Edmonds Booktalk: Nonfiction choices for summer reading

For those of you who enjoy all things true, as well as those of you who enjoy mixing it up, we are pleased to present: Summer reading — the nonfiction edition!

A few staff recommendations to start:

Mary Kay recommends:

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Mary Kay agrees with Jane Goodall!
“[she] has written an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people. It is the way she captures beauty that I love the most–the images of giant cedars and wild strawberries, a forest in the rain and a meadow of fragrant sweetgrass will stay with you long after you read the last page.” –Jane Goodall. Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association [PNBA] bestseller.

“Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden” by Marc Hamer. Philosophical musings on life and nature by a man who takes care of the gardens on an estate owned by an elderly woman he refers to as Lady Cashmere. Formerly homeless, he expresses great love for the peace he has found working in nature and coming home to a cozy cottage and a loving family.

Pat recommends:

“Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World” by Andrea Pitzer. Gripping tale of Dutch polar explorer William Barents and his 3 harrowing arctic expeditions in the 1590’s. On his third expedition, beyond the Arctic Circle, further north than any European had travelled; his ship is frozen in place.  The crew must survive for over a year while they wait for the pack ice to thaw.  They must survive hungry polar bears, very little food and endless winter if they are to make it back home.

Michelle recommends:

“Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship ” by Catherine Raven.  I really liked the authors’ steps into (and back out of) being vulnerable to other people.  Her friendship with this fox was so honest.
Chosen for IndieNext:  “On the surface, this is a story about a woman befriending a fox, which is in and of itself remarkable enough, but it is also a powerful meditation on nature, living in the world with and without people, as well as the power of literature.” More information here.

Susan recommends:

“A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II” by Sonia Purnell. Rejected from the Foreign Service because of her gender and her prosthetic leg– Virginia Hall became the first woman to deploy to occupied France, before the United States had even entered the war. At a time when sending female secret agents into enemy territory was still strictly forbidden, Hall coordinated a network of spies to blow up bridges, report on German troop movements, arrange equipment drops for Resistance agents, and recruit and train guerrilla fighters. The Gestapo considered her the most dangerous of all Allied spies. Purnell tells the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war. [Book Group choice coming November 17, 2021.]

Elaine recommends:

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. Wow. Short, bite-sized chapters make it a quick read. But the things she talks about makes you pause and think and re-read. And re-read and think! Amazing. Moving. Thought-provoking. All about listening to yourself, knowing yourself. Did I say “wow!”? [Full disclosure: the day after I finished this book I had a conversation I had been avoiding, and changed my future! For the better, I think!] PNBA bestseller.

“A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith” by Timothy Egan. He is in search of faith. In his completely engrossing writing style, Egan weaves together stories of his family, his pilgrimage and the history of the Christian faith that tie in with the cathedrals and towns along the route. His most personal book to date – really great read. I loved it. [as did Mary Kay, Susan, Pat, and my mom!]

Local Books/Local Interest

“Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II” by Daniel James Brown.  [yes! Finally another book from the author of “Boys in the Boat.”] A gripping World War II saga of patriotism, highlighting the contributions and sacrifices that Japanese immigrants and their American-born children made for the sake of the nation. PNBA bestseller.

“This Smile Is for Everyone Else” by Marjie Bowker, editor. The eighth in the series from Scriber Lake High students is out now. Our blog post with all of the titles is here.

“Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home” by Lynda V. Mapes.  Great article/excerpt in Pacific NW Magazine, here.

“Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound” by David B. Williams.  Witty, graceful, and deeply informed, it weaves history and science into a fascinating and hopeful narrative, one that will introduce newcomers to the astonishing life that inhabits the Sound and offers longtime residents new insight into and appreciation of the waters they call home. We have a few signed copies left!

“Touching This Leviathan” by Peter Wayne Moe. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and swimming with intelligence and wit, this is creative nonfiction that gestures toward science and literary criticism as it invites readers into the belly of the whale.  Link to our Facebook Event here.

“My Unforgotten Seattle” by Ron Chew. The third-generation Seattleite, historian, journalist, and museum visionary shares a deeply personal memoir. He documents the tight-knit community he remembers, and includes intimate profiles of his parents–a waiter and garment worker. He highlights Seattle’s unsung champions in the fight for racial inclusion, Asian American arts, Japanese American redress, and revitalization of the Chinatown-International District.  Amazing article in The University of Washington magazine, here.

Recent Award Winners

“Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong. Winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography; and a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category. Seattle Arts + Lectures Season 2021/2022: Cathy Park Hong in Conversation with Ijeoma Oluo: In-Person & Online. Friday, January 28, 2022 7:30 pm PST. All the information here.

“The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X” by the late Les Payne and Tamara Payne. Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Award for Biography.

“The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir” by E. J. Koh. 2021 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award Winner. Staff recommended.


“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford. The journalist and host of the “Chronicles of Now” podcast, makes her much-buzzed book debut with an intensely personal story: her relationship with her incarcerated father.  Amazing review in The Seattle Times.  And on NPRPNBA bestseller. An Oprah Book.

“Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR” by Lisa Napoli. A group biography of four beloved women who fought sexism, covered decades of American news, and whose voices defined NPR.  Column/review in The New York Times here.

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner. An unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. PNBA bestseller.

“The Secret to Superhuman Strength” by Alison Bechdel. Comics and cultural superstar Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the ’60s to the existential oddness of present-day spin class… The gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion…

“Broken (in the best possible way)” by Jenny Lawson. As we know, Lawson suffers from depression. In her new book, she brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way. Staff recommended author.

“Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations” by Mira Jacob.  This graphic memoir is her response to timely and pointed questions raised by her six-year-old son. Seattle Arts + Lectures Season 2021/2022: Mira Jacob: In-Person & Online. Tuesday, March 8, 2022 7:30pm PST.  All the information about the event and a lovely interview with the author is here.

“All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake” by Tiya Miles. In this unique take on a biography, a renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women, some of them slaves, to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.

“Kin: A Memoir” by Shawna Kay Rodenberg. A heart stopping memoir of a wrenching Appalachian girlhood and a multilayered portrait of a misrepresented people.

“The Ugly Cry: A Memoir” by Danielle Henderson. Simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious, Hendersondissects her unusual upbringing and her special relationship with her grandmother, offering a powerful examination of the many intersections between family and identity.


“Finding the Mother Tree” by Suzanne Simard. From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest–a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.   Heard on npr Weekend Edition.   PNBA bestseller.

“The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature” by Peter Wohlleben.
The newest title from the author of “The Hidden Life of Trees.”

“The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid” by Lawrence Wright.  Great review in NYT, here.

More PNBA Nonfiction Bestsellers:
link to the PNBA site here. The link to the bestseller lists is under the photos. Updated every week.]

“Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. Also Now Read This Bookclub. All the info here.
“We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto” by Alice Waters.
“World Travel” by Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever.
“How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith.
“The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War” by Malcolm Gladwell.
“One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder” by Brian Doyle.  Paperback.
“The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet” by John Green.

Edmonds Bookshop Book Club.

We are still doing Zoom meetings for Edmonds Bookshop Book Club.

By all accounts, it’s going pretty well, join us!

Zoom meeting Wednesday, July 21 – 9-10 a.m.: “House Lessons” by Erica Bauermeister. A memoir about the power of home — and the transformative act of restoring one house in particular… “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”

Staff recommended. Enthusiastically! The author and her family buy and renovate an old house. Marriage and family and kids growing up. Life changing in all kinds of ways. AND renovating a quirky old house. A beautifully written memoir! ~Elaine

*Bonus author appearance!* Erica will be joining us for part of our book club meeting and will share photos of the house, before, during and after! We are so much looking forward to this… Get your questions ready!

March 1, 2020: Erica and her husband, [and her house!] were on the cover of Pacific NW Magazine. There is some introduction/background info from our author and an excerpt from her book, all here.

Send us an email here to register your email for book club membership. We will send you an invitation with a Zoom Meeting link as each book club meeting is scheduled. Once you accept the invitation it will show up in your calendar.

Recent book releases of note:

“All the Devils Are Here: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #16” by Louise Penny. Now in paper!

“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Now in paperback. Chosen for Indie Next.

“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Trethewey. Now in paperback. Chosen for Indie Next.

“Golden Girl” by Elin Hilderbrand. In this satisfying page-turner a Nantucket novelist has one final summer to protect her secrets.

For Young Adult Readers “Instructions for Dancing” by Nicola Yoon. An utterly unique romance from the bestselling author of “Everything, Everything.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. From the bestselling author of “Daisy Jones & The Six” . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. Chosen for Indie Next.

“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris. “…an even edgier “The Devil Wears Prada.” Harris’s debut is set in the New York City offices of the publishing industry.” Chosen for Indie Next.

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston. Chosen for Indie Next. In paperback.

“Legends of the North Cascades” by Jonathan Evison. Staff favorite and local author. We have a few signed copies available! Chosen for Indie Next.

“The Sweetness of Water: A Novel” by Nathan Harris. Oprah’s latest Bookclub choice. Chosen for July Indie Next.

“The Maidens” by Alex  Michaelides. A spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession.  A great review at Publishers Weekly, here. Bonus content: PW talks with Alex Michaelides, here. Staff recommended.

“Filthy Animals” by Brandon Taylor. In these marvelous stories, Taylor demonstrates a seemingly inexhaustible ability to render feelings precisely.

“Songs in Ursa Major” by Emma Brodie. A scintillating debut, this is a love story set in 1969, alive with music, sex, and the trappings of fame. Chosen for Indie Next.

“Survive the Night” by Riley Sager. It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

For Young Adult Readers  “Blackout” by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon. Six of YA’s biggest and brightest come together in this glittering story collection about a summer blackout in New York City. As a group of Black teens find their way home while the stars come out, six couples fall in love in smart and unexpected ways. This is a perfect read for anyone seeking a burst of joy after a long year in the dark.

“The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict. A Good Morning America Book Club Pick. Chosen for July Indie Next.

Some books of note being released in July:

“Falling” by T.J. NewmanDavid recommends: This debut novel is an airplane thriller written by a former flight attendant and bookseller. As Don Winslow said, “Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” The pilot’s family is held hostage, his choice is between crashing the plane or seeing them killed. [Elaine recommends it too!]  Chosen for Indie Next. July 6, 2021.

“Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship” by Catherine Raven. Chosen for Indie Next. Michelle recommends. July 6, 2021.

“This Is Your Mind on Plants” by Michael Pollan. In his latest exploration of the enduring relationship between the human and natural worlds, he dives deep into how psychoactive plants—specifically opium, caffeine and mescaline—impact our brains and our cultures. His newest offering aims to unpack our ideas about what constitutes a “drug” and, fundamentally, why we seek them. July 6, 2021.

“The Turnout” by Megan Abbott. The bestselling and award-winning author’s revelatory and mesmerizing new psychological thriller of a novel is set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

“The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner. Paperback. A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of “The Lost Girls of Paris.” Staff recommended. July 6, 2021.

“Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi. A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick! Now in paperback. Staff recommended. July 6, 2021.

“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman.  In paperback. July 6, 2021.

“The Exiles” by Christina Baker Kline. Staff recommended. Paperback. July 6, 2021.

“The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley Heller. Chosen for July Indie Next, here. July 6, 2021.

“Silver Tears” by Camilla Läckberg A spine-tingling novel of revenge, betrayal, and sisterhood from the internationally celebrated author of “The Golden Cage.”

“Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby. A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance. Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. Provocative and fast-paced, this is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption. July 6, 2021

“The Stranger in the Mirror” by Liv Constantine. A diabolically twisty, psychologically unsettling novel about a woman with no recollection of her past… Hiding the fact that she has no memory of her past from her fiancé, Addison cannot shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad…  July 6, 2021.

“The Cellist: Gabriel Allon #21” by Daniel Silva. The fatal poisoning of a Russian billionaire sends Gabriel Allon on a dangerous journey across Europe. Staff recommended author & series. July 13, 2021.

“The Therapist” by B.A. Paris. When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…  July 13, 2021.

“The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix. In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives…but what happens after? This is a fast-paced, frightening, and wickedly humorous thriller. From chain saws to summer camp slayers, this book pays tribute to and slyly subverts our most popular horror films. But the thing about final girls is that no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up. July 13, 2021.

“For Your Own Good” by Samantha Downing. Her latest sneaky thriller is set at a prestigious private school—complete with interfering parents, overeager students, and one Teacher of the Year…  July 20, 2021.

“Just One Look“ by Lindsay Cameron. A young woman’s escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception. July 27, 2021.

And coming in August: a new Louise Penny! “The Madness of Crowds: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #17.” More information and to pre-order, HERE!

We will keep posting our favorite reads, along with links to all kinds of book-related interesting things! In all the places: on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

You may pre-order any forthcoming title by visiting our website.

Stay safe. Do your best to stay sane. And as always: Happy reading!

— By Elaine Mattson

Edmonds native Elaine Mattson has worked at The Edmonds Bookshop off and on since she was 12 years old, and has also worked at a book wholesaler, a book publisher, and for the book publishing division of a large local software company (yes, that one). “I was raised a book lover [thanks, Mom!],” Mattson says. “We got book lights by our beds as soon as we were old enough to read. And then I probably got in trouble for reading too late the very next night. And I still read too late!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.