Jean Craighead George mined literary gold when she wrote Julie of the Wolves back in 1972. While not an Alaskan, George wrote the Newbery Award-winning novel after spending a summer in Barrow learning about wolves at the Naval Artic Research Laboratory.
Since then, other women writers have explored Alaska across many genres. Here's a small sample of what I discovered for my summer reading list.
For young readers, Shelley Gill writes both fiction and nonfiction. Check out Sitka Rose or Prickly Rose for fiction and Alaska's Three Bears for nonfiction. Mindy Dwyer puts an Alaskan spin on classic fairy tales. See The Salmon Princess and Alaska's Sleeping Beauty.
For middle readers, Kirkpatrick Hill has written several books, including The Year of Miss Agnes. Her latest book, Bo at Ballard Creek, won the 2014 Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.
Women writers dominate the mystery genre in Alaska, with long-running series by best-selling writers Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow topping the list. For literary fiction, check out Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child and Nancy Lord's book of short stories The Man Who Swam with Beavers.
Nancy Lord writes nonfiction as well, including Early Warning: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North and Beluga Days: Tracking the Endangered White Whale. Sherry Simpson, a former Anchorage Daily News reporter, has a wonderful book of essays called The Way Winter Comes. She has also written several other nonfiction books about Alaska. Velma Wallis, who grew up in remote Fort Yukon, retells Athabaskan legends in the haunting Two Old Women and her second book Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun.
If you'd like to explore more writing from our biggest state, check out Alaska Sampler 2014. Editors Deb Vanasse and David Marusek created this free e-book, which features ten of Alaska's finest contemporary writers.