Baseball with the Seattle Pilots

Ball Four by Jim BoultonThis challenging season for local baseball fans brings to mind another last place team in our fair city, the famous and short-lived Seattle Pilots of 1969. An expansion team in the American League, they played at Sicks’ Stadium, a converted minor league ballpark. In their one year here they launched Jim Bouton’s literary career through his tell-all bestselling book, “Ball Four.”

Bouton was a former All-star pitcher on the Mantle-Maris era Yankee juggernauts of the early sixties. In decline and with a sore arm, Continue reading “Baseball with the Seattle Pilots”

Summer Reads: Fremont and Queen Anne reader suggestions

Want to share what you’re reading? Enter the Adult Summer Reading Program at any branch (or downtown at the Central Library), write one or two sentences about three books you’ve read. You’ll be entered in a weekly drawing to win a book bag (one winner per week at each location; lots of chances to win!).book cover of loving frank

Readers on Queen Anne recommend:

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Part fact and part fiction, a poignant love story between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick. Mamah and her husband commission Wright to design a house for them and a passionate love story begins.

Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson
Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic-book history of Jewish suffering (Five Thousand Years of Bitterness), recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Really good writing — oh, those Brits!

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas
Wow. A librarian’s memoir about how all the other librarians are all idiots who don’t like books. I certainly am glad I never have to work at the same library as Scott. He seems like an idiot himself.

Readers in Fremont Continue reading “Summer Reads: Fremont and Queen Anne reader suggestions”

Summer Reads: Wallingford and Ballard readers offer suggestions

How do you find what to read next? Most of us count on personal recommendations from friends and neighbors (and, of course, librarians!). As part of the Adult Summer Reading Program, readers throughout Seattle are writing super short “reviews” of what they’ve been reading.

Readers in Wallingford recommend:

The Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peters
A Brother Cadfael mystery set in 12th century England. A Welsh monk helps unravel the mystery behind a wealthy goldsmith’s murder and protects an innocent juggler accused of the crbook cover for The Miracle At Speedy Motorsime.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
Another title in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series; I appreciate the quiet writing style, the contemplative nature of Mma Precious Ramotswe and a glimpse into the culture of Botswana.

Pushing up Daisies: A Dirty Business Mystery by Rosemary Harris
A delightful mystery by a master gardener who knows her stuff. I hope she’ll continue and make this a series!

Lost Horizon by James Hilton
This book inspired me so much. It’s a forgotten classic about the promise of Shangri-La. Beautiful, thought provoking, and a real page-turner at the same time.

And what are people reading in Ballard? Continue reading “Summer Reads: Wallingford and Ballard readers offer suggestions”


In 1917, the West Seattle Branch of the Seattle Public Library had a Knitting Club, to help in the War effort. Girls would meet once per week, and while one of their members read out loud, they would knit socks and ambulance pillows out of sturdy wool. A Red Cross volunteer handed out the yarn, and shipped the finished articles to Europe for World War I soldiers.  If someone did not know how to ‘turn the heel’ of the sock, perhaps they had a book of instructions nearby, such as Longman’s Complete Course of Needlework, Knitting and Cutting-out by T. M. James, published in 1901. Ninety years later, sock knitting has become a much less common skill, but in the last 5 years, a renaissance in knitting has caused an explosion of new books, from instructional how-tos to fiction!
The socks those girls knitted for solders were probably black, but More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch is full of wildly colorful designs, Continue reading “Knitting”

After a bike ride, read a book about bicycles

Bicycles are magical.  Learning to ride one is a rite of passage. The bicycle wobbles between the thighs – yet stays upright. Suddenly, the world extends from the yard to the block, from the neighborhood to the city, and beyond.

This skill, once mastered, becomes intimately connected to memory, to knowledge.  It’s like riding a bicycle, we say to each other in our more difficult moments, bolstering ourselves against a lifetime of uncertainty. Once we learn, we never forget.  Part human, part machine, on a bicycle we become a cyborg.  Hunched forward, heads raised, we mimic the animals.  Riding a bicycle is at once futuristic and also primordial: it’s magical.

When I’m not bicycling, I like to read about bicycling. Paul Fournel’s excellent and compact Need for the Bike is a perfect ode on the subject.  Originally written in French, this book provides a new vocabulary, a new cast of characters.

When a faster cyclist passes us, washing us in his or her wake, the French call it “catching cold.”  Those of us who ride fixed-gear bicycles are “squirrels.” When we hit the wall, bonk, become drained of energy, the French say we’ve “met the man with the hammer.”  This man can strike at any time, and every cyclist knows him.  When our bodies begin to fail, we become “wool eaters” (racers used to wear wool jerseys) or “wheel suckers,” and we “pedal squares.”

For a technical treatise, there is no better book than Continue reading “After a bike ride, read a book about bicycles”