Future Books about Seattle’s Past (and Present)

~posted by Frank

From history and science to food and music, there are a bounty of books about our fair city and environs being published over the next few months. Here are a dozen of the most noteworthy titles.

Classical Seattle: Maestros, Impresarios, Virtuosi, and Other Music MakersProfiles of 35 musicians and arts leaders who have made Seattle a world-class city for classical music. Continue reading “Future Books about Seattle’s Past (and Present)”

Wonderful Old Guidebooks

Who would take along a 1930s guidebook on a cross-country road trip across the United States?

John Steinbeck, for one!

Steinbeck makes reference to a set of depression-era guidebooks in his well-known travelogue Travels with Charley: In Search of America, which is about his 1960 road trip around the U.S. with his French standard poodle Charley:

“If there had been room in Rocinante I would have packed the W.P.A.Guides to the States, all forty-eight of them. I have all of them, and some are very rare . . . the complete set comprises the most comprehensive account of the United States ever got together, and nothing since it has ever approached it. It was compiled during the depression by the best writers in America, who were, if that is possible, more depressed than any other group while maintaining their inalienable instinct for eating.”

The books in the American Guide Series were produced by the Federal Writers Project (Works Progress Administration) as part of the New Deal during the Great Depression. Guides were written for the then 48 states and many regions, cities, and small towns across the United States in order to stimulate travel to bolster the economy and to foster pride in local histories and heritage. These guidebooks are packed with insights about the area’s social and cultural history, and they remain great reading about the lesser-known nooks and crannies of our country.

Today these guides are considered local treasures and are collectors’ items. Reading them can also give insight into the early writings of well-known authors Zora Neale Hurston, Studs Terkel, and Ralph Ellison.

Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State.Many of the guides have been reprinted with new introductions. In Washington State’s case, the original 1941 Washington guidebook was updated and turned into an interactive multimedia travel guide called Revisiting Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State. The guidebook’s driving tours have been updated with current field notations and digital navigational tools as well as images and graphics along with historic audio and video selections.

The Seattle Public Library is pleased to have a large number of the guidebooks and reprints in our collection, and they are on display on Level 9 until the end of May.

Washington nonfiction: Hauntings, history, dirty money and cheeseburgers

It’s all about Washington in these choice nonfiction titles:

Washington’s Haunted Hotspots by Linda Moffitt (133.10979 M724W 2009)
Spirit sightings at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, the Bush Hotel in Index and the Pickering Barn in Issaquah? Find the stories behind these and other local spooky encounters right here.

Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock, from “Louie Louie” to “Smells like Teen Spirit” by Peter Blecha (781.66097 B6148S 2009)
An explosion of diverse musical styles and industry icons brings the Northwest unexpected international recognition and a place in music history.

Hiking Washington’s History by Judy Bentley (917.97 B4463H 2010 )
A history buff’s guide to 40 historical trails and the stories embedded in their landscapes.

Seattle Vice: Strippers, Prostitution, Dirty Money, and Narcotics in the Emerald City by Rick Anderson (364.10979 An243S 2010)
Take a walk on the wild side with this survey of our sordid, seedy history from the Old West to the World Wide Web, revealing the flipside to Seattle nice.

Cheese Deluxe: A Memoir by Greg Palmer (B P1824P 2008)
The beloved Seattle commentator recounts the last days of his youth, flipping burgers at Mercer Island’s Samoa drive-in, circa 1965.

See more suggested titles in this Seattle Picks: Washington State Nonfiction list created by our librarians.