Shrill by Lindy West

Former Stranger writer Lindy West’s essay collection is—much like its subtitle, Notes from a Loud Woman—an outspoken, brazenly feminist, and funny examination of fat shaming, internet trolling, and coming of age. But don’t let the volume level distract: West is adroit as hell, constantly dispatching wise and nuanced turns of thought and phrase.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Seattle satirist Maria Semple’s breakthrough novel is a flurry of contemporary, epistolary wit. Passive aggressive e-mail threads, report cards, personal-assistant bills—all converge in a biting look at Queen Anne’s chard-growing, Microsoft-employed privilege. Let it stand as testament: We don’t all take ourselves that seriously.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Snagging comparisons to Unbroken, Brown’s non-fiction saga tells the unlikely story of the University of Washington men’s row team, which competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and beat out Hitler’s German rowing crew. The Boys in the Boat is a triumph of sportsmanship, of local history, and of story-telling from a local author.

Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch

This sweeping novel examines the inciting incident of Seattle’s futurism: the 1962 World Fair, which gave us the Space Needle. The book bounces between the Fair and a plot about a journalist in 2001 investigating Roger Morgan, the Fair’s mastermind who’s now running for mayor. Through that, Lynch charts the rise of a city and its accompanying travails.

Black Hole by Charles Burns

In this graphic novel, a mysterious STI creeps through a Seattle suburb’s teenagers in the 1970s. The infected grow a tail, or maybe webbing between their fingers; then people start dying. Burns’s stark, nearly Rorschachian illustrations remind us that the region has a spooky past—and horror is rarely far from our art. 

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