Alaska is a wilderness many people dream of visiting. But if you can’t plan a trip to Alaska any time soon, these 30 books about Alaska will take you there. Our list has everything from fiction about strong women in Alaska, to non-fiction wilderness survival stories, to children’s books about Alaska’s beloved sled dogs.
So if you are dreaming of exploring the Alaskan wilderness but find yourself stuck at home instead, get to reading!
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Fiction Set in Alaska
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s popular novel about Alaska follows a family who moves to the wilderness in the 1970s, desperate for a better life and hoping that a new start is just what they need. But dangers don’t just lurk in the wild, they also can be hidden within the walls of the family’s own home. For fans of historical and contemporary fiction.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
When a young couple in 1920s Alaska wishes for a child and builds one out of snow, something mysterious happens: when they wake the next morning, there is a real child that has appeared in the forest. But who is she and why is she there? This novel is for fans of books that feel like fairy tales.
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
There’s nothing Graham dislikes more than the tourists that have overrun both his small diner and his small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. But when Zoey shows up, she isn’t like the other tourists, and her enthusiasm for life may just rub off on Graham a little bit. The central couple in this book is absolutely adorable, and it’s the first of a linked trilogy (but you don’t have to read them in order). For fans of rom-coms.
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
Greta James is an indie musician whose career is in danger after the death of her mother causes a public breakdown. When she goes with her father on an Alaskan cruise — a trip that had been booked for her parents’ anniversary before her mother’s death — she might just find a way forward. For fans of contemporary fiction. (This comes out March 1, 2022.)
Nobody Gets Out Alive: Stories by Leigh Newman
Leigh Newman’s book of short stories set in Alaska tell about women dealing with both the wilderness and their everyday life. Newman’s short story Howl Palace (one of my favorite stories featured in Best American Short Stories 2020) is featured, along with stories about weddings, marriage, Alaskan wilderness, and more. For fans of literary fiction. (This comes out April 12, 2022.)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
An absolute Alaska classic, The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck, a dog from California who is kidnapped and forced to be a sled dog in Alaska. And as a bonus, you can get a copy of The Call of the Wild along with White Fang, another Alaska classic about a wild dog who enters civilizations. For fans of classics and adventure stories.
This modern classic in Alaskan literature is basked on a Native legend about two women who are abandoned by their tribe during the winter and must fight to survive. For fans of survival stories and stories about women’s friendship.
Alaska – A Novel by James A. Michener
Michener brings his epic approach to books with this novel that traces the history of Alaska from its origins through modern day. He follows a cast of characters as they live through history, from the gold rush to WWII and more. For fans of sweeping historical novels.
Non-Fiction Books About Alaska
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
In 1992, a man named Christopher McCandless ventured into the Alaskan wild, inspired by wilderness explorers he admired. But he was entirely unprepared and months later he was found dead. In this critically acclaimed book, Krakauer examines McCandless’s life, trying to understand what motivated his decisions that led to his death. For fans of adventure stories and narrative non-fiction.
This is Chance! by Jon Mooallem
In 1964, a massive earthquake hit Anchorage, a burgeoning Alaska town. Immediately, Genie Chance, a part-time radio reporter and mother of three, jumped on the airwaves to quell panic and organize rescue efforts. This is the story of the earthquake and the days that followed, and how a woman on the radio helped the city come together. For fans of narrative non-fiction.
If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende
Heather Lende lives in the small town of Haines, Alaska, where she writes for the local newspaper. Here, she tells stories about the lives of people in her town and the traditions and community they have formed. For fans of essays and memoirs. (And if you like this one, she has another memoir about her life in her small town after an injury called Take Good Care of the Garden and Dogs.)
Leigh Newman grew up in Alaska, and, after her parents’ divorce, she still spent her summers there with her dad. In her memoir she reflects on the Alaskan wilderness and the two parts of her life that resulted from her parents divorce: her wild Alaskan summers and her school years in Baltimore. For fans of memoir.
Braving It: A Father, A Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey by James Campbell
When James Campbell’s cousin asks him to come to the Alaskan wilderness to help him build a cabin, he brings along his daughter Aidan. What follows is how they fell in love with the wilderness, culminating in a daring journey together in some of Alaska’s most remote and dangerous regions. For fans of adventure memoirs.
Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier by Mark Adams
In 1899 a luxury steamship set sail in Alaska, traveling throughout the wilderness with writers and scientists, including John Muir. Over 100 years later, Mark Adams set off to retrace that journey by water, reflecting on what has changed and what has remained the same and meeting Alaska’s people. For fans of travel memoirs.
The Firecracker Boys: H-Bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Root of the Environmental Movement by Dan O’Neill
In 1958, there was a plan to set off nuclear bombs off the coast of Alaska to create a new harbor. But the plan was blocked by Native Alaskans who fought against it, paving the way for the environmental movement. For readers who love reading about the intersection of nature and politics.
Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven
In 1921, Ada Blackjack, an Inuit woman, set off on an Arctic expedition with four men. Two years later, she was the only one to return, having survived the harsh climate of the Arctic alone. This book is for fans of survival stories.
Coming into the Country by John McPhee
John McPhee brings his reflective writing to Alaska in Coming into the Country, where he tackles the subjects of Alaska’s wilderness, native population, and the politics that formed Alaska into what it is. This is for fans of slower-paced non-fiction.
Travels in Alaska by John Muir
Travels in Alaska collects John Muir’s writings about Alaska from the late 1800s, and it was first published in 1915. Here he writes about the Alaska wilderness, both the landscape and the people who called it home, always with a focus on preservation. For fans of nature writing and classics.
For more great reads, check out our list of 40 Books Set in California!
Children’s Books About Alaska
Mama Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse, Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
This story is about a mother’s unending love for her child, inspired by Alaskan Natives and set in the Arctic. This has become a beloved classic, and is recommended for ages 0 and up.
Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun by Deb Vanasse, Illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell
In some parts of Alaska, the sun doesn’t set all summer! In this playful book, a little girl stays up late to enjoy Alaska’s midnight sun, running and playing all night. Recommended ages: 3-7 years.
Raven – A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott
Raven is an important character in Native Alaskan stories, known for playing tricks to get what he wants. Here he is determined to find a light to give to humans, ultimately casting the sun into the sky. Recommended ages: 4-7 years.
Togo by Robert J. Blake
Togo was a feisty puppy who caused too much trouble to be a sled dog. But with a little training, he became one of the fastest sled-dogs ever, playing an important role in one of the teams to deliver the diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska. You may know Balto as a hero, but Togo actually made most of the run through dangerous conditions. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.
Big-Enough Anna: The Little Sled Dog Who Braved the Arctic by Pam Flowers and Ann Dixon, Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
The smallest dog of a the litter becomes the hero of the sled team in this book inspired by the author’s own true story of running the Iditarod. Recommended ages: 5-8 years.
Middle Grade + YA Books Set in Alaska
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, Illustrated by John Schoenherr
A classic of children’s literature, Julie of the Wolves tells the story of a girl lost in the Alaskan wilderness and the way she survives by becoming part of a pack of wolves. A great book to hand a kid who loves Island of the Blue Dolphins Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
After Mark’s brother dies, he meets a large Alaskan brown bear who becomes an unlikely friend. A modern classic book set in Alaska for middle grade readers, this book is recommended for ages 8-12 years.
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Frederika’s one room schoolhouse in rural Alaska sees a rotating door of teachers. But when Miss Agnes arrives she seems different from all the others and the kids start to love school. But will she stay? Or will she leave after a year like every other teacher they’ve had? Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Luke is a Native Alaskan who is taken from his family and sent off to boarding school hundreds of miles away from his home. There, along with a group of friends, he struggles, dealing with racism and forming friendships as he comes of age. Recommended ages: 12 and up.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Four people in 1970s Alaska deal with secrets, growing up, and family pressures as their lives become intertwined. This is a book about family relationships and friendships, and is recommended for ages 12 and up.
Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich by Annie Boochever and Roy Peratrovich, Jr.
Elizabeth Peratrovich was an Alaskan Native who experienced discrimination all her life. This book tells her story and how, in 1945, a speech she gave paved the way for Alaska’s very first civil rights legislation. Recommended ages: 13 and up.
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
In a small town in Alaska, Corey and Kyra were best friends. But just as Kyra is beginning to struggle with a mental illness, Corey moves away, and later Kyra dies. Corey is devastated, but she also isn’t sure everything is as it seems. Recommended ages: 14 and up.