This is my second installment regarding my previously declared quest, which is reading a book written by an author from every state in the union. This selection is from Alaska and the book is IF YOU LIVED HERE, I’D KNOW YOUR NAME, NEWS FROM SMALL TOWN ALASKA by Heather Lende.

bookcoverI am thankful for my quest leading me to this book. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Heather Lende is a frequent contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition.  Moving to Alaska on her honeymoon, she and her husband Chip eventually found themselves in Haines, Alaska. Located in the shadow of a glacier, it  is located 90 miles north of Juneau and accessible only by water or air (and then, only when the weather is good). At the time of publication, the population is 2500, with no traffic light, no mail delivery and no hospital.

Heather writes for the social column and the obituaries for the local newspaper. “Writing about the dead helps me celebrate the living.” she says. And live they do in Haines. It is a tough place to live, the inhabitants are self-sustainable. But, the town is full of characters, and this book is her observations.

You meet a high school principal that impersonates Roy Orbison, a one legged female gold minor and Speedy Joe who never took of his hat, even for sleeping or a haircut.

The stories are both humorous and heart-breaking – but they are well worth reading. There are times you will stop and laugh out loud, there are times you will stop to wipe away tears (I finished this in the airport in Indianapolis with tears streaming unapologetically down my face.”

The LA Times compared her to “Annie Lamott meets Annie Dillard”. I found her writing still readible and very poetic.

And – it is only $1.99 on kindle right now! I will re-read parts of this again!

Part of my quest is to learn some new facts about the states – so here goes for Alaska:

Alaska is the from the Eskimo word Alakshak – meaning great lands or a peninsula

The first settlement was in 1784

Gold was discovered in 1880 by Joe Juneau

Rhode Island would fit into Alaska 425 times

The state flower is the Wild Forget-me-Not (since 1917)

Dog mushing is the state sport

Gold is the state minseral

Tongass National Forest is the largest in the US

17 of the 20 highest peaks in the US are in Alaska

One third of Alaska is in the arctic circle

Over 2x the size of Texas and 2700 miles wide, if it was superimposed over the lower 48, it would reach coast to coast

It has 6600 miles of coastline

Now I want to go to Alaska at some point. My next book will be from a writer in Arizona!


5 thoughts on “MY QUEST

  1. Eli@coachdaddy

    I love how you’ve done this, Vickie, and it sounds like a great read. You should put all these reviews in a book! Have you already read someone from North Carolina?

  2. Tat

    It sounds like a fascinating book and I love your quest. Your next quest will probably be to go to each of these states!

  3. vickiemartin Post author

    i’m going through the states alphabetically – so North Carolina is down the road – I’m reading Arizona now. Do you have a suggestion? Since I’m in Georgia – I have some writers in mind – but I’m willing to explore more – and take requests.

  4. vickiemartin Post author

    i’ve thought about going to all the states – I’ve also thought about reading south america countries – even though 50 states will take awhile to get through – as much as I read – it will take a couple of years probably. (I don’t want to limit my reading to this totally – but I want to learn about the individual states as I go through them!)

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