Who better to tell us what to read than a writer? We asked nine — established authors, new authors, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, cartoonists, poets, business execs and thought leaders — from Seattle and around Washington to recommend us books for the summer.

They recommended a little bit of everything: local, national and international authors’ books in every genre from science fiction to comics to self-help to business advice. With all the variety here, you could use these titles for inspiration when you fill out this summer’s Book Bingo card from The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures.


Paul Constant, author of “Snelson: Comedy Is Dying

The Summer Bookby Tove Jansson (NYRB Classics, $14.95).

Every summer, I give myself a gift: I clear a whole afternoon, sit on a sunny spot with an ocean view, and read Finnish author Tove Jansson’s 1972 novel “The Summer Book” from cover to cover. About a precocious young girl and her grumpy grandmother whiling away a Scandinavian island holiday together, “The Summer Book” is a gorgeous testament to the simultaneous joy and sorrow of summer — the nagging awareness that even the longest, most gorgeous summer days are fleeting, and winter is never too far away.

The Anomaly: A Novelby Hervé Le Tellier. Translated by Adriana Hunter (Other Press, $16.99).

Summer is page turner season, and books don’t get much page turnier than Hervé Le Tellier’s 2021 thriller “The Anomaly.” The less you know going in the better, but suffice it to say this propulsive genre-bending novel about a supernatural incident involving an international flight is the kind of addictive reading experience that will leave you pushing the book into the hands of friends and family, just so you’ll have someone who can discuss it with you.

Sk8 Dad Summer: Ramps, Rebellion, and Raising a Kidby Brett Hamil (Birdcage Bottom Press, $10).


Seattle stand-up comedian and cartoonist Brett Hamil’s brand-new comic-book memoir “Sk8 Dad Summer” has a straightforward premise: Hamil builds a skateboarding ramp in the backyard of his Beacon Hill home as a temporary escape from the pressures of fatherhood, family and work. But that deceptively simple plot builds to a profound reflection on carrying the passions and rebellions of your youth into middle age.

Nisi Shawl, author of “Everfair

Sorcerer to the Crownby Zen Cho (Ace, $17).

It’s no surprise to those familiar with my work that I recommend speculative fiction books for powerful summer reads. Zen Cho’s “Sorcerer to the Crown” is escapist Regency-Romance-for-Realz, with Black wizards, brown enchantresses, mysterious dragons and the kind of heart-throbbing, magical love spells fans of “Bridgerton” look for everywhere. 

The Murderbot Diariesby Martha Wells (Tordotcom).

If you prefer science fiction to fantasy, you’ll be enormously grateful to me for pointing you toward the Murderbot books by Martha Wells. The first four novellas are collected in one hardback titled “The Murderbot Diaries.” Told from the viewpoint of a violent, self-hacking AI robot, these grimly humorous tales of a far-off future are loads of addictive fun. 

The Ballad of Perilous Gravesby Alex Jennings (Redhook, $28).

Finally, just out from one of the most amazing writers alive today, there’s “The Ballad of Perilous Graves,” a quest through New Orleans for a missing Song of Power. Alex Jennings, a longtime NOLA resident, brings his home’s movie palaces and street-corner festivals to brilliant, pulsating life. All three of these books are guaranteed to take you away on summer vacations of the mind.

Amelia Diane Coombs, author of “Between You, Me, and the Honeybees

Notes on an Execution: A Novelby Danya Kukafka (William Morrow, $27.99)

As a reader who loves thrillers and true crime, I devoured “Notes on an Execution” by Danya Kukafka, which follows a serial killer on death row — but Kukafka’s story focuses on the victims and lives the killer affected, rather than glamorizing or sensationalizing his crimes.


People We Meet on Vacation: A Novelby Emily Henry (Berkley, $16)

I’m a huge fan of Emily Henry’s young adult novels and her first adult romance, “Beach Read,” so I didn’t hesitate to pick up “People We Meet on Vacation” last summer. Henry’s a master at writing slow-burn romance, tension and humor; I was counting down the days until “Book Lovers,” her newest release, hit the shelves earlier this month!

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycleby Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski (Ballantine Books, $17).

Normally, I’m not a huge self-help reader, but “Burnout” strikes the perfect balance between motivational and educational, explaining why we burn out — especially why women burn out — and providing scientifically backed methods to help you complete all your lingering stress cycles.

Marcus Green, author of “Readying to Rise

How High We Go In The Dark: A Novelby Sequoia Nagamatsu (William Morrow, $27.99).

If you never thought a dystopian novel about a worldwide plague tormenting all of humanity (yeah … maybe a little too on the nose) could be life-affirming, you’ve obviously bypassed this gem. Thought-provoking, provocative and beautifully conceived, it ultimately asks what it will take for us to fulfill our highest possibilities as human beings. The answer seems to be: each other.


Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Wholeby Susan Cain (Crown, $28).

Grief, loss and angst have intruded upon the lives of many of us over these past few years. But instead of crushing us, what if those things could propel us forward? An original and contrarian thinker, Susan Cain compellingly argues that the messier parts of life might indirectly lead us to the most rewarding parts of it.

Still Here: A South End Mixtape from an Unexpected Journalistby Reagan Jackson (Menrva Labs, $24.99).

You combine one of my favorite writers with one of my favorite places in the city and the result is the verbal gold found between the covers of this book. As much a love letter to South Seattle as it is an exquisite treatise on the importance of home, and how we continuously find it whenever it feels taken away. 

Chelsea Martin, author of “Tell Me I’m an Artist

Salad Daysby Laura Theobald (Maudlin House, $16).

This fun and gorgeous book of poems takes on big and small tragedies of humanity in a way that ultimately makes me feel uplifted and hopeful about life on Earth.

The Ancestry of Objectsby Tatiana Ryckman (Deep Vellum, $15.95).

This book has it all: sex, death and questionable decision making, all in a package small enough to throw in your bag and whip out at the beach or in line at CVS pharmacy.


Janet Phan, author of “Boldly You: A Story about Discovering What You’re Capable of When You Show Up for Yourself

Principlesby Ray Dalio (Simon & Schuster, $30).

A great framework for principles you can apply to your everyday life as well as navigating your career through the cycle of setting audacious goals, falling, learning from them, improving and setting more audacious goals. You can then use this framework to build your own set of principles based on the goals you have. 

Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Lifeby Ozan Varol (PublicAffairs, $28).

Provides thinking points from a rocket scientist point of view distilled down to easy-to-read considerations for how you want to approach your goals — especially if you’re thinking about building a service or product. For me, I apply it to my workplace when it comes to my contribution in satellites getting built at Amazon’s Project Kuiper. It’s also pertinent when it comes to the continuous improvement and innovation needed to achieve the best STEM mentoring program for underserved, underrepresented girls through my nonprofit, Thriving Elements. 

Reggie Fils-Aimé, author of “Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo

A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectivenessby Roger Martin (Harvard Business Review, $30).

I’ve been impressed with Roger Martin since his book “Playing To Win.” He makes it easy to understand that strategy is the art of making clear choices about what to do, and what not to do, for pushing a business forward. His new book, “A New Way to Think,” discusses how to rethink business models to create new strategic choices.

Claudia Castro Luna, author of “Killing Marias

Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punkby Sasha taqwšəblu LaPointe (Counterpoint, $25).


Sasha’s compelling personal story, the story of her maternal ancestors and the lands they have inhabited are inextricably linked in this memoir. This is essential reading for those of us who now live on what was once, completely, the territory of Coast Salish people.

Dujie Tahat, author of “Salat

White Magic: Essays” by Elissa Washuta (Tin House, $26.95).

I literally think everybody in Seattle should read this book — especially the essay about the Fremont Bridge residency. Everybody who lives in Seattle, everybody who moves to Seattle, everyone who has a position of power in the city of Seattle, should read this book.

The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish” by BJ Cummings (University of Washington Press, $19.95)

This was written by the founder of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. It’s basically a sociopolitical history of the Duwamish River since colonization, and BJ Cummings uses that site to tell the history of the industrialization of Seattle.