PDXtoday City Guide Play Banner

Dive into books written by Portland authors

Whether you’re looking for your next leisure read, a book for the whole family, or a thrilling fictional novel, we’ve got a list of books written by Portland authors who called the city home.

Shelves of books in Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon

We could get lost in these shelves for hours.

Photo via @powellsbooks

Table of Contents

What’s better than a good book? A good book written by your neighbor. Brew up a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and get ready to meet your next read, because we’re talking about books by Portland authors.

Fiction

  • The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin | Release date: March 1969 | Pioneering feminism and the examination of androgyny in science fiction, this epic follows a human envoy to the planet Gethen, where the culture is strongly influenced by the ambisexuality of its people.
  • The Clockwork Dynasty” by Daniel H. Wilson | Release date: August 2017 | Fantastical history and futuristic tech combine in this thrilling story of intelligent automatons and a centuries-long war.
  • Heartsick” by Chelsea Cain | Release date: September 2007 | You’ll get sucked into this tale of a Portland detective whose complex relationship with a serial killer is connected to another high-profile case.
  • Geek Love” by Katerine Dunn | Release date: March 1989 | Things get weird in this telling of a traveling carnival and a family-turned-freak-show.

For the family

  • Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary | Release date: January 1955 | A classic (and the first of what is now a beloved series), this book shows the highs and lows of sisterhood between a “grown-up” 9-year-old and an eccentric 4-year-old.
  • Piecing Me Together” by Renée Watson | Release date: February 2017 | Jade, a 16-year-old African American student on scholarship at a mostly white private school in Portland learns to make her own opportunities while becoming a mentor in the Women to Women program.
  • Fire on the Mountain” by Jane Kurtz | Release date: September 1994 | Kurtz was born in Portland and moved to Ethiopia with her missionary parents when she was 2 years old. This fantastical picture book draws on her childhood in Africa.

Expand your horizons

  • In the Pockets of Small Gods” by Anis Mojgani | Release date: April 2018 | Oregon’s poet laureate explores how we handle lasting grief, flipping from the surreal to the starkest of realities with words that capture the human experience on an intimate level.
  • My Abandonment” by Pete Rock | Release date: March 2009 | Inspired by the true story of a father and daughter living off-the-grid in Forest Park for years, this novel was also adapted into the film “Leave No Trace.”
  • The False Promises of the Digital Revolution” by Chet Bowers | Release date: February 2014 | The educator and environmental activist examines how technology can be ecologically problematic — like the replacement of traditional cultural wisdom with data, for example.

Part of a series

  • Wildwood” by Colin Meloy | Release date: August 2011 | Written by The Decemberists’ frontman and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis, this tale follows protagonist Prue, a seventh grader who ventures into a magical forest to rescue her friend from a murder of crows and other nefarious wildlife. It’s also the subject of a stop-motion animated feature from Laika.
  • Welcome to the Grizzlydale” by Aaron Durán | Release date: April 2015 | Kicking off The Forgotten Tyrs sequence, this novel documents a boy’s life in a new town, where a nightmarish rural legend exists beyond space and time.

Personal stories

  • Fugitives and Refugees” by Chuck Palahniuk | Release date: July 2003 | Switching between autobiographical chapters and travel guide tips, this raw and uncensored look at a Portland past takes you to its underground... and then digs deeper.
  • Wild” by Cheryl Strayed | Release date: March 2012 | The New York Times Best Seller memoir-turned-blockbuster plots a journey of self-discovery from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods on the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • The Warner Boys: Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope” by Curt Warner | Release date: December 2018 | After a career as a running back with the Seattle Seahawks, Curt Warner and his wife Ana stepped back from the public eye to raise twin boys diagnosed with severe autism. This book tells the story of their family’s love and their path to peace.
  • Tough Girl: Lessons in Courage and Heart from Olympic Gold to the Camino de Santiago” by Carolyn Wood | Release date: August 2018 | From winning Olympic gold as a swimmer at just 14 to coming out as gay in the 1970s to backpacking 500 miles in Spain, this moving coming-of-age tale touches on personal resilience and looking for oneself among life’s memories.
  • Diary of a Misfit” by Casey Parks | Release date: August 2022 | On her mission to uncover the mysterious life of small-town country singer Roy Hudgins, this journalist must confront her own experience of being a lesbian in the South.

Cook books

  • Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by Ken Forkish | Release date: September 2012 | This book is much like a perfectly baked loaf — with a crispy exterior and soft and supple contents, complete with recipes for all skill levels and time constraints.
  • Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables” by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg | Release date: May 2017 | Taste your way through the year’s harvest with 225 incredible recipes, from pan roasts to stews.
  • Portland Cooks” by Danielle Centoni | Release date: August 2017 | Take a foodie tour of Stumptown from the comfort of your kitchen by perusing 80 recipes from the city’s favorite restaurants.

Need more recommendations? Stop by Powell’s City of Books, Daedalus Books, Green Bean Books, or Chaparral Books, to get expert advice from Mother Foucault’s Bookshop. 📚

Check out our other Guides
From lifting weights, indoor rock climbing, personal training, dance fitness, boxing classes, and martial arts programs — we’ve rounded up 25+ gyms and fitness offerings around Portland.
Consider these our Hollywood signs — though we actually have one of those too.
We’re highlighting the best parks that our city and it surroundings have to offer — complete with roses, fountains, forests, and sports fields.
Check out these 15 yoga studios around the City of Roses offering sweat-fueled workouts, restorative meditation, and more.
Pack your reusable shopping bags, because we’ve rounded up 17 farmers markets around Portland, Oregon.
Dig into delicious and nutritious vegan and vegetarian fare in every corner of the Rose City.
If you don’t have coffee already in hand, consider this your sign to grab some.
Prepare for summer weather in Portland, Oregon, with these seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks.
Check out these hiking trails catered to all skill levels in and around the City of Roses for outdoor adventures.
Make the most of good weather by taking your meals al fresco on one of Portland’s many beautiful patios.
PDXtoday phone
Good news for Portland.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.