Talking Romance (and Sci-Fi and Speculative Fiction) with Librarian Misha Stone

Misha Stone, Adult Services Librarian with The Seattle Public Library

At the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in October, the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America (GSRWA) named our very own Adult Services Librarian Misha Stone their Librarian of the Year, citing Misha’s commitment to promoting the romance genre and uplifting traditionally marginalized voices.

Misha has been a librarian in the Seattle area since graduating from the UW’s Information School almost 20 years ago. She regularly appears on local television programs promoting books and library programs, and has hosted everything from Karaoke and pop culture conventions to literary readings and writers workshops. One constant is the passion she brings to fostering the love of reading and learning and to helping people find their next favorite book.

We had the opportunity to speak with Misha recently about her introduction to the romance genre and support for local authors, developments in speculative fiction, the importance of representation and diversity in literature, and so much more. Our conversation is below.

How were you introduced to the Romance genre and what were some of the first books in that genre that you read?

I grew up reading lots of Horror and Gothic fiction and thought that my vampire novel obsession meant I had read romance! I fell for the tortured love affair trope at the time. But it’s not a romance unless it’s got a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) or Happy-For-Now (HFN). I credit learning more about romance from Nancy Pearl’s Genre class at the University of Washington where King County Library System’s Alene Moroni presented on her love of romance with memorable enthusiasm. Jayne Ann Krentz’s Bowling Green Keynote speech also stayed with me from that class as she defends beautifully the reasons that romance is looked down upon and why it is so beloved — because it offers us a deep, affirming belief in the power of love.

I also credit librarian Claire Scott, who worked here at The Seattle Public Library, for introducing me to Courtney Milan — she was my gateway drug to romance! Milan’s character-driven romances, both historical and contemporary, are diverse, witty and utterly delightful!

Congratulations again on your Librarian of the Year Award from the GSRWA! Can you tell us about some of the ways you and the Library have helped support local Romance authors? Continue reading “Talking Romance (and Sci-Fi and Speculative Fiction) with Librarian Misha Stone”

Recent Science Fiction: Journey to the Stars

Science fiction, as a genre, covers many different subgenres and subjects, but one steadfast storyline is a trip to the stars. If you’re in the mood for fictional space exploration, check out one of these recent novels.

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen
Dr. Grace Park has always gotten along better with androids than with her fellow humans. Now the psychologist for an expedition exploring planet Eos for colonization potential, she and the crew are trapped on the ship by a radiation storm ravaging the surface. As the crew – both human and android alike – begin to behave strangely, Grace must unravel the hidden purpose behind their mission to discover the root of their affliction.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The sun is rapidly and inexplicably dying, leading scientists to predict an instant and catastrophic ice age within the next few decades. Ryland Grace, molecular biologist-turned-middle school science teacher, is reluctantly one of a three person crew headed to Tau Ceti in hopes of saving humankind. When he wakes up mid-flight to find his fellow crewmates dead, he also discovers that he’s not alone in searching for a solution.

Continue reading “Recent Science Fiction: Journey to the Stars”

A guide to exploring new genres

Each year, groups of librarians from across the country hole up in a room (this year, a virtual room) to discuss and select the best books from the year before. The Notable Books List features literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; the Listen List is all about outstanding audiobooks; and The Reading List, which I want to tell you about today, highlights outstanding genre fiction in eight genres: Adrenaline (aka thrillers, adventure stories), Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Relationship Fiction, Romance, and Science Fiction.

While each genre has a winner, it also has a four-title shortlist of runners up. Taken together, the five books in each genre represent a range of the types of stories a reader can find in that genre, with the idea that both longtime fans and folks new to the genre can find a title of interest. If you are looking to branch out into new areas of fiction reading, it is a great place to start. Check out the 2021 winners (for books published in 2020) below, with annotations from the ALA Reading List Council, or in our catalog.


The Holdout by Graham Moore
Ten years after Maya Seale convinced her fellow jurors to acquit a man of murder, a true crime documentary reunites the jury amid claims of new Continue reading “A guide to exploring new genres”

Watch and Read: Stranger Things

While I can honestly watch Stranger Things over and over and over again we have so much material that adds on to the Stranger Things universe to quench your nerdy hearts. As well as a few reads to give you the same feeling the show did – for all ages!

The Stranger Things Field Guild by Nadia Bailey
An ultimate fan read, get to know your favorite characters even more!

Stranger Things by Jody Houser
Want to know more about Will Beyer’s time in the Upside Down? What about the other children who escaped from Hawkins Lab? And how was the door opened to the Upside Down? Continue the series by reading these graphic novels available though Hoopla Comics. 

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
For Andy, Kerri, Nate, and Peter it all started and ended with the Blyton Summer Detective Club in 1977. But turns out their last case wasn’t finished and there is something worse than a man in a mask waiting for them this time. A mash-up of Scooby-Doo meets Stranger Things. Continue reading “Watch and Read: Stranger Things”

Read-alikes for the Emily St. John Mandel fan

Want something like Emily St. John Mandel? We get this question quite a lot from fans of the author’s best-selling dystopian novel Station Eleven or her more literary mysteries starting with her debut Last Night in Montreal. Here are some read-alikes with similar qualities to St. John Mandel’s beautiful and haunting novels:

Continue reading “Read-alikes for the Emily St. John Mandel fan”