Elementary, My Dear
With over 15,000 books encompassing the broad genre of mystery—suspense, thriller, true crime—you might feel overwhelmed at Pioneer Square’s Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Relax, and just ask for Fran. The former English teacher and big-time crime-novel buff makes an art out of helping hungry readers hunt for suspense thrillers and humorous tomes about scandalous blackmail schemes. Ask her about the one with the twin cops—one half vampire, one half werewolf. It’s a page-turner. Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 117 Cherry St, Pioneer Square, 206-587-5737; www.seattlemystery.com
Coloring Books

Comic-book fanatics were psyched when their favorite local publisher (as in the one that issued Ghost World) opened Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Georgetown. True to the alterna-lit genre’s seriously fun vibe and the boho-industrial nabe, the space is a library for story-arc addicts and a gallery for graphics geeks and DIY design aesthetes. Two small rooms in back house multilingual, vintage, and erotic collections; go for Popeye in Swedish or some artful adult-only funnies. Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery, 1201 S Vale St, Georgetown, 206-658-0110; www.fantagraphics.com

 

Being There
When sifting through the multitude of mini tour books, pocket maps, oversize atlases, and soup-to-nuts restaurant guides at Wide World Books and Maps in Wallingford, take a moment to examine the smaller yet significant selection of destination-specific historical fiction and worldly biographies. Reading personal accounts of living with AIDS in Africa or the autobiography of a young Russian soldier fighting in Chechnya put you squarely in the zone—and they might even save you the trip. Wide World Books and Maps, 4411A Wallingford Ave N, Wallingford, 206-634-3453; www.wideworldtravels.com

 

Inner Peace
Are Seattleites especially prone to existential crises, or does it just seem that way? You might consider asking shop manager Linda Shields at Quest -Bookshop, which doubles as the local branch of the Theosophical Society. They’re used to folks pondering the meaning of the universe, but you can also start small by picking up an astrology primer or a pack of tarot cards. For those brand new to the spirituality question, there’s even The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Buddhism. Quest Bookshop, 717 Broadway E, Capitol Hill, 206-323-4281; www.seattle-ts.org

 

Reel to Real
Just down the street from the giant assortment of classic, blockbusting, and otherwise important films at Scarecrow Video is Cinema Books, where cinephiles shop for director bios, making-of tomes, and bound scripts to go with the flicks they just picked up. The not-entirely-kempt collection also includes oversize picture books, tell-alls about last century’s child stars, and a slew of how-tos, including one on surviving Hollywood. (Rule number one: It’s all about who you know; make friends fast.) Cinema Books, 4753 Roosevelt Way NE, University District, 206-547-7667; www.cinemabooks.net