Mayor Jenny Durkan on the Book that Made the Difference

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” Mayor Jenny Durkan reflects on a book that has had a powerful influence on so many readers, herself included.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

I have read this book many times, and each time I am struck by something new.  Two scenes were particularly influential on my career. The most significant is Atticus’ closing arguments, in which he refers to the courts as the “great leveler”. To him this means every person has a right to justice, regardless of race, personal circumstances, station in life, or background. This view of justice has inspired me to work on issues of inequality and discrimination. While we have not achieved Atticus’ vision of universal justice, I have fought to realize this goal for my whole career. Continue reading “Mayor Jenny Durkan on the Book that Made the Difference”

City Council Reads – Teresa Mosqueda, Citywide Position 8

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” Next week we’ll feature Mayor Durkan’s response, but let’s start things off with Seattle’s newest City Councilmember, Teresa Mosqueda

Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle CIty Council Position 8, Citywide.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”


Sickness and Wealth: The Corporate Assault on Global Health, edited by Meredith Fort, Mary Anne Mercer, and Oscar Gish.

Continue reading “City Council Reads – Teresa Mosqueda, Citywide Position 8”

Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars, a Traveling International Exhibition


One of the highlights of the 1939 World’s Fair was a massive exhibit called “Futurama,” created by General Motors. It promised that within twenty years the working man would live in a glorious future filled with friendly suburbs, gleaming skyscrapers, and extensive highways—all of this made possible by the comfort and convenience of the personal car.

More than 75 years later, most of us are living in the car-centric future prophesied at the World’s Fair, but it is not quite the utopia GM envisioned. Pollution, traffic congestion, and the looming end to fossil fuels leave us wondering: What comes next?

The international exhibition Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars offers fascinating answers to this question. Continue reading “Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars, a Traveling International Exhibition”

Celebrating the Lake Washington Ship Canal Centennial

Did you know the Ballard Locks turns 100 this year? In recognition of the anniversary, we’ve combed through our archives and digitized some of the most interesting maps, photos, postcards, correspondence, and more related to the history of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. You can find the collection at www.spl.org/shipcanal. Continue reading “Celebrating the Lake Washington Ship Canal Centennial”

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”