Gary Paulsen Best Books 📚

Gary Paulsen was mostly known for writing children, young adult fiction and coming-of-age stories. Here are some of his best books.

Gary Paulsen

(1939-2021), American

Having written over 200 books, 200 magazine articles, short stories, and several plays, Gary Paulsen’s archive is filled to the brim with bestsellers, and it’s almost difficult to categorize some as “his best.” With a fifty-five-year career in writing, he has a lot of books to his name worth mentioning. This article focuses on Gary’s best books.


Published in 1986, ‘Hatchet’ is arguably Gary Paulsen’s best book. It tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who, still trying to come to terms with his parent’s divorce, is faced with another challenge—a bigger challenge of having to survive alone in the wilderness after he crash-lands. The hatchet—a gift from his mother and the inspiration for the title of this book—keeps him alive. Funnily enough, it is a gift he didn’t care much about when it was given to him.


Winterdance’ is a nonfiction autobiography comprising 272 pages. It was published on March 1, 1994. The book is rated quite highly on many online sites. Yes, those can be deceptive, but the general rating holds true because the book is well-written, so much so that it inspired a Disney movie titled Snow Dogs. The movie was released in 2002. In ‘Winterdance,’ Gary Paulsen gives an account of his experiences. He was known for writing books about the wilderness, and this bestseller by him is one of those books. He decides to participate in an eighty-mile dog race through the Alaskan wilderness. For seventeen days, he perseveres alongside his team of dogs. These were Gary Paulsen’s lived experiences.


Published in 1985, ‘Dogsong’ by Gary Paulsen is a young adult fiction that tells the story of a teenager, Russel, who wants to exchange his experiences in the contemporary world for some time with the old ways. The one-hundred-and-seventy-seven-paged work of art is told in parts: The Trance, The Dream Run, and Dogsong. ‘Dogsong’ won the Newberry Honor Award in 1986. It was illustrated by Gary Paulsen’s wife, Ruth Wright. She is a children’s book illustrator.

Harris and Me

This masterpiece of Gary Paulsen’s was originally published on October 29, 1993. It is a young adult fiction with humor infused. Some of the characters from the book are- Harris Larson, Clair Larson, Louie, Gary Paulsen, and Knute Larson. The one-hundred-and-sixty-eight-paged book is a collection of vignettes with a subheading to get a glimpse of each chapter. The National Education Association listed ‘Harris and Me’ as one of its Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.

Brian’s Winter

Brian’s Winter’ is a young adult fiction originally published in January 1996. It is the third novel in the Hatchet series. But as an alternate ending sequel to ‘Hatchet,’ it comes second. Macmillan’s edition of it came out on February 9, 1996, and it is titled, ‘Hatchet: Winter.’ It is a coming-of-age story about a teenager trapped in the wilderness, left with only the will to survive.


Which of Gary Paulsen’s books is his first?

Gary Paulsen’s first book is ‘The Special War.’ It was published in 1966. He had a career in writing spanning fifty-five years. In these years, he went on to publish over 200 books, 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays.

Which of Gary Paulsen’s books is considered his best?

Gary Paulsen has so many ‘bests’ when it comes to books; however, ‘Hatchet’ is arguably his best book. With more than 13 million copies sold in the US to date, it is correct to say that ‘Hatchet’ is a masterpiece. It tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy trapped in the wilderness with only the will to survive and a hatchet.

Is ‘Hatchet’ a series?

Yes, ‘Hatchet’ is a series. The complete Hatchet series include: ‘Brian’s Return,’ ‘The River,’ ‘Brian’s Hunt,’ and ‘Brian’s Winter,’ in no particular order.

Did Gary Paulsen ever win awards for his prowess in writing?

Yes, Gary Paulsen won several awards for his works. Notable amongst them is the Newberry Honor Award, which he won three times for ‘Winter Room,’ ‘Hatchet,’ and ‘Dogsong,’ respectively.

How long did Gary Paulsen’s career in writing last?

Gary Paulsen’s career in writing went on for 55 years. In these 55 years, he published a lot of masterpieces, especially young adult fiction. His works include: ‘Hatchet,’ ‘Dogsong,’ ‘Harris and Me,’ and so on. He lives on through his stories.

Chioma Julie
About Chioma Julie
Chioma is a graduate of Mass Communication. With an unwavering love for music, movies and books, sometimes, she also writes to unwind.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap
Share to...