By Hilary Lawlor / Special to CHS
As a bookseller at one of the most famous bookstores in the country, the Elliott Bay Book Company, I see a lot of books come and go. It gets to the point where it seems overwhelming. How could anyone ever read all of these? What’s the point of writing anything, if the market is flooded with so many great choices? Well, the point of writing, and encouraging authors to continue to write, is that once in a while, a book appears that is so fantastic, so memorable, so great that it eclipses all the others, if only for a moment. This is my list of the books that came out in 2015 that I think accomplished that difficult feat.
- 15) Too High and Too Steep by David B. Williams
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the entire topography of downtown Seattle was reshaped. As hilly as Seattle-ites may think the city is now, the landscape was once much more varied, particularly in the downtown area. In Too High and Too Steep, WIlliams describes the processes that leveled Denny Hill and erased cliffs and tide flats from Seattle’s waterfront. He evokes the setting the way it used to be, and you won’t believe it now, but you might wish you could have seen a hillier Seattle.
- 14) Stories in the Stars by Susanna Hislop
In this beautiful volume, Hislop combines beautifully designed illustrations of constellations with page-long histories concerning the legends behind them. Or sometimes, when they’re not interesting enough, she makes up new ones, and her prose is warm, funny, and engaging. After laying out Hercules’s to-do list (including items like “Snatch Hippolyte’s snazzily-decorated girdle” and “Go to Crete and deal with a white bull”), for instance, she includes a note-to-self at the bottom: “Urgent: Buy Life Insurance.”
- 13) Seattle City of Literature: Reflections from a Community of Writers
In this awesome book from local publisher Sasquatch Books, several of Seattle’s best-known writers combined their powers to create Captain Planet a work that embodies the history of literature and growth in this great city. Advertised as a “bookish history of Seattle,” the little red paper-over-board volume boasts essays and stories from the likes of Tom Robbins, Sonora Jha, Garth Stein, Frances McCue, and Karen Finneyfrock, among many others. Pick this one up if you want to feel a little bit more connected to the ground beneath your feet, or at least to the history behind it. Continue reading