Newcomer's Handbook Seattle

A Seattle Reading List


  • Classic Houses of Seattle: High Style to Vernacular, 1870-1950 by Caroline T. Swope; covering the architectural styles and history of Seattle homes, from mansions to cottages.
  • National Trust Guide Seattle: America’s Guide for Architecture and History Travelers by Walt Crowley; in-depth guide to the famous and not so famous landmarks and buildings in Seattle, including maps and photographs.
  • Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner; traces the history of Seattle’s architecture through biographies of the area’s best-known architects. Many famous Seattle buildings and houses are profiled in this book.
  • Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown by Maureen R. Elenga; divided into nine tours, this guidebook begins at Pioneer Square and ends at the Seattle Center.


  • Chihuly by Donald Kuspit; a look at the career of internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly in a coffee table–sized book full of stunning photos.
  • A Field Guide to Seattle’s Public Art edited by Steven Huss, contains five self-guided tours of Seattle’s best-known public artworks, as well as essays by artists, writers, and historians.
  • Seattle, Washington: A Photographic Portrait by Roger L. Johnson; the photographs of Seattle and the Puget Sound region are a visual feast of landscapes, people, and architecture.


  • Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging by Gary Atkins; tells the stories of the gay community in Seattle and its trials and triumphs over the last century.
  • Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way by Jim Diers; provides stories and practical methods for building stronger communities and citizen activists.
  • Seattle’s International District by Doug Chin; chronicles the experiences of the diverse waves of immigrants who settled in this culturally rich neighborhood.

Family and Pets

  • Best Hikes with Dogs in Western Washington by Dan Nelson; a useful guide to the region’s most dog-friendly trails, published by The Mountaineers.
  • Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton; an essential hiking guide for parents, this book describes day hikes and overnighters suitable for the entire family.
  • Bringing Out Baby: Seattle and the Eastside: Places to Take Babies and Toddlers by Rebecca Johnston; addresses where to go with the under-three set.
  • The Dog Lovers’ Companion to the Pacific Northwest: The Inside Scoop on Where To Take Your Dog by Val Mallinson; using a “4 paws” rating system and Pick of the Litter lists, find the best places to take your canine companion.
  • Out and About Seattle with Kids: The Ultimate Family Guide for Fun and Learning by Ann Bergman; this handbook can help families who are new to Seattle become acquainted with the city and its child-friendly diversions and resources.


  • The Art of Deception by Ridley Pearson; the 2002 thriller featuring Seattle detective Lou Boldt. Earlier titles set in the Emerald City include Middle of Nowhere, The First Victim , and The Pied Piper.
  • Broken for Use by Stephanie Kaloos; the protagonist of this haunted tale of family conflict, secrets, and redemption is a divorced woman rattling around in a Seattle mansion after the death of her son. Seattle-based Kaloos is also the author of Sing Them Home.
  • Ed King by David Guterson; a reimagining of the Oedipus Rex story set in Seattle. This Bainbridge Island–based author also wrote the award-winning Snow Falling on Cedars and Our Lady of the Forest.
  • Firetrap: A Novel of Suspense by Earl W. Emerson; one of several mysteries by this author that take place in or around Seattle and feature firefighter sleuths. His previous series of books starring private eye Thomas Black still have a loyal following.
  • Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins; a woman is in crisis in this typical Robbins wild ride set in Seattle.
  • The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch; a 13-year-old boy’s life is changed in a surprising way one summer in this beautiful novel set in the south end of Puget Sound.
  • Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices; a group of Seattle writers gathered in Octo ber 2010 to write a novel in six days, each completing a chapter in two hours before a live audience. The result of this literary experiment is a remarkably cohesive story about 14-year-old Alexis who inherits the task of running a Seattle residential hotel after the death of her mother.
  • Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister; at a Seattle dinner party to celebrate a friend’s recovery from breast cancer, six women are challenged to face their own fears, with profound consequences.
  • Justice Denied by J. A. Jance; one in an 18-book series of mysteries featuring fictional Seattle detective J. P. Beaumont. Others include Long Time Gone, Breach of Duty, and Name Withheld.
  • The Living by Annie Dillard; this often heartrending novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek details the trials of several 19th-century European families who settled north of Seattle on Bellingham Bay.
  • Long for This World by Michael Byers; in the late 1990s a Seattle doctor must cope with a startling and world-changing discovery.
  • No Man’s Land by G. M. Ford; the fifth of a series following the investigative exploits of Seattle writer Frank Corso. Ford also wrote the successful Leo Waterman mystery novels about a Seattle private investigator.
  • War Dances by Sherman Alexie; winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, a compelling collection of short stories and poems by the author of Ten Little Indians, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and Reservation Blues.

Food & Dining

  • The Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle by Katy Calcott; a guide book to the city’s freshest greens, best baguettes, and surliest fishmongers.
  • Pike Place Market Cookbook: Recipes, Anecdotes, and Personalities from Seattle’s Renowned Public Market by Braiden Rex-Johnson; with a foreword by Tom Douglas, this little gem is part cookbook, part market history.
  • Savor Greater Seattle Cookbook: Seattle’s Finest Restaurants, Their Recipes, and Their Histories by Chuck and Blanche Johnson; a combination cookbook and travel book celebrating the area’s best restaurants.
  • Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen by Tom Douglas; Seattle’s favorite chef and owner of several restaurants shares some of his inspired recipes.
  • Zagat Survey: Seattle/Portland Restaurants; the annual edition of this indispensable survey will help you find the right restaurant for every occasion.


  • Before Seattle Rocked: A City and Its Music by Kurt E. Armbruster; a history of Seattle’s music scene from the 1890s to the 1960s.
  • Eccentric Seattle: Pillars and Pariahs Who Made the City Not Such a Boring Place After All by J. Kingston Pierce; an amusing romp through the characters and events of Seattle’s past.
  • Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music by Greg Prato; contains more than 130 interviews along with background history about the Seattle music scene and the evolution of great rock acts such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.
  • Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place by Coll Thrush; a study of the changing roles of native peoples in the urban history of Seattle.
  • Nisei Daughter by Monica Itoi-Stone; a Japanese-American woman’s story of a Seattle childhood interrupted by the WWII relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps. This book is standard reading in many Seattle classrooms.
  • Seattle and the Demons of Ambition by Fred Moody; a portrait of the city’s transformation beginning with the techno-boom of the late 1980s to the WTO riots (aka “The Battle of Seattle”) in 1999.
  • Skid Road by Murray Morgan; the now-famous account of early Seattle, from which the phrase “skid row” was coined.
  • Sons of the Profits by William Speidel; an irreverent history of the colorful characters who populated Seattle in its early days from 1851 to 1901.

Outdoor Guides

  • 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwestby Rich Landers; the “100 Hikes” series published by Mountaineers Books also includes 100 Hikes in Washington’s Alpine Lakes by Vicky Spring, 100 Hikes in Washington’s Glacier Peak Region , 100 Hikes in Washington’s North Cascades National Park Region, and 100 Hikes in Washington’s South Cascades and Olympics by Ira Spring.
  • Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound by Chris C. Fisher; essential field guide for Seattle bird watchers.
  • Nature in the City: Seattle: Walks, Hikes, Wildlife, Natural Wonders by Maria Dolan and Kathryn True; fact-filled guide to the sometimes surprising places to experience the great outdoors in an urban environment.
  • Outside Magazine’s Urban Adventure: Seattle by Maria Dolan; discover the best spots for kayaking, hiking, biking, rock climbing, winter sports and more.
  • Take a Walk: 110 Walks Within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound by Sue Muller Hacking; a guide to walks in a range of easily accessible natural settings throughout the Puget Sound area. This updated edition includes details about walk length and difficulty, disabled access, connecting trails, as well as information for birders.


  • The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists by Mike Gastineau, Art Thiel, and Steve Rudman; Gastineau, a local sports radio deejay, and two sportswriters bring Seattle’s sports history to life with this book of lists.
  • Notes from a 12 Man: A Truly Biased History of the Seattle Seahawks by Mark Tye Turner; a passionate and funny “fanoir,” covering the football team’s greatest victories and most shameful defeats.
  • Out of Left Field: How the Mariners Made Baseball Fly in Seattle by Art Thiel; from underdog team to the pride of a city, read about the rise of the Mariners.
  • Seattle Slew by Dan Mearns; a biography of the city’s most famous thoroughbred, from his Triple Crown glory to the illness that nearly took his life.
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