The Essential Portland Bookshelf: 32 Books That Define Our City and State
1. Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Boy meets Meadows racehorse meets America.
2. Honey in the Horn by H. L. Davis
Homesteading: super bummer. Centuries of sadness.
3. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Keeping Portland weirdest
4. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
Big-time prehistoric othering
5. A New Life by Bernard Malamud
Pacific Northwest self-reinvention goes awry.
6. Seven Hands, Seven Hearts by Elizabeth Woody
Our poet laureate’s ancestral explorations
7. Wildmen, Wobblies & Whistle Punks by Stewart Holbrook
The Northwest mavericks in storied glory
8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Hike, stray, self-love
9. Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
Female Hannibal Lecter loves Portland—to death.
10. Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter
Portland’s seedy ’60s
11. Mala Noche by Walt Curtis
Old Old Town hustlers hustle
12. The Journals of Lewis & Clark
The original Trail Blazers
13. Trask by Don Berry
Mountain man is Tillamook bound.
14. Oh Joy, Sex Toy by Erika Moen
Sex-positive nonfiction comics—of course we do that.
15. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Impolitic dreaming of a Portland dystopia
16. My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Forest Park survivalism
17. Du iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Children’s guide to changing seasons and neologisms
18. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Wild West redux
19. The Darkness Around Us is Deep by William Stafford
Oregon’s great wordsmith on presence
20. Curtains by Hazel Hall
Poems from a room in Northwest Portland
21. From the West to the West: Across the Plains to Oregon by Abigail Scott Duniway
Badass pioneering stuff
22. The Folly of Loving Life by Monica Drake
Portlanders feel the change.
23. The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond
Very old Portland meets oldish Portland.
24. Portlandness, A Cultural Atlas by David Banis and Hunter Shobe
Mapping urban smells, strip clubs, and ROUSs
25. Fire at Eden's Gate by Brent Walth
Tom McCall invents Oregon.
26. The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy
Lewis & Clark, postapocalyptically
27. Dryland by Sara Jaffe
Swim meets and sexual discovery in ’90s Portland
28. The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson
Life in pre-gentrified Northeast
29. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
Loggers vs. river
30. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Hipster Christians wander Rose City.
31. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Don’t talk about it.
32. The River Why by David James Duncan
Coming of age, with fish