Saturday, October 1, 2016

Alaska Book Week is October 1-8, 2016

We love Alaska books, so naturally, we love Alaska Book Week, a statewide celebration of Alaska's authors and books, created in 2011 by 49 Writers. Here are a few Alaska books that I enjoyed this year. (Note: Image links will take you to publishers' websites. Text links will take you to the book's record in Alaska's Joint Library Catalog. Other formats may be available.)

Published by University of Alaska Press, 2016.
Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, by Deb Vanasse, is a biography of Kate Carmack, once the richest woman in the Klondike. Kate, born Shaaw Tlàa, was a Tagish woman and wife of George Carmack, who may or may not have discovered the gold at Bonanza Creek, but certainly reaped its riches. Although much of Kate Carmack's life is a mystery, Vanasse's extensive research about the lives of women and Natives who have largely been excluded from the historical record provide a new perspective on the Klondike gold rush. I run through Klondike country every year, and this book made me think about the land and its history in a new way.

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Heroes of the Frontier, Dave Eggers' newest novel, is the blockbuster Alaska book of the year, due to Eggers' considerable star power. It tells the story of Josie, a down-on-her-luck dentist from Ohio who is running from her demons with her two young children in tow. Setting out in a dilapidated RV with a vague plan to visit her "sister" Sam in Homer, Josie, Paul, and Ana encounter wildfires, wild animals, and genuine Alaskan characters while looking for meaning in their own lives.

Published by Mountaineers Books, 2015.
I may have been the last person in Alaska to read Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner, but I finally picked it up this year, then went on to read his newest nonfiction work, Swallowed by the Great Land. Ordinary Wolves is a much-recommended novel that follows the childhood and young adulthood of Cutuk, a white boy growing up in a sod house in remote Alaska, desperately wishing to be a great Inupiaq hunter. I find Kantner's nonfiction work to be equally if not more compelling than his fiction, but any of his books will give you a sense of life in the far north, further off the grid than most people can even imagine.

Published by Island Press, 2015.
I picked up Future Arctic: Field Notes from a World on the Edge by Edward Struzik last fall, and found it accessible and informative. Drawing from 30 years studying the Arctic in Alaska and Canada, Struzik explores the Arctic from natural, political, and cultural perspectives. At a slim 199 pages, Future Arctic is a great introduction to the current state of the top of the world and the way that climate change has affected this vulnerable region.

Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
I just started To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey's long awaited second book. Her debut novel Snow Child was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction and book club staple since it was published in 2012, so I know I'm not alone in eagerly awaiting this next one. Last year I enjoyed Hampton Sides' In the Kingdom of Ice, so I'm liking the expedition diary format of Bright Edge so far.

What's your favorite Alaska book of the year?

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