Are you planning a trip to Alaska? Or have you visited the 49th state and want to relive your adventure?

5 Books to Read on AlaskaI recommend reading to enhance your Alaska experience. While still recommending these 5 books for Alaska visitors to read, I have two new books published in 2018 to add to the list.

1. Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier

I started reading this book by Mark Adams on the flight home from a recent Alaska cruise. I could not put this book down, finally finishing it at 3 am.

I loved reading about a luxury “floating university” cruise to explore the wilds of Alaska in 1899, organized by railroad tycoon Edward H. Harriman. Sailing aboard a steamship named the Elder, the passenger list included Harriman’s wife and children, along with an invited group of some of America’s best and brightest scientists and writers of that time. Naturalist, philosopher, writer, and Sierra Club founder John Muir was on the trip.

Tip of the Iceberg Author Mark Adams sets out to retrace the 1899 Harriman expedition using the Alaska Marine Highway System (also known as the Alaska state ferry system.) Adams also utilizes kayaks, bush pilots, adventure guides and commercial flights to explore Alaska — from Juneau and Glacier Bay in the Southeast — to Dutch Harbor and other remote places in the Aleutians — to Nome and the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle.

Although Adams pokes fun at those who explore Alaska today via a cruise ship, I was fascinated by the details he shares of the 1899 Harriman-sponsored voyage.  He alternates the 1899 history with stories of the unique Alaskans he meets during his 2016 journey to the same destinations.

Many of Adam’s tidbits on Alaska were familiar to the stories I’ve heard from Mr. Jones –my Alaska born and raised husband — during our nearly 22 years together.

2. The Great Alone: A Novel

While Mr. Jones would call this novel by Kristin Hannah a “chick book,” I found it a riveting story about what it might have been like for a family “escaping” to remote Alaska to live off the grid in America’s last frontier in 1974.

The Great Alone is the story of a dysfunctional family.  The father, a former prisoner of war, comes home from Vietnam as a changed and volatile man who can’t keep a job.

The mother will do anything to try to “cure” the man she loves. Their 13-year old daughter hopes that a move to this new land will lead to a better future for her family.

While it’s fiction, this novel is well-researched to include many details on the hardships of life in remote Alaska that I’ve heard from my local Alaskan connections during my 22 years of visiting the state.

Do you have a favorite book to recommend for visitors to Alaska?  

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