It’s always a tiny thrill to see a book from a local publishing house join the ranks of longstanding bestsellers like Tara Westover’s “Educated” and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” and last week, Susanna Ryan’s scrappy “Seattle Walk Report: An Illustrated Walking Tour through 23 Seattle Neighborhoods” did just that, rising to No. 8 on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Associations list of hardcover nonfiction bestsellers at local independent bookstores for the week ending Sunday, Aug. 18.

Once an anonymous Instagram account (Ryan has only recently revealed herself), @SeattleWalkReport began as a collection of minutiae from epic urban walks, illustrated in tidy comics that make perfect use of the social media channel’s square format. Ryan’s depictions of Seattle are pleasingly low-tech. A recent image collects iconic U District signage under the header “Typography of the Ave.” There’s Shiga’s Imports (of course), one of the district’s many neon window displays proffering teriyaki, the text above the Varsity Theatre’s marquee, and the tilted cursive of “Flowers,” a word that once, literally, signified the florist below, but has since transmuted into the name of a bar, in what feels like a soft microcosm of a city’s overarching identity crisis.

As a book, “Walk Report” is just as charming, with subjects including “Distinguished Elephants!” (the Aurora Elephant and the Elephant Car Wash sign), desire paths — unofficial paths created by foot traffic — at Green Lake,  and “fire hydrant styles” of Phinney Ridge. You’d have to be kind of a joy-loathing curmudgeon not to like it, but the book will hold an especial significance if you have any recollection of Old Seattle, before the arrival of our condo overlords, cratered lots and ubiquitous cranes, back when South Lake Union’s most notable residents were the REI flagship store and a Guitar Center.

“Walk Report” isn’t the only locally made book we’re reading this week. With movie adaptations in theaters, we’re also revisiting books from two Seattle authors: Garth Stein’s metaphysical novel of friendship between a dog and a race-car driver “The Art of Racing in the Rain” (No. 6 among paperback fiction bestsellers); and Maria Semple’s quippy extended critique of Seattle and one of its most vocal discontents, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” (No. 9).

See also: Melinda Gates’ “The Moment of Lift,” on channeling philanthropy into empowering women; “Astoria,” Peter Stark’s account of the 1810 Astor Expedition; and “French Exit,” the 2018 novel from Portland author Patrick deWitt, featuring an itinerant mother and son, financial ruin, and a cat named Small Frank.

Though media hubs like New York might be more easily associated with publishing, the Northwest is a region dense with literary history, from Raymond Carver’s grave in Port Angeles to the winding Oregon roads William Stafford wrote into his poetry. We’re a region of writers. It’s no surprise we read local.

Books, books and more books!

After soliciting reader feedback, The Seattle Times has beefed up our books coverage to focus more on local literary tastes. In addition to regular book reviews and Lit Life columns, we’ve added some new local monthly features to our books lineup. Here’s what you can expect monthly: Weekly: What the Pacific Northwest is reading – trends and best-sellers First week: The five most anticipated crime novels coming out this month Second week: An audiobooks feature or roundup Third week: The Plot Thickens – Moira Macdonald’s take on new and old crime books, fiction and nonfiction Fourth week: What prominent locals are reading; and Neighborhood Reads: book selections from your friendly neighborhood librarian or bookstore Love these new features? Hate them? Let us know at As always, we love hearing from you.


Current bestsellers from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

Hardcover fiction

1. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

2. The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead

3. Chances Are … , Richard Russo

4. Inland Téa Obreht, Random House

5. Hollow Kingdom, Kira Jane Buxton

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

7. Circe, Madeline Miller

8. The Bitterroots, C.J. Box

9. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

10. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk


11. Deep River, Karl Marlantes

12. Exhalation: Stories, Ted Chiang

13. The New Girl, Daniel Silva

14. The Second-Worst Restaurant in France, Alexander McCall Smith

15. Knife, Jo Nesbø

Hardcover nonfiction

1. How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

2. Educated, Tara Westover

3. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat, Wendy MacNaughton (illustrator)

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

5. The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben

6. Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

7. The Pioneers, David McCullough

8. Seattle Walk Report: An Illustrated Walking Tour through 23 Seattle Neighborhoods, Susanna Ryan 

9. Everything Is F*cked, Mark Manson

10. The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates

11. Becoming, Michelle Obama

12. D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose

13. Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, Christopher Leonard

14. The Second Mountain, David Brooks

15. Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon, Tucker Malarkey

Paperback fiction

1. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

2. The Overstory, Richard Powers

3. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

4. The Witch Elm, Tana French

5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

6. The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

7. There There, Tommy Orange

8. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple

10. Beloved, Toni Morrison

11. My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

12. Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

13. French Exit, Patrick deWitt

14. Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield

15. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

Paperback nonfiction

1. The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery

2. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

3. Calypso, David Sedaris

4. How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan

5. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

6. Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

8. How to See, Thich Nhat Hanh

10. Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer

11. My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

12. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown

13. The Mueller Report, The Washington Post

14. Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Beth Macy

15. You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero