| 05/07/2020 | Island Books |   

Virtually #VisitSanJuans – Read a Book!

WRITTEN BY: BARBARA MARRETT & AMY NESLER

Please join us as we journey together into the wonderful world of Island books. While you may not be able to travel to the San Juan Islands now, rest assured, you can still access audiobooks and e-books, digitally. You’ll also find many other great digital resources, including activities for kids through your local library’s website. All you need is the internet and a library card to get started today! Or, support your local bookstore by buying books.

I’m going to start the ball rolling by recommending a few favorite books that ignite my passions; local boating, the Inside Passage, Northwest Coast Native American culture, ghosts, and hiking San Juan Islands trails. It’s an eclectic mix of non-fiction books that inspire and provide insight into the place I call home. – Barbara Marrett

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

(1961) non-fiction

The Curve of Time paints an evocative and poetic portrait of the Inside Passage as viewed from the deck of a 25-foot wooden powerboat. Blanchet, the original family travel writer, was widowed in 1927 with five children. Together they cruised the Inside Passage summer upon summer, shoe-horned into their tiny vessel. It was a time when adventure was high, amenities for boaters low. Along the way, she visits abandoned Native villages, encounters ghosts, deals with boat breakdowns, wild animals, storms and tidal rapids. Ultimately, she earns our admiration as a capable, courageous captain and a captivating storyteller. We learn why boaters, to this day, find the Inside Passage one of the best cruising grounds in the world.

Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography by June Burn

(1941) non-fiction. 

June and Farrar Burn were the original Island hippies. With an infectious joy for living, adventure always takes priority over money for the Burns. Join them as they traverse the USA in a donkey cart while earning a living as troubadours during the depression. Find out what homesteading Sentinel Island, a tiny "gumdrop" in the San Juan Islands was like in the 1930s. From here, join Farrar as he rows across dangerous Spieden Channel to work each day in the company town of Roche Harbor. June’s vivacious writing style encourages us to embrace adventure and gives us a window into the Islands in the early twentieth century. Their descendants still call the San Juan Islands home.

Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands by Craig Romano

(2014) Non-fiction. 

Recent surveys of visitors and islanders tell us that hiking is the most popular outdoor activity in the Islands. No surprise there! But to explore the best secluded beaches, bays, and coves, bluffs, waterfalls, and prairies by trail, we recommend you let author Craig Romano be your guide. Each hike is rated by quality, length, and difficulty. A how-to guide to get to even the non-ferry-served islands, and quick reference guides for history, wildflowers, wildlife watching, and more make this a must-have companion for hikers and those who wish to go beyond the beaten path.

My favorite Island books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction that spark my interest in wildlife, adventure, and history. Every story I read makes me fall just a little more in love with the archipelago that’s become my home. – Amy Nesler


The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

(2015) Fiction

Dual storylines between Inara Erickson, a modern Seattleite handling her late aunt’s estate on Orcas Island, and Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to the core. This novel poignantly depicts a fascinating period in American history rarely covered by history books – racism towards Chinese Americans at the turn of the century that went hand in hand with the Exclusion Act of 1882. Perfect for lovers of historical fiction looking to discover a new period.

Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents by Monika Wieland Shields

(2019) Nonfiction

The Southern Resident killer whales are icons of the Pacific Northwest, a beloved population of orcas that are considered the most-watched whales in the world. Despite decades of research and focused conservation efforts, they are on the brink of extinction. From the capture era and the beginning of killer whale research to the whale-watching boom and endangered listing, the whole story of the Southern Residents is told here. An excellent resource for those looking to learn more about the legendary whales.

The Search by Nora Roberts

(2010) Fiction

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life—a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing Canine Search and Rescue. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare: an encounter with the Red Scarf Killer, who shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner. On Orcas Island, Fiona has found the peace and solitude necessary to rebuild her life with her three loyal Labs. But all that changes on the day intensely private wood artist Simon Doyle barrels up her drive with an out-of-control puppy, desperate for her help. This book is a guilty pleasure – a satisfying blend of romance, humor, and mystery set against the moody backdrop of Orcas Island.

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