Book Bingo Recommendations from Karen Maeda Allman
June 2, 2023
2023 Summer Book Bingo, our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library, is here! Download your board to start playing. Engage with other bingo players and find out their own reading adventures by using the hashtag #BookBingoNW2023 on social media.
Need some great reads to get you started? Karen Maeda Allman, SAL Board Member, Wales Literary agent, and former Elliott Bay Book Company bookseller, shares with us her recommendations for “Read with a Friend,” “Trans or Nonbinary Author,”“Manga or Graphic Novel,” and “BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ Horror.”
By Karen Maeda Allman, SAL Board Member
We’re on the verge of summer as I write this post, and if you’re like me, you’re in the thick of sharing ideas about what to read for this year’s Summer Book Bingo. Here are some of my recommendations:
Trans or Nonbinary Author: This Body I Wore: a Memoir by Diana Goetsch
Transgender poet, essayist and writing teacher Diana Goetsch’s memoir, This Body I Wore, is an exploration of her evolving sense of self, first as someone on the margins of a 1980s gay community and eventually as an artist and scholar documenting her transition later in life. That she is such a gentle, thoughtful storyteller does not make her any less a fierce champion for justice and trans visibility.
Read with a Friend: A Living Memory: a Memoir by Nicole Chung
Another of my favorite memoirs, one I thought was perfect for “reading with a friend,” is Nicole Chung’s book, A Living Memory. The adopted Asian American child of conservative, Orthodox Christians living in Southern Oregon, she must navigate caregiving at a distance, reconciling her own experience of the world with that of her family. Our nation’s fractured health care system and its consequences (in this case, the shortened lifespans of working class people living in rural areas) is part of the story. If you haven’t read the author’s first book, All You Can Ever Know, about her search for her birth family, it’s a great read as well.
Manga or Graphic Novel: Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez
Professor Rebecca Hall’s book, Wake, an account of her research on revolts led by enslaved African American women. Told in the form of a graphic novel, this book helps readers understand how scholars find evidence to answer what might seem to be impossible questions. Engaging and suspenseful, this is a great introduction to the power of archival research and the roadblocks Black researchers face. Comics artist Hugo Martínez’s illustrations help draw readers into the story.
BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ Horror: The Fervor by Alma Katsu
Finally, friends who aren’t regular readers of horror have been writing to ask me for suggestions for this year’s square. I’m sending them to read bestselling writer Alma Katsu’s novel The Fervor. In this novel, the writer (who is multiracial, with a Japanese American mother and a white father) tells a story set during the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. She draws from history, family experiences and from yokai, traditional Japanese stories about the supernatural. Stephen King liked it as much as I did.
Karen Maeda Allman, SAL Board Member, is an Assistant Agent at Wales Literary Agency. Prior to that, she worked as a bookseller for over 33 years, 23 of these as the Author Events Coordinator at the Elliott Bay Book Company. Karen also worked as a nurse and as a nurse educator for 20 years.