A Peek at Peak Picks – April 2023

Eleven new books are joining Peak Picks in April!

Timothy Egan recounts the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, and the woman who stopped them, in the historical thriller A Fever in the Heartland;  David Grann chronicles the survivors of two shipwrecks off the coast of Patagonia who failed to capture a Spanish galleon loaded with treasures in The Wager; David Schmader highlights more than 200 film and TV shows set in Seattle, Portland and the Great Northwest in Filmlandia!; Nicole Chung follows up All You Can Ever Know with a memoir of family, class and grief following the death of her adoptive parents in A Living Remedy; Matika Wilbur of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes celebrates contemporary Native American life and culture through photographic portraits and personal narratives in Project 562; and Makini Howell, chef and owner of Plum Bistro, reissues her classic cookbook, complete with 80 flavorful and comforting recipes in Makini’s Vegan Kitchen.

Curtis Sittenfeld introduces us to Sally Milz, a jaded sketch show writer who doesn’t think a dreamy popstar would be interested in her until sparks start to fly in Romantic Comedy; Dennis Lehane returns to Boston and tells the tale of Mary Pat, who will stop at nothing to find out what happened to her daughter in the crime drama Small Mercies; Liana De la Rosa launches a series based on the forbidden love between a Mexican heiress and a British politician in the historical romance Ana María and the Fox; Michelle Min Sterling debuts with the story of Rose, a Korean American climate change refugee looking for the truth behind a secret project in the Canadian wilderness in the dystopian novel Camp Zero;  and Monica Brashears follows Magnolia Brown, a young Black woman who impersonates dead people to help their survivors connect in the Southern Gothic debut House of Cotton.

~posted by Frank

Read Julie Otsuka’s “The Swimmers” With Us

Julie Otsuka's "The Swimmers"

In May of 2005, author Julie Otsuka visited Seattle as part of Seattle Reads, the Library’s citywide book group that started in 1998.

Otsuka’s acclaimed debut novel, “When the Emperor Was Divine” had been chosen as the Seattle Reads selection that year. The book described in “incantatory, unsentimental prose” (The New Yorker) the experience of a unnamed Japanese family forced from their home in Berkeley to an incarceration camp during World War II.

As reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (log into NewsBank with your Library card to read the full text) one of the most memorable moments in the author’s Seattle Reads appearances occurred during a program at the Beacon Hill Branch, when Tom Ikeda, founder of Densho and event moderator, “took note of the number of Japanese Americans in the crowd and asked any former internees to please stand.”

Hesitantly, they rose to their feet, former internees near the front of the crowd, but also sprinkled throughout, some in groups, others in pairs, a few by themselves, until there were 30 people standing, while many others in the audience felt their hearts rising into their throats, tears welling in their eyes. Then the rest of the audience started to applaud.

‘That is a moment that I will really remember,’ Otsuka said Thursday. “That brought tears to all of our eyes; it was so moving. It was probably the first time that many of these people had had their internment and absence ever acknowledged by others in the community.”

Eighteen years later, Otsuka is returning to Seattle, and to Seattle Reads, which turns 25 this year. The Library has chosen Julie Otsuka’s third novel “The Swimmers” as the Seattle Reads selection for 2023. She will visit Seattle on Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20. 

Continue reading “Read Julie Otsuka’s “The Swimmers” With Us”

Women’s History Through Film

Every so often, we like to remind folks about the incredible wealth of content available through the Library’s streaming databases, such as Kanopy. And what better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than watching a series of documentaries about inspiring women?

Film Image - Chisholm '72 Unbought and UnbossedFor those wanting to learn more about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress who launched an unprecedented campaign for president in 1972, check out Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed. This trailblazing hero is still an inspiration for leaders from marginalized communities who are fighting for a seat at the table.

Film Image - Rita Moreno Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for ItAnother trailblazer who has been in the entertainment industry for over 70 years and counting is Rita Moreno, renowned EGOT (a winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, AND Tony awards) who has graced the stage and screen (big and small), and served as a role model for countless Puerto Rican and Latinx artists. Learn more about Moreno’s life and contributions in Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.

Film Image - Worlds of Ursula K. Le GuinWe always love to honor and highlight writers here at the Library, and Women’s History Month is the perfect opportunity to learn more about women’s contributions to literature. Among Kanopy’s offerings is Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a documentary about the groundbreaking Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer and creator of worlds. Another writer to celebrate is Amy Tan, whose work in fiction and non-fiction reflects her parents’ challenges and resilience as Chinese immigrants in the United States. Learn more by watching Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir.

Film Image - Amy Tan Unintended MemoirCheck out the numerous additional offerings from Kanopy related to women’s history this month to learn more about the women who have helped define American history and culture!


~ Posted by Emily G.

Middle Grade Fiction for Adults

For a long time as an adult, I told myself that middle grade books were no longer for me. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong! Not only can middle grade novels simply be great stories, they can also transport you back into the world of being a kid. This includes the importance and depth of friendships that we make when we are young, the sense of adventure and openness to the fantastical and the unknown, and the complex and often difficult experience of being a kid. If you, too, love a good story regardless of age, here are some of my recommendations:

Amari and the Night Brothers 

After Amari’s older brother goes missing, she discovers a mysterious briefcase in his closet. Soon, a whole secret world opens up for Amari. She is nominated to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs where she must compete against other students, fight against an evil magician, and find out what really happened to her brother. 


After moving to a new home, Coraline goes exploring and discovers a mysterious door that opens into a world that looks very similar to her own. At first it seems like a better version of her own life, until she begins to realize that things are eerily off–and her new set of parents want her to stay with them forever.


Front Desk

After recently immigrating from China, Mia and her family begin to live and work at a motel in Southern California. Mia must navigate helping at the motel front desk, dealing with racism and bullying at school, and her growing dreams of being a writer.


The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

Marya Lupu lives in a world where boys are born with the potential to become sorcerers. When Marya makes a mistake on the day of her brother Luka’s sorcerer test, she is sent to the Dragomir Academy for Troubled Girls. While at the academy, Marya makes powerful friendships and begins to discover what she and her friends are really capable of.




~Posted by Siri A.

The Library’s First-Ever Electric Bookmobile

The Seattle Public Library’s Mobile Services has a sweet new ride — our first-ever electric Bookmobile.

The Seattle Public Library’s Mobile Services’ staff in front of their sweet new ride.

The Library worked with the Seattle’s City Fleets to replace one of our aging Mobile Services delivery vans with a new electric Ford E-Transit. The electric van is one of four Mobile Services vehicles that brings carts of library materials into low-income senior housing, assisted living facilities and preschools.

In total, we make monthly visits to 97 partner locations throughout the city to reach preschoolers, older adults, and patrons with disabilities.

Electric Bookmobile

The Library’s Mobile Services staff are excited not only because it’s our first electric vehicle, but also because it’s easier to park than our other vans and has enhanced safety features.

The Library's electric bookmobile

Wondering about those eye-catching graphics? They are courtesy of the Library’s Marketing & Online Services team.

Want to learn more about The Seattle Public Library’s Mobile Services? Go to https://www.spl.org/MobileServices.