The scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest make for a thought-provoking backdrop to several fiction novels, mysteries, and historical fiction stories perfect for a weekend read while vacationing… Don’t forget to pack a book and enjoy a good read while cruising the Columbia, relaxing on the beach, or tucked under a cozy blanket in a snow-bound cabin.
Deep River: A Novel by Karl Marlantes
In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia’s imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, and three siblings are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. As the siblings strive to rebuild lives in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind. Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, the story is based on the author’s own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
Mink River by Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle’s stunning fiction debut brings a town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people. In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter.It’s the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.
A Very Minor Prophet: A Novel by James Bernard Frost
A Very Minor Prophet is a comic novel, a gospel, an ode to great coffee, a story of great friendship, great love, and of a man waking up in Portland, Oregon, to realize his life and his story is just beginning.
This story is about the Hofmann and the Dubois families, who travel to the fictitious Suquamish Valley after the Great War for a better life in western Washington State. They are of different cultures, but alike in that both are from impoverished agricultural backgrounds. They overcome adversity by repeatedly coming together in the turmoil caused by two World Wars, the Great Depression, unprecedented and transformative technological change, and economic instability.
Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon
After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room–until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl invades her turf.
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin
Set in futuristic Portland, this classic science fiction novel is a fascinating read. In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.
Close to Home by Lisa Jackson
Set in an old Victorian house along the Columbia River. Vowing to make a fresh start, Sarah McAdams has come home to renovate the old Victorian mansion where she grew up. Her daughters, Jade and Gracie, aren’t impressed by the rundown property on the shores of Oregon’s wild Columbia River. As soon as they pull up the isolated drive, Sarah too is beset by uneasy memories—of her cold, distant mother, of the half-sister who vanished without a trace, and of a long-ago night when Sarah was found on the widow’s walk, feverish and delirious.
Pocket in the Waistcoat: Scenes of Oregon Country by R.C. Marlen
When four girls from the Tillamook and Clatsop People befriended Joseph Gervais, he changed from the cantankerous French-Canadian fur trapper to become an amusing storyteller and hero. One day, he saved a Métis girl from being snatched by a stranger and earned respect from the Chinook and Clatsop Tribes. It was a time of turmoil at Fort Astoria: the British and Americans vied for control of the Northwest, yet it was a time of rapport between the native people and the fur trappers. In fact, three daughters of Tyee Koboway, Chief of the Clatsop People, sought to marry white men; however, their Tillamook friend Pocket did not want to marry anyone; she strove to be a shaman and to speak English. This story tells about the Native People living in the Northwest since time immemorial, and how their lives and cultures once were harmonious with the Americans and Canadians.
Stubborn Twig by Lauren Kessler
Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the other Oregon Trail – the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean in 1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets. Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the areas most successful orchardists. But the road was not always easy.
End of the Wild: Shipwrecked in the Pacific Northwest by Jason Taylor
Avoided by the Coast Salish tribes for generations, Hurst Island is one of the last remnants of untracked wilderness on the British Columbia coastal frontier. Not yet overtaken by logging or commercial fishing, it is a final outpost where myth lives on, heedless of human progress or desire. As their boat sinks, Amy and Ian find themselves stranded on this island, unaware of what they are about to face.
Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca? by G.M. Ford
When an old gangster friend of Leo’s father makes a request he “can’t refuse,” Leo and his band of drunks, delve into the world of environmental politics in search of Caroline Nobel, a spoiled brat, without the sense God gave a gopher. With the help of “the Boys” — a group of aging winos who are his modern day “Baker Street Irregulars” — Leo fights Native American tribal politics, industrial pollution, and psychotic grannies to fulfill his obligation to a friend. Set in and around the Seattle area.
East of the Mountains by David Guterson
The same author who brought you Snow Falling on Cedars, sets this novel in Eastern Oregon about a dying man’s final journey through a landscape that has always sustained him and provided him with hope and challenges. When he discovers that he has terminal cancer, Ben Givens refuses to simply sit back and wait. Instead he takes his two beloved dogs and goes on a last hunt, determined to end his life on his own terms. But as the people he meets and the memories over which he lingers remind him of the mystery of life’s endurance, his trek into the American West becomes much more than a final journey.
Blown Away: a Kite Shop Mystery by Clover Tate
A cozy mystery series set in a small coastal Oregon town. Emmy is finally living her dream. She’s moved to the coastal town of Rock Point, Oregon, and is starting a kite business. Strings Attached features her own unique designs, inspired by everything from Picasso to Matisse’s colorful cutouts. Her spirits are soaring sky-high the morning of the grand opening—until she stumbles upon a body washed up on the beach.
Murdermobile by B.B. Cantwell
A murder mystery set in a bookmobile in 1990s Portland. It’s pre-“Portlandia” Portland, when bookmobiles still roamed the Earth. When someone is found dead in the City Library’s bookmobile, it’s no longer business as usual for librarian Hester Freelove McGarrigle. Does the murder have something to do with the wacko book-banning group with which the old woman was entangled? It’s up to Hester and her dishy, trail-running, pizza-obsessed neighbor, Detective Nate Darrow, to chase clues all over Oregon’s quirky Rose City. Their mutual connection with Nathaniel Hawthorne, along with Hester’s upchucking Maine Coon cat, build the romantic fizz in this cozy mystery spiked with humor and an authentic Northwest sense of place.
Natural Thorn Killer: A Rose City Mystery by Kate Dyer Seeley
A cozy mystery located in Portland. Britta Johnston might be a late bloomer, but after leaving her deadbeat husband and dead-end job, she’s finally pursuing her artistic passion at her aunt Elin’s floral boutique, Blooma, in Portland, Oregon. It’s on the banks of the Willamette, in a quaint district of cobblestone paths and cherry trees. The wine bar featuring Pacific Northwest vintages is a tasty bonus, offering another kind of bouquet to enjoy. But things aren’t as peaceful as they look…
Meet Your Baker: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander
A cozy mystery series set in the southern Oregon town of Ashland. Welcome to Torte – a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal… After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder…
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives. Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices.
Death on Sacred Ground by Kathie Deviny
Father Robert Vickers, the rector of Seattle’s Grace Parish has returned from his honeymoon. Now he is dreaming about an early retirement, encouraged by the skills of the woman who substituted in his absence. His dreams are dashed by two murders in the nearby homeless jungle. Lester, his formerly homeless employee, may be a suspect. On top of that, his plan to develop part of the church’s property is caught in a crossfire of environmental, low income housing, and gentrification advocates. Can he hang on long enough to get through the crisis and ensure that the church and community are standing on sacred ground?
A Case of Bier: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery by Mary Daheim
In this charming madcap entry in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Bed-and-Breakfast series, innkeeper and amateur sleuth Judith McMonigle Flynn’s plans for a relaxing vacation go awry when she realizes her fellow guests have a different kind of getaway planned. After a busy summer, the owner of Seattle’s popular Hillside Manor B&B desperately needs some R&R. Vacations can be murder.
The Solace of Bay Leaves by Leslie Budewitz
Life fell apart at forty for Pepper so she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Marketuntil. Soon danger and two seemingly separate crimes intersect her life and she starts asking questions – helping to unearth startling links between the past and present as danger bubbles to the surface…
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Jamie Ford’s first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.
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