Best Books, Biography & Memoir, Education, History, Literature, Nonfiction, Washington State

The Best Books About Or Featuring Seattle

The Best Books About And Featuring Seattle

“What are the best Seattle Books?” We looked at 183 of the top nonfiction & fiction Seattle books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 42 titles, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Seattle” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 100+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page. The top list consists of a mix of nonfiction books about Seattle, fiction books set in Seattle, and a few famous books that were written in Seattle

Happy Scrolling!



Top 32 Books About And Set In Seattle



42 .) Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Seattle Times 1

What if the Second Coming didn’t quite come off as advertised? What if “the Corpse” on display in that funky roadside zoo is really who they say it is—what does that portend for the future f western civilization? And what if a young clairvoyant named Amanda reestablishes the flea circus as popular entertainment and fertility worship as the principal religious form of our high-tech age? Another Roadside Attraction answers those questions and a lot more. It tell us, for example, what the sixties were truly all about, not by reporting on the psychedelic decade but by recreating it, from the inside out. In the process, this stunningly original seriocomic thriller is fully capable of simultaneously eating a literary hot dog and eroding the borders of the mind.

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41 .) Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1

You know how sometimes friendship blossoms in the Þrst few moments of meeting? “Something clicked,” we say. Well, that’s what discovering Betty MacDonald was like for me: I happened to read a couple of pages of one of her books and — click — knew right away that here was a vivacious writer whose friendly, funny, and Þery company I was really going to enjoy. Although MacDonald’s Þrst and most popular book, The Egg and I, has remained in print since its original publication, her three other volumes have been unavailable for decades. The Plague and I recounts MacDonald’s experiences in a Seattle sanitarium, where the author spent almost a year (1938-39) battling tuberculosis. The White Plague was no laughing matter, but MacDonald nonetheless makes a sprightly tale of her brush with something deadly. Anybody Can Do Anything is a high-spirited, hilarious celebration of how “the warmth and loyalty and laughter of a big family” brightened their weathering of The Great Depression. In Onions in the Stew, MacDonald is in unbuttonedly frolicsome form as she describes how, with husband and daughters, she set to work making a life on a rough-and-tumble island in Puget Sound, a ferry-ride from Seattle.

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40 .) Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Seattle Times 1

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet: the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

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39 .) Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot

Lists It Appears On:

  • Off The Beaten Page Travel
  • Santorini Dave

“It is the Afterlife. The end of the world is a distant, distorted memory called “the Age of F***ed Up Shit.” A sentient glacier has wiped out most of North America. Medical care is supplied by open-source nanotechnology, and human nervous systems can be hacked.

Abby Fogg is a film archivist with a niggling feeling that her life is not really her own. She may be right. Al Skinner is a former mercenary for the Boeing Army, who’s been dragging his war baggage behind him for nearly a century. Woo-jin Kan is a virtuoso dishwasher with the Hotel and Restaurant Management Olympics medals to prove it. Over them all hovers a mysterious man named Dirk Bickle, who sends all these characters to a full-scale replica of Manhattan under construction in Puget Sound. An ambitious novel that writes large the hopes and anxieties of our time—climate change, social strife, the depersonalization of the digital age—Blueprints of the Afterlife will establish Ryan Boudinot as an exceptional novelist of great daring.”

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38 .) Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Lists It Appears On:

  • Pages To Passport
  • Santorini Dave

“In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.”

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37 .) Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Met
  • Seattle Times 1

Raymond Carver’s third collection of stories, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, including the canonical titular story about blindness and learning to enter the very different world of another. These twelve stories mark a turning point in Carver’s work and “overflow with the danger, excitement, mystery and possibility of life. . . . Carver is a writer of astonishing compassion and honesty. . .

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36 .) Ceremony for the Choking Ghost by Karen Finneyfrock

Lists It Appears On:

  • Off The Beaten Page Travel
  • Seattle Met

After losing her sister to heart failure, Karen Finneyfrock was unable to write poems for three years. Her voice came back, whispering at first, then screaming. Ceremony for the Choking Ghost contains the sound of that voice returning, bringing poems about grief and its effect on the body, the body politic, memory and, of course, poems about love. From the intensely personal, “How My Family Grieved,” to the political, “What Lot’s Wife Would Have Said (If She Wasn’t a Pillar of Salt),” Finneyfrock engages the reader with the chiseled images of a precise storyteller.

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35 .) Disclosure by Michael Crichton

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Santorini Dave

Thomas Sanders’ world collapses in just 24 hours – he is passed over for promotion, his new woman boss comes on to him during a drink after work, then, the next morning, he learns that she has accused him of sexually harassing her. She demands his transfer, thereby threatening to cut him off from the millions he would have made.

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34 .) Dune by Frank Herbert

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Met
  • The Guardian 1

Herbert’s evocative, epic tale is set on the desert planet Arrakis, the focus for a complex political and military struggle with galaxy-wide repercussions. Arrakis is the source of spice, a mind enhancing drug which makes interstellar travel possible, and therefore the most valuable substance in the galaxy. When Duke Atreides and his family take up court there, they fall into a trap set by his rival, Baron Harkonnen. The Duke is poisoned, but his wife and her son Paul escape to the vast and arid deserts of Arrakis, which have given it the name Dune. They join the Fremen, natives of the planet who have learnt to live in this harsh and complex ecosystem. But learning to survive is not enough – Paul’s destiny was mapped out long ago and his mother is committed to seeing it fulfilled.

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33 .) Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Santorini Dave

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

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32 .) Gay Seattle by Gary L. Atkins

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

“In 1893, the Washington State legislature quietly began passing a set of laws that essentially made homosexuality, and eventually even the discussion of homosexuality, a crime. A century later Mike Lowry became the first governor of the state to address the annual lesbian and gay pride rally in Seattle. Gay Seattle traces the evolution of Seattle’s gay community in those 100 turbulent years, telling through a century of stories how gays and lesbians have sought to achieve a sense of belonging in Seattle.

Gary Atkins recounts the demonization of gays by social crusaders around the turn of the century, the earliest prosecutions for sodomy, the official harassment and discrimination through most of the twentieth century, and the medical discrimination and commitment to mental hospitals that continued into the 1970s as homosexuality was diagnosed as a disease that could be “”cured.”””

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31 .) Heavier Than Heaven by Charles Cross

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Met

It has been twenty years since Kurt Cobain died by his own hand in April 1994; it was an act of will that typified his short, angry, inspired life. Veteran music journalist Charles R. Cross fuses his intimate knowledge of the Seattle music scene with his deep compassion for his subject in this extraordinary story of artistic brilliance and the pain that extinguished it. Based on more than four hundred interviews; four years of research; exclusive access to Cobain’s unpublished diaries, lyrics, and family photos; and a wealth of documentation, Heavier Than Heaven traces Cobain’s life from his early days in a double-wide trailer outside of Aberdeen, Washington, to his rise to fame, success, and the adulation of a generation. Charles Cross has written a preface for this new edition, in which he recounts some of the events regarding Kurt Cobain and this book in the past two decades since his death.

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30 .) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Santorini Dave

“In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.”

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29 .) I’m Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2

“Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldn’t tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter Down.

Unfortunately, Mishna didn’t quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t sing, she couldn’t double dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates. “

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28 .) Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • The Guardian 1

A national best seller, Indian Killer is arguably Sherman Alexie’s most controversial book to date—a gritty, racially charged literary thriller that, over a decade after its first publication, remains an electrifying tale of alienation and justice. A serial murderer called the Indian Killer is terrorizing Seattle, hunting, scalping, and slaughtering white men. Motivated by rage and seeking retribution for his people’s violent history, his grizzly MO and skillful elusiveness both paralyze the city with fear and prompt an uprising of racial brutality. Out of the chaos emerges John Smith. Born to Indians but raised by white parents, Smith yearns for his lost heritage. As his embitterment with his dual life increases, Smith falls deeper into vengeful madness and quickly surfaces as the prime suspect. Tensions mount, and while Smith battles to allay the anger that engulfs him, the Indian Killer claims another life. With acerbic wit and chilling page-turning intensity, Alexie takes an unflinching look at what nurtures rage within a race both colonized and marginalized by a society that neither values nor understands it.

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27 .) Long for This World by Michael Byers

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • The Guardian 2

A wise and richly symphonic first novel, Long for This World is a thoroughly contemporary family drama that hinges on a riveting medical dilemma. Dr. Henry Moss is a dedicated geneticist who stumbles upon a possible cure for a disease that causes rapid aging and early death in children. Although his discovery may hold the key to eternal youth, exploiting it is an ethical minefield. Henry must make a painful choice: he can save the life of a critically ill boy he has grown to love — at the cost of his career — or he can sell his findings for a fortune to match the wealth of his dot-com-rich Seattle neighbors. Henry turns to his family for support, and in their intimately detailed lives unfolds a story of unforgettable characters grappling with their own demons.

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26 .) My Body is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Met
  • The Guardian 1

As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren’t threatening her life, they’re shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan’s mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.

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25 .) My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

In an era of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In My People Are Rising, he traces the course of his own radicalization, and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.

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24 .) Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place by Coll Thrush

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Stranger
  • Seattle Times 2

“In traditional scholarship, Native Americans have been conspicuously absent from urban history. Indians appear at the time of contact, are involved in fighting or treaties, and then seem to vanish, usually onto reservations. In Native Seattle, Coll Thrush explodes the commonly accepted notion that Indians and cities-and thus Indian and urban histories-are mutually exclusive, that Indians and cities cannot coexist, and that one must necessarily be eclipsed by the other. Native people and places played a vital part in the founding of Seattle and in what the city is today, just as urban changes transformed what it meant to be Native.

On the urban indigenous frontier of the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s, Indians were central to town life. Native Americans literally made Seattle possible through their labor and their participation, even as they were made scapegoats for urban disorder. As late as 1880, Seattle was still very much a Native place. Between the 1880s and the 1930s, however, Seattle’s urban and Indian histories were transformed as the town turned into a metropolis. Massive changes in the urban environment dramatically affected indigenous people’s abilities to survive in traditional places. The movement of Native people and their material culture to Seattle from all across the region inspired new identities both for the migrants and for the city itself. As boosters, historians, and pioneers tried to explain Seattle’s historical trajectory, they told stories about Indians: as hostile enemies, as exotic Others, and as noble symbols of a vanished wilderness. But by the beginning of World War II, a new multitribal urban Native community had begun to take shape in Seattle, even as it was overshadowed by the city’s appropriation of Indian images to understand and sell itself.”

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23 .) Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings by Jonathan Raban

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2

“With the same rigorous observation (natural and social), invigorating stylishness, and encyclopedic learning that he brought to his National Book Award-winning Bad Land, Jonathan Raban conducts readers along the Inside Passage from Seattle to Juneau. The physical distance is 1,000 miles of difficult-and often treacherous-water, which Raban navigates solo in a 35-foot sailboat.

But Passage to Juneau also traverses a gulf of centuries and cultures: the immeasurable divide between the Northwest’s Indians and its first European explorers– between its embattled fishermen and loggers and its pampered new class. Along the way, Raban offers captivating discourses on art, philosophy, and navigation and an unsparing narrative of personal loss.”

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22 .) Rains All the Time: A Connoisseur’s History of Weather in the Pacific Northwest by David Laskin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 3

Here is the first social history of the weather in this notoriouslywet region–not just how damp it is, but what all of this extravagantweather does to the souls who have endured, cursed, and worshiped it.

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21 .) Roadside Geology of Washington by David D. Alt and Donald W. Hyndman

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 3
  • The Stranger

The geology of Washington is a story of islands–micro-continents–coming in from the sea. Two hundred million years ago most of Washington consisted of two large islands, each one a scrap of continent, lying somewhere in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. One after the other they docked onto the North American continent, each adding its distinctive bit to the complex geologic and geographic mosaic of western North America.

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20 .) Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle by Christopher T. Bayley

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

This is the story of one of the youngest county prosecutors in the country whose mission was to finally end the system of vice and corruption that had infiltrated Seattle’s police department, municipal departments, and even the mayor’s office. In the late 1960s, Christopher T. Bayley was a young lawyer with a fire in his belly to break the back of Seattle’s police payoff system, which was built on licensing of acknowledged illegal activity known as the “tolerance policy.” Against the odds, he defeated an entrenched incumbent to become King County Prosecutor (which includes Seattle). Six months into his first term, he indicted a number of prominent city and police officials. Bayley shows how vice and payoffs became rules of the game in Seattle, and what it took to finally clean up the city.

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19 .) Seattle: City of Literature by Ryan Boudinot

Lists It Appears On:

  • Pages To Passport
  • Santorini Dave

This bookish history of Seattle includes essays, history and personal stories from such literary luminaries as Frances McCue, Tom Robbins, Garth Stein, Rebecca Brown, Jonathan Evison, Tree Swenson, Jim Lynch, and Sonora Jha among many others. Timed with Seattle’s bid to become the second US city to receive the UNESCO designation as a City of Literature, this deeply textured anthology pays homage to the literary riches of Seattle. Strongly grounded in place, funny, moving, and illuminating, it lends itself both to a close reading and to casual browsing, as it tells the story of books, reading, writing, and publishing in one of the nation’s most literary cities.

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18 .) Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls by Matt Ruff

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1

“Andy Gage was born in 1965 and murdered not long after by his stepfather. . . . It was no ordinary murder. Though the torture and abuse that killed him were real, Andy Gage’s death wasn’t. Only his soul actually died, and when it died, it broke in pieces. Then the pieces became souls in their own right, coinheritors of Andy Gage’s life. . . .

While Andy deals with the outside world, more than a hundred other souls share an imaginary house inside Andy’s head, struggling to maintain an orderly coexistence: Aaron, the father figure; Adam, the mischievous teenager; Jake, the frightened little boy; Aunt Sam, the artist; Seferis, the defender; and Gideon, who wants to get rid of Andy and the others and run things on his own.

Andy’s new coworker, Penny Driver, is also a multiple personality, a fact that Penny is only partially aware of. When several of Penny’s other souls ask Andy for help, Andy reluctantly agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that threatens to destroy the stability of the house. Now Andy and Penny must work together to uncover a terrible secret that Andy has been keeping . . . from himself.”

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17 .) Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Guardian 2

“Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous photographer, the Annie Leibovitz of his time. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared.

An Indiana Jones with a camera, Curtis spent the next three decades traveling from the Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Acoma on a high mesa in New Mexico to the Salish in the rugged Northwest rain forest, documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty tribes. It took tremendous perseverance — ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Eventually Curtis took more than 40,000 photographs, preserved 10,000 audio recordings, and is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.”

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16 .) Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Santorini Dave

Still Life with Woodpecker is a sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.

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15 .) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • The Guardian 1

“Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.”

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14 .) The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2

“For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.”

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13 .) The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald

Lists It Appears On:

  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 2

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall—through chaos and catastrophe—this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor.

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12 .) The Hustle by Doug Merlino

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2

“The experiment was dreamed up by two fathers, one white, one black. What would happen, they wondered, if they mixed white players from an elite Seattle private school – famous for alums such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates – and black kids from the inner city on a basketball team? Wouldn’t exposure to privilege give the black kids a chance at better opportunities? Wouldn’t it open the eyes of the white kids to a different side of life?
The 1986 season would be the laboratory. Out in the real world, hip-hop was going mainstream, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson ruled the NBA, and Ronald Reagan was president. In Seattle, the team’s season unfolded like a perfectly scripted sports movie: the ragtag group of boys became friends and gelled together to win the league championship. The experiment was deemed a success.
But was it? How did crossing lines of class, race, and wealth affect the lives of these ten boys? Two decades later, Doug Merlino, who played on the team, returned to find his teammates. His search ranges from a prison cell to a hedge fund office, street corners to a shack in rural Oregon, a Pentecostal church to the records of a brutal murder. The result is a complex, gripping, and, at times, unsettling story.
An instant classic in the vein of Michael Apted’s Up series, The Hustle tells the stories of ten teammates set before a background of sweeping social and economic change, capturing the ways race, money, and opportunity shape our lives. A tale both personal and public, The Hustle is the story a disparate group of men finding – or not finding – a place in America.”

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11 .) Black Hole by Charles Burns

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Seattle Met
  • The Guardian 2

“Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the out-set that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.

And then the murders start.”

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10 .) Jackson Street After Hours by Paul de Barros

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

Vintage photographs and 24 contemporary portraits capture the style and flavor of Jackson Street and its jazz legacy. Based on extensive interviews with jazz musicians, this significant new volume documents the smokey rooms, Prohibition antics, wartime parties, and unforgettable riffs that characterized great moments in Pacific Northwest jazz

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9 .) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 2

San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

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8 .) The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Lists It Appears On:

  • Off The Beaten Page Travel
  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 1

In this darkly comic short story collection, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realizxsm to paint a complex, grimly ironic portrait of life in and around the Spoke Indian Reservation. These 22 interlinked tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet are filled with passion and affection, myth and dream. There is Victor, who as a nine-year-old crawled between his uncoscious parents hoping that the alcohol seeping through their skins might help him sleep. Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who tells his stories long after people stop listening, and Jimmy Many Horses, dying of cancer, who writes letters on stationary that reads “From the Death Bed of James Many Horses III,” even though he actually writes them on his kitchen table. Against a backdrop of alcohol, car accidents, laughter, and basketball, Alexie depicts the distances between Indians and whites, reservation Indians and urban Indians, men and women,a dn most poetically, between modern Indians and the traditions of the past.

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7 .) This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Met
  • Seattle Times 2

This unforgettable memoir, by one of our most gifted writers, introduces us to the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move, yet they develop an extraordinarily close, almost telepathic relationship. As Toby fights for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, his experiences are at once poignant and comical, and Wolff does a masterful job of re-creating the frustrations and cruelties of adolescence. His various schemes – running away to Alaska, forging checks, and stealing cars – lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him into a new world of possibility.

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6 .) Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 2

A classic and hugely entertaining political novel, the cat-and-mouse story of urban intrigue in Seattle both in 1962, when Seattle hosted the World’s Fair, and in 2001, after its transformation in the Microsoft gold rush. Larger than life, Roger Morgan was the mastermind behind the fair that made the city famous and is still a backstage power forty years later, when at the age of seventy he runs for mayor in hopes of restoring all of Seattle’s former glory. Helen Gulanos, a reporter every bit as eager to make her mark, sees her assignment to investigate the events of 1962 become front-page news with Morgan’s candidacy, and resolves to find out who he really is and where his power comes from: in 1962, a brash and excitable young promoter, greeting everyone from Elvis Presley to Lyndon Johnson, smooth-talking himself out of difficult situations, dipping in and out of secret card games; now, a beloved public figure with, it turns out, still-plentiful secrets. Wonderfully interwoven into this tale of the city of dreams are backroom deals, idealism and pragmatism, the best and worst ambitions, and all the aspirations that shape our communities and our lives.

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5 .) Waxwings by Jonathan Raban

Lists It Appears On:

  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 2

Jonathan Raban’s powerful novel is set in Seattle in 1999, at the height of its infatuation with the virtual. It’s a place that attracts immigrants. One of these is Tom Janeway, a bookish Hungarian-born Englishman who makes his living commenting on American mores on NPR. Another, who calls himself Chick, is a frenetically industrious illegal alien from China who makes his living any way he can. Through a series of extraordinary but chillingly plausible events, the paths of these newcomers converge. Tom is uprooted from his marriage and must learn to father his endearing eight-year old son part-time. Chick claws his way up from exploited to exploiter. Meanwhile Seattle is troubled by rioting anarchists, vanishing children, and the discovery of an al-Qaeda operative; it is a city on the brink. Savage and tender, visionary and addictively entertaining, Waxwings is a major achievement.

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4 .) While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders

Lists It Appears On:

  • Crosscut
  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other—and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.

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3 .) The Good Rain by Timothy Egan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Off The Beaten Page Travel
  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Guardian 1

A fantastic book! Timothy Egan describes his journeys in the Pacific Northwest through visits to salmon fisheries, redwood forests and the manicured English gardens of Vancouver. Here is a blend of history, anthropology and politics. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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2 .) Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle by Murray Morgan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Pages To Passport
  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Met
  • Seattle Times 2
  • The Stranger

Informal and picturesque, Skid Road is the story of Seattle during its first hundred years, seen through the lives of the vigorous personalities of its settlers and early citizens. This handsomely illustrated revised edition brings Seattle’s history up-to-date and provides a vivid portrayal of its past: pioneering, Indian warfare, lumber, railroads, the great fire of 1889, the Alaska gold rush, the amusement business, newspapers, the general strike of 1919, and the tumultuous politics of city and state that have made history in the Northwest.

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1 .) Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Off The Beaten Page Travel
  • Pages To Passport
  • Santorini Dave
  • Seattle Times 1
  • The Guardian 1

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.”

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The 100+ Additional Best Books About Seattle



 

#BooksAuthorsLists
(Titles Appear On 1 List Each)
4350 Years of Seattle Opera.Melinda Bargreen
Seattle Times 2
44A Day at the MarketSara Anderson
Santorini Dave
45A Sudden LightGarth Stein
Off The Beaten Page Travel
46Adios, NirvanaConrad Wesselhoeft
Santorini Dave
47Altitude SicknessLitsa DremousisSeattle Met
48American GenocideBenjamin MadleyCrosscut
49American RomancesRebecca BrownSeattle Met
50Andrew Henry’s MeadowDoris BurnSeattle Met
51Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound
Seattle Times 3
52
Birds of the Puget Sound Region Coast to Cacades
Seattle Times 3
53Bloodfever (Fever, #2)Karen Marie MoningGoodreads
54Border SongsJim Lynch
Seattle Times 1
55Broken for YouStephanie Kallos
Santorini Dave
56Brother Eagle, Sister SkySusan Jeffers
Santorini Dave
57Citizen VinceJess Walter
Seattle Times 1
58Classical Seattle,Melinda Bargreen
Seattle Times 2
59Color the Pacific Northwest – A Timber Press Coloring BookZoe Keller
Santorini Dave
60Colorful Seattle – Explore and ColorLaura Lahm & Steph Calvert
Santorini Dave
61Come Away with Me (With Me in Seattle, #1)Kristen ProGoodreads
62Company Towns of the Pacific NorthwestLinda Carlson
Seattle Times 2
63CryptonomiconNeal StephensonSeattle Met
64Dark Side of the Moon (Dark-Hunter #9, Were-Hunter #3)Sherrilyn KenyonGoodreads
65DashKirby Larson
Santorini Dave
66Dear America: The Fences Between UsKirby Larson
Santorini Dave
67Desolation AngelsJack KerouacSeattle Met
68Divided Destiny: a History of Japanese Americans in Seattle,David Takami
Seattle Times 2
69Don’t Breathe A WordHolly Cupala
Santorini Dave
70Elwha: A River Reborn
Seattle Times 3
71Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of GrungeMark Yarm
Seattle Times 2
72Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)E.L. JamesGoodreads
73Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3)E.L. JamesGoodreads
74Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)E.L. JamesGoodreads
75Fight with Me (With Me in Seattle, #2)Kristen ProGoodreads
76Five Flavors of DumbAntony John
Santorini Dave
77Fly Away (Firefly Lane, #2)Kristin HannahGoodreads
78Free BoyLorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley
Seattle Times 2
79Full-Rip 9.0
Seattle Times 3
80Good Night SeattleJay Steere
Santorini Dave
81Gravity’s RainbowThomas PynchonSeattle Met
82Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey as ToldChristian, #1)Goodreads
83Hannah West SeriesLinda Johns
Santorini Dave
84Hiking Washington’s HistoryJudy Bentley
Seattle Times 2
85Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer Series)Lish McBride
Santorini Dave
86HomebaseShawn WongSeattle Met
87Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)Patricia BriggsGoodreads
88I Love Seattle Mad LibsPrice Stern Sloan
Santorini Dave
89I Was HereGayle FormanGoodreads
90Images of AmericaVarious authors
The Stranger
91
In the Company of Crows and Ravens
Seattle Times 3
92Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of EmpireColl ThrushCrosscut
93Into the WildJon KrakauerSeattle Met
94Invisible MonstersChuck Palahniuk
The Guardian 2
95Jackie’s Wild SeattleWill Hobbs
Santorini Dave
96
King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon
Seattle Times 3
97Larry Gets Lost in SeattleJohn Skewes
Santorini Dave
98
Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest: A Survivor’s Guide,”
Seattle Times 3
99Looking for Betty MacDonaldPaula BeckerCrosscut
100Love, Water, MemoryJennie Shortridge
Off The Beaten Page Travel
101Madison House: A NovelPeter Donahue
Santorini Dave
102Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard HugoRichard Hugo
Santorini Dave
103Mary Randlett PortraitsFrances McCue and Mary Randlett
Off The Beaten Page Travel
104
Natural Grace: the Charm, Wonder, & Lessons of Pacific Northwest Animals & Plants
Seattle Times 3
105Nature in the City — Seattle
Seattle Times 3
106Nisei DaughterMonica Sone
Off The Beaten Page Travel
107No-No BoyJohn Okada
Santorini Dave
108
Olympic National Park: a Natural History
Seattle Times 3
109Once and Future River: Reclaiming the DuwamishTom Reese and Eric WagnerCrosscut
110Our Lady of the ForestDavid Guterson
Seattle Times 1
111Our Only May AmeliaJennifer Holm
Santorini Dave
112Outcasts and InnocentsAlice Wheeler
The Stranger
113
Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
Seattle Times 3
114Pacific Northwest: Land of Light and WaterArt Wolfe
Off The Beaten Page Travel
115Play with Me (With Me in Seattle, #3)Kristen ProGoodreads
116PlumeKathleen Flenniken
Seattle Times 1
117Puget’s SoundMurray Morgan
Seattle Times 2
118ReamdeNeal StephensonGoodreads
119Revenge of the LawnRichard BrautiganSeattle Met
120Rock with Me (With Me in Seattle, #4)Kristen ProGoodreads
121Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi HendrixCharles Cross
Seattle Times 2
122Ruby Lu, Brave and TrueLenore Look & Anne Wilsdorf
Santorini Dave
123S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest AlphabetHannah Viano
Santorini Dave
124Safe with Me (With Me in Seattle, #5)Kristen ProGoodreads
125Sarah CanaryKaren Joy Fowler
Seattle Times 1
126Seattle ABC:A Larry Get Lost BookJohn Skewes & Robert Schwartz
Santorini Dave
127Seattle City of LiteratureRyan Boudinot
The Stranger
128Seattle IlluminatedDavid BarnesCrosscut
129Seattle Seahawks Coloring and Activity BookBrad M. Epstein and Curt Walstead
Santorini Dave
130
Second Nature: Tales from the Montlake Fill
Seattle Times 3
131Skinny Legs and AllTom RobbinsSeattle Met
132Sons of the Profits
The Guardian 2
133Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific NorthwestGregg Olsen
Santorini Dave
134Storm BoyPaul Owen Lewis
Santorini Dave
135Strawberry Days,David Takami
Seattle Times 2
136Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)Richelle MeadGoodreads
137Succubus on Top (Georgina Kincaid, #2)Richelle MeadGoodreads
138Sunrise to Paradise
Seattle Times 3
139The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie
Seattle Times 1
140The Best Party of Our LivesSarah Galvin
The Stranger
141The Boxcar Children Mysteries: The Seattle PuzzleGertrude Chandler Warner
Santorini Dave
142The City is More Than HumanFrederick L. BrownCrosscut
143The Final Forest
Seattle Times 3
144The First Muslim:
The Guardian 1
145The Forging of a Black Community,Quintard Taylor
Seattle Times 2
146The Girl with Brown FurStacey LevineSeattle Met
147The Guild of Saint CooperShya Scanlon
The Guardian 2
148The Highest TideJim Lynch
Seattle Times 1
149The House of Owls
Seattle Times 3
150The Immortal IrishmanTimothy EganCrosscut
151The LivingAnnie Dillard
Seattle Times 1
152The Lost BankKirsten Grind
Seattle Times 2
153
The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier
Seattle Times 3
154
The Natural History of Puget Sound Country
Seattle Times 3
155The Nature of JadeDeb Caletti
Santorini Dave
156The OrchardistAmanda Coplin
Seattle Times 1
157The Orphan Tsunami of 1700
Seattle Times 3
158The OtherDavid Guterson
Seattle Times 1
159The Owl and the Woodpecker
Seattle Times 3
160The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive HistoryCarlos Arnaldo Schwantes
Santorini Dave
161The Sea RunnersIvan Doig
Seattle Times 1
162The Search for the Green River Killer,Thomas Guillen and Carlton Smith
Seattle Times 2
163The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist
Seattle Times 3
164The Shop on Blossom Street (Blossom Street, #1)Debbie MacomberGoodreads
165The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Twilight, #3.5)Stephenie MeyerGoodreads
166The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)Rick RiordanGoodreads
167The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenderLeslye WaltonGoodreads
168The Three EinsteinsSarah GalvinSeattle Met
169The Twilight SeriesStephanie Meyer
Santorini Dave
170The Wheedle on the NeedleStephen Cosgrove & Robin James
Santorini Dave
171To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s PoliceNorm StamperCrosscut
172Too High and Too Steep,David B
Seattle Times 2
173Trees of Seattle
Seattle Times 3
174Trick of the Light
The Guardian 2
175Until Proven GuiltyJ.A. Jance
Santorini Dave
176Walking Washington’s History: Ten CitiesJudy Bentley
Seattle Times 2
177Where Do I Sleep?: A Pacific Northwest LullabyJennifer Blomgren & Andrea Gabriel
Santorini Dave
178Where I’m Calling FromRaymond Carver
Seattle Times 1
179Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?G.M. Ford
Santorini Dave
180Wild Plants of Greater Seattle
Seattle Times 3
181
Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land
Seattle Times 3
182Yarm’s 2011 bookMark Yarm
Seattle Times 2
183Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a FistSunil Yapa
Santorini Dave


12 Best Books Featuring Seattle Sources/Lists



SourceArticle
Crosscut The best Northwest nonfiction of 2016
Goodreads Seattle, Washington
Off The Beaten Page Travel All is Not Grey in Seattle: Best Books Set in Seattle by Local Writers
Pages To Passport Best Books to Read Before Going to Seattle
Santorini Dave The Best Books about Seattle
Seattle Met 20 Books Every Seattleite Should Read
Seattle Times 1 A new-to-Seattle reading list: the fiction essentials
Seattle Times 2 A new-to-Seattle reading list, part 2: The nonfiction edition
Seattle Times 3 New-to-Seattle reading list, part 3: 25 essential nature books
The Guardian 1 Reading American cities: books about Seattle
The Guardian 2 Books about Seattle: readers’ picks
The Stranger Books About Seattle That Everyone Should Read

 

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