favorite books

Our Favorite Books Set in the Pacific Northwest


The Rain or Shine duo are avid readers. And what is better than falling into a good book that is set in a location you are familiar with. It just makes it that much easier to follow the character through their lives. We've compiled our favorite books set in the Pacific Northwest for your reading pleasure! 

Full disclosure: You aren't going to find Twilight on this list. But no judgement, we poured through those books too -- just not on our favorites list. 

Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars is part historical fiction, part murder mystery, and part love story. Based right after WWII on an island off the coast of Washington State, you experience the story of the Japanese internment, interracial love, and the culture of small-town America in the 1930s-50s. This amazing, bestselling novel by David Guterson sheds light on the tragic history of the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War and what these events meant in the long-term for many Americans. 

Buy it here.

Where'd You Go Bernadette

This book will make you laugh out loud, which makes sense because Maria Semple, the author, also writes for SNL, Arrested Development, and Ellen. In Where'd You Go Bernadette you hop between the viewpoint of Bernadette, the misunderstood mother, and Bee, Bernadette's incredibly smart and adorable daughter. Things get interesting when Bernadette disappears and Bee must put together the clues to find out where her mother has gone. If you're a Seattleite, you'll also get the added pleasure of many local references! 

Buy it here.

Today Will Be Different

Another hilarious and witty book by Maria Semple (see above) set in Seattle. If you enjoyed Where'd You Go Bernadette, you'll enjoy this too. A well-to-do mother living in Belltown has to battle with her life as it goes off the rails. If you like dark humor and Seattle, you'll enjoy this one (maybe slightly less so than Where'd You Go Bernadette though). 

Buy it here. 

The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

This book takes you back through history as the narrator, Henry Lee, a Chinese-American, discovers a parasol in the basement of the Panama Hotel, a remnant he is sure belonged to someone he knew as a child in Seattle. Readers flashback and get to experience a much different Seattle through Henry's memories. One full of growth and excitement, but also stained with racism. It's a gripping story and you'll find yourself falling in love with Henry as he tells his story. 

Buy it here. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain 

The Art of Racing in the Rain is presented from the viewpoint of a very clever and adorable dog, Enzo. Enzo is the loyal companion of Denny, an up and coming race car driver who seems to be confronted frequently with near-impossible situations (cancer, custody battles, it really isn't a walk in the park). But in between the trials and tribulations there are moments of joy, like in any life. Enzo tells the tale of his owner with compassion and fierce loyalty. Full disclosure: This one might leave you shedding a few tears, especially if you are a sap for dogs. 

Buy it here. 

Beautiful Ruins

This book immediately pulls you into a world that everyone wants to be apart of. Readers spend most of their time being transported between the Italian coast and Hollywood (with some visits to the U.K. and the PNW as well) as a lost-love story emerges. Pasquale is an innkeeper in a 1960s Italian fishing village. Dee Moray is an American actress visiting. Love sparks. And so begins a story that spans 50 years, jumping through decades and keeping you enticed at every page turn. 

Buy it here. 

The Orchardist

This is the story of a quiet orchardist, William Talmadge, who tends orchards in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. William's quiet life is interrupted one day when two pregnant runaways show up on his orchard. As William let's these girls into his life you learn of their troubled past and as the years unfold, you also learn of William's history. This book is full of heart-wrenching moments and isn't what one would consider a "feel good" story, but it's powerful and moving in so many ways it's a must-read for fans of PNW fiction. 

Buy it here. 

Boys in the Boat

This real life underdog tale will not only have you engrossed in the history of the sport of rowing (who knew it was so interesting?!), but also brings you through one of the U.S.'s most trying times as a country, the Great Depression/pre WWII era. The book focuses on the story of Joe Rantz, a teenager who has barely a nickel to his name and makes his way onto the University of Washington rowing team and slowly works his way to greatness. This book transports you back to a Seattle we have only seen photos of and takes you through the ups and downs of a team of men learning about integrity and hard work. 

Buy it here. 

There are so many more than what is just on this list, but these are our recommendations. What are we missing? Let us know in the comments!