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If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska
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If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,648 ratings  ·  452 reviews
Tiny Haines, Alaska, is ninety miles north of Juneau, accessible mainly by water or air—and only when the weather is good. There's no traffic light and no mail delivery; people can vanish without a trace and funerals are a community affair. Heather Lende posts both the obituaries and the social column for her local newspaper. If anyone knows the going-on in this close-knit ...more
Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sheila
On vacation in Alaska, and visiting the tiny town of Haines, I realized some places are just kinder to their local authors. In fact, maybe they’re just kinder to everyone—Haines is such a small town that everyone surely knows everyone else. And every store that sells anything sells books by local authors, including Heather Lende’s If you lived here, I’d know your name. After seeing that glorious moose gazing out from the cover often enough, I could no longer resist.

Heather Lende is an essayist f
...more
Suzanne
I just loved this book! It is fun. A Prairie Home Companion for Alaska with all the nuances and eccentricities of character that make reading so enjoyable. Each chapter is a story unto itself, so this lends itself to those readers traveling on business, or those frazzled moms and dads, who need to pick up some reading before bedtime that will make them laugh, smile and relax. I hope the author continues with her writing for those of us on "mainland".
Sandy
I wanted to like this book. As I read it, though, the word that overwhelmed everything else was smug. "We're better than everyone else, because we live far, far away from medical care. We're better than everyone else, because we all take care of each other."

Fine, except that the actual stories she tells belie the smug attitude. Ugly chauvinistic treatment of the girls at the high school, apparently not considered a problem by many of the adults in the community. Rampant homophobia, including an
...more
Lucy Hannigan
I used to read the weekly articles Heather wrote for the Anchorage Daily News. I didn't always agree with her politics, but I always enjoyed the hometown-sey feeling of her articles. It appears Heather got the idea for this book from her job of writing obituaries for the local newspaper...and each chapter seems to go off from getting ready to write someone's obit. This book is like reading the musings of an old friend. I have friends in Haines (who weren't mentioned by name in the book) and I de ...more
Susie
Based on what I heard from friends about this book, I was expecting something charming, uplifting, enchanting -- tales from a place I'd rather live. I think a better title for this book would have been If You Died Here, I'd Know Your Name because the stories start to take on the cadence of a speech by Mr. Weir on Freaks and Geeks: "I used to know a guy like that. Want to know what happened to him? HE DIED!"

Lots of spaghetti dinners, lots of "God is good", lots of winding tales about coming to pe
...more
Helen Dunn
I'm surprised at the high star ratings for this book.

There's nothing really wrong with it but I found it to be a complete bore. The author writes the obituaries for the local paper so many of her chapters revolve around the death of townsfolk. Where this could be a great opportunity to learn meaningful stories to me the chapters all fall flat and seemed like "Person X lived in a small town, was happy without a lot of money, loved the land" over and over and over.

There are some ruminations about
...more
Rebecca Huston
A collection of short narratives and news blips from Haines, Alaska, as written by Heather Lende. Lende wrote obituaries and short articles for the local newspaper, the Chilkat Valley News. Most of the stories in here are about death, not surprisingly, but there are some that are funny, and almost all of them are heartening, showing a community where everyone knows everyone else. The book isn't that long, and can be easily read in an evening or two. I liked this one, finding it most interesting ...more
Hannah
If you enjoyed the 1990's TV show Northern Exposure, you will probably like this book, which is a compillation of short stories about the residents of the tiny town of Haines, Alaska. Resident and writer Heather Lende pens a sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous but always entertaining glimpse into life and death in this secluded wilderness paradise.

As with all compillations, some of the stories are better then others, and some feature a little too much bleeding-heart sensibilities for my perso
...more
Kim-Lost-In-A-Book
Admittedly I have a deep love and fondness for small towns, so that could have colored my opinion a little of this book. Heather writes well and tells us stories of the people living and dying in the small town of Haines, Alaska. Heather is a columnist and obituary writer and I think it would be a pleasure and an honor if I was ever fortunate enough to have her write my obituary. But the book isn't all about dying, as a matter of fact it's really all about living. She tells us of life in her sma ...more
Mandi
Her essays make me want to move to Alaska, or at least a really rural town surrounded by natural beauty. She is realistic about it though and depicts the good with the bad (like all the political division). She shares very openly about herself and that made for very honest stories as well.

This is an excellent book to read when you need a book you can read, set down, and return to at a random time. Each chapter is its own independent essay and so you don't have to remember the details of one ess
...more
Karen
The review from the LA Times captures the essence of this book: "Part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott . . ." The reader will laugh and cry but will come away with a real sense of life in a small town from a writer who has a sensitive and interesting perspective about her Haines, Alaska, neighbors and their backgrounds. Heather Lende discribes her life as an obituary writer for her local paper and how she comes to know her neighbors and the town she chose to raise her family. The wilderness is ju ...more
Michele
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abbey
Thankfully I got this one from the library. It was ok. Some parts were interesting in a voyeuristic sort of way. She tells about small town life and when she lists ways people in the town have died (she writes obits) it is interesting because I don't live in a place where people regularly die in plane crashes or boating accidents. On the other hand, a lot of the book reads like a list or like an old woman with dementia recalling snips of stories from long past. Sometimes that can be engaging and ...more
Corielle
That's basically what I learned from Heather Lende's If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska. Granted, the author writes the obits for her local newspaper, so many of her stories lead back to that, but still. Plane crashes seem insanely common, along with people drowning on fishing boats and falling off mountains and all the other dangers associated with living in the middle of nowhere. Plus there's the fact that the nearest hospital to Lende's small town of Haines, Al ...more
Kathleen Valentine
This is a charming collection of articles about a woman who moved from an urban life to a small town in Alaska. It started out really well but got a bit tedious in places. Still a worthwhile read.
Book Concierge
This work of non-fiction, is subtitled: “News from Small-Town Alaska.” Lende is an NPR commentator who lives in Haines, Alaska and also writes the obituaries for the local paper.

Each chapter begins with Duly Noted - snippets of news about the residents and happenings in Haines. These serve to set up a sort of theme or connecting idea for the stories that will follow in that chapter. Each chapter spotlights at least one of the residents of Haines who has died and how that person’s life contribut
...more
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
Teton County Library Call No: 979.82 LENDE
Mark A's rating: 4 stars

On a road trip to Alaska along the famous Alaska Highway, I had the chance to visit Haines, Alaska. I didn’t take the 100 mile detour that day. After reading Heather Lende’s book about life in Haines, I wish that I had. I have visited other small Alaskan towns like it though. I still see in my mind the steep forested mountains that come all the way down to the water. I hear the stories of the people of those towns that seem to hav
...more
Kim
Growing up in a small town, Pandora Ohio, I had to read this. Pandora had 1000 or less people living there when I did and everyone knew your name, EVERYONE just as the title states.

Heather Lende writes a memoir about her and the lives of others in Haines, Alaska. Even though there is no story line, her observations had me connecting with the people of Haines and what everyday life is like living there. Anybody that lives or has lived in a small town will relate to this book. In addition, anyone
...more
Donna Barnes
I didn't like this book very much at all. The subject matter and title intrigued me, and the first few pages kept my interest, but then, once I read more of her anecdotes, I got quickly bored. It was too long for what it accomplished --- I got the jist of the book after the first few chapters. In fact, I skipped the middle of this book and just went to the end. I especially DID NOT ENJOY the writer's style of writing --- it skipped around way too much for me --- i.e. she would introduce a person ...more
Lyra
The author of this book is a journalist, which is to say she writes obituaries for local residents of her small Alaska town. She's a capable writer but she doesn't seem to understand narrative. The best memoirs link moments in a person's past in a story like fashion with some sense of character growth and change. Even "reality television" uses the literary tropes of goal and motivation. We want to see our favorite captain on Deadliest Catch meet his quota and pull in the most. In this rambling c ...more
Barbara
I loved this book! The stories are compelling in themselves, but Heather adds another layer by applying them to life lessons!! I think I need to reread this....just to make sure I'm not missing anything! It's an easy read. The Chapters are complete in themselves.
Ashley
This book is a wonderful collection of short stories about life in small town Alaska. I was worried being a TOTAL softy that a book written by the town obituary writer was going to drown me in tears or leave me feeling exceptionally depressed, but thankfully her stories were much more about the beauty of life than the pain of death.

Lende does a masterful job of weaving past and present into her stories of small town life. I don't have any desire to live in an isolated small town in Alaska, but
...more
Anne
Had to keep reminding myself I wasn't reading a Northern Exposure screenplay. My desire for a trip to Alaska mounts!
Tracy
Despite our philosophical differences on some topics, I felt I'd found a kindred spirit in Heather Lende. I hope she reads Goodreads reviews of her books, simply so I can thank her for writing this one. I read both of her books (Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs) this summer, and I've since recommended them to several people. In fact, I typed up the essay about the death of Good Dog Carl and e-mailed it to my brother, who had lost his canine companion of 13 years -- I was in tears readin ...more
Jessica
I loved this book! It is a series of short autobiographical essays about different topics and people in Alaska. The author is a contributor to NPR and also writes obituaries for her tiny community in Haines, Alaska. I absolutely loved the blueberry picking story, the hunting/bear adventures, and the story about her dog. It does not seem like something I would like normally, but for whatever reason her reflections really touched me. It seems to touch on all the things in life that are really impo ...more
Juls
I'm now re-reading this for the 5th time. I love it! I heard the author read an excerpt on NPR and had to get it. I gave it to a friend to read before he went to the same small town and he said it was spot-on. This book is non-fiction and is written by Heather Lende. She moved to a small town in Alaska with her college sweetheart/husband right after graduating. Her descriptions of the relationships, but most especially of the surrounding environment and its affects on the lives of the people in ...more
Amy Murray
Heather Lende's descriptions of Alaska make it sound like the most beautiful place on earth. And that's where the pleasure in this book ends...every chapter is filled basically with death. I understand that Lende is an obituary writer for her tiny local paper, and this job must consume most of her time, but still. Her efforts to shed light on some of life's lighter moments (weddings, births, etc.) end up sounding cheesy and cliche. Overall, the book wasn't bad enough to stop reading in the middl ...more
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Lovely reflections on life, death, faith and community in a small Alaskan town. Very enjoyable.
Alicia
I adore watching National Geographic, History Channel, and shows on other similar channels that document blue collar jobs, survival, and life in the Alaskan areas (Flying Wild, Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, Alaska State Troopers) because its a beautiful and deadly area whose inhabitants are as interesting as the reasons they have for moving there (not to discount the natives who are there for all the reasons people move there).

So Heather Lende is a housewife, outdoorswomen, runner, and small-town
...more
Jen
Jan 04, 2015 Jen added it
I Tried To Like This Book. Really, I Did.

I experienced two emotions while reading this book: anger and grief. Through most of the book, I was angry that she was still talking. "Isn't this book over yet?" I actually started reading the book several months ago and had to put it down. I picked it back up a couple of weeks ago. A book this "simple" shouldn't take this long to read.

And then there was the grief. In the last part of the last chapter, I cried like a baby. I guess the only character with
...more
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Haines 4 26 Dec 02, 2014 05:06AM  
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62284
I wrote the bestselling Alaskan memoir, "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name" (Algonquin, 2005),"Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs" (Algonquin 2010) and have a new book, "Find the Good" ( also Algonquin), due out April 28th. I write obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News, a column in the Alaska Dispatch News, and have contributed personal essays widely from NPR to Woman's Day. Also, I'm ...more
More about Heather Lende...
Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska Find the Good Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles

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