Staff Picks & Choice Reads

At Seaport Books we believe everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes when it comes to authors. In other words, we don’t judge a reader by her/his cover. Here are a few of the diverse titles and genres picked by our crew. We’ve also included titles suggested by our beloved customers. Happy Reading!

Choice Books to Put You in an Artistic Frame of Mind

In the Valley of Mystic Light, Claire Swedberg. A history of the arts in Skagit Valley.
The Barn Shows 1987-2003, Lavone Newell-Reim. In their own words.
Looking at Indian Art of the Pacific Northwest, Hilary Stewart
Northwest Coast Indian Art, Bill Holm

Authors Sure to Warm Your Heart

Anne Tyler, The Blue Thread, An Accidental Tourist
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge, Olive Again
Timothy Egan, The Good Rain, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher
Beatriz Williams, Our Woman in Moscow, Across the Infinite Sea
Craig Johnson, Cold Dish, and the rest of the Longmire series.
Amor Towles, Rules of Civility, A Gentleman in Moscow

Artful Children’s Book

Kobi Yomada, Gabriella Barouch, Maybe. (A thoughtful look at why we are here.)
Peter Van den Ende, The Wanderer. (No words. You tell the story.)
Susie Brooks, Amanda Enright, Aesop’s Fables. (Seven favorites in lovely contemporary
language and illustrations.)
National Geographic, The Encyclopedia of Animals. (Photographic collages and levels

Be sure to check out more suggestions on our Young Readers page for the children in your life.

i-read-The right book can bring us new adventures and guide us out into nature. Books give us new ways of looking at the world and at our place in it. We have gardening books, biography and fiction that lets us see ourselves from the outside as other see us, and gives us a good look at the inside of others.

LOVED BY OUR CUSTOMERS:

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sandker. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelly Estes. Reading Seattle: The City in ProseThree Sides WaterClara and Merritt all authored by Peter Donahue. The Broken Earth Series (fantasy) by N. K. Jemison, So You Want to Talk about Race? by Ijeoma Oluo (Seattle author), Inevitable: The 12 Technological Forces by Kevin Kelly.

STAFF PICKS & REVIEWS:

Can you imagine Mozart walking by a pet shop and hearing a bird chirping a melody he wrote? Can you imagine him NOT going in to investigate? Talk about an intriguing and fun premise. In Mozart’s Starling, local author, Lyanda Lynn Haupt takes the reader on an exploratory journey that delights and surprises. Even if you’ve never walked down Graben, Haupt does a masterful job of transporting you to the streets of Vienna and the era that Mozart lived there. With her own starling, Carmen, by her side (or on her shoulder), she treats us to the story of Mozart’s pet and illustrates details about this species that will have you applauding. The duality of her writing mirrors Mozart’s compositions which were both simplistic and complex depending on the audience. What makes birds imitate sounds? Do they really live in slow motion? What do they teach us? “To wander paths, nibble purslane, notice spiders. To be rained upon. To listen with changed ears and sing back what we hear.” Thank you, Ms. Haupt. Here’s to singing back! 

downloadWhat’s not to love about clouds? They come in all shapes and sizes, provide free sky entertainment and can be viewed from a window or a hill and on land, sea and air. Some of THE best books about clouds are by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. An Oxford grad and UK resident, Gavin started the Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS) which now boasts over 50k members worldwide. His expertise has been featured on NPR, OPB and a variety of science platforms. A Cloud A Day offers 365 photos from CAS members around the globe illustrating all 10 main cloud categories along with their 7 variations, 8 accessory types, 11 supplemental clouds and another 10 optical effects (really smashing ones like sun pillars and iridescence). Perfect for all levels of cloudspotting from beginning to seasoned spotter. You’ll love the photos and the message: Keep Looking Up! 

IMG-2985“There are an estimated 70 sextillion (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars spread out over 2 trillion (2,000,000,000,000) galaxies in all the space we can possibly see (the ‘observable universe’).” Wow. Try wrapping your head around that one! If anyone can help shine some light into black holes and beyond it’s award-winning astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith. And she does it in such a warm and witty way that you will actually read this book with an awe inspired smile vs a frustrated frown. The Secret Life of Stars – Astrophysics for Everyone provides fact based and utterly amazing information on everything from SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) findings to constellation stats to R136a1 (Ray for short) and beyond. The types of stars alone will have you mesmerized – red dwarfs, cannibals, enigmas, giants, self-destructors – it truly is a limitless array of facts that seem like fiction. Perhaps the most awesome part of the author’s message is how very connected we are to each and every star. The ones we can see with the naked eye (about 3k) and the ones we can’t – the other trillion billion. Thank you, Lisa, for taking your backyard, wide-eyed young girl fascination for stars and growing it into a lifelong study and teaching about our cosmic family. This compact hardcover book is perfect for adults and young adults and easily slips into a travel bag or glove compartment. 

wp-1606847896424.jpgThere is no easy way to talk about caring for elderly parents. The trials and tribulations that unfold almost daily could cause a holy man to run for the hills. All the more reason why The Gift of Caring by award winning author, Marcy Houle, is a must read. If you have ever, are now or will be caring for your parents, read this book. If you are in the health or senior care industry, read this book. If you are a senior citizen, read this book. And keep a notepad (along with tissues) handy. There are SO many noteworthy moments as the author provides up close and personal accounts of caring first her retired physician father and later her mother. You’ll be stunned, angered, baffled and heartsick over much of what she and her parents endure. But don’t give up. As in life, alongside the pain there is promise. The hopeful message here is revealed slowly but most assuredly. It includes the reaffirming truth that as much as we fear it, death can bring a peaceful return to beloved memories. It confirms that once we learn how to practice self-care, we are better able to detach from the worry and pain. It is then that we can honor the process of letting go and allow our hearts to feel the love once more. And that is the treasure and gift of caring. 

Recognizing that her journey is one undergone by thousands of others on a daily basis, the author brilliantly shares these chapters with an expert from the medical profession. Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, MD, MPH, director of geriatrics and cofounder of the OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance, provides answers and explanations in relatable, concrete terms. You’ll get resources, definitions and suggestions for coping with the myriad of challenges in elderly care – ‘little green men’ and GICU anyone? You have a comrade in Marcy and a coach in Dr. Eckstrom. What a perfect team. Most of all, if you love a happy ending … you have a book for keeps.

Winner of the national Christopher Award – presented to the producers, directors, and writers of books, films and television specials that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit”.  Scroll down to read reviews of other works by Marcy Houle. Click here to read more about the author. 

wp-1605390722874.jpgShallow Waters and Midnight Beach by Kay Jennings. Feels like the perfect time for a shadowy trip to the Oregon coast. Enter the Port Sterling Mystery series. Start with Shallow Waters where you’ll be introduced to the town’s new sheriff and the creepy murder case that greets him. “They are human bite marks, I believe,” said Dr. Ryder. “I’ll want to call in our DMD to confirm, but the impressions are pretty deep. Someone bit her repeatedly, and they were serious about it.” Talk about a tempting read. Midnight Beach finds the savvy sheriff with another gruesome murder to solve (a beheaded victim). This time everyone from the FBI to the Coast Guard get involved to track down the killer and whoever else is tied in to the drug and human trafficking connected to the murder. Suffice to say they get their man in the end – or is it a woman? Both books are easy, weekend reads that won’t disappoint in character or plot. Grab a cup of whatever and curl up for some genuine coastal vibe whodunit entertainment. Read more about local author Kay Jennings in our Meet the Author section. 

Prairie-KeepersThe Prairie Keepers, Secrets of the Zumwalt by Marcy Cottrell Houle. Isn’t it amazing how a book can pick you up and transport you (and any worries you’re carrying) to a new place? If you weren’t a fan after her Wings for My Flight (see below), you will be with this read. Once again, the author faces daunting challenges. This time we journey back to 1979 and her first assignment in the Zumwalt Prairie. Poetic descriptions of wild lupine and Indian paintbrush appear alongside the frustrations and fears (including a hair raising episode of being chased by a bull). Skeptical townsfolk, too many chiefs, assorted male egos, ranchers seemingly against the prairie and any efforts to preserve the buteo hawks … what’s a young female biologist to do? There’s humor and heartache as well as triumph.  You’ll close this book feeling enlightened, inspired and more understanding of Mother Nature and the importance of caring for her creatures. Well done, Marcy and thanks for the ride! Read more about this award winning Northwest author.

wings-for-my-flightWings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock by Marcy Cottrell Houle. Even if you know nothing about falcons, Chimney Rock, the Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – you are going to be in awe of the author. What this 21-year old, fresh out of college female (in a field dominated by men), encountered and endured in the summer of ‘75 reads like an adventure novel. We’re talking hostile townsfolk, sweltering heat, stark living conditions, accidents, a scary dentist (creepiest part for me), criminal activity and even the F.B.I. The author shares her experiences in such an honest, unassuming way – you’re rooting for her right from the start. Marcy’s obvious love and devotion to the mission behind her work and the admiration she gains through her diligence and fortitude is inspiring and heartwarming. I think you’ll agree – the peregrines aren’t the only stars of this book. Enjoy! Read more about Marcy and her other books in our Meet the Author segment.

download“When we heal ourselves, we heal the world. For as the body is only as healthy as its individual cells, the world is only as healthy as its individual souls.” That’s just one of the hundreds of entries  that you’ll be tagging to reflect back upon. Welcome to the 20th Anniversary of The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Living the Life You Have. Mark Nepo’s #1 York Times Bestseller holds a treasure map for anyone thirsty to explore this human experience. Written in the format of guidance for each day of the year, Nepo – a beloved teacher, poet and spiritual guide – also presents a simple exercise to coincide with that day’s wisdom. Honoring all faiths and traditions, his words embrace the heart and light within rather than dogma. It is a book that will comfort, encourage and help strengthen readers at any stage of life. And one that you will come back to over and over again. 

OF NOTE:  Be sure to add local author, Cate Schultz’s book Soul Primer to your list. Beautifully written and illustrated and a wonderful guide for those on the path to happiness – one lesson at a time.

PhotoGrid_1580493863469You don’t have to be a rower to be absolutely blown away by this book. A Pearl in the Storm, Tori McClure’s true story of her solo journey across the Atlantic in a rowboat, is written so boldly and beautifully you will find it hard to put down and hard to leave behind. Faced with unimaginable odds, the author conquers one life threatening moment after the next. Hurricanes, rotted food, injuries, flooding … and the constant wrestling with emotions both past and present. This is a mesmerizing, epic tale told in very human and real terms. You will cry and cheer more than once. “In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing.”  

download“Maybe insanity will not change to wisdom and a focus on the common good anytime soon, but I can bring less hate to the pot of stone soup, the common well, less of my unbaked cake batter. More rosemary, more carrots.” What’s not to love about Anne Lamott? In Almost Everything – Notes on Hope, the bestselling author shares more of her musings on life, love, grief and the wisdom within us. From the children in her writing class to the aging of friends, Lamott brings her nuggets of discovery up to the surface to share with us. Everyone, every situation can be a teacher. The devastating fires in California. A friend’s suicide. Political chaos. The sharp criticism of parents still ringing in our ears. Life is not easy and, in fact, can feel overwhelmingly difficult and harsh. Arriving at the core of our starry selves, however, we find the truth needed to carry on. Empathy, acceptance, grace. Thank you, Anne, for providing a contemporary, gentle reminder that love is always the answer. 

content (1)Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White. Now a resident of the San Juan Islands, Jonathan White has given us an awe-inspiring non-fiction literary classic. Tides is a blending of science, history, and storytelling. He captures the spirit of the ocean and its tides by sailing, surfing, diving, and meticulous study, throughout his life. Every boater, every person who lives near saltwater, every person who ever stood on an ocean beach will love this masterful work. It is simply unparalleled. We are very proud to call Jonathan White a local author.

contentThe Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. Not only for music lovers, but all music lovers will find a place in their heart and memory for this music shop. Rachel Joyce brings each character to life – they are simply unforgettable. Frank has the uncanny ability to prescribe just the music you need. This story is contemporary, funny, and tender. You just might recognize Frank’s neighborhood and wish to move there. I know I did. The Music Shop is a lovely story. Rachel Joyce also wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

images (1)Seaport Books is pleased to introduce you to By the Shore: Explore the Pacific Northwest Coast Like a Local by author Nancy Blakey. Just published by Sasquatch Press this book is a keeper. It is a guide book, a cookbook, a camping manual, chock full of excellent ideas. What a good housewarming gift it will make. Warning: You better buy two so you can keep one! This book is not a picture of nature. It is a gentle guide into experiencing all of the wonders of our beautiful Salish Sea.

The Wood for the TreesThe Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood by Richard Fortey. Journey to Oxfordshire, England and explore the wonders of wooded Chiltren Hills. Magical, inspiring, surprising and educational – Fortey takes you month by month through the trails and timbers of his four acres of forest. I love how the author traces the grand history of the land alongside the minute details of resident beetles, ferns, moths and fungi. Don’t let the fact that Fortey is an award winning scientist and retired senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London scare you. He writes with a soft sense of humor and a humble respect for nature and all its gifts. Speaking of gifts, the beautifully embossed cover makes this a perfect gift choice that friends will love to display.

51YCzUi5OJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This is an exceptionally GOOD STORY – from beginning to the very end. The book is well written with superb character development and poignant insight into human nature. To me, it was delicious! It spans 30 years in the Metropol Hotel after the Bolshevik revolution; with spy vs. spy, irresistible friendships, wisdom, romance and humor. 

 

51511615Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. This is the story of racism in America especially as it effects the court system. Picoult exposes many shades of racism though her characters in this novel. The main character, a 44 year old Labor and Delivery nurse, is charged with murdering the newborn son of a neo-Nazi couple. It is a courtroom drama unlike any I have ever experienced through reading. This book will fire an excellent discussion at book clubs across the country if given a chance. And isn’t this the reason we read literature — to experience life that is beyond us? The title is taken from Martin Luther King Junior’s quote: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small great things.” It is being made into a movie with Julia Roberts, but then what isn’t? 

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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. Through the loving efforts of author Douglas Abrams who acts as co-author, guide and interviewer, we get up close and personal with Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama as they meet and spend a week together. Knowing that this may very well be their last time together (the trip had to be postponed several times due to ill health), their conversations feel even more a privilege to share in. Just how do these two icons find peace in an increasingly troubled world? What message of hope can they give to us? The answers will inspire and delight and expand your heart. Yes. These are incredibly brave, intelligent and respected leaders but they are also human beings with flaws and needs. Their candor and humor will bring tears to your eyes and laughter to your soul. A truly enriching treasure of a read. 

ob hpWestern Washington University has selected Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements as the Western Reads book for the 2018-2019 academic year. The book is a compilation of short stories written by a diverse group of activists, artists, poets, and organizers involved in building movements for social change. Edited by Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown. Read more about the current book choice. Or click here to read about their  2017-18 book selectionTulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community by Harriette Shelton Dover.

octopusThe Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. “Here is an animal that has venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange.” Treat yourself to this best seller and fall in love, as the author did, with one of the planet’s most amazing creatures. You may not have 3 hearts as the octopus does, but yours will certainly be expanded by meeting Athena, Kali and Octavia. I love this book! Makes a perfect gift, too.  Read how a book reviewer discovered our store and fell in love with this book!

bookMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Everything it says on the back cover is true! Robin Sloan has written a fascinating, warm, intelligent, suspenseful, fun story.  I sincerely hope you finish this book well after midnight on some weeknight and say the same. 

 

book coverGoing to Pieces – The Dismantling of the United States of America by Elaine Devery Willman. Any bookstore worth its salt is going to offer titles that stimulate conversation even when the topic is a controversial one. And here’s a book that has been stirring up heated debates since its debut. Originally written as a documentary companion to the author’s tribal land road trip in 2005; the content wasn’t made available to the general public until 2011.  If you are a landowner, live near a casino, rent on tribal land or are curious as to what all the fuss is about; Willman presents a view that you may want to explore. Given recent hearings and headlines, the issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

dogsTherapy Dogs and The Stories They Tell by Diana Lee. A certified counselor and NW resident, Ms. Lee shares heartwarming and often surprising stories surrounding therapy dogs and their ability to aid in her work with clients. For the past fourteen years, the author has created a private practice using Brussels Griffons as therapy dogs. The emotional effect these dogs have on her clients will bring you laughter as well as tears. The stories demonstrate how dogs can bring us joy and help us to move forward in our lives. I invite you to read this delightful book. 

erik larsonDevil in the White City by Erik Larson. This Seattle master of historic nonfiction can do no wrong in my eyes. I love all his work but my being a native Chicagoan gives this 2003 entry a slight edge. Larson paints history with such an entertaining brush the reader is truly along for the ride. This time it’s dual portraits of a city preparing for the 1893 World’s Fair with its feats of architectural wonders alongside the methodical plotting and doings of the country’s first serial killer. Talk about a dynamic combination. Best enjoyed with deep dish Chicago style pizza stuffed with broccoli, walnuts and cheese.

Coming Relatively Soon To A Theater Near You: It appears the movie version will make it to the big screen after all. The rights were purchased by Leonardo DiCaprio in 2010 and production finally starts this year. Martin Scorsese to direct. Fingers crossed that they don’t dim the lights by playing up the gore factor. 

GUEST PICKS

july 25 2010At the age of 82, Arnold Ebneter set an aviation world record when he flew across the country in a plane he designed and built himself. Tomorrow marks the 7th Anniversary of that flight. In The Propeller Under The Bed, author, aviator and engineer, Eileen Bjorkman, shares the story of her father’s dream and what it was like for her growing up in a flying family. Thanks to our friend Jeromie from Seattle for recommending this read. A passionate pilot himself who flies out of the same air field in Snohomish, Jeromie reports that Arnold is a great guy to chat with and is still teaching people to fly. The book is on our shelves now. Here’s to dreams coming true at any age!

51V7cwOLvwL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_We love it when Seaport fans suggest books for us to carry like this “what if” from Portland authors Hays and McFall. Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road has been getting great reviews since its debut. It’s a wild ride of historic facts, fantasy and fun. Suggested by Pete from Shreveport, LA – just a few stops away from the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum. Thanks, Pete!