If you want to learn about a Seattle neighborhood, browse the shelves of its independent bookstores. Local bookstores succeed when they place the interests and aspirations of their neighbors over the fads and excesses of national bestseller lists. And every time we buy books from a neighborhood bookseller, we change the bookstore a little bit, too — we shape it to more closely reflect ourselves.
So what better way to understand what 2019 has meant for Seattle than to ask local bookstores for their neighborhood bestsellers — the books that haven’t necessarily dominated national or even Seattle-area bestseller lists, but which have captured the attention of their customers, their booksellers.
For dramatic evidence of how a bookstore reflects its neighborhood, look no further than Secret Garden Books. Suzanne Perry, the store’s event manager, says this year has continued “the sea change in the demographic shift of our Ballard neighborhood.” As Ballard has gotten younger, Perry says, “our sci-fi/fantasy section doubled in volume this year.” The star of this newly enhanced section is “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” by Marlon James. Perry says “key staff members fell in love” with the fantasy novel, which is heavily influenced by African history. “It’s continued to sell briskly through being shortlisted for a National Book Award in the fall, and we’re sure it will continue to lead the way during holiday shopping,” Perry says.
Across the Ballard Locks, Georgiana Blomberg, owner of Magnolia’s Bookstore, says a local birder has charmed the neighborhood. “Molly Hashimoto is a Seattle author who has visited our store several times” and is “beloved by our customers,” Blomberg says. “Her ‘Birds of the West’ was one of our top-selling books this year. It’s an artist’s guide to the illustration of birds, with her own woodcuts and watercolors throughout.”
For more neighborhood bookstores’ picks, read the full article here. Some hints: one will get you cooking, one will have you laughing out loud…