best alaska books to purchase for your alaskan cruise: from culture to history to travel

June 13, 2023

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Happy Tuesday friends! Today I am excited to share with y'all some of the best books to purchase for an Alaskan cruise! As I mentioned back in April I am excited to share all about the turning point ministries alaska cruise that we are going on this summer! I hope that it encourages you to consider taking a trip of your own this summer to this beautiful part of the world! 

If you have been around the blog for a number of years, you may remember a similar post I did on the Best Alaska Books to Purchase for your Alaskan Road Trip! You can find that post HERE if you are looking at doing a road trip through Alaska!

As we have been preparing to see a totally different area of Alaska then where I did the two road trips in 2018 and 2019, I have been doing a ton of research! I will say that before every blog writing trip that I take, I do a ton of research on the area. I know that research is not a substitute for seeing and experiencing a place, but whether it is the "learner heart" in me or not, I love to read and research a lot before a trip. This probably sounds very nerdy of me, but I have found that the more I learn and research ahead of time about a place I have never been to, the more that I have loved the trip. 

I love reading different books, watching movies (or you tube videos from other travel bloggers) or listening to podcasts from those in the area. To me this is an exciting way to prepare for the trip and it always further excites me to think about all that I am going to see! I also feel like I end up more in the experience of where I am and love the surroundings even more. Do y'all feel the same way?

If you are looking for books for your trip here are a few that I definitely recommend. Whether you are planning a trip to Alaska in the near future or planning a cruise down the road, here are some of the best books to purchase for your upcoming trip: 

Travel Books
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For this cruise this book has been amazing find! This definitely became one of the most used books that I referred to and consulted for these areas as far as travel books are concerned. If you are taking a cruise trip than you will definitely want to get this! You can purchase the book HERE.
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Another helpful Moon book is this general state Alaska Moon Guides. It covers the entire state and has a ton of helpful information in it for those who are looking for a "broader" book. You can purchase the book HERE. Also, I was honored to be part of this book- the back inside cover has a picture from our trip! Thank you again Moon for the honor! 
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For this cruise this book has been amazing find! I admit that somethings would be repetitive if you have been to certain parts of Alaska or just traveled to Alaska but it definitely is a great resource to add to your collection! You can purchase the book HERE.
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This book I used a lot in my beginning research for researching about this trip. It has a lot great information, albeit it is older and the information is from before the pandemic so you want to research everything and double check it. It was helpful in providing a ton of information about Alaska Cruising Ports in general so I still recommend it. You can find the book HERE.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Stories Books
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I came across this book in antique bookstore in the early summer of 2018, shortly after I had made the decision to take the writing trip. Being a former teacher, I love stories of teachers in different areas, so the name and the setting were very intriguing to me and I loved the book. For those that may be interested, the book is a true story of Hannah Breece who came to Alaska in 1904. Here is what the back cover description reads: 

"When Hannah Breece came to Alaska in 1904, it was a remote lawless wilderness of prospectors, murderous bootleggers, tribal chiefs, and Russian priests.  She spent fourteen years educating Athabascans, Aleuts, Inuits, and Russians with the stubborn generosity of a born teacher and the clarity of an original and independent mind.  Jane Jacobs, Hannah's great-niece, here offers an historical context to Breece's remarkable eyewitness account, filling in the narrative gaps, but always allowing the original words to ring clearly.  It is more than an adventure story:  it is a powerful work of women's history that provides important--and, at times, unsettling--insights into the unexamined assumptions and attitudes that governed white settler's behavior toward native communities at the turn of the century."

The New York times said it is: "An unforgettable...story of a remarkable woman who lived a heroic life" and I would definitely agree. If you are interested in the book you can find it for less than $6 HERE
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Some of you are already smiling. You know that I couldn't include a list of books without listing one that included the time frame of World War II. This book is an amazing story of a World War II pilot that survives in the Alaskan Frozen Wilderness. As a brief synopsis this book tells the story of 5 army aviators who went out on a routine flight to test their plane shortly before Christmas in 1943. Unfortunately the mission ended in a crash and only one person survived. Leon Crane, the survivor, had all of the odds stacked against him in order to survive, as he was a city kid from Philadelphia and had no wilderness experience at all. With only a parachute for cover and an old Boy scout knife, this book tells the story of his remarkable 12 weeks saga to survive. It is an amazing tale of survival and I definitely recommend it y'all. You can find it on Amazon to purchase HERE
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(3) Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness
This was a book that a friend recommended to me and I found it incredibly interesting and wonderful to read. If you like When Calls the Heart, the concept is very similar and you would find it a fascinating and interesting read also. This book though is a true story and I was amazed by Tisha's courage and her capacity to love despite some incredible odds in this time period. The book was originally published in 1976, but has since been reprinted and updated. You can find it on Amazon to purchase HERE
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I almost hesitated to list this one because I know so many people have already read the book and are probably very familiar with the story. As I was researching for the trip though I realized that I hadn't read the book in years and so when I found it at a garage sale I took the time to re-read through it. 

I don't know if it is maybe the most "uplifting" read some might say as you are about to embark on a road trip through Alaska... but there is a depth to this book that I think can be easily missed in the popularity of it. Jon Krakauer (the author) does a fantastic job of really examining McCandless's life as he looked for a vision quest like his heroes. Despite the wealth and privileged background that he came from, he was still searching and looking for something that would give him worth and meaning. Krakauer examines the concept of what it means in many ways to die and the choices that we make and the relationship ties that we have in this world. If you haven't read it, it is definitely worth a read and before a trip to Alaska would be a fitting time. You can find it HERE
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Tip of the Iceberg, which was just released in May of 2018 tells the story of Mark Adams who set out to recreate the famous 1899 summer expedition, using Alaska's public ferry system. For those who aren't familiar with it (I wasn't either before reading this book), the famous 1899 expedition was organized by Edward H. Harriman where he converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university" that was populated and attended by some of America's leading and brightest scientists and writers at the time, including John Muir. (For those who have been around the blog for sometime you know that I loved my visit to the Muir Woods back in 2016 and it was during my visit that I learned more about the life of John Muir.) 

In the book, Mark Adams travels over 3,000 miles using the Alaska Marine Highway System. The book is a fascinating read, and inspired my desire to take a trip on one of the ferries during our road trip. Even though that didn't work out for this trip, it is definitely something I would consider for a future trip, and those planning to include a ferry ride as part of your transportation will definitely find this fascinating. You can find the book to purchase HERE

cookbooks and food
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Maya Wilson, the author of the cookbook and the author behind the blog, Alaska from Scratch, shares over 75 delicious and family-friendly recipes in her book, The Alaska From Scratch CookbookHer photography is stunning and when I found her blog before the trip, I was absolutely enthralled. 

She seriously is amazing and I think I follow her on all of her social media sites - hahaha. She writes for several different places and she's inspiring and her story of how she ended up in Alaska is just so cool. You can read about it on her blog HERE. As a fellow blogger and author I love seeing when people branch out from their blog and turn their talent of writing into a book so that even more people have the opportunity to read their words. And when it is a cookbook it is a dream... hahaha. 

Some of you are shaking your heads smiling because you know that I just love books. And Y'all know I love cooking and cookbooks. *smiles*. But seriously... this one is a keeper and one that is a treasure no matter where you live. You will definitely want to add this to your bookshelf for before your trip and after wards. It is wonderful. This book was one of my favorite finds in researching and I can't recommend it enough. It would also make a wonderful gift as the holidays approach. You can find the book to purchase HERE
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Homestead Kitchen, written by Eve and Eivin Kilcher, who are the stars of the reality show, "Alaska: The Last Frontier" share 85 original recipes in their book and give advice on gardening, preserving, and foraging also. The photographs are stunning and I walked away encouraged on how to become less dependent on mass produced products and really enjoyed the book thoroughly. We have already tried a couple of the recipes and they are delicious. You can find the book to purchase HERE

Honorable Mentions
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For our road trip I purchased a map and that that map turned out to be one of the best maps that we used and I would definitely recommend it. There are places a lot of places in Alaska that you won't have service so having a road map is incredibly practical. For this trip, I knew a map would be something that would help us see what we were seeing and where we were at while we were cruising. I was so excited to find one on the Inside Passage as that is where we will be! You can purchase it HERE
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This book, although written in 2009 is a great little guide to the area of a lot of cruises (including ours) and you may find this book to be helpful. You can find it HERE
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This book (it feels more like a magazine) is printed once a year and does have some helpful information in for a trip to Alaska which is why I have included it in the honorable mentions. But... it also includes other areas outside of Alaska and the price is a lot more than any other thing I have mentioned. If you want a more magazine feel with some helpful information, and don't mind the price, than this is for you. I think this is a book that you could purchase and bring along on your trip and find it interesting to read. You can find it HERE

I hope that you find this list helpful! What about y'all? Any Alaska books you would add to this list? 

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Want to step forward and plan your trip but not sure how? Check out all of the Alaska Road Trip posts from our trips in 2018 and 2019 which you can find them in the Alaska travel section on my blog by clicking HERE or you can click on the specific links below:

Anchorage: // Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown Video // Beluga Point // 
// Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown// Room 209 Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown //
// Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//
// Along the Matanuska River on Alaska 1-South// A Beautiful Lake Adventure Near Chickaloon//
// A Cloudy & Beautiful Drive on Alaska 1-South//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Hike// 
// Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge //

Denali State Park Area: //Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Pursuit Collection)// Denali Highway Video// 
// One Last Adventure on the Denali Highway// The Denali Highway: Part Two //
// The Denali Highway: Part One// 
//The Drive to Cantwell// Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge //

Girdwood:  // Winner Creek Trail Video// Winner Creek Trail //

Hatcher Pass Area: // Hatcher Pass Video// Hatcher Pass // Little Susitna River //

Homer (Kenai Peninsula) Area: // Homer Video// Homer Spit// Homer Lighthouse// Bishop's Beach//
// A Brief History of Homer //

Kennicott/McCarthy Area: //Root Glacier Hike //Kennicott // Kennicott Glacier // 
// Kennecott vs. Kennicott Spelling // The McCarthy Highway // 
// An Unfortunate Review of the Kennicott Glacier Lodge //

Seward: //Holgate Glacier// Kenai Fjords Whale Watching Tour//
//A Beautiful Morning Walk in Seward/An Evening Walk at Seward Windsong Lodge// 
//Resurrection Roadhouse Restaurant at Seward Windsong Lodge//
//Seward Windsong Lodge/Room 408 at Seward Windsong Lodge//

Seward Highway Area: //Beluga Point// Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Talkeetna: //Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Pursuit Collection)//

Thompson Pass Area: // Thompson Pass Area Video 
// Worthington Glacier Hike//
//Worthington Glacier//
// Among the Alaskan Fireweed on A4-S: A Beautiful Symbol of Hope in the Hard Seasons of Life //
// A Brief History of & Drive on Alaska 4-South of the Richardson Highway//Klutina River//
// The Beginning Drive to Thompson Pass// 

Whittier: /Whittier YouTube Video/The Town of Whittier /
//Whittier Tunnel (Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel) //

Wrangell-St. Elias Park Area:
 //The McCarthy Highway // Copper River Princess Lodge //

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