A Reading List for Alaska

Planning a trip to Alaska? Enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the history, culture, wilderness, and wildlife of Alaska with these books.

Travels in Alaska – John Muir
Muir’s last book includes his journals from 1879, 1880, and 1890 detailing the power the wilderness has to heal a person’s body and soul. With intimate descriptions of glaciers and wildlife, this is an essential, classic anthem on the beauty of Alaska.

The Only Kayak – Kim Heacox
This flowing memoir tells the rich coming-of-age story of an Idaho-born man finding his place in the world in Alaska’s rugged Glacier Bay National Park as a park ranger.

Alaska: A Novel – James A Michener
In classic Michener style, tenacity of both the human kind and of the natural world is chronicled in a sweeping epic beginning with Alaska’s geologic creation and its first inhabitants through World War II.

The Blue Bear – Lynn Schooler
A lyrical memoir of an exceptional friendship forged in the wilds of Alaska. After tragedy and heartbreak, Schooler, looking to escape his past by heading into remote Alaska, meets photographer Michio Hoshino who shares a like-minded drive to find the elusive glacier bear.

Coming into the Country – John McPhee
This exceptionally-crafted narrative captures the essence of Alaskan culture and communities as few have done. Told in three segments, McPhee’s book is a wonderful illustration of the complexity of The Great Land’s geography and its people.

The Sea Runners – Ivan Doig
Celebrated author, Ivan Doig’s first novel, and first crack at fiction, tells the tale of four Scandinavian men who risked their lives to escape indentured servitude in Russian Alaska by stealing a canoe and aiming for Astoria, Oregon, a 1,200 mile journey away.

Passage To Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings – Jonathan Raban
The Seattle-based, British travel writer’s account of his solo navigation of the Inside Passage on a 35-foot sailboat weaves together his personal memoir, the histories of native cultures and European explorers, and the incredible impact the natural world can have on the soul.

Kayaking the Inside Passage: A Paddling Guide from Olympia, Washington to Muir Glacier, Alaska – Robert Miller
A complete guide to through-kayaking the entire 1,300-mile length of the Inside Passage, is an entertaining and informed read for anyone travelling the length of the passage, whether by kayak, small ship, or even by armchair adventure.

Alaska Park Science: Scientific Studies on Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks – Alaska Geographic
Published twice a year for the National Park Service, this journal details the most up-to-date information on climate change and its effect on Alaska’s wildlands.

Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats – Robert H Armstrong
This guide gives insight into the geology, wildlife, plant habitats, and glaciology unique to Southeast and lays a good foundation for understanding the Alaska you will witness aboard a small ship.

Guardians of the Whales: The Quest to Study Whales – Bruce Obee and Graeme Ellis
This fascinating review covers whale research over 20 years, once these mighty mammals began to be studied in the wild.

National Geographic Society Field Guide to the Birds of North America – Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderer
This field guide is packed with valuable birding information; maps of migration patterns, breakdowns of species and subspecies, habitat details, identification information, photographs, tips, and more.

The Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, & Alaska – Jim Pojar
Photographs, drawings, descriptions of plants and of their habitat, covering nearly 800 trees, wildflowers, shrubs, lichens, mosses, grasses, and ferns of the Pacific Northwest.

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest – Amy Gulick
The story of the magnificent Tongass National Forest is told through the lives of salmon and the crucial connection they bridge between the forest and the sea.

The Alaska Cruise Explorer – Joe Upton
Filled with stories and anecdotes from more than twenty years living and fishing in Alaska, Upton includes over 300 photos, maps, and essential details on wildlife, excursions, towns, whale watching, and more, with an “insider’s” expertise.

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush – Pierre Berton
Introducing some of the most memorable, and oftentimes raucous, characters of the Gold Rush, Berton weaves a colourful and historic account of lawless, wild days in the Alaskan frontier.

Alaska’s Southeast: Touring the Inside Passage – Mike Miller
This guidebook includes history of the region along with recommendations and information on how to get the most from your trip, from learning to interpret totem poles to details on the bays and fjords of the Inside Passage.

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back – Corey Ford
Telling the epic story of adventure, Ford details the struggle and daring of Georg Steller’s voyage aboard the St. Peter with Vitus Bering.

For Alaska Small Ship Cruises, we recommend UnCruise Adventures.

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