Cabana Book Club: 5 Books to Put You in the Pacific Northwest

Do you like to absorb the history of a city before you visit? Are you hoping to escape to the Oregon coast without leaving your home? Do you need an excuse to re-read your favorite young adult romance? 

Here are five books to help you dive into the Pacific Northwest!

The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter

The Cold Millions

Enter the world of the 1909 Spokane free-speech fight in this work of historical fiction. It’s a story about the labor force’s struggle for fair wages and a depiction of brotherhood, sacrifice, and love. The novel paints a vivid picture of a tumultuous time in America’s history with protagonists worth rooting for.

The Freezer Door, by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

The Freezer Door

The newest work from Capitol Hill author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is an intimate look at her experience in Seattle. The opening line is a powerful yet simple start to the memoir: “One problem with gentrification is that it always gets worse.” Sycamore explores boundaries as they pertain to gender, relationships, and the city she lives in. She seeks connection as she notes how the LGBTQ community has changed and how limited language is. The work allows you to see both Seattle and literature in a new light.

Horizon, by Barry Lopez 


If you’re hoping to satiate your wanderlust, this expansive work by the late Oregon-based travel writer will take you on a journey beyond the Pacific Northwest. What do the Oregon coast, the Galápagos, the Kenyan desert, and Antarctica have in common? Probably more than you think. Lopez grapples with climate change, colonialism, and his own role in all of it, through honest depictions of the beautiful and tragic moments he’s experienced in a lifetime of travel.

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, by Mitchell S. Jackson

Survival Math

This memoir by award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson depicts a Portland different from the one often perceived. Jackson tells the story of his poor black community in one of the whitest cities in the country. The collection of essays has received high praise for its tender portrayal of Jackson and his loved ones as they dealt with violence, addiction, and the struggle to survive.

Midnight Sun, by Stephenie Meyer

Midnight Sun

If the Twilight series isn’t your thing, we understand. But we have to give credit where credit is due: Stephenie Meyer put the little town of Forks on the pop-culture map. The latest Twilight book was released just last year, and if you’re a Twi-hard that’s been putting off returning to your favorite teenage drama, this is your sign to do it. (Then purchase tickets to the Forever Twilights in Forks Festival.)

Visiting the Pacific Northwest for the first time or planning a staycation? Check out our guide to 3 days on the Olympic Peninsula.

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