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17 Best Books Set in Alaska

Ever since Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express, books and trains have been inseparable. Reading is also a great way to learn the culture of the area you are travelling through. If you loved The Call of the Wild and James Michener’s Alaska, pick up these books set in Alaska before your Alaska rail tour:

Fiction

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION

Set in Sitka, Michael Chabon’s speculative history explores what might have happened if, in response to the Holocaust, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established in Alaska. Oh, and there’s a murder mystery too.

FLIGHT OF THE GOOSE

Ecology, Inupiat tradition, and war all come together in Lesley Thomas’s first book. This novel, set outside of Nome, is a story of the old world meeting the new.

THE FUGITIVE WIFE

Peter C. Brown’s unique period piece explores the gold rush dream of starting anew in Alaska from a woman’s point of view.

TWO OLD WOMEN: AN ALASKA LEGEND OF BETRAYAL, COURAGE AND SURVIVAL

This story of famine and survival is written by Velma Wallis. Based on a folktale Wallis’s Athabaskan mother told her, it offers a compelling insight into Native culture.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT: BEYOND BARROW

If thrillers are your favorite vacation reads, it’s hard to beat this graphic novel about the undead. The legendary illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz collaborated with Steve Niles on this sequel to 30 Days of Night. Not for the faint of heart.

THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED A BEAR

Written by a criminal investigator, this mystery is set in the darker parts of Sitka. John Straley’s writing has been compared to Ross MacDonald’s and Raymond Chandler’s. Hard to beat that.

AND SHE WAS

Cindy Dyson’s novel revolves around a secret held by the Aleut community for over two hundred years. Enter a thirty-one year old drifter who is following yet another boyfriend. Will she be the one to uncover the truth?

ORDINARY WOLVES

Seth Kantner’s novel about growing up in an igloo is not the polar bear frolic you might expect. Instead it offers a thoughtful juxtaposition between modern and traditional societies.

THE MAN WHO SWAM WITH BEAVERS

Nancy Lord used tribal legends as a jumping off point for this collection of stories about man’s interaction with nature.

RAVEN STOLE THE MOON

Garth Stein became a household name with The Art of Racing in the Rain. His debut novel told the very different story of a mother who seeks solace in the culture of her Tlingit grandmother after losing her young son.

JULIE OF THE WOLVES

Jean Craighead George’s Newberry Award winning novel follows a young Eskimo girl who loses her tribe and is adopted by a pack of wolves. A favorite for fourth grade reading lists, it is also enjoyable for adults.

THE CLOUD ATLAS

This novel, written by Liam Callanan, explores Alaska’s role in World War II through the eyes of a young soldier. Not to be confused with the David Mitchell novel and subsequent film, Cloud Atlas.

Nonfiction

WINTERDANCE: THE FINE MADNESS OF RUNNING THE IDITAROD

Gary Paulsen competed in the Iditarod twice. Reading this harrowing tale of his first race you will wonder what compelled him to face Mother Nature again.

INTO THE WILD

This cautionary tale follows Christopher McCandless’s journey to find the wilderness in himself. Jon Krakauer’s novel was later made into a movie by Sean Penn.

58 DEGREES NORTH: THE MYSTERIOUS SINKING OF THE ARCTIC ROSE

Hugo Kugiya investigates the tragic loss of a fishing trawler and the crew onboard. Recommended for fans of The Deadliest Catch.

Poetry

THE BEST OF ROBERT SERVICE

Generations of Americans can still recite lines from “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” but when was the last time you read the full poem? The rhythms are unbeatable.

CARTOGRAPHY OF WATER

Mike Burwell’s poetry describes the landscape of Alaska from bears to the aurora borealis in this exploration of the wilderness of man’s soul.

Did we miss any of your favorite books set in Alaska? What types of books do you like to read on (or in preparation for) vacation? Leave a note in the comments to help other readers.

 

See current Gray Line Alaska specials.

Posted in: About Alaska


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