Based on the number of holds placed on them, “The Girls” and “Truly Madly Guilty” were intriguing to many local bookworms. Also: news about book fairs, Book-It and Hugo House.

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Lit Life

Summer’s almost gone; it’s time to look toward fall and the quickening pace of literary events in Seattle. Before leaving the alleged lazy season behind, here’s a brief look at the books our region’s readers read this summer.

The most accessible way to measure the popularity of books at the King County Library System and at the Seattle Public Library is to look at the number of holds placed on books.


Here were the top adult fiction titles at KCLS toward the end of August:

“Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty

“The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware

“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny

“Night School” by Lee Child

Emma Cline’s “The Girls”


All fiction. Definitely summer-reading mode, though “The Girls,” based on the Manson murders, is no walk in the park. The most holds placed on any book at KCLS (2,168!) is for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J.K. Rowling, the print version of an insanely popular London play.


Over at the Seattle Public Library, they break out their holds list by fiction and nonfiction.

The top literary fiction titles:

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

“The Girls” by Emma Cline

“The Nest” by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney

“Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty

“Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley



“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (this is listed as nonfiction because it’s a play, according to the library)

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

“Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West

“The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer

“You’ll Grow Out of It” by Jessi Klein

Fall news

Now, on to the fall. We’ll publish a complete list of literary events in our Fall Arts guide on Sept. 14, where you will find all the A-list author readings. Here are a few events that don’t fall into that category, but are well worth a look:

Book-It Theater: I’m excited about Book-It Theater’s first production for its 2016-2017 season, an adaptation of Ruth Ozeki’s great novel “A Tale for the Time Being.” If you haven’t read this book, it’s a complex, moving story with an unforgettable cast of characters: a lonely Japanese teenager, a Canadian novelist, a Buddhist nun in Japan. Can’t wait to see what they do with it. The play runs from Sept. 14-Oct. 9.

Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair: This is the region’s signature event for people interested in book collecting. Dealers from the United States, Canada, England and beyond will offer collectible books, prints, maps, manuscripts, autographs, photographs, posters, postcards, broadsides, fine bindings and ephemera. (I love the word ephemera. What isn’t?) It takes place Oct. 8-9 at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. For more information, check

Wordstock: I have never figured out why Portland has a great literary festival and Seattle doesn’t. Could it be the presence of Powell’s, the great Portland bookstore, which is also a Wordstock sponsor? Too bad we don’t have a robust online bookseller in Seattle (lapsing into sarcasm here).

This year’s festival, scheduled for Nov. 5, will play out at a number of Portland venues. Watch the Wordstock website at

Comings and goings:

Open Books: a Poem Emporium: The ownership change of this poetry-only bookstore in Wallingford is complete. Christine Deavel and John W. Marshall have sold the store to Billie Swift, a longtime customer of the store. For more information, go to

Hugo House writer-in-residence: Hugo House, Seattle’s center for writers, has announced its writer-in-residence for 2016-2017. Sonora Jha, a journalist-turned-novelist and professor at Seattle University, will receive a monthly stipend and assist writers during free hourlong appointments while completing a memoir. Jha has written on India and its troubled politics in her debut novel, “Foreign,” as well as in pieces for The New York Times, The Seattle Times and other publications

Hugo House also announced six fellowships for emerging writers, awarded to poet and writer Gabrielle Bates, poet and performer Raye Stoeve, writer and memoirist Katie Lee Ellison, writer and co-founder of the APRIL book festival Willie Fitzgerald, multilingual poet Shankar Narayan and writer Beryl Clark.

The Litfuse Festival: This poetry workshop, set in beautiful Tieton, Yakima County, celebrates its 10th anniversary. It runs from Sept. 23-25. For more information, go to