Summer’s over in Seattle: it’s gone all cool and drizzly except sometimes, I now want to eat things with lots of cinnamon, and I turned in my Book Bingo card. I didn’t quite make it to a full Blackout this year by the Labor Day deadline, alas, but got a couple bingos in there. Here’s a rundown of what I read (typed, to save you from my squinting at my handwriting and saying “huh…?”) with quick thumbs up thumbs down recommendations.


Recommended by a Librarian: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (a really interesting read)

Cookbook: Summer Squash by Sarah Baird (a fun little cookbook with totally yummy-sounding recipes)

You’ve Been Meaning to Read: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (a must-read)

From Your Childhood: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I had forgotten just how lovely every sentence of that book is, still very much a deserved classic)

Set a Place You’ve Always Wanted to Visit: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (beautiful, slim novel, that made me see some of the beauty of mathematics while talking about people, and/or vice-versa)

Recommended by an Independent Bookstore: Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell (as promised by Seattle Mystery Bookshop, a really singular main character. Has just a pinch of debut novel plot problems towards the end, but a great read anyway)

Collection of Poetry: When Sky Lets Go by Madeline DeFrees (First collection of hers I’ve actually read —glad I finally got around to it since I’ve known of her forever. Some really great poems in this.)

Young Adult Book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore (I didn’t think it was all that great, am not interested in reading more of the series. It was no Alanna: The First Adventure!)

Non-Fiction: The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen R. and Anthony R. Palumbi (highly recommend: fascinating survey of fascinating ocean lifeforms. Great for compiling cool facts to share during lulls in cocktail party conversation, and/or using as metaphors in poems).

Novel: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (SERIOUSLY THE BEST NOVEL I HAVE READ IN A REALLY LONG TIME MAYBE EVER YEAH PRETTY MUCH EVER. Ignore the terrible and terribly misleading (U.S. version anyway) cover and go read it right now. Amazing novel of friendship, and so well written. I haven’t done the rest of the series yet; I have a little fantasy plan to take a beachside vacation someday soon and read all 3 of the rest in one big chunk. I hated having to put the book down and leave its world to deal with my regular life)

Local Author: Before the Wind by Jim Lynch (Set in the NW and on/around sailboats and their makers. Starts off strong, then faltered a little and almost lost me, but was amazing by the end and I’m glad I read it)

Written by a SAL Speaker: Life on Mars by Traci K. Smith (no wonder it won the Pulitzer for poetry in 2012. Highly recommend).

Reread: Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks (another must-read I’ve mentioned before. I’m enjoying my new annual tradition of reading it cover to cover).

You Finish Reading in a Day: Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon (part of my erasure poems obsession this summer, he does some pretty cool things with it)

Read Out Loud: A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle (another part of my erasure poems obsession, definitely worth checking out if the form is of any interest to you)

Out of Your Comfort Zone: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (what a ridiculous book! Did keep me turning the pages though, and at least now I get the cultural references to it…)

Memoir: Negroland by Margo Jefferson (highly recommend/must-read, and a fascinating memoir+history form. Bonus: short chapters/sections, so although it’s absorbing, it’s also easy to read when you don’t have lots of long stretches of time at once to do so)

Written More than 100 Years Ago: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (I love the style of novels from that era, but my god the titular Madame is a tiresome woman)

Recommended by a Friend: Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brian (a ‘comfort food’ re-read, and the friendship of Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin and the era details are just as enjoyable as ever.)