Taking a walk on the weird side of Fantastical Seattle

We all know that Seattle is fantastic, but only fantasy readers know just how much so. Seattle not-quite-as-we-know-it has appeared in many fantasy novels. Urban fantasy fans will be familiar with Kat Richardson’s classic Greywalker series, in which psychic sleuth Harper Blaine solves crimes along the natural and supernatural faultline that passes right through our fair city. Readers of epic fantasy will recall that Terry Brooks’ trilogy of prequels – starting with Armageddon’s Children – revealed the origins of the Tolkeinesque realms of Shannara to be a struggle between elves and humans in a post-apocalyptic Seattle beset by plague and devastation. Here are some more recent Seattle-based fantasies for you to try:

Marion Deeds’ Comeuppance Served Cold takes us back to Jazz Age Seattle, where a band of misfit magickers struggle to ply their curious trades in a charmed dockside speakeasy while evading the watchful eye of the Commissioner of Magi, even as the chaperone he has hired to mind his errant daughter prepares to rob him blind. Magical Seattle on the brink of the Great Depression makes a marvelously gritty backdrop for this intriguing fantasy caper. More, please!

Amidst the sideshow flim-flam of Seattle’s 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, telekinetic Wilhelm and gifted illusionist Jack find love, and the youths join forces to overcome the nefarious guardians who are manipulating them to their own greedy ends. Shaun David Hutchinson’s Before We Disappear is an irresistible mix of Seattle history, mystery, and romance.

The titular Souljacker of Yasmin Galenorn’s paranormal romance thriller is an errant tattoo-artist vampire wreaking havoc in the Blood Night district of Seattle. Human police aren’t interested, so succubus Lily Bound teams up with chaos demon Archer to restore order after a weretiger is mysteriously slain in Lily’s sex salon.

Continue reading “Taking a walk on the weird side of Fantastical Seattle”

Seattle Stories

New to Seattle, or to reading about Seattle? Take a trip through the many stories of Seattle with this selection of fiction and nonfiction, recent and classic.

Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle, by Daudi J. Abe Abe
Interviews with artists and journalists trace how rapping, DJing, breaking, and graffiti flourished in Seattle, far from the hip hop epicenters of New York and Los Angeles. 

Uncle Rico’s Encore: Mostly True Stories of Filipino Seattle, by Peter Bacho
Autobiographical essays explore the experiences of Filipino Americans in Seattle from the 1950s-1970s, from everyday moments and celebrations to coordinated acts of defiance and activism.

Written in the Stars, by Alexandria Bellefleur
Free-spirited astrologer Elle and buttoned-up actuary Darcy go on a disastrous date but agree to pretend they’re dating to make it through the holidays, finding that opposites really do attract.

Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World, by Kelly Brenner
Brenner explores and celebrates Seattle’s microhabitats – shores, wetlands, forests, parks – and the many organisms that share our urban landscape.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
The inspiring story of the University of Washington rowing team, which overcame adversity to triumph at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Black Hole, by Charles Burns
A strange plague has hit teenagers in Burns’ horror graphic novel set in Seattle’s Roosevelt and Ravenna neighborhoods in the 1970s. Originally published as a series of 12 comic books.

Hollow Kingdom, by Kira Jane Buxton
A northeast Seattle crow, armed with a TV education and a canine pal named Dennis, may be the one to save humanity from extinction. Finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

My Unforgotten Seattle, by Ron Chew
Chew, a third-generation Seattleite and journalist, paints vivid descriptions of Beacon Hill, Chinatown International District, local politics and community leaders in this deeply personal memoir.

Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City, by Josephine Ensign.
Digging through layers of Seattle history, Ensign examines the roots of poverty and homelessness in Seattle, including public policy, health care, and the search for community.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford.
When renovations at a Seattle hotel reveal a basement full of stored items from Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II, Chinese American Henry remembers his childhood friendship with Japanese American Keiko.

Dog Biscuits, by Graham, Alex
Gussy tries to keep his dog biscuit business going amidst Covid anxiety, police brutality, dating apps and the loneliness of lockdown during the summer of 2020 in this graphic novel.

The Final Case, by David Guterson
In this examination of justice and injustice, a Seattle attorney takes on the fraught case of white adoptive parents of a young girl born in Ethiopia charged with her murder.

Seattle Prohibition: Bootleggers, Rumrunners & Graft in the Queen City, by Brad Holden
The 20 years of Prohibition in Seattle saw plenty of entrepreneurial spirit and mayhem as bootleggers, moonshiners, and corrupt cops tried to outsmart the Seattle Prohibition Bureau.

Still Here: A Southend Mixtape from an Unexpected Journalist, by Reagan E.J. Jackson
Journalist Jackson’s collection of essays and articles explores the stories of Seattle’s Black communities, including her own, often overlooked by local media outlets.

I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?, by Mortada Gzar
Iraqi writer Gzar recounts his immigration to the US, his search for an American solider with whom he had a clandestine romance in Baghdad, and the aid and friendship found in Seattle’s gay community.

Lake City, by Thomas B. Kohnstamm, Thomas B.
After a fall from grace, Lane Bueche returns to his childhood home in Lake City and is pulled into a dubious scheme to regain what he has lost.

No-no Boy, by John Okada
Sent to prison for refusing the World War II draft, Japanese American Ichiro returns to Seattle after the war and faces hostility from family and community. A reprint of Okada’s 1957 classic.

Devil’s Chew Toy, by Rob Osler
A teacher turned amateur investigator, a missing go-go dancer, a bulldog, and Seattle’s gay community combine in this cozy mystery.

Grave Reservations, by Cherie Priest
Psychic travel agent Leda Foley saves detective Grady Merritt from boarding a plane that explodes, inspiring Grady to ask for Leda’s help with a case.

Secret Seattle: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Offbeat and Overlooked History, by Susanna Ryan
Gain a new appreciation for Seattle with cartoonist Ryan as she walks the city, exploring and celebrating overlooked neighborhood places and histories.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
Emails and school reports chronicle Bernadette’s descent into agoraphobia, fights with fellow private-school mothers, exasperated disdain for Seattle, and disappearance in this humorous novel.

Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, by David B. Williams
From filling in the Duwamish tide flats to massively regrading Denny Hill, Williams chronicles the large-scale physical transformations that created the Seattle landscape we know today.

Find more essential Seattle reading here, and at your local library.

     ~ Linda J & Andrea G.

Recent Books Celebrate Magnolia Branch Architect

The life and work of architect Paul Hayden Kirk, designer of The Seattle Public Library’s Magnolia Branch, is commanding renewed interest due to the publication of two new books: Paul Hayden Kirk and the Rise of the Northwest Modern by Seattle author and filmmaker Dale Kutzera, and Paul Hayden Kirk and the Puget Sound School by Grant Hildebrand, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Washington.

Kirk was a pioneer and leading light of the distinctive Northwest modernist architectural style that flourished between the 1940s and 1970s. This style was influenced by a traditional Japanese aesthetic and emphasized simple and elegant designs that fit into the natural landscape.

Our Magnolia Branch is exemplary of this style, with its hallmark use of long beams of natural wood and large windows that fill the building with light and invite the outside in. Continue reading “Recent Books Celebrate Magnolia Branch Architect”

How 9/11 changed the way we read

As we mark twenty years since the terrible events of September 11, 2001, this past week has been a time of remembrance and reflection for many of us. While reading a powerful piece in the Washington Post in which people share how that day changed their world views, I reflected on how in the weeks, months and years following 9/11, we librarians witnessed a shift in the reading interests of our patrons at the Library that seemed to me a ray of hope during a dark time.

Like everyone, my memories of the day itself are indelible. I recall how the word spread via (then newfangled) email around our Central library’s temporary facility – the current library was still just a big hole in the ground. How people gathered around hastily set up televisions at many of our branches, to watch in stunned silence as the day unfolded. And how over phones and in person, the questions flooded in: What was happening? Were we safe in Seattle? What could people do to help, and where should they send support? Why do they hate us?

Image of two people reading courtesy of Bonnie Natko, via Flickr

Continue reading “How 9/11 changed the way we read”

Seattle Hygge

This has been a year when I have found my sense of cozy vibes becoming more amplified in my home. Between nesting for the arrival of our child, working from home, and just settling in to the Pacific Northwest winter – cozy is front and center of all we do. New couch purchase means piling on throw pillows and blankets. Lighting candles and putting on fuzzy socks while reading a book. Hunting down the infamous cocoa bombs to enjoy in front of the fireplace. It comes as no surprise that in 2018 Seattle was the top hygge city in the U.S

For inspiration on how to create that hygge feeling in your home, here are a few books in our collection:

American Cozy: Hygge-inspired Ways to Create Comfort & Happiness by Stephanie Pedersen Continue reading “Seattle Hygge”