A Bookworm’s Guide to the Best Books Set in Washington State

When in-person travel is out of the question, opt for the next best thing. Explore quirky Seattle neighborhoods, isolated islands, and forested towns across Washington with these literary pieces of art. Kick up your feet, grab a steamy cup of tea, and dive into one of these great Washington based books. 

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Based in the heart of Seattle, Where’d You Go Bernadette paints a realistic picture of life in the city. Bernadette, a mom and architect, suddenly disappears and leaves her 15 year old daughter and husband to follow her trail. Maria Semple’s vivid imagery perfectly captures the charm of the city and the unique nature of Seattle’s neighborhoods. In the novel you’ll find yourself recognizing several Seattle landmarks like the Olympic Mountains, historic Queen Anne neighborhood, Bainbridge Island, and the Space Needle. 


Where’d You Go Bernadette will have you yearning for Chihuly sculptures and Queen Anne Hill. Plan a visit and stay at Guest House B&B, a cozy home tucked into one of Seattle’s quaint neighborhoods. Enjoy year-round flowers, a delicious breakfast, and a hot tub all to yourself during your Seattle getaway.


Hotel On The Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford

Set throughout World War II, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet is a reminder of the impact war has and the importance of hope. Henry Lee is a Chinese American man living in Seattle. Inside an old hotel, he finds a collection of items that belong to Japanese families forced to abandon their belongings when they were sent to internment camps. The hotel itself is based on the Historic Panama Hotel Bed & Breakfast. This brick hotel in the heart of Seattle’s International District was the perfect inspiration for this heartwarming novel. Stop inside the Tea House for a cup of green tea and take in the beauty of this charming hotel. You can also meander around the district and stop by the Wing Luke History Museum to learn about Asian Pacific American history or Uwajimaya, a beloved Asian supermarket to gain a deeper understanding of the novel’s surroundings. 

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Set in 1954 on Washington’s isolated San Juan Islands, Snow Falling on Cedars is a deep and poetic novel. When a fisherman is found dead under suspicious circumstances, a local Japanese American man is blamed for his murder. The story weaves details of his trial with flashbacks into past events in the community and examines the implications of World War II on the community. An artful murder mystery paired with hisotrical details and a passionate community make this novel you won’t be able to put down. While the map in the book illustrates that San Piedro Island is part of the San Juan Island chain, it was actually based on Bainbridge Island where the author lives. The general shape, ferry landing, and inlets are almost identical to this Puget Sound Island. 


Reading about the sheer beauty of the islands, the cedar trees that have laid their roots deep into the San Juan soil, and the sweet strawberry fields that flourish during summer will leave you longing to plan a trip. Be sure your plans include a stay at Harrison House Suites on San Juan Island. Wake up in the historic heart of Friday Harbor and spend the day exploring. 

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Orchardist is a historical fiction book set in the early twentieth century. William Talmadge finds peace in taking care of his isolated orchard in Eastern Washington. His quiet life is suddenly disrupted with the introduction of two teenage girls. Heartwarming, introspective, and offering a glimpse of a life before easy connection, The Orchardist will leave you with a new outlook on life. Amanda Coplin spent her early life in the apple capital of the world, Wenatchee, Washington, and has always felt homesick for the area. She used Eastern Washington as the backdrop for this tale about finding and creating a home. The main character was loosely based on her grandfather and what his early life looked like. 

The Virginian by Owen Wister

America’s first western novel has been turned into a television series, multiple movie adaptations and theater renditions. It remains a favorite among readers. While the novel takes place in Wyoming, it was inspired by the quaint town of Winthrop, Washington. After Owen Wister honeymooned in the western town, he was inspired to tell a tale of a cowboy’s life on the ranch. This charming Washington town is truly the birthplace of western fiction. 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

What’s a Washington novel list without Twilight? The series that swept the nation is set in and inspired by the rainy town of Forks, Washington. This forested and quiet town is the perfect place for a vampire family to discreetly hide from the outside world. Today, Forks embraces its Twilight fans and offers numerous sights around town that inspired the books and movies. The Swan House at 775 K Street is known as the home of Bella and Charlie. You can find Bella’s red pick-up truck outside of the Forks Visitors Center. La Push is not just a mythical place, but a gorgeous beach where you can reenact Bella and Jacob’s first connection.  


The Miller Tree Inn bears an uncanny resemblance to Stephanie Meyer’s description of the Cullen family home. Painted a soft white, three stories, timeless, and graceful, locals and visitors alike refer to the Miller Tree Inn as the Cullen House. Inside you’ll find tasteful Twilight hints like music scores on the piano, a Cullen-named mailbox, and even letters written to guests from the Cullen family. 


Even if you can’t travel right now, escape and explore Washington’s literary world through these fantastic books. When you’re ready to plan your next trip, our innkeepers are waiting for you. Visit the books set in these quaint, forested towns and the sparkling cities you’ve grown to love. The Washington INNSiders boasts an exhaustive list of independent inns all over Washington State so you can pick out the ideal B&B, inn, or hotel for your dream getaway. All our member properties are inspected and approved so you are sure to find the perfect place to stay. Plan your getaway today!


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