King County is giving Seattleites an excuse to talk to each other with a new Books on the Bus initiative—a quarterly book club for metro riders designed to support local authors and bookstores (and get us to practice making eye contact).

To join, just grab a copy of the first book club selection, Hotel Angeline, the collaborative effort of 36 Northwest authors (including The Art of Racing in the Rain‘s Garth Stein and Pulitzer winner William Dietrich) who tag-teamed on a 60,000-word novel and finished it in six days. The end result is…wait. I’m going to save my thoughts for book club.

Step two: Take Hotel Angeline on your commute. Feel good knowing that half the proceeds from book sales supports local literacy nonprofits Powerful Schools and 826 Seattle. And don’t be afraid to chat up your bus neighbor if you see them holding a copy of the novel. Admittedly, e-readers make this all a little tricky, but there will be plenty of opportunities to talk plot points and character development at meetups across the county and at the end-of-quarter event hosted by Transportation Choices.

The majority of future book club picks will have a Northwest angle, either written by a local or set in the region, with selections made by a group Oprah that includes members of Transportation Choices Coalition, King County Metro, Richard Hugo House, the King County library system, and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. And even though Fifty Shades of Grey is set in Seattle, I don’t think it’s on the short list. For more info (or to suggest a good read) visit

Speaking of Oprah: She picked Spokane native Jess Walter’s new novel Beautiful Ruins for her summer reading list.

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