With pristine coastlines, majestic snow-capped mountains, and pure natural beauty, it comes as no surprise that Alaska has sparked many novels over the years. Alaska’s climate and landscape alone encompass both a tranquil, untouched beauty and a harsh, unforgiving apathy depending on the time of year. When winter sets in, it settles into the bones of those who choose to call Alaska their home too. One could feel alienated and isolated, or comforted by the quiet hibernation. Thawing out, the awakening of early spring is likely appreciated more by Alaskans than most other places in the U.S. Wildlife slowly shakes off its winter coat and hangs it out of sight for the time being to enjoy the temperate days. The warm feeling of sun through an open window is felt more acutely after wearing such heavy winter sweaters. Authors have poetically divulged their feelings about The Final Frontier for decades. Below are five timeless novels surrounding Alaska worth looking into.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – This story is an updated twist on a traditional Russian folktale, The Snow Maiden, about a childless couple living in grim 1920s Alaska. Filled with a desire for children, the couple decides to make a young snow child who magically appears as a real girl from the woods the following day.
Alaska by James A. Michener – In this book, Michener tells the complete story of the land we now know as Alaska. Tracing the rich history of Alaska— including its settlement, native animals, who the Inuit people were and how they lived in such a trying environment, how Alaska was bought from Russia, the gold rush, and its multi-ethnic people— this story captures the perseverance, spirit and strength of those who tried to tame the land and call it home.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London – Drawn from London’s own experiences as an adventurer, this story is a classic tale of a heroic dog who is thrown into the unforgiving wilds of Alaska and northern Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush. Torn between civilization and the great outdoors, the dog must choose where he feels most at home.
White Fang by Jack London – Written as a companion to London’s Call of the Wild, White Fang is a timeless adventure novel about a wolf-dog’s fight for survival in the Alaskan wild. Told from the wolf-dog’s perspective, This novel captures themes of courage, morality, and friendship between animal and man.
Into the Wild by John Krakauer – In this book, Krakauer recounts the autobiography of Christopher Johnson McCandless, a 24 year old who left a bright future and well-to-do family to vanish into the Alaskan wild. After disposing of his money and worldly possessions, he invented a new life for himself where he was free to live in the raw experiences presented by nature, ultimately learning how cruel and beautiful it can be.
If these novels don’t satisfy your wanderlust, a train vacation to Alaska might be well worth your while. Alaska train tours are a romantic, author-approved way to travel through the Final Frontier and explore a handful of places comfortably and conveniently. Perhaps you can even write your own novel as the Alaskan wilderness rolls by out your window!