I can’t think of a better city than Seattle as the very first UNESCO City of Literature. The unique and massive Seattle Public Library, itself an icon of literature, stands as a visible reminder of this city’s great literary reputation. They say the long, wet, dreary winters, and the abundance of coffee shops make it perfect for readers.
For starters, the four decades old Elliott Bay Bookstore attracts readers of all kinds. I love the name of their little cafe’ in the back, the Oddfellows Cafe’. Maybe it is staffed by a guy named Longfellow?
As you know, I love visiting libraries and bookstores around the world. My favorites are City Lights (San Francisco), Powell’s (Portland), and The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles).
For rare, and out of print cook books, head to the aptly named Book Larder. It even has a kitchen in the back! Every Monday, they host a lunch break cooking class.
So, where do techies go for books? How about Ada’s Technical Books? But not in a high tech setting, but an old world hipster style of techie madness. Events range from lock picking to female scientist meetups.
Seattleites love the sea, and sometimes the Old Man, right Ernie? For them, Sea Ocean Books rates high, particularly since their hours are by appointment or by chance!
Where do beatniks and the ultra cool people go for their poetry fix? None other than Open Books, Seattle’s go to place for poetry books and events. For example, you can find: The shelves are stocked with progressive local books like Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda’s collaborative Boogie Woogie CrissCross, a book of poetry based on their three-year long e-mail exchange while she was in Ireland and he was in Seattle.
Even touristy Pike Place Market has a bookstore, Left Bank Books. The place is described as an anarchist’s collective, with books on feminism, graphic novels, and the labor movement. And rather interestingly, they publish books written by prisoners.
One of my favorite bookstores is located at Uwajimaya grocery in the International District. Yes, most of the books are in Japanese, but that does not stop me from visiting Kinokuniya when we shop for Asian foods of all kinds. They have great T shirts, and art books for those of us who do not read Japanese.
My second most favorite is both a bookstore and a cartographer’s dream, Metsker Maps, near Pike Market. I have purchased maps for some of my trips, such as my Trans Siberian journey in 2014. They have the best collection of globes, maps, and travel books I have ever seen.
Believe it or not, Ripley, Amazon has a bookstore here. I have visited the branch in Walnut Creek. Because of popularity metrics, they have the type of books that you can read in three days, in either hard copy or Kindle. But they say it is worth a visit, just to see how the internal internet brain of book shoppers plays out in real life!
So, will I spend my days in a bookstore while in Seattle. It depends on the weather, my mood, and if I need a book! Go figure.