The Best Books about Seattle

Updated: May 31, 2017

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The Best Books Set In and About Seattle

Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s something in the water, but there’s something about Seattle that inspires both writers and readers alike. (We may be the only city that has a best-selling action figure modeled after a beloved city librarian.) Consistently ranked among the nation’s most literate urban centers, Seattle’s neighborhood sidewalks are dotted with “little free libraries,” and our public library’s central branch is a vast architectural masterpiece that is nothing less than a shrine to literacy. Simply put, we’re book crazy here.

The Best Seattle Fiction

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain: A NovelGarth Stein
    A heart-filled and canine-narrated tale of love, loss, redemption, and hope. See also Stein’s A Sudden Light, Raven Stole the Moon, and How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets.
  • Blueprints of the AfterlifeRyan Boudinot
    A darkly funny and mind-bending sci-fi story of technology and its human counterpart in post-apocalyptic Seattle.
  • BoneshakerCherie Priest
    Mad inventors, pirates, and wild west zombies abound in this swashbuckling steampunk alternate-reality tale set in 1880’s Seattle.
  • Broken for YouStephanie Kallos
    An elderly Seattle recluse takes in a young woman with a mysterious past in this compelling story about chosen families and the healing power of friendship.
  • DisclosureMichael Crichton
    A taut psychological thriller revolving around an accusation of sexual harassment in 1990’s corporate Seattle.
  • Firefly LaneKristen Hannah
    A heartwarming coming-of-age tale and story of true friendship, spanning three decades in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetJamie Ford
    Poignant coming of age tale set in 1940’s Seattle amid the racial tensions of WWII and Japanese-American internment. See also Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost.
  • Indian KillerSherman Alexie
    A Native-American serial murderer terrorizes Seattle, seeking vengeance for the crimes against his people.
  • Long for This WorldMichael Byers
    Richly-told story of a geneticist wrestling with an ethical dilemma, and finding comfort in his family – set in late 1990s Seattle.
  • Madison House: A NovelPeter Donahue
    The future of modern-day Seattle hangs in the balance as a group of disenfranchised boardinghouse residents attempt to hold back the re-grading of Denny Hill in the early 1900’s.
  • No-No BoyJohn Okada
    A young Japanese-American man faces imprisonment and community resentment when he refuses to pledge allegiance to the country that has interned him.
  • Set This House in Order: A Romance of SoulsMatt Ruff
    Science Fiction meets psychological thriller meets romance in this dark but touching story of two people with multiple personality disorder who fall in love. Set in Seattle.
  • Snow Falling on CedarsDavid Guterson
    A haunting and evocative account of a murder trial, set in an isolated Puget Sound island in the 1950’s.
  • Still Life with WoodpeckerTom Robbins
    Zany and philosophical, sexy and psychedelic – an oddball love story by one of Seattle’s best-loved authors.
  • Truth Like the SunJim Lynch
    Political cat-and-mouse between a modern-day journalist and a mastermind of the 1962 World’s Fair.
  • Until Proven GuiltyJ.A. Jance
    The first installment in a popular murder mystery series featuring J.P. Beaumont, an old-school and unconventional Seattle homicide detective.
  • WaxwingsJonathan Raban
    A British expat and a Chinese immigrant navigate an unlikely friendship during Seattle’s turn of the millennium dot-com boom.
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A NovelMaria Semple
    This sharp and satirical family comedy joyfully skewers modern Seattle and its eco-conscious, craftsman-home-loving, Microsoft-working denizens. See also Semple’s Today Will Be Different.
  • Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?G.M. Ford
    A wisecracking Seattle sleuth and a group of alcoholic vagrants attempt to retrieve a mob-boss’s daughter from the clutches of an environmental cult.
  • Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a FistSunil Yapa
    The fates of seven disparate strangers are altered during the dramatic and history-making 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.
  • The Best Seattle Non-Fiction

    The Best Seattle Young Adult Fiction

    • Adios, NirvanaConrad Wesselhoeft
      A gifted young man is supported by poetry, music, and his friends as he struggles with survivor’s guilt in the wake of his twin brother’s death.
    • Don’t Breathe A WordHolly Cupala
      A 16 year old girl escapes an abusive boyfriend and lives as a runaway on the streets of Seattle.
    • Five Flavors of DumbAntony John
      Heart-filled story of a deaf high school senior who agrees to manage her school’s ultra-popular rock band.
    • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer Series)Lish McBride
      A sweet and funny paranormal series about a Seattle teen who discovers he has the power to raise the dead.
    • The Nature of JadeDeb Caletti
      An anxious 18 year old girl falls for a handsome and secretive single father while working with the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo.
    • The Twilight SeriesStephanie Meyer
      Vampires, werewolves, and the Pacific Northwest. Most of the series is set in Forks, a small town on the Olympic Penninsula.

    The Best Seattle Books for Middle-Grade Readers

    • The Boxcar Children Mysteries: The Seattle PuzzleGertrude Chandler Warner
      The Alden children vacation in Seattle and solve a mystery as they sightsee.
    • Dear America: The Fences Between UsKirby Larson
      Set in early 1940’s Seattle, a young girl’s life is turned upside down after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the internment of her Japanese-American neighbors.
    • Hannah West SeriesLinda Johns
      A plucky, 12-year-old amateur sleuth solves mysteries in various Seattle neighborhoods.
    • Jackie’s Wild SeattleWill Hobbs
      Shannon, age 14, and her younger brother, Cody, spend the summer in Seattle with their animal-rescuing uncle.
    • Our Only May AmeliaJennifer Holm
      The adventures of a headstrong girl in a family of Finnish immigrants in 1890’s Washington State.
    • Ruby Lu, Brave and TrueLenore Look & Anne Wilsdorf
      The first in a series of books about a spunky, Asian-American eight-year-old living in Seattle. See also Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything and Ruby Lu, Star of the Show.

    • DashKirby Larson
      A fifth-grade girl and her dog are separated as her family is moved from Seattle to a WWII Japanese-American Internment camp.

    The Best Seattle Picture Books

    The Best Seattle Coloring and Activity Books

    See Also

    The Best Hotels in Seattle
    The Best Restaurants in Seattle
    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Seattle With Kids: The 51 Best Things to Do
    What’s On in Seattle: Seattle Events and Festivals

    16 questions and comments

    1. Seattle Book Recommendations

      For middle readers may I suggest:
      Ruby Lu, Brave and True (and other Ruby Lu books) by Lenore Look
      and Dash by Kirby Larson

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        These are great suggestions – My elementary-aged daughter read and really enjoyed Dash earlier this year. Thanks for the reminder to get it on the list!

    2. Best General History on Seattle

      Hi! I’m looking for a good book on the general history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region. Are there any in particular that you’d recommend over others? Thanks in advance,

      Mel

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        Hi Mel,

        I’ve got two suggestions for you: The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History is a fantastic resource – comprehensive and easy to read, though it’s now out of print and can be difficult to find. My personal favorite, however, is The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a wonderful and well-written blend of history, geography, anthropology, and politics by one of the region’s very best authors.

        Happy reading!

    3. Help Remembering a Book?

      When I was in 4th grade at Crown Hill Elementary School my teacher, Miss Solveig Lee, used to read to us every day. I’m trying to find a book she read to us about Seattle, I do remember “the Denny boys”, Asa Mercer, etc being in the story. I used to wonder who, in the book, might have been Jason, Joshua or Jeremy Bolt, from the TV show Here Come the Brides. I guess I kind of reversed that. ;o). I’m wondering if anyone can help me figure out what the book might be called. It was read to us in the early 1970’s, probably was not new. I would love to read it again, and read it to my granddaughter when she is old enough. Thank you in advance–I love your lists here!

      Jana V.

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        Thanks, Jana!

        I’m wondering if the book you’re thinking of might be Murray Morgan’s Skid Road. One of the most classic and bestselling books on Seattle history, it was originally published in 1951. And while it’s not written primarily for children, it would certainly be suitable for them. One Amazon reviewer recalls the author visiting their grade school in the 1960s, and another remembers the book being a part of their Kitsap High School curriculum.

        It could also be Sons of the Profits, by Bill Speidel. This popular book continues to be a best-seller as far as Seattle history goes (helped along by promotions at Speidel’s popular Underground Tour in Pioneer Square), and is now in it’s 19th edition. It was originally published in 1967.

        If the book you’re remembering was written primarily for children, I’m afraid that nothing of that sort comes to mind for me. Hopefully another reader will be able to help you out. Good luck!

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        You’re so welcome, Gregg –thank you for documenting such a fascinating bit of local history!

    4. Vicki Says:

      Thanks for this list. I own three of these, two of which I’ve read. I spent 16 months living in Seattle and my son has lived there for quite a few years now. It’s a wonderful city and WA is a beautiful state. It looks like my Goodreads TBR will have some new books added.

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        Thanks, Vicki! I agree that we are quite spoiled here in Seattle and WA State – not only in scenery and landscape, but in literature as well! If you find any others that you feel should be added to the list, come back and let me know. (I’m always looking to add to my Goodreads list, as well!)

      1. Seattle AnneSeattle Anne Post author

        Thank you, Jamie!

        I’m a big fan of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and am so pleased to be able to recommend it to others.

        If you have ideas for other Seattle books you’d recommend for this list, send them along – I’m always looking for suggestions.

        Thanks again!

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