In 1971, Merle Miller (biographer of Ike Eisenhower and hardly a radical) was fed up with keeping silent in the face of constant slights, slurs, discrimination, and violence...so he came out in the New York Times. If you wonder why we needed a gay rights movement or if you think nothing changes, read this. The foreword is by Dan Savage. Thank you!
NPR / On the Media host and journalist Brooke Gladstone wants you to know that the media bias you think you recognize is only the tip of the iceberg. Become a better news junkie (and a better writer about the news) and learn why journalism matters. Told as a graphic narrative and raises some critical issues.
Here at last! And illustrated by poet/painter/greengrocer Alan Lau, a cookbook of Hakka style cuisine from the diaspora. Noodles, teas, lots of vegetable and tofu recipes (and meat). AND many bitter melon recipes (of course). Linda Lau Anusasananan was a food writer at Sunset and she's Alan's sister.
Before Frederick Douglass was a famous abolitionist, orator, and writer, he was a young boy living in slavery with his grandmother. Lessons he learned about human nature as he learned to read served him well as you’ll see. A classic and a fine book to read out loud.
Yes, we now have marriage equality in Washington, but the struggle is far from over. If your family is wondering why we have to talk about gay marriage (and what about the children, the Bible, and marriage?) — you might find some helpful answers here.
Why should you care about copyright, piracy, paywalls, and media conglomeration? Shouldn't "content" be free? (If you produce "content," you’ll have some ideas about this.) And what of the increasing dominance of a multibillion dollar monopoly over book distribution? Read on especially if you think it’s not a big deal.
Celebrate the mystery of birds ... their origins and ancestry, the evolution of the feather, the physics of flight. These Hanson writes as a scientist and as an enthusiast. Maybe your kind of seasonal read?
Small town doctors are a different breed but this doctor (and this practice on Nantucket Island) are something else. Where else would you find a world-class expert on Babesiosis, patients who redefine living off the grid, and of course the rich and famous. What a trip (and tip of the hat to Mitchells in Nantucket).
Depressed, beleaguered, figuring "what's the use" in working for change? This book will re-energize you, and just in time. Analysis, call to action, and concrete steps to take, whether in a swarm by occupying a heart space, using an open source strategy. 99% for the 100%. Inspiring.
What happens if, in an alternate reality, a Muslim-American wins a competition to design a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero? The designer (not a saint), the lead judge (a 9/11 widow), and the controversy (will this garden ever be built?) make for a compelling read.
If you were working at the Paris Review under George Plimpton and your wife was a full time attorney, wouldn't you take on running a deli in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood with your mother-in-law? Me neither, but I loved this Korean American meets Anglo Puritan descendant small time operator story. You'll never see delis the same way. Crazy story, great book.
Yes, there's a mystery (who murdered the retired neighbor's friend) but the real question is this: how much of our loved one's personality, memory and self remains as dementia unravels her mind? What does she still know? A heartbreaking story about a capable, complicated woman.
The story of Japanese picture brides as told in a collective, exuberant voice. It's one story and many and though this is fiction, a deeper truth is shared. Also, what of those friends and neighbors left behind during internment? Read on! A gorgeous, poetic novel.
Official charade, superficial appearances, gossip, and secrets. Alan Bennett delivers it all in this funny, surprising, and slightly peculiar duo of stories. And smutty? Yes.
Pit bulls, rescue dogs, fostering in NYC and how you catch a dog with a pickle jar stuck on her head—it's all part of Julie Klam's delightful story. Dogs—"untrainable," "unsaveable," marooned in a post-Katrina disaster zone—find new lives and their owners do, too.
Dream of Paris, dream of winter. Written after a fourteen year silence, these "dreams" (fiction? memory? koan?) are a delightful companionable and mysterious lot. Written in French, published in French and English.
MOHAI Public Historian Lorraine McConaghy's fascinating look at Washington history draws from marriage records, posters, tickets, letters, pictures and much more. A sky River poster, Twin Teepees menu, a letter from a wartime assembly center. IWW songbook, CCC history...take a look.
Journalist Fariba Nawa emigrated from Afghanistan when she was a child, returning after 9-11 to document what has happened to her country. This account is her own but also includes significant historical detail. And she's one of only a few to link child brides to the narcotic state. Essential reading.
I could read this book 20 times with all the funny voices. Only haughty, naughty, children (and grown ups) will like this snarky tale. Not for the well-behaved. Really. No.
You've bought rapina and shiitake mushrooms at the Broadway Farmer's Market (p.100) or maybe potatoes and tomatoes (p. 74). Soon, eggplant and fresh beans (p. 128). Make your own paneer (it's easy) and zucchini soup with ginger (p. 81) from Vancouver's famed restaurant, home cooking. Delicious!
NPR's Michele Norris' discoveries about her family prompted her to write this book (and ask others to share their own family stories). This prompted her six-word Racial Autobiographies Project online. Finding out what you don't know can enrich your life.
After over a decade as pastry chef at Chez Panisse and his partner's sudden death, David Lebovitz moved to Paris. Starting over wasn't easy, but his travails provide plenty of material and that makes this book such a delight. He not only includes recipes for macaroons but also for carnitas because that's what you cook for your friends in Paris).
OK, you know who he is so you can just imagine who he admires, right? No, no, no, no. This book is not for the easily offended (or even not-so-easily offended). This is one man's twisted aesthetic and he’s proud of it. I’m mystified, offended, intrigued. You?
How much do you know about your city? in the sixties, this was still a "sundown" area and the members of CORE worked across racial lines to end school segregation, job and housing discrimination, and get a cross-town bus (#48!). Their work is not finished. These four inspiring women were part of the movement.
A mixed race child is left in a community filled with guns and white supremacists and even if her family loves her, will they protect her from the inevitable? Wingshooters is a mystery, a thriller and an unflinching look at the ways racism plays out in families. It's not simple. Bookclubs will have much to discuss.
Guinea Pig Zero, Hey 4 Eyes, Broken Pencil, Bomp, Vacuum Boots—all zines that we read or maybe you wrote your own? DIY history, fully illustrated with notes and essays. See more zines at Zap! the Hugo House zine archives and check out our zine selection. Priceless and essential.
Are you dreaming about gardens? Whether you have a little plot, a side yard or a balcony like me, use this handy guide to plan your herb and flower and veggie growing. Soil, composting and design are well explained. Bellamy also shows how to seed bomb that unsightly vacant lot. Get planting.
There's been lots of talk about what's in this book, which blows open the myth of magic Asian genius and reveals the hard work and perhaps over-the-top determination behind it. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a Chinese story and a Jewish one (this is a mixed family) and it'll make you think about how we define success, how much is too much and what exactly is the purpose of the bat mitzvah.
The holidays are not everyone's favorite time. If you're feeling left out, shut out, sad and like the world would be a better place without you (maybe), check out these 101 alternatives. Each essay is written with humor, love and snark for teens but non-teens will also find love and inspiration here.
Poet Larry Matsuda was born in Hunt, Idaho (which is short hand for Minidoka) and the consequences of this simple fact reverberate through this collection. I was so moved, reading these poems again and again, to myself and out loud. A part of history comes to life through the poet's artistry.
This "biography" of cancer is a page turner and one of the best books I've read in years. So many advances were made by people who were way ahead of their time (and paid for it). If you or your family or friends have had cancer, or if you're a med student or grad student, this is a must read.
As you'd expect, Alan Bennett's own story is as captivating as any play he's ever written. You see the worst bits and all of the shortcomings—but that makes him more funny and real. And makes you wonder about your own life.
A gay blue stater travels to Frisco, TX to check out Christmas as practiced in the other America: big box blow outs, designer decorating, synchronized over-the-top light extravaganzas...Check it out on YouTube as it's hard to believe. Also related to undocumented workers as these enterprises require many hands. Both jaw dropping and funny.
A retired major and a shopkeeper bond over their love of literature ... but will they be able to fight off meddling friends and relatives? Love set in an English village filled with eccentrics. My idea of a great vacation read.
Love Soup + Farmer's market (Sunday, Broadway and Thomas) = score.
This week, cold cherry lemon soup with yogurt. (p 337)
Fava Bean and sweet pea soup with mint (p 260)
Zucchini Basil soup with goat cheese (p 311)
Soup, bread, salads, spreads...and dessert? Awesome.
Scot Simon's love letter to his daughters (both adopted from China) celebrates the joy of international adoption without ignoring some of its tougher realities. He shares his own story and that of other families (adoptees, adoptive families, some birth parents) emphasizing that he is grateful for the daughters he and his wife so love. Charming.
Why gay marriage? Read all about it in Dan Savage's memoir, The Commitment. He's not a saint—just a dad, partner to Terry and he writes a sex advice column. You’ll learn more from reading this than from a sheaf of policy statements. And he’s funny. TMI! I miss his mom.
"Extraordinary kids aren't born that way," writes veteran teacher and father-of-four Rafe Esquith. They become extraordinary because the adults have helped these kids realize their gifts. Not an easy task, and he learns as much from his failures as from his successes. Not preachy and not about perfection. A real gift.
An author reads from his work at a bookstore and his mind wonders. And wanders. And you're not sure what's the story on the page and what's in his mind. If you've ever thought, "What's he thinking up there?" be prepared. Priceless.
Spoon Fed is a love story that's about food and about recovery. Yes, you'll see a different side of Kim's food writer mentors (including Edna Lewis) but the heart of this story is her own journey—becoming sober, falling in love with her wife Katia, and becoming a writer. I loved this book.
Martin Espada, poet/storyteller, his poems each hid a gem, a joke, a song, a political aside, a biography. One for Dennis Brutus, another for Pinochet (and his political kin), one for you.
Unconventional as always. Unsparing of herself and others. Expansive ideas of family and fidelity. Editor and author of many books, Diana Athill (b. 1917) writes about what we don't discuss: our changing bodies and preoccupations and our full lives. Brilliant.
Terry Castle's witty, soul-bearing, and frequently hilarious tales of academe (in the 70s for naive lesbians), fame (as a sometime appendage to Susan Sontag... until she wasn't), the "woman-identified" 80s, and travel with an aged parent are captivating, essential reading.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most brilliant. If you've ever taken a plane flight or gone into a skyscraper, a checklist helped keep you alive. Now checklists might help you survive a surgery. Atul Gawande is a master storyteller. This book read like a thriller!
The allure of that other, hidden place (first discovered between the pages of a very strange book) is what entices a traveler to embark on a surreal journey. Yes, it is Prague, but which Prague and when? We're left to wonder, enchanted.
Cold, tired and hungry? It's time for Japanese Hot Pots. Food from all over Japan—I like Hiroshima Oyster Hot Pot (with or without noodles), and Salmon Hot Pot from Hokkaido. Begins with an illustrated ingredients guide but nearly everything here is easy to find and easy to cook. Dig in.
This could be a book about childhood or about old age or about what childhood and old age have in common. Also about sport or craft, and how each can invade your mind and body. These stories spread out like the roots of a tree and then you're back at the plant.
A young newspaper reporter, black but passing for white, unravels a series of secrets in a small Southern town in this gripping graphic novel. Some things can be said best through pictures.
What kind of city do you want to live in? Jane Jacobs helped save some of the best parts of New York City and helped us realize that progress can be defined as restoring and preserving varied streetscapes and walkable neighborhoods. This book spells out what we know intuitively: combine the old with the new. And it tells us why. Essential reading.
How Fiction Works is not a "how to", an exercise in worrying about what you haven't read, or an escape from doing the reading and writing yourself. It is gorgeous, celebratory, surprising, funny, and cheeky. And it encourages you to read and write more.
For the Anglophiles and the relatives, a shocking, funny, and very entertaining study of our friends across the pond. Often jawdropping and I had to keep asking my friends "is this true?" Well, you couldn't make this stuff up.
A healer's daughter, orphaned and in the clutches of an evil stepmother is haunted by a ghostly visitor in this retelling of Cinderella. Not normally my kind of thing but I was spellbound!! A great read for young adults and for older folks too. True love comes in all stripes.
A young single mother goes to work for a professor whose short term memory resets every day in this beautiful, bittersweet novel. This is a story of friendship and of love (including the love of baseball), a dreamy little novel.
Is it possible to resist Mark Kurlansky's enthusiasm for food, for history, or for life? No. Here he edits and comments upon Depression-era food writing for the WPA. Washington state school lunches? An innovation! Discover tacos, menudo, mullet, geoducks, and hush puppies, and see Diddy-Wah-Diddy through Zora Neal Hurston's eyes.
To paraphrase... "there are people who bend under the weight of the world, people who wrestle it and people who bend the world to them." All of these women are present in this lyrical story of the successive generations of lesbian communities in a small California town. Love, mysteries, and family in its many forms.
Audrey Young M.D. has written a moving insider's view of health care as delivered at Seattle's Harborview Hospital. She's a terrific storyteller who brings to life the dilemmas, problems, and successes of public care hospitals who also provide care for the insured. Stories of the providers and of the patients will haunt you. Info also on what you can do.
"I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience," wrote Audre Lorde and it is just those poems collected by poet/essayist Honor Moore in this stunning collection. A perfect companion, inspiration, call to action.
Fun, sexy debut novel about a newly sober film student with a very messy love life. Falling for your ex-girlfriend (again)—likely to enrage her husband. Also, dating nuns is likely to bring on trouble. Published by Bywater Books, a small press specializing in lesbian fiction.
That's right, a whole year, new testament and old, beginning with 18 single spaced pages of Biblical directives. What makes this book so good and so much fun is that he does take it seriously and it becomes a sort of spiritual quest. It made me long for a chat with his long suffering wife....
Traitor or savior? This novel of World War II intrigue, set in Penang and centered upon the ambiguous relationship of a young, mixed race boy and a foreign diplomat is gripping, beautiful, and heartbreaking. A complex and stunning debut.
Settle in, remember, dream about your own love affair as you read this book-length series of poems about a relationship. I picked this one up at a bookstore in London (Daunt's) and then Carol Ann Duffy was named poet laureate of Britain. Here's to serendipity!
Read this because you love poetry or hate poetry or loved Sherman Alexie's fiction and are curious. Read it because some of these lines will make you weep and moan and make you feel uncomfortable or give you the chills because they're that beautiful. Or maybe you've heard him read one or two and you wondered if they're that good on the page. They are.
Hot, cold, classic, and fusion—what could be better? Make your own broth or dipping sauce (avoiding preservative laden instants), even make your own buckwheat noodles. Okay, maybe not, but try the Crab Udon, Shio Ramen, Curry Rice Noodles. Vegetarian and not, mix and match.
You thought you'd write something someday or maybe you started and stopped. Take this writers workshop-in-a-book and get started. Get nosy. What are you waiting for? Now.
A young Korean American girl leaves home for life on the streets of New York in this touching debut novel. As much a portrait of the unseen people in our community as of a particular person's life, Miles From Nowhere is enriched with details from the author's own experiences on the streets.
What shapes a great intellect might also in some ways crush her spirit. Susan Sontag, one of our great public intellectuals, was a survivor. Her journals underscore the ways in which she pushed the culture (and the personal costs when the culture pushed back.) I miss her.
A marmalade cat shows up in a small town library's book drop ... just in time, it turns out. Dewey (the book and the cat) explains why towns need libraries, why people need cats, and how having a few good friends can see you through tough times. Dewey lives.
Through this seemingly small story of a family of convenience, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison tells a story about the American psyche. This is what made us. A great book, one of Toni Morrison's finest. Also available as an audiobook read by the author.
Looking for inspiration? Looking for a reason to keep writing? Looking for a reason to break your silence? Looking for some words to remind you? Michelle Cliff's words are all of these and more for me.
Sex, love, desire, obsession, addiction—are the lines between them all that firm? This is both Susan Cheever's own story and a meditation on all of the above. Smart and intriguing—you can read it in one sitting but you'll want to go back and read it again.
Ridiculously simple and delicious! It's all in the ingredients in these recipes from London's River Cafe. Crab-fennel-radicchio, potato and green beans with olive oil. Splurge on those local cheeses, artisan breads and heirloom tomatoes.
For all of you with Grey's Anatomy withdrawal... Final Exam is the story of a young transplant surgeon's training and of her learning to accept the inevitable: death is still with us despite technological advances, innovation, denial, grief, and toil. Pauline Chen is an extraordinary writer.
Oh no—what's fielder's choice? The infield fly rule? And who puts mud on the baseball and why? Baseball Field Guide helped me understand the game (and it helps pass time during a slow inning or in that long line.)
This portable guide to downtown buildings West of I-5 (plus Seattle Center) includes information about year of construction, architect, original and current use. A portable, perfect companion for a casual stroll or a more elaborate walking tour. Full color pictures of all of the buildings, easy to use maps and thoughtful historical asides make this an essential Seattle guidebook.
Yes, our building (The Globe Hotel/Marshall Walker) is in the Pioneer Square section, as is the Earl Layman Memorial Clock, which is just outside our window. Visit our neighbors Flury and Co. in the Jackson Building to see a gorgeous, intact historical interior and view their collection of Edward S. Curtis prints and Native American Art.
Architectural Historian Maureen Elenga has also uncovered some remarkable hidden histories, such as that of Belltown, formerly a local area for film distributors. One of my favorites was formerly MGM/Loew's regional distribution office and is now restaurant Marjorie.
Choice or chance?
A long dead Seattle man gradually awakens to the fact of his own suicide (and how he got to that point) after a stranger moves into his house. Accompanied by an unusual companion, he realizes that even now he has the capacity to act. Savor this novel...it's one of my favorite books of 2006.
Debt, overly amitious military campaigns, and religious crusades predict the fall of an empire. Sound familiar? Prescient, convincing, frightening...don't miss this powerful book by the conservative "Nixon Republican" who predicted the rise of the south and sunbelt. Essential reading!
A Pakistani immigrant fears for his recently disappeared brother in this rich, moody novel.
Kiriyama Pacific Rim Fiction Prize winner in 2005!
One of the best novels I've read in years!
Take home a piece of Seattle's most famous market. Gorgeous pictures, fun facts, and delicious recipes. My favorite: smoked salmon, shiitake relish, cornbread pudding (p. 28) or eat it at Etta's Seafood at lunch or dinner.
NPR's This American Life's David Rakoff is at his sardonic best in this hilarious collection. Why endure a retreat with Buddhist master Stephen Segal if you can read about that (and many, many other adventures) here? Also available on CD.
Travel between the U.S. and Japan opened new worlds to people on both sides of the Pacific. Melville, Henry James and Frank Lloyd Wright all appear here, but the story of Okakura, author of the classic Book of Tea particularly fascinated me. It's a great story about an exuberant creative era.
Hot summer days, ripe tomatoes, fresh bread (from Grand Central Bakery?), herbs, veggies...Enjoy these fast, simple, elegant recipes for small plates, picnics and snacks. My favorites are the roasted eggplant and olive crostini and the barely cooked mussels with herbs and wine. Delicious!
Who knew that one of the greatest lay interpreters of Christian/Jewish/Muslim history in the West began her life's work hurt by her own religious tradition? I couldn't put this down! A great lesson for me: Your life's work might not be what you think it will be!
Yes! A new book from tireless writer/activist hooks, taking her ideas about teaching outside the classroom in order to engage the community in working for social change. she writes with her usual candor, intelligence and humor, encouraging us--and keeping us honest.
Susanna Sonnenberg’s medication on the cycles of female friendship made me think about my own relationships. Which ones deepen (or fade or blow up) and why? A candid, eloquent, funny, and moving book about our extended “families”: those acquired not by blood but by choice.
River Cottage is of course known for meat dishes and I was surprised to find that they also have a deep love for vegetable dishes. It’s time to experiment with flavors as all of these good things come into season and this is the perfect guide.
Micah Wilkins has a secret and it’s not just that everything she tells you is a lie. The reason behind her lies is not what you think. This novel is about passing in every way. It’s suspenseful and a great summer read for young adults and adults.
Fresh, seasonal, light, tasty, and vegetarian. Loved the Eggplant + Black Olive Caviar (p 60), Fennel + Lemon Salad (p 65), and Lebanese Coffee Dessert Jars. A charming cookbook that will freshen up your mealtime repertoire.
How do you survive the unthinkable, worst, most tragic loss? I’m still not sure, but Sonali Deraniyagala’s beautiful book made me think it was possible. (Not by trying to be brave or looking for the hidden lesson, either.) A courageous, beautiful, angry book.
The “mother country’s” reach (through colonization and its literature) continues but now its former subjects reach around and back. A startling little gem of a collection, many of these authors have read here (or will soon!).
Dr. Sarah Boston is both a surgical veterinary oncologist and a cancer survivor. Her thoroughly original memoir about navigating the Canadian and U.S. health care systems while caring for animals in her veterinary practice leaves her (and also readers) wondering why in many cases her nonhuman patients receive more compassionate, thorough, and immediate care than she and her fellow humans do. A candid, empathetic, and very funny writer, she shares many moving stories of pets and their families, encouraging pet owners to consider treatments that can prolong the time pets and their families have together.
Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, begins with the disappearance of Lydia, the favored middle child of a family so disconnected that every person seems to be living in isolation from the others. The racism that this interracial family deals with seems to be the source, but a shifting understanding of differences (and community) is on the horizon. Insightful and beautifully written, this novel will raise many questions and invite rereading, discussion, and contemplation. How much has the landscape of race and the interracial changed? The answer is far from simple.
Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies has inspired a “prequel” of sorts in this exuberant account of the study of DNA, genetics, and heredity. Beginning with theories proposed by Pythagoras and continuing through current efforts to permanently change human genomes, Mukherjee deftly explains the science in historical context, focusing not just on successes but also on the failures and shortcomings of this research. Insights on basic research questions, on genetic transmission of illness (including some types of mental illnesses), and of the triggering of diseases with genetic components are accompanied by vivid accounts of both scientists and the afflicted in this fascinating book.