We’ve narrowed this reading list down to some of the best books set in Washington State. These books will help you better appreciate not only the notable locations in Washington State but also some of its smaller cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
Those of us who live in Washington State tend to take our home state for granted. It’s the birthplace of global corporations like Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, UPS, Starbucks, and more. Washington State produces more than half of the nation’s apples. We have national parks, mountains, forests, water, with incredible bio-diversity. And the people who live here are richly diverse in background and culture.
But wait – there’s more.
Washington State makes regular appearances in books that make the best-selling and best-of lists. Seattle, the Olympic National Park, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier are just some of the locales that appear in top-rated novels set in Washington State.
Selecting what to read can be daunting, so we’ve done some of the work for you. And yes, we’re probably biased, but we still think you’ll gain an appreciation for the Evergreen State and learn more about why we love our home.
This list will be regularly updated, so if you have favorite fiction books (no children’s books, please), that are worthy of being added, be sure to let us know! We’ve grouped series and trilogies together as one entry, rather than listing them individually. This post contains affiliate links.
And I wrote a book about Seattle! Secret Seattle, a Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure takes you on a journey through little-known locations around the city, some curious – and often sketchy – background to some well-known spots, and dives into local personalities and history. It tops the list!
Secret Seattle: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure
by Mary Jo Manzanares
Discover the unique destinations, colorful history, and wacky legends that make the greater Seattle area such a popular destination to live and visit. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor wanting to feel like a local, Secret Seattle lets you in on dozens of secrets around the Emerald City.
Now dig in with these additional recommendations about the best books set in Washington State (click on the book cover to learn more.
1. The Egg and I
2. Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson
The story is set north of Puget Sound on San Piedro Island in 1954, shortly after WWII. A fisherman is found bizarrely drowned in the net on his boat and a local Japanese American fisherman is charged with the murder. The intricate legal exchanges in the subsequent trial capture the interest of the entire island and reveal there’s more at stake than the one man’s guilt. This book is compelling historical fiction covering a very difficult period of history.
3. Firefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah
Firefly Lane is a powerfully told story of two Seattle best friends as they travel from childhood to careers, marriage, and family. There is a sequel, Fly Away. Firefly Lane was adapted into a miniseries. Inspired by her experiences at the University of Washington., an unforgettable story of a lifelong friendship. She’s written a sequel, Fly Away.
4. The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
Meet Enzo, a dog so unique, he’s nearly possessing a human soul. He prepares to reincarnate in the next life as a human being by self-educating through TV, and listening to his master, Denny Swift, a race car driver This popular book was made into a movie starring Patrick Dempsey. Enzo helps Denny through life’s challenges and sees a lot of parallels between human life and his master’s obsession, car-racing.
by Michael Crichton
Thomas Sanders is a budding professional at a Seattle-based multinational computer firm, Digicom. His bright career is threatened by an accusation of sexual harassment by a high-powered executive in the company, who also happens to be his former lover. This book was also made into a movie starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.
6. Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette
7. Still Life With Woodpecker
by Tom Robbins
A contemporary fairy tale that takes place in the Seattle area and Hawaii. Characters include influential Arab figures and a royal family in exile. Leigh-Cheri, an environmentalist, falls in love with Benard Mickey Wrangle, an outlaw in a love affair that occurs in a pack of Camel cigarettes in this absurd romance. Tom Robbins is a prolific writer and resident of Washington state.
8. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
by Kelli Estes
Inspired by true events, this is a story of a Seattle girl, Inara Erickson, who stumbles upon an intricately stitched sleeve hidden in her late aunt’s house. The sleeve has coded messages about a catastrophic event in the 1880s. What she unearths startingly intertwine her life with that of Mei Lein, a Chinese girl who lived a hundred years earlier.
9. This Boy’s Life
by Tobias Wolff
A memoir of the author as a young boy and a tumultuous childhood rocked by his parent’s divorce. Wolff is separated from his father and brother and forges a solid bond with his mother, as they move from place to place, settling in Seattle with a new stepfather. Themes include vulnerability, self-identity, and survival.
10. The School of Ingredients
11. Fifty Shades of Grey series
by E.L. James
This bestselling novel and unusual love story took the United States by storm as it tracked a relationship between Anastacia Steele, an English literature grad, and Christain Grey, a handsome billionaire. Grey leads Anna into a world of bondage and fetishism. Set in Seattle, the books targets mature audiences. Fifty Shades of Grey series is a trilogy of erotic novels; Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.
12. A Good Yarn
by Debbie Macomber
An impressive tale of four women who meet in a knitting class in a downtown Seattle yarn shop. Lydia Hofman offers classes in knitting socks at her shop when Elisa Beaumont, an elderly divorced woman, Bethanne Hamlin, a woman who was abandoned by her husband for another woman, and Courtney Pulaski, an overweight teenager meet for companionship. It’s the second book in the Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber. The first, The Shop on Blossom Street, is also set in Seattle.
13. Blackberry Winter
by Sarah Jio
Claire Aldridge is a journalist for the Seattle-Herald. After a miscarriage, she is assigned to cover a story about a winter storm. In doing so, she unearths the story of a three-year-old boy who vanished during such a storm 80 years earlier. Her investigations into the event bring her to startling realizations about her past.
14. The Violets of March
by Sarah Jio
The story of Emily, a writer reeling from a brutal divorce, who retreats to Bainbridge Island. As she researches for her next novel, she stumbles into a 1943 red velvet diary belong to a puzzling woman named Esther. Some of the diary entries seem mysteriously linked to happenings in her own life.
15. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
by Sherman Alexie
A compilation of twenty-four short stories that cleverly weave memory, and fantasy around the Spokane Indian reservation. Told with passion and charm by Thomas Build-the-Fire, and other native people, the stories tackle topics like addiction, baseball, humor, and automobile accidents.
16. Citizen Vince
by Jess Walter
In the last week before the 1980 presidential elections, Vince Camden, a crook in Spokane, gets up at 1:59 a.m and pockets his cache of stolen credit cards then heads to a donut shop for his witness-protection job. While meeting a politician before dawn he encounters a zealous detective and finds out his fellow credit-scammer is dead with a bullet lodged in his head.
17. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
The year is 1986 and Henry Lee is with a group of curious onlookers gathered outside the iconic Panama Hotel ins Seattle. It’s been boarded for years. Harry’s childhood memory is triggered when the new hotel owner unravels a distinctive Japanese parasol left by Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. The Panama Hotel still exists.
18. Love and Other Consolation Prizes
by Jamie Ford
After moving to Seattle, Ernest Young, a 12-year-old orphan boy from China, is confused as he discovers he is the prize that’s given away at the 1909 World Fair. Half a century later, at a second Seattle World Fair, Ernest Young’s daughter, an investigative journalist, takes him for a trip down memory lane and a past that still haunts the family.
19. Twilight Series
by Stephenie Meyers
The Twilight Saga a quartet of vampire-inspired fantasy romance novels. Twilight, the debut novel was published in 2005. It’s the story of Isabella Swan, a high school teenager who migrates to small-town Forks, located on the Olympic Peninsula. She falls in love with Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire. It’s a precarious balance that of passion and peril. The complete Twilight Saga series includes Twilight (2005); New Moon (2006); Eclipse (2007); Breaking Dawn (2008). This series was as popular with adults as it was with young adults. There are Twilight tours offered in Forks.
20. The Last Town on Earth
by Thomas Mullen
Philip Worthy is the adopted son of the founder of Commonwealth, a small outpost located in the remote Pacific Northwest. It’s a refuge for workers fleeing exploitation. The story evolves as the town faces challenges because of the need to self-quarantine during the 1918 pandemic. The book was written over a decade ago, but feels like it could have been written in 2020.
21. The Baker’s Apprentice
by Judith Ryan Hendricks
Wynter Morrison, a baker at Queenstreet Bakery, Seattle, is in a romantic relationship with Mac. She’s shattered when he leaves only to receive letters from him that jolt her into self-introspection and self-discovery. Other books in the series include Bread Alone and Baker’s Blues.
22. The Orchardist
23. The Atlas of Love
24. Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald
by Betty MacDonald
Hot on the heels of her popular debut collection of memoirs, The Egg & I, Betty MacDonald hilariously narrates the desperation to get a job to fend for her two juvenile daughters during the Great Depression. She returned to her mother on Vashon Island after an unsuccessful chicken farming enterprise and a failed marriage.
25. The Great Alone
Any list of books is incomplete, so my recommendation is to consider this an ever-expanding list. If you have any favorite books set in Washinton State that you think should be on this list, please let me know. I’m looking not just for popular books
Pin to your favorite Pinterest boards and add these to your reading list.