A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Book Bingo 2020: Therapy for the Soul

By Liz Keenan, SAL Volunteer

When SAL asked me to write a blog about 2020 Summer Book Bingo, I was more than thrilled to accept the challenge. As a volunteer for SAL, I was asked to do a roundup of all the participants’ comments and recommendations and was immediately struck by how much Book Bingo played a critical part in so many people’s lives this summer while supporting libraries and local bookstores.

During this time of fear and instability, I was boosted by the hope, resilience, and need for connectivity shared by many through Book Bingo. Books are a way to bring us together and It was uplifting to see shared books read between family members and friends. It was also moving to see parents spending quality time with their children to help them choose books and the pride in children’s comments that they were reading their first book independently.

Reading has always been a part of my life. I am a self-confessed, proud bookworm and books have always given me great solace and comfort. Especially now, books have been a distraction from obsessively watching politics, the growing numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, and the increase in the shutdown of local businesses.

While gathering the information posted by the book bingo players, I was struck by how many said they were challenged to read outside their comfort zone and find a new favorite book. One popular square in Book Bingo was Afrofuturism, and many participants read Kindred by Octavia Butler and promised to read more books by BIPOC and trans authors.


Below are just some of the comments from this Sumer Book Bingo:

“I love reading, and I am always excited about recommendations, but Book Bingo got me to read books I would have never considered reading (e.g. Afrofuturism, neurodiverse, trans/non-binary authors). Not only was this exciting, it was also helpful. Reading Blindness by Jose Saramago during the pandemic was hard but Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet, gave me peace and happiness I hadn’t expected.”

“Every evening after washing the dishes, my daughter and I took turns reading from my worn copy of The Neverending Story (still hiding a bus transfer I’d used as a bookmark thirty years ago), sharing our love of stories.”

“My mom and I read very different genres of books. Book Bingo forced me to branch out and read things I wouldn’t normally read. My mom and I had some great discussions and she was so excited about it.”

“Book Bingo kept me sane this summer. My roommate and I made a competition out of it and had so much fun talking about our favorite books. It has been a great source of connection with friends in this wild time.”

“I asked a friend what book she recommended for the square and it gave me so much insight into who she is as a person. We’re more connected now.”

“My favorite book is Magic Treehouse: Mummies in the Morning because it was the first chapter book I read all by myself—my mom and dad helped me with some big words.”

“My favorite book is The Family Minus. My favorite place to read is in my bedroom. It’s comfy. I just got a pillow chair. I got to read lots of books I’ve never read before and I started reading chapter books on my own.”

Read more Book Bingo comments here.

Readers shared some of their favorite books read for 2020 Summer Book Bingo. Below are just some of their entries:


Kindred and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

There, There by Tommy Orange

Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan

Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood



Magic Treehouse: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Redwall by Brian Jacques


In times of uncertainty, one thing is certain—there will always be books to help us get through these trying days. A big thank you to all those who played 2020 Summer Book Bingo. I loved seeing your list of titles—it was fun to see what you read and how the books matched the bingo categories.

Thank you, Liz!

Want to learn more about Liz? Read her “Faces of SAL” interview here.

Posted in Summer Book BingoSAL Volunteers