New to Seattle, or to reading about Seattle? Take a trip through the many stories of Seattle with this selection of fiction and nonfiction, recent and classic.
Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle, by Daudi J. Abe Abe
Interviews with artists and journalists trace how rapping, DJing, breaking, and graffiti flourished in Seattle, far from the hip hop epicenters of New York and Los Angeles.
Uncle Rico’s Encore: Mostly True Stories of Filipino Seattle, by Peter Bacho
Autobiographical essays explore the experiences of Filipino Americans in Seattle from the 1950s-1970s, from everyday moments and celebrations to coordinated acts of defiance and activism.
Written in the Stars, by Alexandria Bellefleur
Free-spirited astrologer Elle and buttoned-up actuary Darcy go on a disastrous date but agree to pretend they’re dating to make it through the holidays, finding that opposites really do attract.
Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World, by Kelly Brenner
Brenner explores and celebrates Seattle’s microhabitats – shores, wetlands, forests, parks – and the many organisms that share our urban landscape.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
The inspiring story of the University of Washington rowing team, which overcame adversity to triumph at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Black Hole, by Charles Burns
A strange plague has hit teenagers in Burns’ horror graphic novel set in Seattle’s Roosevelt and Ravenna neighborhoods in the 1970s. Originally published as a series of 12 comic books.
Hollow Kingdom, by Kira Jane Buxton
A northeast Seattle crow, armed with a TV education and a canine pal named Dennis, may be the one to save humanity from extinction. Finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor.
My Unforgotten Seattle, by Ron Chew
Chew, a third-generation Seattleite and journalist, paints vivid descriptions of Beacon Hill, Chinatown International District, local politics and community leaders in this deeply personal memoir.
Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City, by Josephine Ensign.
Digging through layers of Seattle history, Ensign examines the roots of poverty and homelessness in Seattle, including public policy, health care, and the search for community.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford.
When renovations at a Seattle hotel reveal a basement full of stored items from Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II, Chinese American Henry remembers his childhood friendship with Japanese American Keiko.
Dog Biscuits, by Graham, Alex
Gussy tries to keep his dog biscuit business going amidst Covid anxiety, police brutality, dating apps and the loneliness of lockdown during the summer of 2020 in this graphic novel.
The Final Case, by David Guterson
In this examination of justice and injustice, a Seattle attorney takes on the fraught case of white adoptive parents of a young girl born in Ethiopia charged with her murder.
Seattle Prohibition: Bootleggers, Rumrunners & Graft in the Queen City, by Brad Holden
The 20 years of Prohibition in Seattle saw plenty of entrepreneurial spirit and mayhem as bootleggers, moonshiners, and corrupt cops tried to outsmart the Seattle Prohibition Bureau.
Still Here: A Southend Mixtape from an Unexpected Journalist, by Reagan E.J. Jackson
Journalist Jackson’s collection of essays and articles explores the stories of Seattle’s Black communities, including her own, often overlooked by local media outlets.
I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?, by Mortada Gzar
Iraqi writer Gzar recounts his immigration to the US, his search for an American solider with whom he had a clandestine romance in Baghdad, and the aid and friendship found in Seattle’s gay community.
Lake City, by Thomas B. Kohnstamm, Thomas B.
After a fall from grace, Lane Bueche returns to his childhood home in Lake City and is pulled into a dubious scheme to regain what he has lost.
No-no Boy, by John Okada
Sent to prison for refusing the World War II draft, Japanese American Ichiro returns to Seattle after the war and faces hostility from family and community. A reprint of Okada’s 1957 classic.
Devil’s Chew Toy, by Rob Osler
A teacher turned amateur investigator, a missing go-go dancer, a bulldog, and Seattle’s gay community combine in this cozy mystery.
Grave Reservations, by Cherie Priest
Psychic travel agent Leda Foley saves detective Grady Merritt from boarding a plane that explodes, inspiring Grady to ask for Leda’s help with a case.
Secret Seattle: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Offbeat and Overlooked History, by Susanna Ryan
Gain a new appreciation for Seattle with cartoonist Ryan as she walks the city, exploring and celebrating overlooked neighborhood places and histories.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
Emails and school reports chronicle Bernadette’s descent into agoraphobia, fights with fellow private-school mothers, exasperated disdain for Seattle, and disappearance in this humorous novel.
Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, by David B. Williams
From filling in the Duwamish tide flats to massively regrading Denny Hill, Williams chronicles the large-scale physical transformations that created the Seattle landscape we know today.
Find more essential Seattle reading here, and at your local library.
~ Linda J & Andrea G.