Thursday, February 19, 2009

List of the Day: 20 Greatest Oregon Books

Living in Oregon, it seems like a worthwhile goal to read books by Oregonians or about life in Oregon. According to Portland Monthly magazine, these are the "20 Greatest Oregon Books Ever."

Those I have red are in red; those on my TBR shelf are in blue.

Here is the list, from the October 2006 issue of Portland Monthly, compiled by Brian Doyle.

1. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

2. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

3. Winter Count by Barry Lopez

4. The River Why by David Duncan

5. Wildmen, Wobblies & Whistle Punks: Stewart Holbrook’s Lowbrow Northwest by Stewart Hall Holbrook

6. The Country Boy by Homer Davenport

7. Ricochet River by Robin Cody

8. Stepping Westward: The Long Search for Home in the Pacific Northwest by Sallie Tisdale

9. Hole in the Sky by William Kittredge

10. True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff

11. The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest by Alvin M. Josephy

12. The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis

13. Oregon Geographic Names by Lewis A. McArthur 

14. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

15. Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall & the Oregon Story by Brent Walth

16. The Jump-Off Creek by Molly Gloss

17. Every War Has Two Losers by William Stafford

18. Nehalem Tillamook Tales

19. To Build a Ship by Don Berry

20. In Search of Ancient Oregon: A Geological and Natural History by Ellen Morris Bishop


Updated January 6, 2019


  1. Wow. I thought I hadn't read any book that are Oregon related and then I spotted good ole Ramona. :-)

  2. What an interesting list! I've been wanting to read Sometimes a Great Notion for awhile now. And Ramona! Oh that brings back childhood memories..

  3. The Journalsare among my all time favorites.

  4. Thank you for this list. I joined a new challenge to read four books with north, west, south and east in the titles...I am going to check out the Tisdale book for my 'west' book. I love that Ramona made the list...we recently visited Grant Park to see the sculpture garden...good times. A Girl from Yamhill would have been a great pick too.

  5. I am pretty appalled that I have read so few of the books on this list. Although, I can't say as I am going to rush out for a copy of Geographic Place Names -- there must be something "undercover good" about that one.

    But I can't believe I haven't read the L&C Journals. One of these days . . .

    Ramona! I live on Klickitat Street where she lived.

  6. I just finished Sometimes a Great Notion for Book Club and was blown away by it. It is a terrific book and definitely captures an authentic spirit of Oregon.

  7. This is a great list and coincides with the list just put out by the state library of the 150 greatest Oregon Books of all time, in order to celebrate our sesquicentennial anniversary.

  8. Gabe -- Thanks for the library list! I am going to edit the post to add a link. That's too good to pass up!

  9. I really thought The River Why by David James Duncan was on this list. I started it yesterday and it is plenty entertaining. Maybe more about fishing than Oregon, but it is set in Oregon.

    It's on some list, as I recall. Now I'll have to go find that list.

  10. I just discovered your blog and this list. While I don't live there now, I grew up in Portland and absolutely love that city. I was sad when I saw who compiled the list of greatest Oregon books because two of Mr. Doyle's books belong on that list. Mink River was published in 2010 and Martin Marten was published in 2016. I was very sorry to hear of Mr. Doyle's passing last spring. I had hoped to have many more books from his pen.


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