This year’s Summer Book Bingo card has a tantalizing mix of categories — some of which can apply to just about anything you want to read (i.e., “on your shelf,” “two books by the same author,” “uplifting”), and some of which are very specific. For the latter, here are a few recommendations from Seattle Public Library librarians to get you started; for even more suggestions, see


Everfair” by Nisi Shawl. Local author Shawl’s 2016 debut is a steampunk novel taking place in an alternate-history version of the Belgian Congo, posing the question: What if native people had access to steam-powered technology, ahead of their oppressors?

Futureland” by Walter Mosley. Know for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, Mosley tackles something different here: a volume of nine short stories, set in the near future of 2020 (semidistant when this book was published in 2001) through 2040.

Lilith’s Brood” by Octavia E. Butler. Butler, a MacArthur Fellow who lived in the Seattle area during the final years of her life (she died in 2006), was one of science fiction’s greats. This volume, a trilogy that includes “Dawn,” “Adulthood Rites” and “Imago,” takes place centuries after a war has destroyed Earth, with a resurrected woman at its center.

Debut novel by an author over 50

The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler. I didn’t know — did you? — that one of the biggest names in noir fiction didn’t publish a novel until he was 51. His 1939 debut (made into a nifty Bogart/Bacall movie in 1946) introduced his hard-boiled hero, detective Philip Marlowe.

George & Lizzie” by Nancy Pearl. The former Seattle librarian known for her “Book Lust” recommendations published her first novel at 72: a witty tale of an unlikely marriage.


The Golden Child” by Penelope Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s distinguished career eventually included the Booker Prize (for “Offshore”). This murder mystery, her 1977 debut, was published when she was 60.


Dear Committee Members” by Julie Schumacher. Anyone who’s spent time in a college English department will get a kick out of this comic novel, told through an array of not-quite-on-topic letters of recommendation written by frustrated professor Jason Fitzger.

Sea Prayer” by Khaled Hosseini. A gentle book for all ages, this novel by the author of the bestseller “The Kite Runner” is a letter from a father to his son, as they prepare to leave their homeland of Syria.

84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff. Anglophiles and literary types will be charmed by this nonfiction memoir-in-letters, charting the midcentury correspondence between a New York writer and the small London bookshop from which her library grew.

Animal as main character

Hollow Kingdom” by Kira Jane Buxton. A pet crow fights to save humanity after an apocalypse in local author Buxton’s debut novel — set in Seattle!

Isle of Dogs” by Minetaro Mochizuki. This manga adaptation of Wes Anderson’s 2018 stop-motion film is for all ages, telling the story of an orphan boy searching for his dog on an island of banished canines.


The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel). Published in 2018, this book quickly became an international bestseller. It’s the tale of Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they travel to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends. 

Neuro-diverse protagonist or author

So Lucky” by Nicola Griffith. From the author of the Washington State Book Award-winning historical novel “Hild,” this is the story of a contemporary woman facing a new reality when she is diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk. A medical school dropout deals with sex addiction and with his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in this 2001 novel from the author of “Fight Club.”

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s” by John Elder Robison. This memoir’s author was 40 years old before he learned, from a therapist, that what he had always thought of as social deviance was in fact a form of autism.

Transgender or nonbinary author

Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs” by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Boylan, who wrote about life as a transgender woman in her 2003 memoir “She’s Not There,” here looks back at her transition and the dogs who joined her along the way.

Freshwater” by Akwaeke Emezi. A “5 Under 35” National Book Foundation honoree, nonbinary author Emezi’s debut novel tells of a young Nigerian woman struggling with multiple personality disorder.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror” by Mallory Ortberg (now Danny M. Lavery). The author, a trans man who recently published the essay collection “Something That May Shock and Discredit You” as Daniel Mallory Ortberg, reinvents archetypal fairy tales in this acclaimed short story collection.