A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Summer Book Bingo: Recommended by a Friend


2020 Summer Book Bingo, our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library, has begun early this year! Download your card here. Start your summer reading now and aim for bingo or blackout for a chance to win fabulous prizes. Engage with others and their own reading adventures by using the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media.

In this post, our Education Director, Alicia Craven, dives into the “Recommended by a Friend” square and shares three of her favorites. Bonus—all of the recommendations work for multiple Summer Book Bingo categories! 

By Alicia Craven, Director of Eduction

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

This book was recommended to me by SAL colleague Christina Gould, and retired WITS teacher, Lori Eickelberg—we have a quarterly book group meet-up in which we don’t necessarily have to have read the same books, but just talk about books we’ve read that we’ve loved, and get ideas from one another.

Say Nothing is such a compellingly-written chronicle of The Troubles conflict in Northern Ireland, centering on both daily life during this time, as well as the overarching mystery of the disappearance of a 38-year-old mother of ten, Jean McConville, from her Belfast home in 1972. The book is page-turning, and it captures—as if you were right there—the realities and stresses of living everyday life under the pale of this conflict, while also stitching its history together by following real-life characters over the decades.

I actually listened to this on audiobook through the Seattle Public Library, and the Irish narrator gave an extra dimension of connection to an already compelling story. It also works for the 2020 Summer Book Bingo square “Set in a City of Literature”—some of the action is in Dublin!

Stormwarning by Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir (Translated by K.B. Thors)

This is a gorgeous collection of poetry recommended to me by my Icelandic book club that I’ve been lucky to be part of for the past five years. We read Icelandic writers—fiction, non-fiction, and this time, poetry—and since Iceland has one of the highest per-capita rates of publication, there is always more to read! The specific description of this collection spoke to me in this moment:

This collection of poetry offers a very different view of the Icelandic winter than that of the magical north—a feeling of being confined to your home and forced to keep your own company while waiting out the storm. 

 Characteristic of Icelandic literature, the collection is very place-based and lyrical, but punctuated with ironic, light humor, and it’s words are displayed on the page alongside the Icelandic translation.

By far the shortest, but a delightful entry:


Go mountains!
Go clouds!
Go moss!

This book also works for the 2020 Summer Book Bingo squares “In Translation” or “Set in a City of Literature.”

The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories by Yukiko Motoya (Translated by Asa Yoneda)

This book was recommended to me by WITS Writer-in-Residence Ramon Isao—it’s such a magical, spooky, delightful, and thrilling collection of short stories—hard to compare to anything else I’ve read before. Many of the stories start with a very grounded feeling of realism—zeroing in on themes of loneliness, gender, and connection—but then, they take turns that are somehow both utterly surprising and subtle.

The New York Times reviewer Weike Wang said of the collection: “The familiar becomes unfamiliar, and Motoya wins over her audience by pushing the absurd to the extremes.” In a current reality that contains many elements that are familiar, but still fundamentally shifted and surreal, this collection is, paradoxically, grounding. This book also works for the 2020 Summer Book Bingo square “In Translation.”

Want more Summer Book Bingo suggestions? These category deep-dives from the SAL staff have got us reading and ready: Afrofuturism, UpliftingNature, and On Your Shelf. You can also find more on The Seattle Public Library’s website.

Posted in Summer Book Bingo2019/20 Season