Updated: December 10, 2017
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Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s something in the water, but there’s something about Seattle that inspires both writers and readers. (We may be the only city that has a best-selling action figure modeled after a beloved city librarian.) Consistently ranked among the nation’s most literate urban centers, Seattle’s neighborhood sidewalks are dotted with “little free libraries,” and our public library’s central branch is a vast architectural masterpiece that is a shrine to literacy. We’re book crazy here.
The Best Seattle Fiction
- The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel • Garth Stein
A heart-filled and canine-narrated tale of love, loss, redemption, and hope. See also Stein’s A Sudden Light, Raven Stole the Moon, and How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets.
- Blueprints of the Afterlife • Ryan Boudinot
A darkly funny and mind-bending sci-fi story of technology and its human counterpart in post-apocalyptic Seattle.
- Boneshaker • Cherie Priest
Mad inventors, pirates, and wild west zombies abound in this swashbuckling steampunk alternate-reality tale set in 1880’s Seattle.
- Broken for You • Stephanie Kallos
An elderly Seattle recluse takes in a young woman with a mysterious past in this compelling story about chosen families and the healing power of friendship.
- Disclosure • Michael Crichton
A taut psychological thriller revolving around an accusation of sexual harassment in 1990’s corporate Seattle.
- Firefly Lane • Kristen Hannah
A heartwarming coming-of-age tale and story of true friendship, spanning three decades in the Pacific Northwest.
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet • Jamie Ford
Poignant coming of age tale set in 1940’s Seattle amid the racial tensions of WWII and Japanese-American internment. See also Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost.
- Indian Killer • Sherman Alexie
A Native-American serial murderer terrorizes Seattle, seeking vengeance for the crimes against his people.
- Long for This World • Michael Byers
Richly-told story of a geneticist wrestling with an ethical dilemma, and finding comfort in his family – set in late 1990s Seattle.
- Madison House: A Novel • Peter Donahue
The future of modern-day Seattle hangs in the balance as a group of disenfranchised boardinghouse residents attempt to hold back the re-grading of Denny Hill in the early 1900’s.
- No-No Boy • John Okada
A young Japanese-American man faces imprisonment and community resentment when he refuses to pledge allegiance to the country that has interned him.
- Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls • Matt Ruff
Science Fiction meets psychological thriller meets romance in this dark but touching story of two people with multiple personality disorder who fall in love. Set in Seattle.
- Snow Falling on Cedars • David Guterson
A haunting and evocative account of a murder trial, set in an isolated Puget Sound island in the 1950’s.
- Still Life with Woodpecker • Tom Robbins
Zany and philosophical, sexy and psychedelic – an oddball love story by one of Seattle’s best-loved authors.
- Truth Like the Sun • Jim Lynch
Political cat-and-mouse between a modern-day journalist and a mastermind of the 1962 World’s Fair.
- Until Proven Guilty • J.A. Jance
The first installment in a popular murder mystery series featuring J.P. Beaumont, an old-school and unconventional Seattle homicide detective.
- Waxwings • Jonathan Raban
A British expat and a Chinese immigrant navigate an unlikely friendship during Seattle’s turn of the millennium dot-com boom.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel • Maria Semple
This sharp and satirical family comedy joyfully skewers modern Seattle and its eco-conscious, craftsman-home-loving, Microsoft-working denizens. See also Semple’s Today Will Be Different.
- Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca? • G.M. Ford
A wisecracking Seattle sleuth and a group of alcoholic vagrants attempt to retrieve a mob-boss’s daughter from the clutches of an environmental cult.
The fates of seven disparate strangers are altered during the dramatic and history-making 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.
The Best Seattle Non-Fiction
- The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics • Daniel James Brown
The working-class eight-oar crew team at the University of Washington attempt to beat the odds and row for the gold in Nazi Germany.
- The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest • Timothy Egan
A contemplative exploration of the effect of climate and topography on this region’s history, culture, and politics.
- Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain • Charles R. Cross
A comprehensive biography of the iconic Nirvana frontman, set largely amid the Seattle grunge scene of the 1990’s.
- The Hustle • Doug Merlino
A compelling narrative nonfiction account of ten disadvantaged inner-city boys sent to attend and play basketball for an elite Seattle private high school.
- I’m Down: A Memoir • Mishna Wolff
A humorous account of the author’s childhood attempts to assimilate into a poor, black Seattle neighborhood, while being raised by her single father, a white man who believes he is black.
- Anybody Can Do Anything • Betty MacDonald
A charming and lighthearted autobiography detailing Seattle life during the great depression, by the author of the beloved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s book series.
- Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle • Paul De Barros
Vintage photographs and recollections of the Seattle jazz scene of the 1940s and 50s, and the important artists cultivated within: Ray Charles, Ernestine Anderson, and Quincy Jones; to name a few.
- Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo • Richard Hugo
Anthology of published work by Seattle’s most highly-regarded native poet.
- Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings • Jonathan Raban
The author’s personal and regional insights from piloting a 35-foot sailboat from Seattle to Alaska.
- Rains All the Time: A Connoisseur’s History of Weather in the Pacific Northwest • David Laskin
A funny and conversational look at regional weather patterns and thier personal, historical, and cultural impact.
- Seattle: City of Literature • Ryan Boudinot, editor
Reflections on the Seattle literature scene, by some of the city’s best and most beloved authors.
- Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle • Murray Morgan
A humorously engaging narrative history of the city’s first century.
- Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest • Gregg Olsen
A grizzly and fascinating account of medical malpractice and murder at a secluded turn-of-the-century sanatorium.
- This Boy’s Life: A Memoir • Tobias Wolff
A grim but darkly humorous account of the young author’s life with, and escape from, his desperate mother and abusive stepfather in 1950’s Pacific Northwest.
- The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History • Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes
Comprehensive look at Seattle’s regional history; from the time of the first white-Native contact to the late 1980s.
- While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness • Eli Sanders
A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s riveting exploration of a 2009 Seattle murder, the lives it affected, and society’s role in the crime.
The Best Seattle Young Adult Fiction
- Adios, Nirvana • Conrad Wesselhoeft
A gifted young man is supported by poetry, music, and his friends as he struggles with survivor’s guilt in the wake of his twin brother’s death.
- Don’t Breathe A Word • Holly Cupala
A 16 year old girl escapes an abusive boyfriend and lives as a runaway on the streets of Seattle.
- Five Flavors of Dumb • Antony John
Heart-filled story of a deaf high school senior who agrees to manage her school’s ultra-popular rock band.
- Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer Series) • Lish McBride
A sweet and funny paranormal series about a Seattle teen who discovers he has the power to raise the dead.
- The Nature of Jade • Deb Caletti
An anxious 18 year old girl falls for a handsome and secretive single father while working with the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo.
- The Twilight Series • Stephanie Meyer
Vampires, werewolves, and the Pacific Northwest. Most of the series is set in Forks, a small town on the Olympic Penninsula.
The Best Seattle Books for Middle-Grade Readers
- The Boxcar Children Mysteries: The Seattle Puzzle • Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Alden children vacation in Seattle and solve a mystery as they sightsee.
- Dear America: The Fences Between Us • Kirby Larson
Set in early 1940’s Seattle, a young girl’s life is turned upside down after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the internment of her Japanese-American neighbors.
- Hannah West Series • Linda Johns
A plucky, 12-year-old amateur sleuth solves mysteries in various Seattle neighborhoods.
- Jackie’s Wild Seattle • Will Hobbs
Shannon, age 14, and her younger brother, Cody, spend the summer in Seattle with their animal-rescuing uncle.
- Our Only May Amelia • Jennifer Holm
The adventures of a headstrong girl in a family of Finnish immigrants in 1890’s Washington State.
- Ruby Lu, Brave and True • Lenore Look & Anne Wilsdorf
The first in a series of books about a spunky, Asian-American eight-year-old living in Seattle. See also Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything and Ruby Lu, Star of the Show.
- Dash • Kirby Larson
A fifth-grade girl and her dog are separated as her family is moved from Seattle to a WWII Japanese-American Internment camp.
The Best Seattle Picture Books
- Brother Eagle, Sister Sky • Susan Jeffers
Chief Seattle’s message of unity and respect for the Earth gets a child-friendly adaptation and charming pen-and-ink illustration.
- A Day at the Market • Sara Anderson
Bright illustrations and playful rhymes describe a typical day at Pike Place Market.
- Good Night Seattle • Jay Steere
A child bids goodnight to favorite Seattle places in this sweet and simple bedtime board book.
- Larry Gets Lost in Seattle • John Skewes
A young boy’s search for his lost dog takes him through iconic Seattle locations. See also Larry Loves Seattle.
- Seattle ABC:A Larry Get Lost Book • John Skewes & Robert Schwartz
A is for Aquarium, B is for Bridges. A delightfully illustrated alphabet picture book by the author of Larry Gets Lost in Seattle.
- S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet • Hannah Viano
Gorgeous cut-paper representations of Northwest wildlife, from Anemone to Zephyr. See also Viano’s B is for Bear, and Arrow to Alaska.
- Storm Boy • Paul Owen Lewis
A small boy finds himself on the shores of a coastal village in this beautifully illustrated Coast Salish folk tale from tribes of the Pacific Northwest. See also Lewis’ Frog Girl and Davy’s Dream.
- The Wheedle on the Needle • Stephen Cosgrove & Robin James
A Seattle classic about a lovable mountain creature who finds a home at the top of the Space Needle.
- Where Do I Sleep?: A Pacific Northwest Lullaby • Jennifer Blomgren & Andrea Gabriel
Northwest animals prepare to sleep in this beautifully-illustrated bedtime storybook. See also Why Do I Sing? and Where Would I Be in an Evergreen Tree?
The Best Seattle Coloring and Activity Books
- Colorful Seattle – Explore and Color • Laura Lahm & Steph Calvert
- Color the Pacific Northwest – A Timber Press Coloring Book • Zoe Keller
- I Love Seattle Mad Libs • Price Stern Sloan
- Seattle Seahawks Coloring and Activity Book • Brad M. Epstein and Curt Walstead