WRC 2020: PNW Author or Setting

This list contains books set in the Pacific Northwest, written by someone living in the Pacific Northwest and books that meet both those criteria. Who some of are your favorite Pacific Northwest authors?

  • Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander – After catching her husband cheating on her, craft-brew expert Sloan Krause leaves the family business to work for a hip, new nano-brewery, only to discover a competitor dead in the fermenting tub, clutching a secret recipe. Set in Leavenworth.
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown – Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories by Raymond Carver – In his second collection, Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated and beloved short-story writers in American literature—a haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and finding one’s way through the dark.
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin – At the turn of the twentieth century in the Pacific Northwest, reclusive orchardist William Talmadge tends to his apples and apricots. One day, two teenaged girls steal his fruit and later return to his orchard to see the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and pregnant, they take up on Talmadge’s land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. But just as the girls begin to trust him, men arrive in the orchard with guns.
  • The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig – “Can’t cook but doesn’t bite.” So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an “A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition” that draws the hungry attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. And so begins the unforgettable season that deposits the noncooking, nonbiting, ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch-a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom.
  • Of Men and Mountains (The Classic Memoir of Wilderness Adventure) by William O. Douglas – When Bill Douglas was a child, he nearly died of infantile paralysis. To build back the strength in his wasted legs, he started hiking through the sage-covered foothills around his home in Yakima. The cure worked; and year by year he pushed his explorations further into the tangled, rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Of Men and Mountains is a book of personal adventure and discovery – an account of the way Douglas and other men managed to find a richer life in the mountains, and how they found something else besides. Its pages are filled with the stories of the sheepherders, Native Americans, fishermen, and foresters who learned to survive in the wilderness, to enjoy it, and to learn the secret of the true serenity of spirit.
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan – Edward Curtis was a famous photographer -the Annie Liebowitz of his time- and he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his great idea: he would try to capture on film to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared. Even with the backing of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, it took tremendous perseverance–six years alone to convince the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony.
  • East of the Mountains by David Guterson – A widowed doctor suffering from cancer takes a hunting trip, the real purpose of which is to commit suicide, which he will masquerade as an accident. But Dr. Ben Givens’ resolve is tested by several events which reaffirm the joy of living–he cheats death by fighting off wolves and helps a girl give birth. Soon to be made into a movie, filming took place, in part, in Ellensburg.
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan – Imagines the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who after meeting in late-19th-century rural France take refuge from their respective unhappy lives and embark on two shared decades of international turbulence.
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, Christopher McCandless walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people; a fearless risk-taker who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature. Based on a true story.
  • Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin – In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word in the poem. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes the reader to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.
  • The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh – Left behind when work requires her parents to return to Korea, a teen poet reconnects with family history to manage the impact of absent caregivers on her sense of self. (Releases in January.)
  • Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch – Roger Morgan, the promoter responsible for bringing the World’s Fair to Seattle in 1962, runs for mayor in 2001, right after the tech bubble bursts, while budding reporter Helen Gulanos probes his secretive past.
  • Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis – A lavishly detailed graphic novel partly inspired by the exile of Elizabeth I follows the banishment of a queen to a convent on a tiny coastal island, where her growing friendship with a mysterious young orphan leads to discoveries about the island’s sinister true purpose.
  • Consider This: Musings on Writing and the Writer’s Life by Chuck Palahniuk – In this spellbinding blend of memoir and insight, bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk shares stories and generous advice on what makes writing powerful and what makes for powerful writing. With advice grounded in years of careful study and a keenly observed life, Palahniuk combines practical advice and concrete examples from beloved classics, his own books, and a “kitchen-table MFA” culled from an evolving circle of beloved authors and artists, with anecdotes, postcards from the road, and much more. (Releases in early January)
  • Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl – What to read next is every book lover’s greatest dilemma. Nancy Pearl, famous Seattle librarian, comes to the rescue with this wide-ranging and fun guide to the best reading new and old; reading lists that cater to every mood, occasion, and personality.
  • The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote – This debut collection of stories, set in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, draws on indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life in the Americas.
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – During the test run of Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, the machine goes terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turns anyone who breathes it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Ezekiel, whose quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees.
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – Writing in a diary is Nao’s only solace, but it ends up being that not just for her; her diary will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, there is Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox–possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
  • Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins – This philosophical epic, with a large cast of characters, addresses the fervent desire of the human race to overcome the tyranny of aging and physical death.
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by  Maria Semple – Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she is a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she is a disgrace; to design mavens, she is a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.
  • Faker by Sarah Smith – Hiding her easygoing nature behind a tough-as-nails façade to get by in her male-dominated power-tool company, Emmie clashes with hostile co-worker Tate before a charity construction project helps them see each other differently.
  • A Sudden Light by Garth Stein – In the summer of 1990, 14-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. As he uncovers secrets of his family’s past that are hidden deep within the house, guided by the whisperings of a ghost, Trevor discovers a legacy of family trauma and terrible guilt.
  • Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan – When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – Looking to move on after her ex’s wedding, Lucy Muchelney accepts an offer from a countess to translate a French astronomy text. Neither of them expect to fall in love.
  • Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World by  Sally M. Walker, Douglas W. Owsley – Discusses the processes used by scientists to discern the identity of the Kennewick Man and what this nine thousand-year-old skeleton revealed about the arrival of humans in North America.
  • Citizen Vince by Jess Walter – Beginning his witness-protection job at a doughnut restaurant in Spokane, the week before the 1980 presidential election, small-time thief Vince Camden finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a local politician’s troubles that sends him careening cross country.
  • What Do You Do With an Idea? written by Kobi Yamada; illustrated by Mae Besom – This picture book is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens.

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