More best books set in Whatcom County ... read on


My column last Sunday, April 13, listed several people's nominations for must-read books set in Whatcom County, fiction or nonfiction.

That list spurred a flurry of new nominations, so here are more local books to keep you entertained and informed.


"Once Proud Nation" by Lynn Keith Fallis

Available at the Trading Post of Bellingham at the Guide and Smith Road, it is set in Bellingham and the Northwest. - Matthew Aamot

"Precious Cargo," and others in the Charlie Noble series, by Clyde Ford

- Nominated by Rodger C. Butler and by Chris Webb.

"Beyond The Divide" by J.P. Kenna

Mr. Kenna has a way of stringing words together to pull you right into the scene. ... Further driving the story are the chapters narrating the protagonist's experiences in Whatcom County during the "boom and bust" days of the early 1890s. ... And I loved the ink sketches. - Linda Jelinski

For a lover of history and railroads, this book is a must. But beyond that, it is a great story, filled with love, tragedy and triumph. The narrative is enhanced by richly drawn, believable, entertaining characters. - Hellie Flint

"Body English" by Linda Mariz

Action ranges from Seattle up to Alaska, but most of it occurs in Bellingham and into the county. A really fun read, with good guys and gals, bad guys and a lot of action. - Pam Perry

"Tree Soldier" and "Timber Rose," by Janet Oakley

Both novels are set in the area (fictional Frazier): "Tree Soldier" in the 1930s and "Timber Rose" in the time period before the U.S. entered World War I. - Andrew McBride

"Aliens on Vacation," "Alien on a Rampage" and "Aliens in Disguise," by Clete Barrett Smith

My kids loved the "Aliens on Vacation" series. ... The story takes place in a B&B on the Nooksack. It is a really fun series. - Teddi Anshus

"The Terror of Living" by Urban Waite

Horses, guns, drug-running. There is excitement here, some gruesome moments; every page is breathless with energy. - Elizabeth Colen


"Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography" by June Burn

She and her husband, Farrar Burn, homesteaded Sentinel Island in the Puget Sound, taught in isolated Alaska, wrote for The Bellingham Herald and traveled around the entirety of United States in a donkey cart. A cabin they built and lived in is still intact at WWU. - Lisa Citron

"18 Men and a Horse" by Donald H. Clark

Some interesting stories. ... Always picking it up! - Todd Warger

"The Fourth Corner; Highlights from the Early Northwest" by Lelah Jackson Edson

It is the best and most accurate, and highly readable, book on our early days. Its short chapters tell the varied stories of how our county was founded and took on the character that continues to influence us today. - Candace Wellman

"Haunted Fairhaven" by Taimi Dunn Gorman

It's the story of the early days in Fairhaven and the lives and deaths of the early 1890s settlers. A must read for those who enjoy reading about the unknown. - Lillian Young

"Boundary Town" by Roy Franklin Jones

A story of Sumas. Sumas school principal Bill Perry used to read it to his sixth-grade class every year. - Rena Guerin

"The Less Subdued Excitement; A Century of Jazz in Bellingham and Whatcom County, Washington," by Milt Krieger

Great. ... It tells a lot about the music scene and Whatcom County venues that used to be here. - Jack Brown

"Chuckanut Chronicles" by Bob Thomas

Set my imagination ablaze as a kid. I'd row around Chuckanut Bay thinking of all the misbegotten characters he described, and murders and bootlegging. ... I still do that. - Peter Frazier

"The Trail Through The Woods; History of Western Whatcom County, Washington" by Frances Bruce Todd.

Best west county book out. - Todd Warger

"This Boy's Life" by Tobias Wolff

Wolff's deservedly famous memoir details his youth in Newhalem, a distant part of Whatcom County. In the book, he called the community Chinook, to shield the identity of family and friends. - Dean Kahn


Can you think of other worthy books set in Whatcom County? Send the book's title and author, and why you like it, using the form at

The author need not be or have been a county resident, but the book must focus in total or in good part on Whatcom County. Authors cannot nominate their own work.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-229 or .

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