We’re here to help you experience our cultural diversity, natural mysteries, culinary delights and kicked-back life with our recommendations for 21 of the best fiction and non-fiction books about the Olympic Peninsula. Scroll to view the entire list or click on one of the categories below.
Our Favorite Olympic Peninsula Books
1. Women to Reckon With: Untamed Women of the Olympic Wilderness by Gary Peterson and Glynda Schaad. History, Nonfiction. First Published 2007.
This book has the biographies of twelve amazing women who helped tame the wild, wild Pacific Northwest.
2. West of Here by Jonathan Evison. Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction. First Published 2011.
It’s been said, “This is a damn fine book!” A play with words since two stories in one are told about the Elwha Dam on the Elwha River.
3. Joseph and the Tamanawis Spirit by Dawn Lawrence. Fiction, Cultural Heritage, Suspense. First Published 2012.
Written by a Native American woman who has lived in Neah Bay, WA, for over thirty years, this story takes off when strange things begin happening on the Makah Reservation.
4. Raymond Carver’s Short Stories and Poetry.
Raymond Clevie Carver Jr. (May 25, 1938 – August 2, 1988) was an American short-story writer and poet. He is considered to be one of America’s greatest writers. His first short \story collection, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? was published 1976 and was shortlisted for the National Book Award. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his third major-press collection, Cathedral. He was categorized in the Literary movement as Minimalism, dirty reality. His writings evoke intense emotions of the blue-collar experience.
History and Exploration
5. Totem Poles of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe by Joan Worley, Dale Faulstich / David Woodcock. History, Native American, Art. First published in 2008.
This full-color book discusses the creation and the stories behind the cedar totem poles of Tribal Artist Dale Faulstich, found around the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s campus and businesses.
6. Across the Olympic Mountains: The Press Expedition, 1889-90 by Robert L. Wood. History. First Published in 1988.
In 1889 six men set off to cross the Olympic Mountains, a range shrouded in mystery.
7. Men, Mules and Mountains: Lieutenant O’Neil’s Olympic Expeditions by Robert L. Wood. History. First Published in 1977.
During a second expedition in 1890 sponsored by the US Army and the Oregon Alpine Club, Private Harry Fisher kept a hand-written account. His personal account of this wilderness trek takes you along!
8. The Iron Man of the Hoh, The Man, Not the Myth by Elizabeth Huelsdonk Fletcher. History, Biography. First Published 1979.
Carving a life out of the wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula in the late 1800s and early 1900s was no easy task for early pioneer John Huelsdonk, known as the Iron Man of the Hoh (River). No wonder there are so many myths and legends about this man!
10. Along with some good humor, we all need some good home-made treats. How about PIE! Our next suggestion can help. Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life® by Kate McDermott. Cooking, Baking, Desserts. Published in 2016.
2017 James Beard Award nominee Kate McDermott lived on a blueberry farm on the Olympic Peninsula in late 1990s. Her love of pies and experiments to make the perfect crust have led her to teaching the “art of the pie®”.
11. Behind the Cellar Door by Kathy Charlton. Culinary, Wine, Autobiography, Memoir, Business. Published in 2017.
This is a fascinating story of the beginning of wine on the Olympic Peninsula. Kathy Charlton was the trailblazer or the original “Working Girl”. The brand of Working Girl wines has led to a successful business, pouring Working Girl and Olympic Cellars wine from this family-owned, women operated winery.
Romance and Adventure
12. Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Midnight Sun #1 – #5 by Stephenie Meyer. Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, Fiction. First Published 2006.
According to Goodreads, Twilight is, “Deeply seductive and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight is a love story with bite.” This fictional saga takes the reader on a journey where monsters and romance intertwine against a very authentic backdrop. The dense rain forest, the sandy ocean beaches of the Quileute tribal lands, and the small town feel of Forks, Washington were the inspiration for Meyer’s perfect setting. The series as a whole won the 2009 Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book.
13. Anna, Like Thunder by Peggy Herring. Historical Fiction, Cultural. First Published 2018.
This story is based on a true event that took place 1808. An 18-year-old girl, Anna, is shipwreck, captured and enslaved by Indigenous people. Based on historical record, Anna, Like Thunder blends fact and fiction to explore the early days of contact between Indigenous people and Europeans off the west coast of North America and offers a fresh interpretation of history.
14. Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah. Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Contemporary. First Published 2007.
A child psychiatrist from California who is called home by her police chief sister, a handsome doctor with secrets of own, colorful town characters and a mysterious feral girl child who had been living in the wild woods of the Pacific Northwest.
Sea Life for All Ages
15. Where Do I Sleep?: A Pacific Northwest Lullaby by Jennifer Blomgren, Andrea Gavriel, Illustrator. Children’s Picture Book, Animals, Poetry, Fiction. First Published 2002.
16. O is for Orca by Andrea Helman and Art Wolfe, photographer. Children’s Picture Book, Nature, Science. First published 2003.
17. Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids by Joseph K. Gaydos. Nonfiction, Environment, Nature, Teaching, Childrens. First Published
Home schooling? Need a suggestion for science topics? Try this book. It uncovers secrets of the watery parts of our ecosystem. Probably best for young adults.
18. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. Nonfiction, Science, Animals, Environment, Nature. First Published 2015.
Funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.
Boats and Rowing
19. Ghost Canoe by Will Hobbs. Young Adult readers, Adventure, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Ages Grade 6 and older. Published in 1997.
After a ship wrecks off the most NW point of the contiguous United States at Cape Flattery, the son of the lighthouse keeper, Nathan, suspects that the conclusion of “no survivors” isn’t correct. With the help of a fisherman from the Makah Tribe who live in Neah Bay, they search for clues.
20. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Nonfiction, History, Sports, History, WWII. Published in 2013.
This story of Joe Rantz, a teenager from Sequim without family or prospects, and his unique capabilities that contributed to the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal. Their team transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans
21. BOATS by Byron Barton. Children’s Picture Book. Board Book. First published in 1986.
Familiarize the youngest family members on the types of boats they will likely see on the Olympic Peninsula.
Thanks to Port Book and News in Port Angeles for reading suggestions. Port Book and News is open 7 days a week at 104 E. First St. in downtown Port Angeles.