Book Report: The Beautiful and Enduring Ozarks by Leland Payton (1999)

Book coverTo be honest, gentle reader, this volume does not slot into the 2024 Winter Reading Challenge. However, after Lolita, I only had the LGTBQ+ Character and Library/Bookstore Settings, and the book that I found with a LGBTQ+ character promised to also be seedy, so I browsed through this collection of Ozarks text and photos as a bit of a break. It only took a couple of hours, but it was a nice respite.

I picked it up on the church’s Free Book cart, which has expanded from being but a way for the church to dump old theology and Christian books out of its library and more into a Little Free Library for members. I myself have left duplicate copies of The Greek Life, Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far), and a fat collection of Shakespeare, and Todd Parnell’s Privilege and Privation which I apparently bought at library book sales two years in a row. If I spot a book that looks interesting–such as The Making of the Old Testament–I will note it one week, and if it’s still on the cart the next week, I will snag it. Except this book. I think I grabbed it on first sight.

So, it’s about 80 pages of photos and text, a little about the history of the Ozarks, but pretty broad in scope, talking about the Scotch-Irish settlers, the Osage Indians, and the transition of the hill men to hillbillies in popular thought. So, basically, a paean to the place and the people and their continued independence and leave-us-alone attitude.

So pleasant little vacation from seamy Serious Fiction on a list guided by librarians out to broaden my horizons.

In doing a quick Internet search as “research” for this book report, I discovered that Leland is still around 25 years later and still producing books like this available at

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