Fifty Years of Great Alaskan Books

Alaska turned fifty on Saturday. In Anchorage we celebrated in style, including the lighting of a cauldron that recalled the Tlingit-Haida myth of how Raven brought light to the world. We also enjoyed the best fireworks display ever in Alaska – in fact, the best I’ve experienced anywhere.

All of which inspired me to gather the great books of the North that I hope to read in 2009. Most, but not all, are Alaskan, and most, but not all, are by Alaskan authors. I put together a Shelfari sidebar so you can click on titles and read full descriptions, but here’s the short list, in no particular order:

Away by Amy Bloom
Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie
The Island Within by Richard Nelson
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
A Land Gone Lonesome by Dan O’Neill
Icefields by Thomas Wharton
Forever on the Mountain by Jason Tabor
Alaska: An American Colony by Stephen Haycox
Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban
Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas

Watch for Andromeda to add to the shelf, or to add her own shelf. In the meantime, which books of the North made your “to read” list for 2009?

We have an ulterior motive for asking – we’re looking for our next book club selection. If you’re at all interested in reading along, take a couple of seconds for the Book Club Poll, also in the sidebar at right.

2 thoughts on “Fifty Years of Great Alaskan Books”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    You were brave to be out in the cold on Saturday, watching those fireworks! (I wimped out.) As for book lists, I have several Alaskan titles in my TBR title, but the one you reminded me about, which I otherwise would have forgotten, was O’Neill’s book which — for those unfamiliar with his work — is about a float down the Yukon River. O’Neill also wrote Firecracker Boys, about Project Chariot, and The Last Giant of Beringia, about the Bering Land Bridge. I haven’t read either one, though I’ve always intended to! Of these three, Firecracker Boys would be at the top of my list. Project Chariot was a foiled 1950s plan to use thermonuclear detonations to create a northwest Alaska harbor, and the effort to stop it helped start the environmental movement. What a great and mostly forgotten story.

  2. I did a reading with Dan several years ago and read Firecracker Boys shortly after. It’s fabulous.

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