Summer Book Bingo: Recommended by an Independent Bookseller (Part 1)
July 13, 2017
Summer Book Bingo is designed to provide free summer reading fun for both adults and kids. Last summer, participants read a total of 8717 books, and we received a whopping 248 blackout cards and 227 bingo cards—let’s do it again! Swing by one of SAL’s partner bookstores this year to grab an Adult or Kid Bingo Card or download it here and spend the summer of ’17 reading great books.
Still need your “recommended by an independent bookstore square”? SAL spoke with many of our independent bookstore partners around town to ask them for their summer favorites. In this installment, we hear from the wonderful booksellers, owners, and staff of Third Place Books, BookTree Bookstore, Phinney Books, and Magnolia’s Bookstore . . .
Zak Nelson, Events & Marketing Manager at Third Place Books
The Moon and The Other by John Kessel
This science fiction/dystopian novel is written by one of the most visionary writers in the field. He has created a rich matriarchal utopia, set in the near future on the moon, a society flawed by love and sex, and on the brink of a destructive civil war.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
The Changeling is a mystery/horror tale set in New York, in which a father is the protagonist in his own grim fairy tale; surviving is perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to him. Anthony Doerr wrote: “If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison, the result would be Victor LaValle.”
Kalani Kapahua, Event Coordinator & Consignment Buyer from Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi
A beautiful collection of passionate poems that explores the deep-seated trauma and discrimination in an Asian-American life.
Jillian by Halle Butler
An awkwardly funny novel about two medical office co-workers that hate each other. These very different women find their own separate paths to self-destruction. It takes a writer of great talent to make these unlikable characters so compelling to read.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
This illustrated memoir tells the story of a family that is forced to flee their home country in the midst of the Vietnam War. Debut author Thi Bui intimately shares her unique point of view as a second-generation Vietnamese-American in simple but beautiful illustrations. This is simply a must-read to better understand the perspective of refugees and the many obstacles they face.
Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba
It’s Annie meets Lord of the Flies in this haunting story of a young orphan girl who becomes alienated from the other girls in her foster home. While it is a quick read, it is terrifyingly memorable and beautifully translated, and every sentence is truly worth the price.
Anje Monte Calvo, Bookseller from Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
River of Teeth is like if Leigh Bardugo rewrote Cormac McCarthy’s “The Border Trilogy,” replaced the horses with hippos, and the whole thing was just perpetually set in that hippo attack river scene from the movie Congo.
Chris Jarmick, Owner of BookTree Bookstore in Kirkland, which opened in November 2016
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
Alexie originally intended to write a book mostly about his father but has wound up writing a brutally honest memoir about his troubled relationship with his mother, Lillian, who died in 2015 at age 78. Alexie’s conversational style, which is occasionally purposefully excessive and slightly repetitious (to make a point), frequently uses wit, sarcasm and humor that manages to transform many of the bleakest and depressing episodes into uplifting stories. It’s a poignant, profound, and important work. Read it soon!
Turning Homeward: Restoring Hope and Nature in the Urban Wild by Adrienne Ross Scanlan
Turning Homeward is a superbly written short narrative non-fiction seamlessly juxtaposing nature writing and memoir. Scanlan writes poetically about her work restoring salmon runs as she rebuilds her personal life. Her quest to make the Northwest her home is complex, including a new understanding of the Jewish tradition of tikkum olam (‘repair of the world’) and atonement. Her work and increased understanding helps her share her sense of the meaning of ‘home’ and joy. It is a gem.
Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
From page one, I was in a different time and place being introduced to Towles’ memorably quirky characters. The exquisite quality of the writing allowed me to trust Towles to weave his stories. Could he really continue to create interesting scenes page after page about a Russian Count stripped of his privilege and placed under a strict house arrest for over 30 years in the Metropol Hotel? The book has charm, humor, intrigue and philosophic insight and employs a unique, brilliant accordion structure. Political developments involving Stalin and later Khrushchev are part of the book, but its focus remains on the characters who live and work in the Metropol. It is one of my favorite books in recent years, and I look forward to re-reading it sooner than later.
Liz Goodwin, Bookseller at Phinney Books
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
The Essex Serpent, which made a big splash in Great Britain last year, has finally arrived on our shores. It’s an unique love story wrapped up with a sea monster mystery. Its setting and sensibility put me in mind of E.M. Forster. Best of all, it is filled with open-minded, warm-hearted characters all following their credo to “only connect”!
Kim Kopetz, Bookseller at Phinney Books
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
When Gil Coleman sees his dead wife Ingrid from a bookshop window, the story of his flawed marriage and his long-missing (and presumed dead) wife slowly unravels. Swimming Lessons is the rare kind of book that makes you leave a permanent indentation in your reading chair, that you want to draw out and savor (even while turning page after page because you must know what happens), and that brings a tinge of grief when it’s over.
Haley Stocking, Bookseller at Phinney Books
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
The Summer Book is a series of short episodes about a six-year-old girl and her feisty grandmother over the course of one summer on an island in the Gulf of Finland. Simply written but full of depth, this perfect summer read is a favorite of ours here at Phinney Books.
Georgiana Blomberg, Owner of Magnolia’s Bookstore
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie
It’s a great summer read: pulls you in the from the first page. It’s the story of the uncertain steps towards marriage of a young couple—a most unusual young woman and her slightly more ordinary fiancé—who grapple with myriad challenges on the way. It’s very funny, but also deeply thoughtful and intelligent.
This post is to be continued! There are plenty more indie bookstore picks to come in our second installment, which will include Edmonds Bookshop, Elliott Bay Book Company, University Book Store, Island Books, and Queen Anne Book Company.