and visiting with the most interesting people, and my favorite thing was that he read so much! And he kept very good notes about what he read over his lifetime. It is an astonishing list, and full of variety – everything from mysteries to poetry to plays to textbooks and historical books. He read what interested him and what he wanted to know more about, but he also just read whatever was available to him.

It was simply amazing to me the amount of reading he did. But his purpose was always to keep learning and I like that about him. He was very well read, and loved finding obscure books to read as well as those that were popular. He built his own library to include many of the books he read over his lifetime. He always wanted to learn more about the world and especially about people. He was very interested in learning how people lived and thought and worked and played across various cultures. That he wrote primarily western novels was just how it worked out for him. He could just as easily have been a successful writer of a completely different genre.

He loved researching and he loved writing. He always seemed to know that he would write someday. It was always his goal to become a writer and he kept working at it until he was successful. He wrote often and he researched a lot so he knew what he was writing about, and he read other successful writers so he could see what they were doing that made them successful. It was all about practicing and learning and practicing some more until he got it right. He submitted 100’s and 100’s of manuscripts and short stories and poetry to various publishers. He didn’t submit one thing and then wait to hear from them. He kept submitting and submitting and working and writing and submitting some more until he eventually started getting accepted into publications. This improved his writing skills, but also he never took the rejections personally. He used them as a learning tool.

How can we take what we learned from this book and apply it to our own artistic and creative journey?

  • we should just keep doing what we are doing – and we will improve with the doing!
  • it’s OK to study what others are doing and learn from them.
  • research is good.
  • ask lots of questions.
  • quantity will improve your quality!
  • there is always a learning curve.
  • experiences and conversations are valuable to your work.
  • don’t give up!

This memoir was published after his death, so I imagine there were many more stories that he might have included if he was still alive and working on the book. But the stories he tells and his thoughts about work and politics and love and people are quite interesting. I recommend the book.

Our next book club book is “Frida: a biography of Frida Kahlo” by Hayden Herrera. Frida Kahlo was a contemporary of Louis L’Amour but their stories and their lives are so vastly different that you wouldn’t know it. It will be a great book club topic next month.


Let Your Inner Artist Out To Play

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5 Responses to “Book Club – Education of a Wandering Man”

  1. joyofartstudio December 29, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    What will be the next book? I am going to try to join in this time. the holiday and illness set me back Joy


    • Deb Prewitt December 29, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

      The next book if “Frida: a biography of Frida Kahlo” by Hayden Herrera.


  2. lynnk50 December 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    I enjoyed your write-up. Wish I could join the live discussion, but will have to do with writing up my thoughts online in my blog. I enjoyed the book – L’Amour was definitely an interesting character and lived an interesting life. I enjoy his books and the movies based on his books. I agree with your assessment of things we can learn about our own artwork from L’Amour. My write up is at


    • Deb Prewitt January 1, 2015 at 8:47 am #

      Your write-up is great. On-line discussions are still good. 🙂


  3. Human Relationships January 7, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Reblogged this on Human Relationships.


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