A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Book Bingo Recommendations from Stesha Brandon

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? Stesha Brandon, a SAL and Seattle City of Literature Board Member, long-time advocate for the literary arts, and the current Literature & Humanities Program Manager at The Seattle Public Library, shares with us her recommendations for “Seattle Reads (Past or Present)”.

By Stesha Brandon, SAL Board Member

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beloved Seattle Reads program by reading or revisiting one of the featured titles. Here are a few of my favorites!

Julie Otsuka, The Swimmers or When the Emperor Was Divine, (2005 and 2023)

This year’s selected Seattle Reads author has the distinction of also being a past Seattle Reads author! Julie Otsuka was first featured in 2005 for her novel When the Emperor Was Divine, which is about a Japanese American family who were incarcerated during World War II as part of Executive Order 9066. Otsuka returned to Seattle Reads in May to discuss The Swimmers, a deeply personal and devastating novel about memory loss and its impact.



Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do (2019)

Seattle Reads has featured two graphic memoirs in the past 25 years: Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, (2006) and more recently, Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do. Bui’s memoir documents her family’s escape after the fall of Saigon in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves in America. It’s a beautiful and evocative book that invites readers to consider the refugee experience.



Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half (2021)

Two teenaged sisters escape a small town in the 1950s American South, and their paths diverge when one decides to pass as a white woman to get a job. Bennett’s compelling exploration of “passing” examines the multiple ways that identity is created and maintained, and it was my favorite novel the year it was published.

Stesha Brandon is a long-time advocate for the literary arts. Having served as the Interim Executive Director for Seattle City of Literature, she is currently the Literature & Humanities Program Manager at The Seattle Public Library, and administers the designation on behalf of the city. She also serves on the board of Seattle Arts & Lectures.

Posted in Summer Book Bingo