Visiting Alaska? 5 Books to Read

by Janis on May 3, 2011

Visiting Alaska? Here are five books on our book shelves that we think are good background reading before you visit the state.

1. Are you visiting Alaska by a cruise ship?

 Fodor’s The Complete Guide to Alaska Cruises gives a good overview of Alaska cruise ports, and includes a detailed pullout map of Alaska.

2. Want to read about daily life in an Alaska small town? 

 If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska is Heather Lende’s offbeat chronicle of life in tiny Haines, Alaska. Lende, a contributer to NPR’s Morning Edition, writes obituaries among other things for the Haines Chilkat Valley News and is an award-winning columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.

3. Want to learn about Alaska politics during the pipeline era?

Tales of Alaska’s Bush Rat Governor: The Extraordinary Autobiography of Jay Hammond, Wilderness Guide and Reluctant Politicianis the entertaining autobiography of Jay Hammond, Governor of Alaska from 1974 to 1982.     

 4.  Hear a  Newspaper Publisher’s View of Alaska.
   Kay Fanning’s Alaska Story: Memoir of a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Newspaper Publisher on America’s Northern Frontier is the memoir of an ex-debutante of Chicago who headed north to Alaska in 1965 after her divorce from department store owner Marshall Fields. She became publisher of the Anchorage Daily News, turning it into Alaska’s leading newspaper.  Kay died in 2000 before her book was complete. Kay’s daughter Katherine Field Stephen finished the book along with an number of Alaska contributors, such as Senator Ted Stevens.

5. Have a hard time imagining romantic ballads about rugged gold miners?

Great Service: The Rugged and Romantic Poems of Robert Service is a book of poems and ballads written by Robert Service about the Yukon during the Gold Rush days in the early 1900s.  From “The Ballad of the Northern Lights” to the “The Trail of Ninety-Eight“, Robert Service transports you. “Gold! We leapt from our benches. Gold! We sprang from our stools…..”

These books are just a tiny taste of the characters and history that make Alaska today.

What is your favorite Alaska book? 

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