The best books about Washington state

22 authors have picked their favorite books about Washington state and why they recommend each book.

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If You Tell

By Gregg Olsen,

Book cover of If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

If You Tell by Gregg Olsen is a true evil event where he explains the story of a kind and loving mother as described by her community; but they failed to see the evil that Shelly Knotek was torturing and murdering her friends and relatives for the fun of it, while her three daughters watched in horror. Abused by their parents, the sisters watched the victims begging for their lives as their mother tortured them for the fun of it in cold blood, murdering them. The sisters were frightened that they might be next to die at any moment in the hands of their mother, found the strength to tell others the horrible acts committed by her. Based on the direct evidence from the sisters, their mother was sentenced to prison. Later, the sisters provided a detailed description to the author of how they witnessed the deaths of their friends…

Who am I?

As an educator and author of many books, I was asked to write a book about the spiritual journey of a DEA agent with two PIs. They were determined to end a notorious Cartel organization operating along the U.S. Southwestern border. For over five years the two Private Investigators (PI) and DEA Agent Larry Hardin prepared the case for prosecution. The case hit one roadblock after another when presented to five different U.S. Attorneys for prosecution. The books listed below will appeal to similar customers and show connections of the criminal underworld and how the judicial system function’s; finding a way to bring them to justice. News junkies, historians, and true crime enthusiasts will enjoy reading these stories told by those who investigated the activities. 

I wrote...

Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo

By Dianne DeMille, Larry Hardin, Jeffrey Pearce, Randy Torgerson

Book cover of Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo

What is my book about?

Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo is a story of true events that occurred 1991-1996. DEA Agent Larry Hardin and two private investigators, Jeff Pearce and Randy Torgerson, were determined to bring down the Meraz organization along the southwestern border. For five years the three men spearheaded two separate, and simultaneous investigations in different locations that eventually merged.

Jeff and Randy provided information to Larry to build his case when they found the Meraz’s were working with corrupt employees of their California client. The Meraz’s attempted to murder two DEA agents (1970s) and were connected to the murders of Kiki Camerena, George Montoya, Paul Seema, Jose Montoya, Dan Elkins, and Michael Crowe. Larry was determined to indict the Meraz’s.

Girls Burn Brighter

By Shobha Rao,

Book cover of Girls Burn Brighter

The sisters in Girls Burn Brighter aren’t related by blood or family or tradition or history. They are sisters in ways much more profound and important and life-changing and path-determining than that. This beautiful novel traverses continents and cultures to prove blood ties and family ties have nothing on sister ties.

Who am I?

I like books about big families, especially unusual ones, but I have only one sister and only one child, so when I set out to write about these families, I read about them first. We place so much importance on how kids are raised, what kind of childhood and home life and family they have growing up, what gifts and what challenges they’re bestowed by genetics, history, identity, society, circumstance. Siblings usually share all or at least most of these markers and yet turn into often wildly different adults. It’s also true that all those fine sibling balances – love/hate, adored/annoyed, admired/appalled, alike/different – are great fun to read and write.

I wrote...

One Two Three

By Laurie Frankel,

Book cover of One Two Three

What is my book about?

From a New York Times bestselling author comes a timely, topical novel about love and family that will make you laugh and cry...and laugh again. How do you let go of the past when the past won't let go of you?

Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne. But the Mitchell sisters are especially beloved, and not just because they’re teenage triplets. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone has ever met, and no one is fooled by her wheelchair or her Voice app into thinking otherwise. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed—tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her underwear drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne.


By Stephenie Meyer,

Book cover of Twilight

I was a teacher when I first heard of this book. My class was at the library. The librarian was giving book talks to pique the students’ interest. When she talked about Twilight, I couldn’t wait to read it. For those who somehow haven’t heard of Twilight yet, it’s about a girl who falls in love with a vampire.

I liked that Twilight was different from any other vampire story I’d ever known. It was fun to read about vampires who didn’t want to kill people. The characters were all very intriguing. When I came to the end of the book, I was a little less than satisfied until I learned that it was the first in a series. To this day, Twilight is one of my favorite books.

Who am I?

I’m a retired teacher. I’m fascinated with stories of scary creatures, especially vampires. As a child, I stayed up late watching Dracula movies. As I got older, my love for vampire movies continued. Some were scary. Some were comical. I enjoyed them all, well, at least most of them. I love stories about traditional vampires as well as those about vampires who are different from the typical stereotype. Vampire hunter stories also intrigue me. When I wrote The Voinico’s Daughter, I wanted to put my own unique twist on the vampire legends as it had been a dream of mine for a long time to write my own vampire story!

I wrote...

The Voinico's Daughter

By Sallie Cochren, Elsie Marie Cochren,

Book cover of The Voinico's Daughter

What is my book about?

Watch out, vampires! There's a new hunter in town!

Nicoleta will have to make her first kill soon. When she goes to Romania, she learns that her birthright is killing vampires. Adding to her problems, a powerful vampire has been waiting for her arrival. Varujan has anticipated that Nicoleta would eventually come to Romania since her parents are voinicos (people who have survived being bitten by a vampire). Anxious to get revenge on Nicoleta’s biological father for refusing to let Varujan turn him, Varujan has looked forward to killing Nicoleta. With his vampire companion, Antanasia, Varujan seems unstoppable. Will Nicoleta be ready for the battle that is inevitably coming? Whatever happens, one thing is certain. Nicoleta's life is never going to be the same again!

The Dark Place

By Aaron Elkins,

Book cover of The Dark Place

Set in the rainforest of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, this book centers on the bizarre murder of a man killed with an ancient weapon not used for the last ten thousand years. Mysterious tales of Sasquatch sightings circulate around the investigation. Only by pressing deep into the rainforest and sleuthing firsthand can the heroes capture the culprit of the crime. While reading this novel, I could feel the cold rain dripping off the tree canopy, and could smell the ferns and moss and hanging lichen of the rainforest. Coincidentally, right after reading this book, I went camping in a remote corner of Washington State. I found myself jumping at the sudden trill of a red squirrel and feeling the shadows of night press in on me. The book had come alive in my mind.

Who am I?

In addition to being a writer, I’m also a wildlife researcher and therefore spend a lot of time in wild, remote areas. Using a variety of methods including bioacoustic studies, I undertake wildlife surveys to determine what species are present on lands that have been set aside for conservation. I ensure there are no signs of poaching and devise of ways to improve habitat. I have surveyed for the presence of grizzlies, wolves, spotted owls, wolverines, jaguars, endangered bats, and more. These remote settings inspired me to write my current thriller series about a wildlife biologist who encounters dangerous situations while working to protect endangered species.

I wrote...

A Solitude of Wolverines: A Novel of Suspense

By Alice Henderson,

Book cover of A Solitude of Wolverines: A Novel of Suspense

What is my book about?

While studying wolverines on a wildlife sanctuary in Montana, biologist Alex Carter is run off the road and threatened by locals determined to force her off the land. Undeterred, Alex tracks wolverines on foot and by cameras positioned in remote regions of the preserve. But when she reviews the photos, she discovers disturbing images of a severely injured man seemingly lost and wandering in the wilds.

After searches for the unknown man come up empty, local law enforcement is strangely set on dismissing the case altogether. Alex realizes too late that she has seen too much—she's stumbled onto a far-reaching illegal operation and has become the biggest threat. Alex’s life now depends on using all she knows to win the brutal battle for survival.

My Sister's Grave

By Robert Dugoni,

Book cover of My Sister's Grave

New clues have surfaced surrounding a missing girl. Despite warnings from colleagues, Detective Tracy Crosswhite takes the investigation into her own hands. For years she’s been searching for answers to her sister’s disappearance. Tracy is determined, emotional, and driven to follow up on information that finally makes sense. Dugoni’s descriptive, fast-paced thriller is raw and unsweetened. He gives you the sense of urgency, the sweat, and the dirty truth. Tracy reminded me in many ways of Morgan Jewell in my book. She’s a smart, fierce woman. She’s the type of woman I love to read about, and the type I love to write. 

Who am I?

Haven’t we all seen things? Done things? Felt guilt or remorse over stuff that happened? I’m fascinated by the darkness within and I’m an eternal student of psychology. I was a musician first. I’ve played piano since age three and studied music at Berklee College of Music. Later, I found my artistic calling when I began to write. Those life experiences have added up and it’s not all roses. My characters have good hearts but they’re struggling with demons—like we all do. I hope my readers can relate and if not, maybe they see something true.

I wrote...

Best Kept Secrets

By Tracey S. Phillips,

Book cover of Best Kept Secrets

What is my book about?

Morgan Jewell and Fay Ramsey are enjoying their last summer together before college. Fay is shy, with a controlling mother, and Morgan is the perfect, wild, loud-mouthed yang to Fay's yin. But when Fay is found dead, Morgan's entire world crumbles.

Years later, Morgan,  now a homicide detective, is still haunted by the abrupt end to her best friend's life. She knew Fay held a secret in those final days but the leads have run dry. Until she's called to the scene of a murder: a woman whose body is left mangled, too similar to Fay's to ignore. This is the case to set her back on the killer's trail. The closer she gets, the harder it forces her to confront the memories of herself and her best friend. 

The Challenge of Rainier, 40th Anniversary

By Dee Molenaar,

Book cover of The Challenge of Rainier, 40th Anniversary: A Record of the Explorations and Ascents, Triumphs and Tragedies on the Northwest's Greatest Mountain (-40th A

I’m not a climber, but I thoroughly enjoyed this classic book about mountaineering at Mount Rainier National Park. The author covers it all—geology, weather, routes, equipment, accidents, rescues, and guides. As a history geek, I appreciated the detailed descriptions of some of the earliest climbs, including ones before 1900. The book was originally released in 1971, but the newest edition includes updated information. 

Who am I?

I am endlessly inspired by the beauty and majesty of our national parks. As a former seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park and Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, I was frequently surprised by the incredible scrapes that visitors could get themselves into. Of course, I wasn’t immune, and I experienced a few misadventures of my own. These books are great reminders to always respect your limits and be aware of your surroundings. Since I now write novels set in our national parks, I enjoy reading some of these real adventures—it provides great fodder for the imagination. 

I wrote...

Ever Faithful: A Vintage National Parks Novel

By Karen Barnett,

Book cover of Ever Faithful: A Vintage National Parks Novel

What is my book about?

A man who can't read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps. Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger's daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. When she discovers Nate's secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

New Moon

By Stephenie Meyer,

Book cover of New Moon

I know these books probably get mentioned on lots of these lists but it’s for good reason. There was so much about this book (and the series) that I loved, but I think the thing I love most was how loyal Jacob was to Bella. All he wanted was to protect her, even if sometimes it was from herself. 

Who am I?

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. Werewolf books have always called to me, and so has the moon—but that’s another story. Ha! In all honestly, I love the sense of loyalty and family that comes with werewolves and their packs. Family means a lot to me, and that bleeds over into the type of stories I write. I’ve been an Indie Author for over 10 years now with 50+ books under my belt. I have a passion for writing about shifters of all types (including werewolves), small towns, and romance. 

I wrote...

Marked (Marked Duology)

By Jennifer Snyder,

Book cover of Marked (Marked Duology)

What is my book about?

A mysterious stranger she can't ignore. A birthmark with hidden meaning. A bite that changes her destiny. Everything for Tessa Morganton is about to change when a hot newcomer with secrets shows up in town she can't seem to stay away from.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie,

Book cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I shed tears about 16 times reading this book, half from laughing and half from crying. This book is about a Native American teenager, Arnold, who decides to move from his reservation school to the public school in his rural Washington town. His self-deprecating humor, which includes cartoons he draws, is laugh-out-loud funny. The reflections he shares about his family and his new classmates are absurd, as Arnold is the classic “I use humor to cope” kind of human. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is full of hope, but the struggles he faces along the way are heart-breaking.

Who am I?

I have been teaching English for 25 years, both at the high school and middle school levels. And one thing I have seen in the lives of thousands of teenagers is that our days are filled with the most beautiful, amazing things, as well as the most devastating, tragic things. My own childhood was equal parts unconditional love and chaotic dysfunction. In fact, if life were a book, it would be on this list!

I wrote...

Jacked Up

By Erica Sage,

Book cover of Jacked Up

What is my book about?

It’s bad enough that Nick’s sister is dead and his parents are shipping him off to Jesus camp. He’s also being followed around by Jack Kerouac, who’s incredibly annoying for a genius. Nick’s pretty sure Eden Springs is going to drive him insane. The campers ride donkeys into the desert and replace song lyrics with Bible verses. Somehow, only Nick seems to find this strange.

Worst of all is the PC Box, into which the campers gleefully place prayers and confessions. Nick scribbles down his darkest secret—about his sister’s death—and drops it in the box. But then the box is stolen, with Nick’s secret inside of it. Nick is desperate to get the box back—before the world learns the truth about what he did. 

I'm Down

By Mishna Wolff,

Book cover of I'm Down: A Memoir

Delightful, clear, and unpretentious. The author shared what she thought as a child during each stage of her unique upbringing. The juxtaposition of her state of happiness while living in poverty compared to that of her affluent teenage classmates was a stark revelation. Racial issues were not shied away from, but dealt with tenderly and humorously. 

Who am I?

The first twenty-five years of my life appeared to be atypical for an inner-city African American boy from a large family. Only a small number of children were bused to more “academically advanced” schools. I earned that honor by frequently running away from the local school. Overcoming the challenges of being a minority in a demanding, predominantly Jewish, school district eventually benefited me greatly. In the early 1970s, my parents did something unprecedented for a working-class African American family from Queens: They bought an old, dilapidated farmhouse in Upstate New York's dairy country as a summer home. What other unusual life experiences that impact people of color have taken place on the American tapestry? 

I wrote...

Mugamore: Succeeding without Labels - Lessons for Educators

By Jonathan T. Jefferson,

Book cover of Mugamore: Succeeding without Labels - Lessons for Educators

What is my book about?

Written from a unique in-depth child's point of view, this book is designed to trigger a paradigm shift from automatically labeling children to patiently allowing them to grow into themselves. The author compares common disabilities chapter-by-chapter in sync with the child's intentions (or lack thereof). This sharing of the educational lives of two children, coupled with peer reviewed literature and research, provides powerful motivation for change.

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World

By Amy Reed,

Book cover of The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World

This book is weird—in the very best way possible. When I finished reading it, I cried—I loved it that much! It’s one of the most unique stories, following two teenage loners in a small town split by differences and old grievances. But when the town itself turns into an impossible, semi-apocalyptic mess, they’re thrust together to make things right. The setting is so unique, and there is so much heart in this surrealist gem of a book.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town myself and have always loved books that create characters from the setting. I want to feel immersed and captivated by the place, as well as the people and stories within the pages. The setting of an eerie small town is one of my favorites, because of the feeling that anything magical or mysterious could happen there. My book Starling takes place in a strange small town where odd things are everyday occurrences. There are many books that use small towns as setting for a speculative story, but these are some of my favorites!

I wrote...


By Isabel Strychacz,

Book cover of Starling

What is my book about?

Strange things have always happened in the small town of Darling... Yet Delta Wilding and her sister Bee are familiar with the peculiar. Raised by an eccentric father always on the hunt for the spectacular, they’re used to odd occurrences. But when a mysterious boy falls from the stars into the woods behind their house, nothing can prepare them for the extraordinary turn their lives are about to take. Extraordinary and dangerous.

Starling Rust is not from this world and his presence brings attention. Delta and her sister must go to incredible lengths to protect their mystical visitor—especially as Delta’s growing feelings for the boy from the stars could prove the greatest risk of all.

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