New and Old, These are Alaska Books You Need!
For some, Alaska books are a way to step back in time and experience a bit of what the early Pioneers did. For others, taking a break from reality and connecting to another culture is what they’re looking for. Alaska books also offer a way to hear about the extreme peril that many Alaskans have found themselves in, which often celebrates human triumph over great adversity. Whatever style of adventure you’re looking for, these Alaska books are sure to please! Get to reading!
As far as Alaska books go, this is often the first to roll off someones list when prompted with ‘What do you recommend?’ This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke’s journals and with firsthand knowledge of his subject and the setting, Sam Keith has woven a tribute to a man who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond.
To live in a pristine land unchanged by man . . . to roam a wilderness through which few other humans has passed . . . to choose an idyllic site, cut trees by hand, and build a log cabin. . . to be a self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials available…to be not at odds with the world, but content with one’s own thoughts, dreams and company.
Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. This book is a moving account of the day-to-day explorations and activities Dick carried out alone….alone in the wilderness…and the constant chain of nature’s events that kept him company.
Between 1915 and 1955 adventure-seeking Frank Glaser, a latter-day Far North Mountain Man, trekked across wilderness Alaska on foot, by wolf-dog team, and eventually, by airplane.
In his career he was a market hunter, trapper, roadhouse owner, professional dog team musher, and federal predator agent. A naturalist at heart, he learned from personal observation the life secrets of moose, caribou, foxes, wolverines, mountain sheep, grizzly bears, and wolves—especially wolves.
In 1921, four men and one woman ventured deep into the Arctic. Two years later, only one returned.
When 23-year-old Inuit Ada Blackjack signed on as a seamstress for a top-secret Arctic expedition, her goal was simple: earn money and find a husband. But her terrifying experiences–both in the wild and back in civilization–comprise one of the most amazing untold adventures of the 20th century. Based on a wealth of unpublished materials, including Ada’s never-before-seen diaries, bestselling author Jennifer Niven narrates this true story of an unheralded woman who became an unlikely hero.
Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine.
Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness “speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness, and wisdom” (Ursula K. Le Guin)
A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.
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.
Author Corey Ford writes the classic and moving story of naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who served on the 1741-42 Russian Alaska expedition with explorer Vitus Bering.
Steller was one of Europe’s foremost naturalists and the first to document the unique wildlife of the Alaskan coast. In the course of the voyage, Steller made his valuable discoveries and suffered, along with Bering and the crew of the ill-fated brig St. Peter, some of the most grueling experiences in the history of Arctic exploration.
North To Danger is an exciting account of hazardous enterprises and exploits based in Alaska and all the adventure this country has to offer-from Kodiak bears to killer whales-experienced by Virgil Burford as told to Walt Morey.
In his dramatic autobiography, Alaskan elder Sidney Huntington, half-white, half-Athabascan, recounts his adventures, tragedies, and ultimate success. This is one of the Alaska books that tells the harrowing adventures and tragedies of growing up in interior Alaska.
This enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates.
In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes from her heart about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie
The Call of the Wild, considered by many London’s greatest novel, is a gripping tale of a heroic dog that, thrust into the brutal life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in man’s world and returning to nature.
Adventure and dog-story enthusiasts as well as students and devotees of American literature will find this classic work a thrilling, memorable reading experience. Not just a classic for Alaska books, but literature in general!
This is the story of Bob Reeve, Alaska’s first, most daring and most accomplished bush pilot. In 1932 he arrived in Valdez with no money, no plane and ill health. He soon made a career of doing the kind of flying that no one else wanted to do and earned the description of the the greatest rough-terrain pilot of our continent.
He developed a successful commercial airline operating in the worst weather in the world along the fog-shrouded Aleutian chain, perfected the art of landing on glaciers, and engineered special devices for his plane that enabled him to achieve unheard-of performance at high altitudes.
Anne Hobbs was only nineteen in 1927 when she came to harsh and beautiful Alaska.
Running a ramshackle schoolhouse would expose her to more than just the elements. After she allowed Native American children into her class and fell in love with a half-Inuit man, she would learn the meanings of prejudice and perseverance, irrational hatred and unconditional love. “People get as mean as the weather,” she discovered, but they were also capable of great good.
This Alaska adventure book is begins with 18 year old Slim Williams whose adventures span over 32 years in the the frozen wilderness.
Slim is no legendary Paul Bunyan, but a real-life adventurer who will have you chuckling at some of his remembrances, and feel your spine tingle at others in this, his story, told by a fellow Northland adventurer and a writer of note, Richard Morenus.
If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to face the icy breath of death alone in a frozen stillness so intense the cold-exploding trees pop like guns–or sharing your cabin with a hibernating bear–or see your dog team fight a whirlpool of snow–or crossbreed the dogs with wolves to get a superior team–you’ll know what it’s like as you read this book about Slim. A fascinating read!
His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Thus, Jimmy Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. Huntington is only seven when his mother dies, and he must care for his younger siblings. A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls too numerous to mention, and becomes a championship sled-dog racer. Put this on your ‘Alaska books to read’ list!
In this sweeping epic of the northernmost American frontier, James A. Michener guides us through Alaska’s fierce terrain and history, from the long-forgotten past to the bustling present. As his characters struggle for survival, Michener weaves together the exciting high points of Alaska’s story: its brutal origins; the American acquisition; the gold rush; the tremendous growth and exploitation of the salmon industry; the arduous construction of the Alcan Highway, undertaken to defend the territory during World War II. A spellbinding portrait of a human community fighting to establish its place in the world, Alaska traces a bold and majestic saga of the enduring spirit of a land and its people.
The rigors of nature, the excitement of the stalk, and the total thrill of the hunt are recorded in this book written by one who has experienced many hunts with Bill Pinnell and Morris Talifson. This is one of the Alaska books that is filled with not just tales of simply killing huge brown bear, but contain the very essence of outdoor life as Pinnell and Talifson have known it over half a century.
John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as the new teachers in a Yup’ik Eskimo village on the Alaskan tundra. Lured north in search of adventure, the couple hope to immerse themselves in the ancient Arctic culture. But their move proves disastrous when a deadly epidemic strikes and the isolated tundra community descends into total chaos.
When outside help fails to arrive, John’s only hope lies in escaping. His thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness grows more improbable when he encounters a blind Eskimo girl and an elderly woman. The two need his protection from those who would harm them, and he needs their knowledge of the terrain and their companionship to survive. The harsh journey and constant danger push him beyond his limits as he discovers a new sense of hope and the possibility of loving again.
In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, Kim Heacox, writing in the tradition of Abbey, McPhee, and Thoreau, discovers an Alaska reborn from beneath a massive glacier, where flowers emerge from boulders, moose swim fjords, and bears cross crevasses with Homeric resolve. In such a place Heacox finds that people are reborn too, and their lives begin anew with incredible journeys, epiphanies, and successes. All in an America free of crass commercialism and overdevelopment.
From Alaska books Amazon reviewer Lyle Olsen:
When a native teacher’s aide handed me Alone in My Kayak one day after school, I accepted it gladly, expecting to learn more about native culture here in the Alaskan bush.
What I didn’t expect was account after account of North country miracles, genuine, unquestionable examples of God responding to the deep love and faith of one of His Children, a full-blood Eskimo named Patkotak. This book earned a place of honor on my bookshelf. Patkotak will remain an inspiration and I’ll delight in sharing his stories of miracles in the Far North.
A quick example: prayer opens a 70+ mile long lead (open water crack in pack ice) from where a hunting party was trapped by unusually early ice to their village and the lead is exactly wide enough for the umiak and remains open until they reach home!
Looking for Alaska is Peter’s account of eighteen months spent traveling over twenty thousand miles in tiny bush planes, on snow machines and snowshoes, in fishing boats and kayaks, on the Alaska Marine Highway and the Haul Road, searching for what defines Alaska. Hearing the amazing stories of many real Alaskans–from Barrow to Craig, Seward to Deering, and everywhere in between–Peter gets to know this place in the way that only he can. His resulting portrait is a rare and unforgettable depiction of a dangerous and beautiful land and all the people that call it home.
When a deadly diphtheria epidemic swept through Nome, Alaska, in 1925, the local doctor knew that without a fresh batch of antitoxin, his patients would die.
The lifesaving serum was a thousand miles away, the port was icebound, and planes couldn’t fly in blizzard conditions―only the dogs could make it. The heroic dash of dog teams across the Alaskan wilderness to Nome inspired the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and immortalized Balto, the lead dog of the last team whose bronze statue still stands in New York City’s Central Park.
This is the greatest dog story, never fully told until now.
Picture this: World War II has just ended and Dad decides to move the family to the wilds of Alaska. Hmm. Could be fun; could be a nightmare. The author of this book, Wayne Short, discovered what challenge really means when his mom and dad moved Wayne and his two brothers to the wilderness of Surprise Harbor at the tip of Admiralty Island.
Alaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. A story of a family in crisis struggling to survive at the edge of the world, it is also a story of young and enduring love.
Cora Allbright and her husband Ernt, a recently-returned Vietnam veteran scarred by the war, uproot their thirteen year old daughter Leni to start a new life in Alaska.
Utterly unprepared for the weather and the isolation, but welcomed by the close-knit community, they fight to build a home in this harsh, beautiful wilderness. At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America
At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike.
From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.
Follow a young couple as they spend the summer traveling the “mighty Yukon.” Stories of adventure, romance, and history combine with breathtaking photos to give us a very personal view of one of the last and greatest wild, unspoiled rivers in North America.
Tiny Haines, Alaska, is ninety miles north of Juneau, accessible mainly by water or air–and only when the weather is good.
There’s no traffic light and no mail delivery; people can vanish without a trace and funerals are a community affair. Heather Lende posts both the obituaries and the social column for her local newspaper. If anyone knows the going-on in this close-knit town–from births to weddings to funerals–she does.
We meet her husband, Chip, who owns the local lumber yard; their five children; and a colorful assortment of quirky friends and neighbors, including aging hippies, salty fishermen, native Tlingit Indians, and volunteer undertakers–as well as the moose, eagles, sea lions, and bears with whom they share this wild and perilous land.
Heather Lende adds this to the list of Alaska books to read as she gives a take on her offbeat Alaskan hometown celebrating life in a dangerous and breathtakingly beautiful place.
Alaska Bear Tales is a best-selling collection of edge-of-your-seat accounts of true-life encounters with bears in Alaska. As far as Alaska books go, this one has the potential to make your hair stand on end!
Don Sheldon has been called ‘Alaska’s bush pilot among bush pilots’, but he was also just one man in a fragile airplane who, in the end, was solely responsible for each mission he flew, be it a high-risk landing, to the rescue of others from certain death in the mountains of Alaska or the routine delivery of supplies to a lonely homesteader.
Read James Greiner’s Wager with the Wind to learn how a hero was born, and also how he made his courageous journey to the unknown skies of dealing with cancer. This is one of the Alaska books not to be ignored!
One of the timeless Alaska books, this classic tale documents the dramatic near-death experiences in the harshest of conditions during the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley
Highliners are the elite of the fishing world, the skippers and crews who make the biggest catches—salmon, king crab, halibut, shrimp—and deliver them first to the bustling canneries of Kodiak and Dutch Harbor.
For these men—and for their women—the safe eight-hour day does not exist. It never will. Some fishermen get rich, many die broke.
But they find a special joy in their work that can never be matched by the easier world of the landsman. No matter how great the hardship or how bad the storm, the highliners put out to sea in their primitive battle against the elements.
Winds of Skilak is one of the Alaska books that traces a young couple’s adventurous move from the suburbs of Ohio to a remote island on ill-tempered Skilak Lake.
As Sam and Bonnie adapt to a life without running water, electricity and telephones, the unforgiving, desolate environment tests their courage early on. Facing sub-freezing temperatures, unfriendly bears, and cabin fever, the Wards find strength in new friends, each other, and the awe-inspiring beauty of “the last frontier.”
Just when they finally settle in, a freak accident proves to be the ultimate test of their resolve. Will they be able to survive in this isolated wilderness filled with unseen dangers?
Join Rozell, a science writer at the University of Alaska- Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and Jane, his chocolate Labrador, as they walk 800 miles across Alaska along the trans-Alaska pipeline, beginning at Valdez and ending up at Prudhoe on the Arctic Ocean.
While not an exhaustive list of excellent Alaska books, this list will surely help you get lost in a new page-turner. Get a few new Alaska books today!