The Pacific Northwest likes to read, and what better way to get book suggestions than to ask around? In this monthly feature, we ask prominent Northwest residents what books they’re reading, rereading and recommending — and why.

2021 Fall Books Package


This month: author/librarian Nancy Pearl, who’s receiving the 2021 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community this month from the National Book Foundation. Pearl, former executive director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library, is the author of a number of books, including the “Book Lust” series of reading recommendations, the novel “George and Lizzie,” and her most recent work, “The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives” (with Jeff Schwager). She lives in Seattle.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.



What book are you reading now?

“Living Witness” by Jane Haddam. It’s about No. 25 in a 30-or-so-book series. It’s a mystery, featuring an Armenian American detective/ex-FBI agent — it’s really a character-driven series of mysteries.

What book have you reread the most?

The whole series of Terry Pratchett’s “Night Watch” books, featuring Sam Vimes. Every time I read one — and now I’ve switched to listening to them — I just go through them all; there’s about 10 or 12. They’re perfect, they’re wonderful.

What book do you recommend other people read and why?

“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry, and the reason is that it’s the book that I think has the best chance of the most people really enjoying. For people who love a good story — people who turn the page and read to find out what happens — this is a page-turner about a cattle drive and you just absolutely get into the story. For people who love character-driven novels, which is what I love, you will never forget the two main characters in this book, ever. If you love books that have a setting that seems that you’re transported there … when you’re reading “Lonesome Dove,” you’re there — and you’d better have a bottle of water, it’s really dusty in those places! Lastly, of the writing: It won the Pulitzer Prize, and while it’s not what we would call poetic, the writing is just perfect for the story that it’s telling. So no matter what you like in a book, you can find it in “Lonesome Dove.”

— compiled by Moira Macdonald

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)