Here at the library, we’re often asked by both locals and newcomers, “What books are must reads for Seattleites?” While we’re not much for ‘must’ or ‘should,’ we thought we’d list twenty titles that capture essential aspects of the history and culture of this place. Not a definitive list: a jumping off place. Our first post looked at Seattle’s history, and in today’s post we revisit that history through the lens of diversity.
There are many excellent books about the Internment of Japanese Americans during the second World War, but one of the earliest – and one that holds special significance for Seattleites – is John Okada’s 1957 novel No-No Boy. After two years in an internment camp and two years in federal prison for declining military service and a loyalty oath, Ichiro Yamada returns home to Seattle to find himself alienated on all sides. For another view of experiences of Seattle’s Japanese Americans before and during the War, check out Monica Sone’s 1953 memoir Nisei Daughter.
Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 2: Diversity”
Here at the library, we’re often asked by old timers and newcomers alike, “What are must read books for people living in Seattle?” While others have offered intriguing suggestions, librarians aren’t really big on shoulds and musts, knowing how readers have such diverse tastes, moods and motivations. That said, we thought we’d venture a little list of titles that capture essential aspects of this place, its history and culture. In today’s post, we look backwards in time.
There’s ample reason that Murray Morgan’s Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle has been the most popular work of local history for sixty-five years running: it is as entertaining as it is informative. There are more detailed and objective histories available (check out Richard Berner’s multi-volume look at Seattle in the 20th Century), and folksier books too (see Sons of the Profits, by beloved local raconteur Bill Speidel). But Morgan hits the sweet spot, combining a good basic outline of how this city got here with a diverting and often wry look at opportunistic settlers who kicked of a cycle of boom and bust that continues to this day. Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 1: History.”
Bill Holm’s Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form was the first work to systematically organize and describe this unique type of American art. First published in 1965, it has since become a foundational text for students, scholars, artists and others interested in learning about Northwest Coast Native American* art history, designs, structures and techniques. Holm established a lexicon for describing and discussing elements of this school of art, a vocabulary that is still used and continually developed by scholars today. (Perhaps the most notable term Holm coined is “formline.”)
Holm, who turns 90 this year, is the author of eight books on Northwest Coast Native art and currently Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Washington and Curator Emeritus of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the Burke Museum, where the Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art is named in his honor. Continue reading “A Pacific Northwest Gem: Bill Holm and Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form”
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo
Based on relentless fact-finding and reporting, this harrowing story of hope and devastation in a poverty-strewn makeshift Indian town is told from the perspectives of those who live and die in Annawadi. Groups will discuss worldwide economic inequality and solutions for injustice against the powerless, government corruption and how the media exacerbate problems and whether or not a common can morality dictate public reaction to private suffering. Continue reading “Fall Book Group Reads: Jen’s Nonfiction picks”