A genre reading list for library insiders

Chances are some of you haven’t heard of ALA’s Reading List Council, but trust me on this one: Their annual list of top books in several genres is a book lover’s gem. They pick the best in eight genres — including mystery, science fiction, and adrenaline (read: suspense/heart-thumping-page-turner) for adult readers. Librarians love that the Reading List is selected by readers advisory librarians who offer suggestions for similar titles. Readers love getting a list of genre favorites that includes winners and finalists.

To get you started with your holds, here are the 2018 winners (for books published in 2017). And be sure to check the full Reading List where you’ll find sixty-four (64!) reading recommendations.



Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are enjoying an afternoon outing at the zoo when the unthinkable happens–a mass shooting. Trapped and in tremendous danger, Joan must rely on her bravery and survival instincts to make it out alive. This terrifyingly plausible thriller unfolds in real time.



Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (a Washington author!)
Twin sisters Jack and Jill discover a portal that leads them to the Moors, a dark and unsettling world that reveals their true selves. But will their conflicting desires tear them apart?


Historical Fiction

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
Betrayed and left for dead, Viking raider Rangvald seeks revenge and his inheritance, while his sister Svanhild’s path to freedom lies with Rangvald’s mortal enemy. This epic tale of uneasy alliances, set in 9th century Scandinavia, offers action, intrigue and historical detail.



Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
An homage to horror and the authors who write it, Kill Creek features four prominent authors who are lured into spending the night in a famous haunted house as a publicity stunt. The aftermath is both unexpected and terrifying.



The Dime by Kathleen Kent
Dallas detective Betty Rhyzyk comes from a family of cops. She’s nearly six feet tall, has flaming red hair, a New Yorker’s sharp tongue, and a girlfriend. When her investigation into a Mexican drug lord goes sideways, she must salvage the operation while dealing with a highly disturbed stalker.



An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Elle Burns, a free black woman, voluntarily leaves the North to work in the Confederacy as a slave and a spy. When she uncovers a possible plot she also encounters Malcolm, a white Union spy. Their intense attraction places their lives in danger in this tale of forbidden love.


Science Fiction

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
In the Interdependency, each planet relies on its far-flung neighbors for survival. Now a galactic change is transforming the universal order, a new empress has been crowned, a rival is plotting a revolution, and a foul-mouthed captain is caught in the middle.


Women’s Fiction

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Geeky Leia is pregnant after an encounter with a sexy, anonymous Batman. Pondering when to tell her Southern family she is expecting a biracial child, her life is upended by the implosion of her half-sister’s marriage, her grandmother’s dementia, and a skeleton in the attic in this humorous tale.



Posted in BOOKS, Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Library Reads: Top 10 Books for March 2018

Librarians across the U.S. voted for their favorite new books coming out next month. And here they are, the Library Reads Top Ten for March 2018!

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
For readers who enjoyed Mackintosh’s I Let You Go and I See You, you most certainly will enjoy her latest suspenseful thrill ride. Anna has been struggling to get on with her life after her parents’ suicides when she starts to receive clues that maybe her parents did not carry out the heinous act that everyone believed they committed. — KC Davis, Fairfield Woods Library, Fairfield, CT

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Parallel narratives, one set in Vermont 1950 and the other in Vermont 2014, are woven together in this intricate mystery. Timely themes of violence toward women and abuses of power resonate throughout. A well-crafted and unsettling tale for fans of Gothic horror and female centered thrillers. ~  Kate Currie, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, MN

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
Cassie Bowden is a flight attendant with a drinking problem. Rock bottom comes when she wakes up in a hotel room in Dubai with a dead man next to her. Warning: do not read this on a plane!” ~ Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Public Library, Commerce Township, MI

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
For fans of the recent psychological thrillers, The Woman In the Window and The Wife Between Us, comes another one that will keep you on your toes. I felt like I needed a whiteboard to keep track of the twists and turns. ~ Robin Beerbower, Salem Public Library, Salem, OR

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
The latest installment in the Alpha and Omega series. The tension between humans and werewolves is ramping up and Charles and Anna are becoming more deeply involved in Pack business. For readers who enjoy Ilona Andrews and Kelly Armstrong.  ~ Shana Harrington, Las Vegas Clark County Library District, Las Vegas, NV

Sunburn by Laura Lippman
Polly leaves her husband and child while on a beach vacation and winds up in a small town in Delaware with almost nothing. She gets a job at the local bar and starts a relationship with Adam, someone who seems to have landed in the town by accident as well. As the novel progresses, we learn of Polly’s past and soon you won’t know what to believe. Sunburn is a twisted novel that will suck you in. ~ Annice Sevett, New Hanover County Public Library, Wilmington, NC

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Richard is a successful concert pianist who has contracted ALS and now his right arm is paralyzed. His wife Katrina takes on the role of reluctant caretaker. Theirs is a marriage filled with secrets, blame, loneliness and disappointment. The book is beautifully written and visceral in its description of the progression of ALS. Most moving to this reader was both characters’ impassioned relationship to music. ~ Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleborough, MA

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
A beautiful tale of survival despite overwhelming destructive forces all around. After her mother’s death, Poornima is left to care for her siblings and father until her arranged marriage. When a free spirited Savitha enters, Poornima begins to imagine a different life. Told in alternating perspectives, the girls’ ambition keeps them going through unimaginable trials. ~ Darla Dykstra, Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, MO

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen
This book really captures contemporary New York, the increasing disparity between the wealthy Manhattanites and those who work for them and live in the outer boroughs, and the obsessive search for parking. The title hits exactly the right tone as “alternate side” has several meanings in this novel. ~ Rosemarie Borsody, Lee Library Association, Lee, MA

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
This novel brings to mind Hitchcock. This is the story of two women, friends in college, until an accident drives a wedge between them. Years later, Alice is living in Tangier with her husband when Lucy shows up. A twisted tale told in alternating points of view. ~ Terri Smith, Cornelia Habersham County Library, Cornelia, GA

~ posted by Linda J.

Posted in BOOKS | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New & Notable Northwest Nonfiction

A dozen new and updated books about Seattle and the great Northwest, past and present, are coming to shelves at a library near you.

Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels by Rose Marie Wong. This history of the International District is told through the neighborhood’s single-room occupancy hotels.

Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest by Robert Michael Pyle. The newest addition to the Timber Press Field Guide series covers more than 200 butterfly species in the region, from the two-time recipient of the Washington State Book Award.

Death in Mount Rainier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness on the Northwest’s Most Iconic Peak by Tracy Salcedo-Chourré. A collection that highlights some of the 400+ deaths that have occurred in the park.

A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by Christian T. Miller and Ken Armstrong. A disturbing account of the failures of the criminal justice system that started with a Seattle-area woman’s account of a rape that was called into question by police. Based on a Pulitzer-Prize winning report.

John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy, edited by Frank Abe, Greg Robinson & Floyd Cheung. A biography of the first Japanese American to publish a book in the United States, who served in the U.S. Air Force after an internment in Idaho’s Minidoka War Relocation Center.

Hiking Washington’s Fire Lookouts by Amber Casali. This guide to 44 hikeable fire lookouts in the Cascades and the Olympics is the first of its kind!

Protest on Trial: The Seattle 7 Conspiracy by Kit Bakke. A look back at the Seattle Liberation Front, a radical group who formed to protest the Vietnam War, and the “Seattle 7” members who were arrested in 1970 for “conspiracy to incite a riot.”

Rockhounding Washington by Lars Johnson. The Rockhounding series has finally taken on Washington’s geologic wonders! Discover minerals, gems and fossils in the state, complete with GPS coordinates.

Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith. This companion to the MOHAI exhibit features photographs of Seattle’s African American community in the mid-20th century, from Seattle’s most notable black photographer.

Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle by Murray Morgan. The classic guide to Seattle’s history, first released in 1951, is redesigned and features a new introduction by Seattle Times columnist Mary Ann Gwinn.

Swimming Holes of Washington: Perfect Places to Play by Anna Katz. This guide to 70 natural swimming holes will provide fun for the whole family.

Walking Seattle: 35 Tours of the Jet City’s Parks, Landmarks, Neighborhoods, and Scenic Views by Clark Humphrey. The long-awaited second edition of the popular guide to Seattle’s neighborhoods is coming your way this summer.

~ Posted by Frank B.

Posted in BOOKS, local history, LOCAL INTEREST, Nonfiction, Northwest Authors | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle Rep’s HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN from February 23 to March 18, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, CDs, DVDs and musical scores to enhance your experience of the show.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band” “Blue Skies” “Always” “Cheek to Cheek” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” “Easter Parade” “What’ll I Do” “How Deep Is the Ocean” “The Song Is Ended” “God Bless America” “White Christmas”…the list goes on and on…and on!  Irving Berlin was a tireless worker who wrote over 1500 songs – a staggering amount – and what’s even more remarkable than the sheer number of songs is the high quality of so much of his work.  Regardless of whether he was writing for the stage, for film, or stand-alone popular songs, he was a master songwriter (without ever having learned to read music).  From his birth in Russia in 1888 to his death at age 101, The Seattle Rep’s “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” explores the man behind all of this extraordinary music.

From the Rep’s synopsis:

From Imperial Russia to the streets of the Lower East Side, ACTOR AND PIANIST Hershey Felder takes us on a journey through “AMERICA’S COMPOSER” Irving Berlin’s incredible and fascinating life. Featuring Berlin’s most enduring tunes including “God Bless America” and “White Christmas,” this musical portrait is an uplifting IMMIGRANT TALE that breathes new life into THE AMERICAN DREAM.

Posted in CULTURE, Events, LOCAL INTEREST, MUSIC, theater | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Day of Remembrance with Khizr Khan

Gold Star father Khizr Khan made headlines when he offered to lend his copy of the Constitution to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, asking him to read the document and “look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.'” Khan will be speaking at Seattle Center on Sunday, February 19th at Densho’s 2018 Day of Remembrance–Our History, Our Responsibility–an event to honor Japanese Americans of World War II and stand in solidarity with American Muslims today.

Khan writes about his great love for our Constitution, and our responsibility to uphold it, in his books An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice and This Is our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father. During World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the 1942 Executive Order 9066 authorizing the removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, a number of individuals rose up to challenge the injustice and defend their civil rights as promised by the Constitution.

Perhaps the most famous is Fred Korematsu, who defied evacuation orders and challenged the constitutionality of EO 9066 in the landmark case Korematsu v. United States, and whose story is told in the book Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice and in the documentary film Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story. While the EO was initially upheld, Korematsu eventually won the case several decades later in 1983. He went on to champion for civil rights for others and was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. After 9/11, Korematsu filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court against the imprisonment of Muslim inmates at Guantanamo Bay and pointing to similarities with the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII.

Washingtonian Gordon Hirayabashi was another resister. He was a student attending the University of Washington when EO 9066 went into effect. He first refused curfew, then the order to report for relocation by turning himself in to the FBI as a dissenter in the hopes of becoming a test case, challenging that the order violated the Constitution and his rights as a citizen. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Obama in 2012. His story is told through diaries, letters, and other archival documents in A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States.

A companion case to Hirabayashi v. United States was that of Minoru Yasui (Yasui v. United States), a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who also defied curfew and turned himself into local police as a test case. He too was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2015. The story of Yasui and his family is told in Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family.

For even more reading about the incarceration of Japanese Americans, see our booklist.

And please join us on February 19 for Our History, Our Responsibility. This event is co-sponsored by The Seattle Public Library, and will also feature a documentary film project, Omoiyami, by musician Kishi Bashi. Reserve your free tickets here.

– Posted by Heather M.

Posted in BOOKS, Events, History and Biography, local history, LOCAL INTEREST | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City Council Reads – Sally Bagshaw, District 7

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, District 7, reflects on a book that is much beloved by many, and soon to be discovered by many more.

Photo of a group march, with people carrying a sign that says "Grandmothers Against Gun Violence." Text on photo says: Sally Bagshaw, District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia

What book was most influential in your life or career and why?

You’ve given me an especially tough challenge to identify ONE book  that had a profound impact on me and my career.  I can tell you about one book LIST called something like “100 of the best books you should have read before you went to college but didn’t”.  After law school I read every book on that list and the list’s creator was right  — I learned so much from those writers who wrote honestly and shared their wisdom through their hearts and experiences.

Last year I gave you another list that led me into and through issues of slavery and abolitionists, so this year I will give you just one book from my childhood:  Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

I read this book after sixth grade, riding the bus from Portland to Boise.  I had been visiting my grandfather and was returning home.  It was the first meaty book I ever read cover to cover; I was on the bus alone, read without interruption, and I remember being slightly disappointed when the bus arrived in Boise.

I know now that this book has been criticized from many sides since it was first published — from Christian evangelists, to politicians who see it as corrupting young people’s minds over social issues such as conformity, and many more.  Bosh.

As a 12 year old, I was enthralled and buoyed by Meg’s independence, her strong love for her little brother and family, her determination to save her father, and her belief in the theory of the tesseract.

After my sons were born decades later, I delighted reading them not just The Wrinkle in Time, but the other four in the series.  Yes, the universe can warp and yes, love prevails.

Editor’s Note: if you’ve never read the series, this is the perfect time to draw your own mental pictures before seeing the motion picture adaptation arriving in theaters next month – or even the trailer. The series, in order, is A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

~ posted by David W.

Posted in BOOKS, Fiction, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Galentine’s Day

For Galentine’s Day I reached out to the amazing ladies in my life for some female friendship literature! Here were their suggestions:


Jen (the childhood friend): Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Continue reading

Posted in BOOKS, Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment