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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

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,304 Ratings  ·  545 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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Feb 14, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heather Lende married her husband Chip right after college and took the great American road trip to Alaska. Falling in love with America's final frontier, they never left. After spending a year in Juneau, they moved to Haines, a fishing and tourist town, population 2400 give or take.
Haines is small town USA in every sense of the word. The only difference is that Haines is in Alaska so it is more isolated than small town Wisconsin, for example. There are no traffic lights in the town, the first i
Sep 28, 2011 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 06, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".
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
Helen Dunn
Oct 01, 2012 Helen Dunn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2012 Susie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiftyfiftyme
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
Lucy Hannigan
Apr 13, 2012 Lucy Hannigan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2014 Kim-Lost-In-A-Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
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
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
Nov 12, 2009 Mandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
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
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
Jan 06, 2013 Abbey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
3.5 stars

I have been reading some pretty intense war-oriented historical fiction so I wanted to read something a little more on the lighter side than violence, death and senseless killing. If You Lived Here... is light a read but there is good amount of the book that focuses on death. Oh well...

Lende does a good job in writing about the her life and the lives of people who live in Haines, Alaska. The talk about death? Well, Lende writes obituaries for the local newspaper so she gets to hear abou
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
Feb 04, 2009 Michelegg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I really enjoyed this book. It's been sitting on my shelf forever (snagged it at a library sale based on my interest in Alaska) and now seemed like a great time to read it as we're planning to head to Alaska this summer.
The author touches on a bunch of topics in the various chapters, that read like individual essays. I appreciate her honesty and commitment to her role as the obituary writer for such a small, close knit community. I especially enjoyed her stories about her own family- goat huntin
Nov 13, 2010 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
A loan from a friend, this was a perfect book to read at night once my work was done. Quick, self-contained chapters, Lende brings the reader to her Alaskan home. Like me, Lende's work focus on illness and death. She writes obituaries, I write wills. Unlike Lende, I now know that I could never, ever live in Haines, Alaska. It is not the cold or wildlife that I fear, but the lack of easy access to emergency medicine. The clincher for me was her chapter on her son, suffering from appendicitis in a ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Jaime rated it liked it
I read this book while cruising through Alaska. Our itinerary brought us quite close to Haines. The characters were quirky and the small glimpses she gave us into the lives of her friends and neighbors reminded me that you can find good people, beautiful people everywhere in this world.
Mar 23, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 24, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had to keep reminding myself I wasn't reading a Northern Exposure screenplay. My desire for a trip to Alaska mounts!
Mark Fallon
Oct 29, 2015 Mark Fallon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Happiness is having friends who read and will share their books, because they introduce you to authors you might never find.

While the backdrop of Lende's book is the small town of Haines, Alaska, many of these stories will be familiar to anyone who's lived in a small community (even if it was in a big city). She does a wonderful job of weaving tales of neighbors, friends and family looking out for each author, sharing joys and helping cope with grief. Her local paper is lucky to have her on staf
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
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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
Jan 28, 2011 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
When I picked up this memoir of Alaska, I was really hoping for a book along the lines of Rick Bass's Winter: Notes from Montana, but instead of an artful reflection of an arctic wonderland and unique, hearty people, it felt more like a family member talking about the latest gossip in her town.

In fairness, Lende is the local newspaper's reporter on regional events and the crafter of obituaries, but she never really delved very deep into her reasons for making Alaska her home. Every chapter seeme
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Haines 4 27 Dec 02, 2014 05:06AM  
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Heather Lende is an obituary for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. She is also a former contributing editor at Woman's Day, a columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News, and author of Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-town Obituary Writer (2015), a memoir of faith, family, and community Take Good care of the Garden and the Dogs (2010), and NY Times bestseller, If You Lived H ...more
More about Heather Lende...

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“the world could end in any number of ways, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The only choice any of us has is what to do if we’re still here after it happens. Do we die a little death every day ourselves or do we reach for someone’s hand and dance again?” 1 likes
“Only adults weep with joy. Children don't. They haven't learned how rare moments of true happiness are.” 0 likes
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