Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ten MORE books set in beautiful Oregon

This week, our friends at The Broke and The Bookish asked us to make a list of books set in one specific setting.  One of the first blog posts I wrote last summer was one for the Nerdy Book Club, where I listed my ten favorite YA novels set--or written--in Oregon.  Because I'm such a fan of my state, I'm going to add ten more books set here, although these are not all YA by any means.

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
Based on a decades old news event in Washington state, Henry's thriller takes place mostly in southern Oregon.

The Jump-Off Creek by Molly Gloss
I couldn't make heads nor tails of Gloss's follow-up sci fi novel, but this story of a single woman homesteading in eastern Oregon is magnificent and spare.

This is downright fancy compared to what the settler lives in.

Winterkill by Craig Lesley
I've only read two of Lesley's books, and learned more about what it's like to be a Native American in a state with a golden pioneer on the capitol building than I have from any other source.  Plus he does father/son angst really well.

Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff
I had her series of novels in verse on my first list.  This one is told from multiple points of view as sixth grade girls from the tiny town of Barlow prepare for the annual softball game--and deal with the presence of a Japanese-American girl in their class shortly after the war has ended.

A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
Cleary is arguably the most famous Oregon author, although at 100, she's lived more of her life in California.  Her memoirs are more acerbic than her wonderful tales set in the Grant High School neighborhood of Beezus, Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Ribsy.

Ribsy is part of a statue series in Grant Park.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Kesey is our other claim to literary fame, although I don't know if he's still as well-known as he was in the 1970s.  This heart-breaker of a book, which I borrowed from my sister's collection when I was too young to really get everything that was going on in it, was made more harrowing to me by my mom confirming that when she was "on rotation" in the state mental hospital as a student nurse in the early 1950s, patients really were treated that horribly.

Yeah, THAT doesn't look creepy at ALL.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I keep thinking I wasn't too impressed with this one, but then I see I gave it four stars, so it must just be the teen-girl appeal and movie tie-in book cover that is making me all snobbish.

Don't Worry; He Won't Get Far on Foot by John Callahan
Callahan, a burly man in a wheelchair with ginger hair and beard, was a common sight in Portland when I was working downtown in high school and college.  His humor is no-holds-barred, and his comics were a staple of my teenaged life.

Man About Town, John Callahan

Winger by Andrew Smith
This book kind of weirds me out by being about the kind of kid I associate with the East Coast.  Boarding schools are not very common out here, at least in my social circles.  But I loved the book, and should read the sequel.

Maybe the school is based on Catlin Gable?  

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
I think this was a "Portland Reads" selection of the public library system a few years ago.  At any rate, it was a compelling story that also gave me a new perspective on my hometown.

BONUS!  Two books set in Oregon that I really want to read soon.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
A Puerto Rican lesbian from NYC moves to Portland.  This is going to be great, even if it does focus on the "Portlandia" side of the city.  Which exists, don't get me wrong--but it's not all like that.

My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Inspired by the true story of a father and teenaged daughter who were discovered to have been living in Portland's Forest Park for four years.  What the what?

Popular jogging route in Forest Park



  1. Yes, Oregon. This may be the most comprehensive list on books set in Oregon!

    Here's my Top Ten!

  2. Great list. I thought about making a list of books set in Colorado (where I live), but most of the books I can think of are by Stephen King. The Shining is probably the most well-known Colorado book. Someday, I’m going to stay in the hotel that inspired that story.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. I've read several books set in Oregon this year and have enjoyed them. I'm especially interested in the Cleary book. I've read a number of her children's books but didn't know she had written any memoirs. I'll have to look into that!

  4. I haven't heard of most of these, which makes me totally love your list! Thanks for some fresh suggestions!

  5. I love writers' memoirs so I should really read A Girl from Yamhill.

    Fun fact: after college I applied for a teaching internship at Catlin Gabel. They didn't accept me, so I went to Smith instead ... my life would have been totally different if they had.

    1. Smith, like in Mt. Holyoke?

    2. Smith and Mt Holyoke are two different schools, but they're in the same area - it's called the "Five Colleges" (the other three are UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire). It's a great place!


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