Get Beachy

Perhaps your summer plans involve lying on a beach, relaxing and soaking in the sun; or maybe not, and you’ll be beach-dreaming on the bus, making furtive excursions to Alki, Golden Gardens, or Magnuson Park. Either way, here are some beachy reads to get you in the summer mindset.

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
Maeve, a renowned shark researcher, returns home to the Gulf Coast of Florida after a research trip and makes three startling discoveries: her twin brother has written a novel based on her failed love life; her estranged former fiancé is now the chef at her grandmother’s hotel; and a shark finning operation is killing sharks in the Gulf. Fortunately, there’s also a charming 6-year-old girl who wants to start a Shark Club with Maeve.

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
During the school year, Benji is one of the only black kids at a prep school in Manhattan; in the summer, he and his brother Reggie escape to the East End of Sag Harbor where a community of African-American professionals have built a world of their own. At 15, it’s a summer full of rites of passage for Benji: getting a first job, pursuing girls, car ownership, getting adults to buy beer.


The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Jim and Franny, celebrating their 35 wedding anniversary, take their extended family on a two week vacation to sun-soaked Mallorca. There’s their daughter Sylvia, celebrating her high school graduation; their son Bobby and his girlfriend Carmen; Franny’s best friend Charles and his husband Lawrence. And then, of course, there are all the secrets and baggage they each bring along. All the stress and comedy of someone else’s family vacation.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine
Dumped by her husband of 48 years, Betty Weissmann is forced out of her elegant New York apartment. She borrows a relative’s shabby Westport beach cottage and is joined in exile by her two adult daughters: Miranda, a literary agent dodging a series of scandals; and Annie, a library director who feels responsible for looking after the practicalities. Mischief, hints of romance, and self-discovery abound.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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#BookBingoNW2017: Collection of Essays or Short Stories.

Maybe you already love reading essays or short stories. Perfect: this Summer Book Bingo square is a freebie. But let’s assume this square gives you some pause. Maybe the term “essay” reminds you of those horrible things you were supposed to write in school, or “short stories” calls to mind unappetizing literary dissections in Language Arts class.  No worries; we’ve got you covered!

The good news is, no matter what sort of reader you are or what you’re in the mood to read, there are essays and short stories that should work for you. And so, without further ado, here are some good jumping off places for you. Continue reading

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10 new books librarians are loving

Each month librarians across the U.S. nominate new books they love for the Library Reads Top 10. Here are the ten titles for August 2017 — nine novels, one memoir — for you to get on your hold list now. Also, these titles work for your Summer Book Bingo “recommended by a librarian” square!

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#BookBingoNW2017: Read a book by a SAL speaker

Just a few of the fantastic authors who have been featured as Seattle Arts & Lectures speakers …

Perhaps that fourth row middle square – to read a book by “A SAL speaker (past or upcoming)” — gave you pause this year. It’s a delightful challenge because you have dozens and DOZENS of incredible authors to choose from.

SAL stands for Seattle Arts & Lectures, our partner in the adult summer reading program Book Bingo that we’ve all been loving these past three summers. The back of the Book Bingo card gives you a tease of the authors coming to SAL for the 2017-2018 season: Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jesmyn Ward, Tyehimba Jess; you can see the full list here. We’ve included a selection of the authors coming this season in this booklist in our catalog, too: #BookBingoNW2017 – Read a book by a Sal author. Continue reading

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ACT’s ALEX & ARIS: Beyond the Theatre

ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) presents the world premiere of ALEX & ARIS by Moby Pomerance from July 14 to August 6, 2017. ALEX & ARIS is the story of a young prince (who would go on to become Alexander the Great) and his time as a pupil of the great philosopher Aristotle. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and films to enhance your experience of the show: ACT Theatre’s ALEX & ARIS: Beyond the Theatre.

Fiction can be an exciting way to visit the ancient past. Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean offers another exploration of the relationship between Aristotle and Alexander the Great. The first book in Mary Renault Alexander the Great trilogy, Fire from Heaven examines Alexander’s early life before he ascends to the throne. Set as his army is stalled, just before his final great victory, The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield focuses on Alexander’s military acumen.

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#BookBingoNW2017: Young adult

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Need a book for that Young Adult square but aren’t quite sure where to start? Young adult fiction has come a long way since Sweet Valley High, with captivating, well-written titles that cross and blend just about every genre out there.  There is, of course, an abundance of teen romance but there is also excellent historical fiction and realistic fiction that shows just what it means to be a teen in 2017.  With thousands of titles published for young adults each year it can be a challenge to find books that will resonate with adult readers.  Here are some of our favorites: Continue reading

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Gifts of Empathy, Outrage, and Perspective

When people talk about the value they derive from reading, they will often mention how it widens their perspective, allowing them to partake of the lives, thoughts and experiences of others. As Joyce Carol Oates puts it, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin.” Some studies have supported the popular view that readers are more empathetic, while others question whether reading makes us kinder, or if kind people just like to read. In any case, readers value literature’s ability to see the world through others’ eyes.

Just as reading allows us to expand into different people and places, it also allows us direct access to the past, which can do wonders for our sense of perspective. Looking back across the centuries, we may come to perceive what Barbara Tuchman called in the title of her best known work, a Distant Mirrorrevealing certain patterns and abiding truths, and reassuring us with examples of how others have faced similar challenges and overcome.

Lately I’ve been reading books and articles from a period of time a little over a century ago that came to be known as the Gilded Age, a period of extreme splendor and excess for some, and great disillusionment and outrage for many. Out of the ranks of the latter a new generation of muckraking writers unleashed powerful indictments of this corruption, shining a light on the injustices and inequities of their day. Continue reading

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