One woman. One horse. 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

Check back often for the latest updates and stories from Meredith and Apollo as they journey 10,000 miles on a four year ride around the USA.

Reading for the road in the Pacific Northwest

I am a total bookworm.  Though my packs have to be as light as possible, I cannot possibly travel without a book.  That is just one of my necessities.  When I finish the one book I'm carrying, it becomes a Big Deal for me to find a replacement.  I went three near-panicked days in January without a book. While I will occasionally read e-books on my phone, its' not as nice as a paper copy (and hard on my battery - there's no phone charger on my saddle!)

As I ride through each state, I try to find books that are about that state, or fictional works that are set in that state.  Here's what I read for Washington and Oregon:

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck
     Perhaps my favorite of the list, and the most applicable to my own travels.  A few years ago, Rinker and his brother Nick hitched three mules to an authentic restored covered wagon and retraced the historic Oregon trail.  Unlike other modern trail reenactments, they did it without a support crew or caravan of trucks, for an authentic, harrowing and entertaining journey from Missouri to Oregon.  The book is full of equine wisdom, trail history, and good fun.

The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
   When I first started reading this, I thought I might not bother with it.  Too boring, I thought (and this from someone who likes nonfiction and classics above most "bestsellers").  But I stuck it out for a few chapters, and am I glad I did.  This is a fascinating book, and so chock full of information about the Pacific Northwest that I almost feel like an expert just for having read it.  Though the book is "about" the ill-fated Golden Spruce off the Canadian coast, it is even more about the history of the PNW, from precolonial times to the modern state of the logging industry and its impacts on the land and its people.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
   Another non-fiction work, about the crew of young men from University of Washington who fought the odds to win the Olympic gold medal for 8-man rowing in 1936 Berlin.  A very thorough account of not just their lives, but also the social and political events that shaped them and the world as they knew it, as well as delving into the history of pre-war Nazi Germany.  Even if you don't care about rowing (I certainly didn't), you'll go away with a deep appreciation and understanding of this sport.

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
    Feeling like I was one of the few people left in the world who hadn't read or seen Twilight, I figured that it was high time to see what all the fuss was about.  It is set in coastal Washington, on the Olympic peninsula.  I can't say I like these books, though I read the whole saga of four.  They were entertaining enough, but the plot twists were all obvious and the relationship drama obnoxious.  It actually made me sad while reading this that so many people find the relationships in here romantic; the "romance" is so deeply flawed that at times it borders on abusive, and in real life such relationships (looking past the vampire aspect) are unlikely to have the books' happy ending.

The 50 Shades of Gray trilogy by E.L. James
    50 Shades was written as a fan fiction for Twilight, removing the vampire-and-werewolf element and adding a BDSM twist.  Also set in Washington, but this time in Vancouver and then Seattle.  Although I read the whole trilogy, it was because I kept hoping against hope that it would get better.  It didn't.  The best I can say is that it was interesting, from a writer's viewpoint, to see how James incorporated story arcs, plot devices and character development from Twilight into her otherwise completely different book. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    One of the most famous fictional stories to be set in Oregon, this was one modern classic which I somehow missed out on reading in school.  At the end of the first chapter, I was pretty sure I wouldn't bother finishing it.  But the more I read, the more I liked it.  Some of the dream and delirium sequences are tedious, but otherwise a very thought provoking read.


  1. Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss is set 100 years ago in Eastern Oregon, when a 17 year old hoarse whisperer sets out on horseback ....


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