New and Notable Northwest Nonfiction

Would you like to “read local” this fall? From history to art to the great outdoors, there’s something for anyone interested in exploring the Pacific Northwest through 20 nonfiction books coming out this late summer and fall.

History buffs.
In Abandoned North Cascades, Debra Huron uncovers deserted buildings taken over by nature. Brad Holden uncovers the life of the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD” in Seattle Mystic Alfred M. Hubbard. Take a deep dive into two Seattle neighborhoods with Magnolia: Midcentury Memories, the third book from the Magnolia Historical Society, and Belltown Exposed where Staci Bernstein uncovers the storied history of the Belltown neighborhood. True crime fans will sink their teeth into Bryan Johnston’s Deep in the Woods, about the disappearance of 9-year-old George Weyerhauser in 1935.

Art and Design lovers.
From the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) comes Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence, highlighting the work of the Seattle-based artist as she reexamines Black portraiture; the accompanying exhibit is at SAM through January 2, 2022. Also from SAM is Frisson, featuring nineteen works of abstract expressionism recently acquired and on exhibit from October 15, 2021 to November 27, 2022. From the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds comes Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist, which explores the work of the acclaimed Japanese-born artist who made a name for himself in Seattle.

In Paul Hayden Kirk and the Puget Sound School, Grant Hildebrand discusses forty key buildings from the influential 20th century architect. Mimi Gardner Gates recounts how a public-private partnership led to Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Garden designers, prepare to be delighted: Brian D. Coleman takes an exclusive look at twenty Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest, while Valencia Libby reveals the history behind the first landscape gardening firm founded by women in The Northwest Gardens of Lord and Schryver.

Uniquely Northwest.
Revisit the best of Dan Savage’s advice on sex and relationships in Savage Love From A to Z and rediscover the origins of Bigfoot in Evergreen Ape by David Norman Lewis. Music journalist Dave Thomson chronicles Seattle from 1990 to 1994 in The Grunge Diaries while Taso G. Lagos revisits The Continental Restaurant, a University District staple until 2013, in Cooking Greek, Becoming American. Native-owned Children of the Setting Sun Productions bring the teachings of Coast Salish elders to light in Jesintel while Lowell Skoog unearths a century of Northwest ski culture in Written in the Snows. Finally, for a deep dive in city living, explore the intersection of capitalism and environmentalism in Northwest cities in Urban Cascadia and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice, by Nik Janos and Corina McKendry, while Josephine Ensign unpacks the relationship between the safety net and homelessness in Seattle in Skid Road.

~ posted by Frank B.

The End of Men

Not really! But this plot premise is popping up in recent fiction, usually as a virus that only targets men and leads to their widespread demise as the world collectively panics. Is now the best time to read about rampant viruses? Maybe not. But if you want to distract yourself from our current viral situation with some fictional versions then hey, why not? And it is intriguing to envision.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
In 2025, a lethal virus breaks out in Scotland which only impacts men. As the Great Male Plague spreads around the world, impacts ripple from the personal to the societal.
     Pick this one: to view the action through the perspectives and experiences of a large cast of characters, including a doctor, virologists, a historian on the run with her son, a nanny, plus smaller one-off vignettes from a wide swathe of characters. Continue reading “The End of Men”

How 9/11 changed the way we read

As we mark twenty years since the terrible events of September 11, 2001, this past week has been a time of remembrance and reflection for many of us. While reading a powerful piece in the Washington Post in which people share how that day changed their world views, I reflected on how in the weeks, months and years following 9/11, we librarians witnessed a shift in the reading interests of our patrons at the Library that seemed to me a ray of hope during a dark time.

Like everyone, my memories of the day itself are indelible. I recall how the word spread via (then newfangled) email around our Central library’s temporary facility – the current library was still just a big hole in the ground. How people gathered around hastily set up televisions at many of our branches, to watch in stunned silence as the day unfolded. And how over phones and in person, the questions flooded in: What was happening? Were we safe in Seattle? What could people do to help, and where should they send support? Why do they hate us?

Image of two people reading courtesy of Bonnie Natko, via Flickr

Continue reading “How 9/11 changed the way we read”

The Book Was Better, 2019

It is rare that a movie or TV show is better than the book it is based on. I mean, it happens, but it’s rare.  Yes, some movies live up to or complement their source material, but most of the time they don’t. For starters, let’s take 2019 – remember 2019? – back when we were still going to movie theaters? Ah, seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? Skip these 2019 movies, and read the book (or listen to the audiobook) instead:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Cate Blanchett! Richard Linklater! Our fair city and library as a filming location! What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out.

  • The book: “…a compelling composite of a woman’s life—and the way she’s viewed by the many people who share it. …the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying dénouement.” – Publisher’s Weekly.
  • The movie: “The script is an insult to the principle of adaptation: All that is good in the plot has been excised in favor of the shortest route to a happy ending.” – The New Republic. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.

Continue reading “The Book Was Better, 2019”

Watch & Read: Ozark

Ozark is one of those shows that is just pure madness – it snakes in on itself in perpetual chaos. No breaks, no ease, just edge of your seat shenanigans the whole time. And I can’t get enough! While we wait for the next season, here are a few items in our collection that will also have you saying, WTF?!

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
Bazell gives us a brutal and entertaining rollercoaster ride, punctuated with clever footnotes. His main character, Dr. Peter Brown, is working as an intern in a Manhattan hospital, and his daily encounters of blood and mayhem don’t even come close to his nightmarish past career as a hit man for the mob. Pietro “Bearclaw” Brnwna went into witness protection, changed his name, went to medical school and thought he’d left his past behind. But when patient Nicholas LoBrutto recognizes Dr. Brown, he asks him to help him beat the reaper – or the mob will be told where to find him.

The Nightworkers by Brian Selfon
It’s a family business: Uncle Shecky launders money and teaches his nephew, Henry, and niece, Kerasha, the trade. But everyone has secrets in this family, and when money goes missing, those secrets will rise to the surface. In this exceptionally good crime novel, the characters are developed beautifully and the sense of place truly shines. Just as the Ozarks are a character in that series, so here we delve into the avenues and back alleys of Brooklyn. Continue reading “Watch & Read: Ozark”