“The West is a region of extraordinary variety within its abiding unity, and of an iron immutability beneath its surface of change.”

–Wallace Stegner in “Living Dry”

This winter, explore the resources and programs of The Community Library to deepen your sense of place.

In the winter of 1955, seventeen women in Ketchum and Sun Valley joined together to create The Community Library, because they recognized that the vitality of a community depends not just on a spectacular physical landscape, but also on a vibrant intellectual landscape. Now, upon the Library’s 60th anniversary, we reflect on where we are, and it prompts us to think broadly about our place in the American West. We invite you to come explore your Library’s resources to deepen your sense of place in the heart of Idaho and the West.


Join a reading series focused on contemporary fiction of the American West. How is the West evoked in literature that has emerged since the year 2000? The Library’s executive director Jenny Emery Davidson, Ph.D., will lead the discussion of four short and compelling works to challenge how we understand the West: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and “Deeper Winter” by Alexander Maksik. The reading series is free and open to all, but advanced registration is required so that you can receive the syllabus ahead of time. To sign up, email Jenny at jdavidson@comlib.org.

Thursdays, January 22-February 12

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Regional History Department


Explore regional history through the museum’s premiere exhibit, Railroad Ties: Tracking the History of Sun Valley. The multimedia exhibit begins with the prehistory of central Idaho and moves through the mining and ranching eras to the development of Sun Valley as a destination resort. It gives special attention to the role of the railroad in the development of the area and presents a train display that engages children and adults alike.

SVMOHLogo2 copyLearn about how one of America’s most iconic literary figures, Ernest Hemingway, connected with the Idaho landscape. The exhibit Ernest Hemingway: At Home in Idaho explores the writer’s attraction to a small town on the verge of losing its western frontier character. It presents images and artifacts from Hemingway’s time in Ketchum as well as from his hunting and fishing activities in the Wood River Valley.

Exhibits open Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Peruse the vintage Union Pacific photographs and old news clippings to get a unique glimpse of Sun Valley in its earliest stages. You also can see special ephemera from Ernest Hemingway’s time in Sun Valley, including the drink tabs from the Duchin Room and books he inscribed to local residents. Make an appointment with librarian Mary Tyson (mtyson@comlib.org) for a casual tour, or drop in and explore on your own.


Explore the Oregon Trail through a creative display that follows the path of the main character in the children’s book How I Survived the Oregon Trail: The Journal of Jesse Adams.

Come watch the movie Locomotive and participate in a fun train activity! The 30-minute movie is based on the 2014 Caldecott-wining book Locomotive by Brian Floca. The story follows a train ride on the Transcontinental Railroad as it moves west across the country. Along the way, it describes the train and the train workers, and it highlights famous landmarks.

4:00 p.m.              Monday, January 26

4:00 p.m.              Wednesday, February 11th

4:00 p.m.              Thursday, February 26th

Check out a table display of children’s books about the West!


Teens in grades 6-12 can post selfies that highlight western places and activities. We’re looking for photos that capture the spirit of today’s West!


GoldMineLogoBrowse a table of special bargains on western items. You might strike gold (and you’ll be supporting the Library at the same time!)


Check out our top 25 favorite books about the American West.

Then, add your own!

What is your favorite book about the West? Share your recommendations by adding a review to The Community Library’s online catalog:

  1. Go to the Library’s website: comlib.org.
  2. Click on the catalog “go” button in the upper right corner of the home page.
  3. Click on the “log in” link in the upper right corner of the catalog page.
  4. Login with your Library username and password.
  5. Search for the book you would like to review.
  6. Click on the item, then click “review” on the left side.
  7. Click “add new review” in the middle of the screen.
  8. Enter your review – just a few words, or a longer response; it’s up to you!

25 Favorite Books of the American West

brought to you by The Community Library staff

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Good Times Are All Gone Now by Julie Weston

Hole in the Sky by William Kittredge

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark

The Meadow by James Galvin

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Red Water by Judith Freeman

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

Riding the White Horse Home by Teresa Jordan

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

This House of Sky by Ivan Doig

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Traplines by John Rember

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West by Mary Hallock Foote

Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner

Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean

. . . . and there are so many more!


What’s YOUR favorite book or film about the West?

We invite you to write an online review to share with our Library community. Each participant will receive a free ticket to the Sun Valley Museum of History and be entered in a drawing for $25 Gold Mine gift certificates.

© The Community Library Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved | The Community Library is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization | Federal Tax ID 82-0290944