Next in our ongoing series of 20 books that capture the essence of Seattle, we look at a variety of titles that capture a sense of our city and its environs. Whether you’re new in town, just passing through, or you’ve lived here all your life, these titles will enhance your awareness of and appreciation for the misty charms of this city on the Sound.
The bluest skies that you’ll ever see are in Seattle, unless of course they’re hidden by fifty shades of grey. While less extreme than many other areas of the country, our soggy maritime weather has always been a big part of our identity and outlook: not for nothing are Puget Sound natives called “mossbacks.” Given that weather forms a lion’s share of our small talk, reading Weather of the Pacific Northwest, by local climate celebrity Cliff Mass will up your game when it comes to discussing convergence zones, onshore flow, and our Seattle specialty, the “occasional sunbreak.”
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.
There 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”
Follow us throughout the fall for posts which highlight library resources and information that supports the Tiny: Streetwise Revisited exhibit at the Central Library and its community programming.
Streetwise was a documentary released in 1984 that showed us “even in a town that billed itself as America’s most livable city, there still existed rampant homelessness and desperation” . Today, as the mayor declares a state of emergency in response to the homeless crisis and the ever growing need for affordable housing, it’s at our attention now more than ever, but what was Seattle like in the era of Streetwise… Continue reading “In The Era Of Streetwise: Seattle 1983-1984”
Follow us throughout the fall for posts which highlight library resources and information that support the Tiny: Streetwise Revisited exhibit at the Central Library and its community programming.
The undiffused difference between the placid suburb of her youth and the rough-edged city that surrounded it became quickly apparent. In she went with her lens widening as a jagged journey ensued. Lengths and dimensions of lives spread across cityscapes of lost dreams, nightmarish realities, and undying hope.
Mary Ellen Mark made her mark when the book Streetwise was first published in 1988. Within the reeking insides of a city, runaway children observed yet another stranger inserting herself into the frame of their lives. Who else could she be except a question dangling itself before their eyes until it, too, disappeared after having received an answering look.
Look, I don’t have to tell you that in this world there are streets not meant to be crossed and sidewalks one dare not step onto less the last step at the far end of the block means curbing your own life. The innocent are not spared, the guilty go on to greater gory and there, midway, on that tumultuous street is a woman with a camera that haunts the harm. She knows how, even absent the suburban enclave of a carefully manicured life, life remains hungry for itself. A woman with a camera arrives a stranger and leaves with your face in her hands. Continue reading “Mary Ellen Mark: Eyeing Life”