New & Notable Northwest Nonfiction

A dozen new and updated books about Seattle and the great Northwest, past and present, are coming to shelves at a library near you.

Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels by Rose Marie Wong. This history of the International District is told through the neighborhood’s single-room occupancy hotels. Continue reading “New & Notable Northwest Nonfiction”

20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 4: Northwest Classics

For the fourth of our posts suggesting twenty essential books for Seattleites, having focused on history, race and place, we now attempt to suggest some writers whose work best characterizes our “regional literature.” In previous posts we’ve already mentioned Richard Hugo and Sherman Alexie, both of whose works certainly belong on this post. Here are some more Northwest classics for your shelf.

With his mischievous, playful tone, Tom Robbins has certainly helped to define our offbeat Northwest style, but when it comes to picking one book for readers new to Robbins, we’re torn. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction are both classic early gonzo Robbins. Then again, Jitterbug Perfume and Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas are both terrific, and set right here in Seattle. In the end, we’ll go with our heart: Still Life With Woodpecker. Why? Maybe it’s the way he writes about blackberries, how they force their way into polite society, engulfing dogs and small children, entwining the legs of virgins and trying to loop themselves over passing clouds. Maybe we’re still a little sweet on the girl who gave us this book in college. Does it really matter? Read it. Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 4: Northwest Classics”

Book Bingo: Set in the Northwest

   – Posted by Misha

Book Bingo Set in NWThis summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Stay tuned for more throughout the summer!

There are so many great books set in the Northwest. I mean, who wouldn’t want to write or read about our majestic evergreens, white-capped mountain ranges and superior cups of coffee? If you are trying to cross this category off your summer bingo card, here are some under-the-radar NW set books to try:

22320471The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields: This debut by a Spokane author following three generations in a Washington State family is told with some mind-bending slipstream weirdness. And it starts with a bang: 9-year-old Eli Roebuck comes home one day to find his mother with a sasquatch. She leaves with the hairy beast and never comes back. Things just get stranger and more compelling from there. Continue reading “Book Bingo: Set in the Northwest”

Cooking the Northwest: Jess Thomson’s Favorite Local Cookbooks.

Pikr Place Market Recipes by Jess Thomson.Jess Thomson’s latest cookbook, Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Ways to Take Home Seattle’s Famous Market, was released this week. We asked Thomson to comb through her cookbook library for a selection of her favorite local authors.


If there’s one book I want to carry with me at all times when I shop, it’s Edible Seattle: The Cookbook, edited by Jill Lightner, which just came out in April. It’s a deliciousFind Edible Seattle by Jill Lightner in the Seattle Public Library catalog tome that chronicles what’s available in Seattle farmers’ markets, January to December. With recipes for well known local favorites (think Tavern Law’s Fried Chicken and Barking Frog’s Grand Marnier Prawns), foodie treasures (Kate McDermott’s Fresh Peach Pie), and guides for how to use some of the region’s unique ingredients (razor clam linguine!), it’s all-inclusive—and all delicious. Make sure to get a copy with the book jacket still intact; it folds out into an antique map of the city.

Find Pure Flavor by Kurt Beecher Dammeier in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest, written by Kurt Beecher Dammeier (of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese) with Laura Holmes Haddad, is really a book of basics. Think of a recipe that a well-rounded cook should have in his or her arsenal—good chicken soup, or beef tenderloin medallions, or meatloaf, or cedar-planked salmon—and it’s there, usually with a uniquely Northwest twist. I especially like the authors’ instructions for cooking live crab.

Find Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen: A Food Lover’s Cookbook and Guide is my go-to book when I’m having people over I want to, well, impress. Recipes for slightly higher-end dishes are written in a really approachable way; it doesn’t seem outlandish to make Sake-steamed sockeye salmon or ling cod in grape leaves (with pine nut fig butter, obviously) because each page is stuffed with tips and treasures that I keep in my kitchen long after the dishes are done.

Find Northwest Essentials by Greg Atkinson in the Seattle Public Library catalog.We all use cookbooks differently. Most frequently, in my kitchen, my dinner process sounds like this: “I have 14 pounds of XYZ in my fridge. What on Earth will I do with it?” Enter Greg Atkinson’s The Northwest Essentials Cookbook. Divided by ingredient, it’s a great way to see dinner through the eyes of one particular thing, similar to how Alice Waters organizes her fantastic books Fruit and Vegetables, but broader (which, in my kitchen, makes it more useful). In general, the ingredient lists are short and the recipes are very approachable. I use this book regularly for inspiration.

Find The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson have translated the pastries, cookies, and pies of Seattle’s Grand Central Bakery to The Grand Central Baking Book—and although I have shelves full of Julia and Rose and Alice (we’ll stick to first names, out of politeness), it’s this bronze book that seems to explain baking best to me. I like how the steps for each recipe are broken up not by number, but by technique; there are also great detailed photographs that chronicle how to do more labor-intensive projects, like layered birthday cakes and puff pastry.

Jess will be appearing on King5 TV’s New Day Northwest program on May 15th. On May 21st, she will do a joint event with Jill Lightner at Book Larder, and on May 29th will be appearing with with Molly Moon Neitzel and Mark Klebeck at Elliott Bay Book Company. Later in the summer, on July 1st, she will be joined by Brian Jones for a demo and book signing in Pike Place Market’s Pear Delicatessen. (Find more Northwest Cookbooks in the Library’s collection).

Into the Unknown: Pacific Northwest Maritime and Overland Exploration

With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters.While the story of Juan de Fuca’s tale of an inland route, later known as the elusive Northwest Passage is of doubtful reliability, the later major sea explorations of the Northwest Coast during the late eighteenth century are well documented.

Noteworthy coastal explorers include Vitus Bering, Dionisio Alcala-Galiano, George Vancouver, Robert Gray. Lewis and Clark, and later David Thompson explored inland. Here are some captivating accounts of their exploits:

Bering: the Russian Discovery of America by O.W.Frost
Vitus Jonassen Bering (1681-1741) made two expeditions journeying from St. Petersburg to Siberia and ultimately to the Northwest coast of America. Frost chronicles the life of this extraordinary explorer in a riveting narrative of adventure and disaster on the high seas.

Voyage of Sutil and Mexicana 1792: the Last Spanish Exploration of the Northwest coast of America. Translated by John Kendrick, the original manuscript most likely by Dionisio Alcala-Galiano
The schooners Sutil and Mexicana sailed along the coast of the Pacific Northwest in 1792, stopping and spending time at Nootka prior to exploring in detail the coastline inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca and north of Vancouver, Canada.

With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters: Journals of 12 Crewmen, April-June 1792
Editor Richard Blumenthal offers the reader a fascinating firsthand look at the Northwest’s earliest maritime history. The journals include Peter Puget’s observations and explorations of Puget Sound and a detailed description of William Broughton’s passage through the San Juan Islands.

Columbia’s River: the Voyages of Robert Gray, 1787-1793 by J. Richard Nokes
Robert Gray in two trading voyages between 1787 and 1793 circumnavigated the globe and entered and explored the long-sought River of the West, naming it “Columbia’s River” after his ship.

Way to the Western Sea, by David LavenderThe Way to the Western Sea: Lewis & Clark Across the Continent by David Sievert Lavender
A moving, detailed re-creation of the 1804-06 Lewis & Clark Expedition, which was a risky probe into the continent’s interior. Lavender’s narrative captures the mingled awe, courage and fear of the members of the Corps of Discovery.

Columbia Journals by David Thompson
Thompson (1770-1857), one of the most important surveyors of North America, mapped the Columbia River watershed, traveling the Columbia River from its source to its mouth. Thompson mapped and established trading posts in Northwestern Montana, Idaho and Washington for the Northwest Company.

~ Brenda, Central Library