When we think of Seattle, we think of coffee, Microsoft, Pike Place Market, maybe even Nordstrom. But I also love Seattle for its great public library and book culture. I think I have visited the Seattle Public Library more than any out-of-town library in the world!!
Seattle is a UNESCO City of Literature, the second U.S. city to be given the honor. The Central Library is an institution that everyone—reader and non-reader—should have on their itinerary. It’s an 11-level glass-and-steel building that has the capacity to house over 1.5 million books. But that’s not the only reason Seattle is on this list.
The city has a civic poet. The program appoints a poet who engages with the community and serves as an ambassador for two years. The culturally-rich city has many centers for writers, including Hugo House, which provides free classes and workshops. In addition, Seattle hosts book readings, literary festivals, and author events. If you’re looking for a place to read that’s not a library, you’ll find book cafes and even book-themed pubs—check out Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe and Mr. Darcy’s Wine Bar.
Now you know why, in an analysis by Lawn Love, Seattle earned the second spot on the list of Best Cities for Book Lovers 2022.
Two of my favorite book stores were are Elliott Bay books, and the Kinokuniya Bookstore inside of the huge Uwajimaya Market in the International District. I also love the maps, and books at Metsker Maps on First Avenue, near Pike Market. And Uwajimaya Market is a true adventure on its own. I have found all kinds of unique food and gifts there over the years.
While I enjoy the obvious attractions MoPOP, Pike Place Market, and the coffee culture, I also enjoy a little shopping. The flagship Nordstrom store is downtown, and one of my favorite stops. Our friends Tanya and Michael have a great boutique for clothing, design and furniture not far from the Seattle Art Museum.
Oh, and I may go to a Mariners game, as the Red Sox are in town!
Much has changed in the past few years, covid notwithstanding. Homeless issues, the impact of high tech on housing prices and cost of living, and tumultuous political rancor seem to never subside. But through it all, we have visited Seattle on a regular basis since 1995, often three times a year until recently. This is our first visit since 2019, pre-pandemic.
But one highlight we can always count on is the coconut cream pie from Tom Douglas. It is probably our favorite pie in the entire world!!