Reading about Alaska

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Reading about Alaska

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joulukuu 9, 2006, 10:12am

Alaska will be my next state. Please make fiction and nonfiction recommendations for books about this state. Thanks!

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 9, 2006, 11:51am

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

Here's a review from Books in Review (

Its central figure, a recent college graduate named Chris McCandless, is spiritually ill at ease in his well-to-do East Coast bourgeois home and strikes out on his own, impelled by a need to make a new life for himself.

Determined to live authentically on the edge, he makes his way to Alaska where, provisioned with ten pounds of rice and a collection of his favorite paperbacks, he establishes himself north of Mt. McKinley in an abandoned Fairbanks city bus and proceeds to live off the land, supplementing his rice with moose meat, small game, and berries.

Young adult:
Touching Spirit Bear, which is a YA novel I love.

A brief review (with spoilers cut) from Mikaelsens' website:

Within Cole Matthews lies anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Peter Driscal in the parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Peter may have permanent brain damage÷and Cole is in the biggest trouble of his life.

Cole is offered Circle Justice: a system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim, and the community. With prison as his only alternative, Cole plays along. He says he wants to repent, but in his heart, Cole blames his alcoholic mom, his abusive dad, wimpy Peter÷everyone but himself÷for his situation.

Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 9, 2006, 1:01pm


Didn't the dude from Into the Wild die out in the wilds? Or was it another guy who wanted to get away from it all and failed miserably?

joulukuu 9, 2006, 12:07pm

Call of the Wild, White Fang, and To Build A Fire are all set in Alaska, IIRC. I always felt very cold and shivery reading Jack London. :)

joulukuu 9, 2006, 12:19pm

Yup, Morphidae. It was in the review, but I cut it, in case someone was mad about it being a spoiler. I think the book jacket itself talks about how he dies in the wilderness, so it isn't too much of a spoiler.

I really enjoyed reading the book and have re-read it several times.

joulukuu 9, 2006, 12:34pm

Julie of the Wolves - YA fiction.

joulukuu 9, 2006, 1:01pm

Er, oops? I'll mark spoiler just in case.

joulukuu 9, 2006, 1:06pm

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Every review has the spoiler, and the cover of the book itself mentions the ending.

joulukuu 9, 2006, 2:40pm

It's not really a spoiler in this case as Krakauer himself already mentions it in the foreword. In about the fifth sentence.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 9, 2006, 4:46pm

Oh, and obviously Alaska by Michener is set in Alaska.

Edited to add: The Seal Wife by Kathryn Harrison. I should have looked at my Alaska tags first :-)

joulukuu 9, 2006, 6:07pm

Haven't read it in a long time, but I loved John McPhee's Coming into the Country (nonfiction).

joulukuu 9, 2006, 9:43pm

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende.

13alb318 Ensimmäinen viesti
joulukuu 9, 2006, 11:05pm

Two great non-fiction books: One is Alaska Blues - written in 1977 about fishing the Inside Passage and Coming Back Alive a book recounting rescue attempts of the fishermen when they get in trouble...

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 12, 2006, 9:36pm

Mrs. Mike is a great older book about a couple who lives in Alaska.

joulukuu 12, 2006, 10:50pm

There's Robert W. Service's poetry. When I visited Alaska (long ago), shows featuring enactments or readings of Service poems were popular, and one could have drinks in the Malamute Saloon at Cripple Creek.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 17, 2006, 11:06am

I'm having a difficult time deciding on books for Alaska.

For fiction, I'm considering Alaska, White Fang, Julie of the Wolves and Mrs. Mike. I can't seem to decide on one or even two!

I have the opposite issue with non-fiction. The only two that interest me each have a negative. Coming into the Country is supposedly dated and Into the Wild is about someone who I think did something very stupid.

Anyone have some additional non-fiction ideas?

(Edited to fix the touchstones

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 18, 2006, 9:24am

Morphidae - I love your challenge. I'm too slow a reader to try anything like this. But, it's fun to place books by the location they evoke, and it's so cool to see all the other suggestions that come up.

into the wild is a fascinating story, and it's a success as a book because it goes beyond the news headline (depressing stupid fatal misake) and explores the emotional, philophical and psychological reasons behind why the subject did what he did. It explores how many others have, or almost have, followed his path, and how some wish they would. There are peolple jealous of him. What is depressing is that he failed while coming so close to surviving it. Of course, had he survived there would be no book.

If your looking for a nonfiction discussion of Alaska, it's history, culture, wildlife, or whatever, then this isn't your book. But, if your looking for something you can't put down and that will stay with you, then this might be it.

edited for a couple typo's

tammikuu 16, 2007, 10:11am

I've ordered Alaska by Michener and Coming into the Country by McPhee from the library.


helmikuu 23, 2007, 7:35pm

I'm surprised the I'm the only one on LT with Bear man of Admiralty Island. Biography of an almost stereotypical Alaska-type hermit, who lived alone in a small cabin on Admiralty Island in the southeast for almost 40 years, trapping, bear hunting, etc. & rowing a small boat 80 miles into Juneau twice a year to get his mail.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 1:27am

I've only just discovered this topic and it seems a year has gone by since anyone posted here. I am fascinated by the chilly north - have never been any further north than York, in England, and I live in the southern hemisphere now. It is exciting to see so many recommended books about Alaska - thank you all. My initial interest in the state was piqued by a book I've recently read:

tammikuu 27, 2008, 1:30am

something weird is happening here! The book is Race across Alaska by Libby Riddles and Tim Jones. It's an account of the Iditarod race from the point of view of the first woman to win that race. Engrossing.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 6:19am

For anyone interested in the gold rush era, I would highly recommend: Klondike: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush by Pierre Berton. This was also published under the title Klondike Fever.

helmikuu 10, 2008, 11:25pm

I enjoy almost anything by Dana Stabenow, fictional glimpses of living in rural Alaska and about Alaska Native values.

My legislator has written several books, Mike Doogan.

I also love Libby Riddles, and she wrote a cute children's book called "Danger: The Dog Yard Cat" a big favorite of my kid's and now their kids.

Heather Lende as recommended in #12 above is probably the best picture of my Alaskan perspective, even though I live in Anchorage, the biggest city, still just several neighborhoods close together.

My opinion - forget the goofy "Into the Wild" and that dumb guy that got eaten by a bear, really folks, we aren't like that. Any questions, we'd love to see you up here for a visit (smile).

Happy reading,

huhtikuu 15, 2010, 11:49am

I don't know if anyone still reads this topic, but I am now - since I just found the Library Thing and started "Reading the States" challenge. If anyone needs a recommendation for Alaska, I suggest Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches by Jill Fredston. Read this book awhile ago and still have vivid mental images when I think of it. Amazing!

huhtikuu 15, 2010, 5:50pm

>24 -Cee-: bahzah

Snowstruck sounds interesting. I know nothing about avalanches except that they are very powerful and should be avoided at all costs. Since I last posted here I have read Cold Hands Warm Heart by Jeff King which I found not nearly as interesting as Race Across Alaska by Libby Riddles and Tim Jones. Jeff King's book seemed rather dull to me: Interesting facts but a bit lifeless. Riddles and Jones gave me the facts and told a better story.

huhtikuu 4, 2012, 2:55pm

Here's a list of lots of fiction and nonfiction for Alaska...