What’s your first thought when you hear “summer reading”? Sandy, abandoned spines? Mindless beach reads?

Try “The Mueller Report.” It was the Pacific Northwest’s most popular paperback nonfiction book last week, according to the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s list of what’s flying off shelves in local independent bookstores.

The conclusions from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election don’t exactly make for light reading. Plenty of splashier political accounts exist (hi, Michael Wolff and Stormy Daniels), and really digging into the report, printed redactions and all, is a bit like getting your kicks from a public-records request.

But like the middle schooler glued to “Jane Eyre” in homeroom, that one freshman comp student who doesn’t consider the supplemental readings optional, or the book-club purist who can’t stand it when fellow members “didn’t finish the book,” we have a creative understanding of light reading in Seattle. We’re incorrigibly bookish, and this summer, we’re reading stories about politics, crime, death, human frailty, emotional complexity and all possible combinations thereof.

Right now, that means true crime, both highbrow and low. David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” No. 8 among nonfiction paperback bestsellers, is a classic example of the former, a sprawling investigation into the murders of Osage people in the 1920s after oil was found on their land.

As for lowbrow, you’ll find it in No. 11 on the hardcover nonfiction bestseller list. The title — “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered” — says it all. A tongue-in-cheek dual memoir from Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, co-hosts of the hugely successful podcast My Favorite Murder, the book delves into the authors’ nascent morbid curiosity and the particular sadness of being a latchkey kid in the ’80s.


Other mordant pleasures we’re reading this week: Kristen Arnett’s “Mostly Dead Things,” a story of love, loss and taxidermy in Florida; Sally Rooney’s cerebral, sweetly dark romance, “Normal People”; “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” the debut novel from Taffy Brodesser-Akner, a writer better known for her ability to elevate the celebrity profile to high art; and Bessel van der Kolk’s 2014 investigation of trauma, “The Body Keeps the Score.”

Whether we’re reading them on beach blankets, commutes or over sunny lunch hours, Seattle’s most popular summer books last week betray a bold, occasionally morbid curiosity. We might not talk about it, but we certainly read about it. Our bookshelves keep the score.


Current bestsellers from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

Hardcover fiction

1. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

2. The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead

3. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

4. Circe, Madeline Miller

5. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

6. Normal People, Sally Rooney

7. The New Girl, Daniel Silva

8. Deep River, Karl Marlantes

9. Fleishman Is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner

10. Exhalation, Ted Chiang

11. Knife, Jo Nesbø

12. The Guest Book, Sarah Blake

13. Mostly Dead Things, Kristen Arnett

14. Big Sky, Kate Atkinson

15. The Scent Keeper, Erica Bauermeister

Hardcover nonfiction

1. Educated, Tara Westover

2. The Pioneers, David McCullough

3. Becoming, Michelle Obama

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson

5. The Second Mountain, David Brooks

6. Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

7. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson

8. The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates

9. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat

10. Everything Is F*cked, Mark Manson

11. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark

12. American Carnage, Tim Alberta

13. Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis, Thomas Nelson

14. The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben

15. Women Rowing North, Mary Pipher

Paperback fiction

1. The Overstory, Richard Powers

2. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

3. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

4. There There, Tommy Orange

5. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

6. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

7. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan

8. Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

9. The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin

10. The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton

11. Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield

12. The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!, Clint McElroy, et al.

13. Whiskey When We’re Dry, John Larison

14. The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn

15. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Paperback nonfiction

1. The Mueller Report, The Washington Post

2. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

3. Calypso, David Sedaris

4. Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

5. How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan

6. Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer

7. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

8. Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann

9. The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown

10. You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero

11. They Called Us Enemy, George Takei, et al.

12. The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman

13. The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk

14. Tip of the Iceberg, Mark Adams

15. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara