My lovely daughter, now a college graduate, is about to embark on a year-long service project in Juneau, Alaska. In her honor, let’s talk Alaska books. I’m putting together a list of books, fiction and non-fiction, that are set in Alaska and convey a bit of local flavor, drama, and adventure. Based purely on my own arbitrary set of rules, I’m leaving out travel guides (no Fodor’s or Frommer’s) and straight-up history; anything else goes.
Here’s what I have from my own personal library:
A couple that I’ve read:
Alaska by James Michener. Michener’s historical novels make good doorstops, but they really do provide an excellent overview of the history of a place, told in a way that’s both informative and engaging. An easy solution for those of us who always choose fiction over non-fiction.
If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende. A warm-hearted memoir of one woman’s experiences, both introspective and amusing.
A couple still on my to-read shelf:
Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness by Robert Specht and Anne Purdy. According to the blurb on Amazon: “Anne Hobbs is a prim and proper 19-year-old schoolteacher who yearns for adventure. She finds this and much more in a town with the unlikely name of Chicken, located deep in the Alaskan interior. It is 1927 and Chicken is a wild mining community flaming with gold fever. Anne quickly makes friends with many of the townspeople, but is soon ostracized when she not only befriends the local Indians but also falls in love with one.”
The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship, Tragedy, and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness by Lynn Schooler. Again from Amazon: “With a body twisted by adolescent scoliosis and memories of the brutal death of a woman he loved, Lynn Schooler kept the world at arm’s length, drifting through the wilds of Alaska as a commercial fisherman, outdoorsman, and wilderness guide. In 1990 Schooler met Japanese photographer Michio Hoshino and began a profound friendship forged by a love of adventure and cemented by their mutual obsession with finding the elusive glacier bear, an exceedingly rare creature, seldom seen and shrouded in legend. But it was only after Hoshino’s tragic death from a bear attack that Schooler succeeded in photographing the animal — and only then that he was able to complete his journey and find new meaning in his own life.”
Coming Into The Country by John McPhee. Amazon description: “Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.”
What else? Add your ideas and recommendations in the comments!