Top 6 Books About Alaska – Memoirs and Real Life Stories
It must be freezing out there… Is it dark all winter long? Does everyone have a snowmobile? There are lots of things we can imagine when we think about Alaska, and they are mostly related to misconceptions we see in movies.
Yes, it is, indeed, a cold place, but this is not everything. Alaska may not be for everyone, but it does have its own charm. It is a land of wild, love, and a deeper understanding of yourself.
I know, it may sound a bit cheesy, but as rough as it may seem, Alaska is also a place where you can rediscover yourself, explore a new vision and find a completely different world.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some of the best books about Alaska, as well as what you can expect in there. Nothing to worry about, there are no big spoilers, but just a few hints here and there.
What Are The Most Insightful Books on Alaska?
Life of an Alaskan Log Builder, by Greg Anderson (2022)
I am not sure whether this is a book about Alaska, a motivational book or a manual of finances… Or maybe all these things in one.
Greg Anderson is a log builder based in Alaska. His venture went a bit further than just log building, of course.
The story takes us around the USA. One moment we are in the rural side of Minnesota, the next moment we are in the middle of nowhere in Alaska.
The author explains why he kept going with his career in log building. It is not a memoir about log building. It is not one about Alaska either… Instead, it explains the opportunities in this industry in isolated parts of the country.
From some points of view, this book explains that there are lots of options and ideas to survive and go rich in a land that looks empty, only because there are so many things to do there.
No matter how you see this book, it also has a comprehensive Q&A section and lots of pictures, suitable for those who love Alaska, opportunities, and the log building industry.
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (2009)
This is one of the best books about Alaska if you like the wilderness of this land or perhaps the opportunities given by a simple life.
There is also a movie based on it, but the book is obviously much better, especially since it is based on a real story.
It all happened in the spring of 1992. Christopher Johnson McCandless came from a decent family, but he decided to choose a different lifestyle.
He donated his savings to charity, more than $25,000. He left everything he owned behind and burned all the leftover cash in his wallet, only to live a different lifestyle, a free lifestyle.
He left away his family and sister and simply vanished. He wanted a life that he did not have to pay for. People are the only beings that pay to live on this planet, and Christopher wanted something different.
Unfortunately, he was found dead four months later. The book explores his vision and how everything changed once he made the big decision.
It is not just a book about Alaska, but also a book about life and freedom. It will most likely give you a different perspective on life.
Blonde Indian, by Ernestine Hayes (2015)
This Alaska book is the memoir of an authentic Alaskan individual, but let me introduce you to it properly. This book is about returning to the source.
Bears return to forests once the spring starts. Salmon fish tend to return to freshwater as well. People do the same, if you think about it, you always feel like returning where you came from.
Well, this is what the book is about…
It is written in an eloquent way and brings in childhood memories from the Tlingit community. Time takes the author to living most of her life in Seattle and San Francisco, only to return to where she belongs.
A mixed race between Native Americans, Europeans, and Americans, Ernestine enjoys a unique experience from all cultures she belongs too.
She witnesses alcoholism, poverty, different lifestyles, and prejudice, but she also learns something new from every experience. This Alaska book is a document of culture, a testament, and an anecdote.
Fifty Miles from Tomorrow, by William L. Iġġiaġruk Hensley (2010)
This is one of those books about Alaska written in a native spirit. It is one of the most authentic experiences out there and will introduce the reader to a unique feeling, something you have never experienced before.
Now, if you think about it, around half a century ago, Alaska was not a state, but a territory no one really cared about. For the author, this territory was a prolific home and a place where everyone could find their identity in a unique manner.
Born by the Kotzebue Sound, just miles from the Arctic Circle, William was raised in a traditional way, something most of us will never be able to experience. He explored the nomadic way embraced by his Iñupiaq ancestors, basically, a lifestyle about continuous effort, a struggle and cold.
But at the same time, people living in such conditions will also experience a different bond with nature. This is a different type of lifestyle that makes you appreciate every little thing about who you truly are.
This is one of the most specific books about Alaska because it introduces you to what it really means growing up as a Native Alaskan.
Sure, there are lots of books about Alaska out there, but this one stands out because it is written by a native, rather than settlers.
Explore the tundra, see new perspectives and find out why the north was given more chance than the south in terms of native lifestyles. It might have been the cold or the unwelcoming environment, who knows?
Educated out of this harsh environment, the author returns to the origins and gives the Alaskan spirit a new voice.
81 Days Below Zero, by Brian Murphy (2015)
When we think about Alaska, we imagine cold and harsh places, lots of snow, and a difficult lifestyle. Things used to be pretty much the same back in World War II.
This story takes you back to one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, but it also describes the idea of surviving against all odds, the type of story that will hook you in from the first chapter.
It all started before Christmas, back in 1943. Five aviators left a local base from Alaska in order to try some planes and see how they work in severe winter conditions. It was a risk in the first place, of course.
The mission failed, and the plane crashed. Everyone died, apart from Leon Crane. Born in Philadelphia, Leon spent his entire life as a city boy with no experience whatsoever into the wild.
The survivor ended up in freezing weather conditions, with nothing but his parachute and a little knife. He knew that his chances to survive were minimal, pretty much what the authorities believed too. It took a while to search for the plane remains, with each day starting with less confidence.
With all these, the lucky survivor managed to survive the Yukon winter for almost three months and walked out of it without any serious damage.
This story is filled with suspense, drama, and action, but it also explores the effect of loneliness, and what extreme weather conditions can do to the human body, definitely a must read.
This Much Country, by Kristin Knight Pace (2019)
This is one of those books about Alaska that will take you through everything. At times, it feels like you actually live there. Some of the details are so specific and straightforward that I read the book like a personal journal.
Anyway, get ready to experience sadness, heartbreak, love, competition, and limitless Alaskan wilderness in one place. Plus, throw in plenty of dogs and a few women competing in the famous Iditarot and Yukon Quest…
It all started in 2009. Kristin went through a divorce that left her clueless. What was she going to do next? She decided to live at a friend’s cabin in Alaska, just to settle down for a few months.
The deal was pretty clear. Housing was free, but she had to take care of eight sled dogs.
That winter taught her a lot of things she had no clue about. She realized she was much tougher. She found herself in a remote place, in the middle of nowhere. She embraced being alone, but she also fell in love.
Dogs became her best friends, but she also fell in love with Andy.
The two got married and began a sled dog kennel business. The work was rewarding, but Kristin had one thing in mind. She wanted to compete in the Iditarod and actually complete it.
This Alaska book is about change and transformation. It is about nature and how far love can take you if everything you do is filled with passion. It is satisfying and rewarding, and to be honest, it feels motivational at times too.
Final Thoughts on Books About Alaska
These are some of the best books about Alaska, and when I say that, I mean real books based on memoirs, real adventures, or stories.
These books come from people who have experienced Alaska at its best and its worst.
Written from personal experiences or based on real stories, they introduce you to a completely different vision of this land, an authentic experience that will immerse you into a spectacular world straight away.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.