20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 2: Diversity

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.

no-no-boyThere 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”

20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 1: History.

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.

Skid Road First EditionThere’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.”

Buildings and Cities

The Seattle Public Library has a large and varied collection of books about architecture and city planning. Here are a few that I find interesting and useful. I hope you enjoy them too.

Death & Life of Great American CitiesThe Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs’ classic ground-breaking attack on the planning of American cities, published in 1961, is still widely read, and has great relevance for us today. What, she asked, makes cities and city neighborhoods work, and what makes them die? What can planners do to save our great cities? She presented what were at that time completely new principles of city planning, including dense population and diversity of uses, principles which are coming into favor today. She writes with passion as a city dweller; this is an exciting book.

 The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog by William Allin Storrer
Among the many books available on Frank Lloyd Wright, this is the only Continue reading “Buildings and Cities”