Black-and-white illustration with a racoon and stag promoting the 2021 SPL and SAL Book Bingo.

Reading Recommendations for SPL’s Seventh Annual Summer Book Bingo

by Abby Bass, el Evans, and Misha Stone

Summer reading isn’t just for kids — adults also deserve reading goals and prizes! For the seventh year, The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures are co-presenting Summer Book Bingo and want to help you set reading goals and make reading discoveries this summer.

How do you play? The first step is to download the Bingo card in English or Spanish. Use the card, which has 25 reading categories, to keep track of books you read from now through Sept. 7, 2021. Every time you finish a book, fill in a corresponding box. Complete a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line and turn in your card by Sept. 7 at 6 p.m., to be entered into a drawing for a gift card to an independent bookstore. Or complete all 25 squares for “Blackout,” and you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of three grand prizes — including a subscription to the 2021/22 SAL series of your choice.  

Now, here are some reading ideas from three librarians, in some of our favorite categories, to get you started:

Activism or Social Justice

Cover of “Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century.”

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century — Alice Wong, editor

Discover the voices and stories of disabled artists and activists. Be sure to check out the pieces by local writers Elsa Sjunneson (whose memoir Being Seen comes out in October) and Leah Laksmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Dirty River and Care Work). You can also catch the recording of the Library’s event with Wong, Sjunneson, and Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha on our YouTube channel.

Cover art of “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.”

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Culllors

Black Lives Matter was founded by three queer Black women in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. What Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi started as a response to injustice became a movement that spans the globe. In this memoir, Khan-Cullors shares stories of her childhood and the life experiences that galvanize her fight for systemic change and justice. You can also check out an adapted version for young readers created with asha bandele.

Cover of “Living for Change” by Grace Lee Boggs.

Living for Change: An Autobiography by Grace Lee Boggs

Born to Chinese immigrants in Rhode Island and educated at Barnard College and Bryn Mawr, Boggs’ path to community activism may have been unlikely at first but ultimately became a lifelong passion. In this autobiography, Boggs reflects on the years she and her auto worker and activist husband James Boggs worked for social justice movements in Detroit and around the world, fighting for civil rights, feminism, and labor rights  

Check out this list for even more suggestions for your Activism or Social Justice square.

Asian American or Pacific Islander Author

Cover of “Never Have I Ever” by Isabel Yap.

Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap

Filipino writer Yap writes speculative fiction and poetry. This short story collection debut is full of gorgeous imagery and creepy, enthralling tales of ghosts, witches, and other monsters. Try “A Spell for Foolish Hearts” about a gay witch searching for love or “Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez?” in which a girl’s rumored death at a boarding school years ago becomes more elaborate and chilling with each telling.

Cover of “Habitat Threshold” by Craig Santos Perez.

Habitat Threshold by Craig Santos Perez

Poet Santos Perez is an Indigenous Chamoru (Chamorro) writer from Guam whose work explores diaspora and environmental injustice. Winner of the American Book Award, his latest collection highlights eco-poetry in various forms that delve into themes of parenting, climate change, global capitalism, animal extinction, and our relationship with the planet’s past and future.

Cover of “All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir” by Nicole Chung.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

This is a gorgeously written memoir that explores the complexity of race and family. Nicole Chung, born in Seattle to Korean parents and adopted and raised by white parents in rural Oregon, shares her journey to process her life as a transracial adoptee as she readies to become a mother herself. Chung’s search for her Korean birth family is powerful and beautifully told. Misha had the pleasure of sharing this book on KING5’s New Day Northwest when it came out in 2018, and you can listen to a Library podcast recording of Chung in conversation with Ijeoma Oluo.

Check out these lists for even more suggestions for your Asian American or Pacific Islander Author square! We have lists for Pacific Northwest AAPI authors, AAPI History and Culture in Seattle, recent AAPI Fiction, and AAPI Poets.

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Food Writing

Cover of “Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner 

Noted indie rock musician Zauner (Japanese Breakfast) has penned a heartfelt and captivating memoir about growing up Asian American in a predominantly white Pacific Northwest community and her complex relationship with her mother, with whom she shared a fierce love of Korean food. Zauner writes candidly about her mother’s early death from cancer, her attempts to care for her and her grief, weaving evocative descriptions of Korean dishes and cooking throughout. Currently available at most Library locations that are open as a Peak Pick.

Cover of “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.”

Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi 

Top Chef fans may remember Onwuachi from Season 13, when he wowed the judges with his pickled shrimp with cucumber onion salad, among other delectable dishes that drew on his Nigerian heritage. In this absorbing memoir, he recounts his journey from a rough childhood in the Bronx to working in three-star Michelin restaurants and finally opening his own highly anticipated restaurant before he turned 30.

Cover of “Notes From a Young Black Chef: A Memoir.”

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, by Sean Sherman

Chef Sherman (Oglala Sioux) grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and founded the Sioux Chef, a Minneapolis-based catering company dedicated to bringing Indigenous foodways to the mainstream. In this informative and beautifully illustrated cookbook, he shares his modern take on Native American cuisine, showcasing ingredients indigenous to North America such as bison, wild rice, and corn. 

Check out this list for even more suggestions for your BIPOC food writing square!

Black Joy

Cover of “Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale” by Tim Fielder.

Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale by Tim Fielder

From the distant past through to the unforeseeable future, King Aja Oba lives many lives, made immortal by a curse that seeks to destroy his spirit. From royal warlord, to soldier, to god, Oba’s fate is tied to that of the universe as he lives through the history of and is witness to the demise of his fellow enslaved Africans and early Black Americans. This uplifting graphic novel contains elements of historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, humor, and horror.

Cover art of “Nubia: Real One” by L. L. McKinney.

Nubia: Real One by L. L. McKinney

Black high school student Nubia seems to have a normal life for a teenager in 2021, complete with a crush who’s difficult to approach and a very early curfew, even after a peaceful protest with fellow students against police brutality. But in book one, Nubia finds she can add superhero to her teenage list.

Cover of “Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974.”

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 by Jean David Morvan

Part graphic novel, part historical black-and-white photograph collection, Morvan’s book relives Muhammad Ali’s reclaiming of the world champion boxing title through the eyes of photojournalist Abbas for Young Africa Magazine.

Check out this list for even more suggestions for your Black Joy square!

QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)

Cover of “Love After the End.”

Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction — Joshua Whitehead, editor

Anthologies can be a great way to discover emerging voices, and Whitehead’s collection of two-spirit and queer Indigenous speculative stories explore the passions, joys, survival, and resistance that love embodies in the aftermaths of a post-colonial world. 

Cover of “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Lo has long been telling YA stories with queer Asian protagonists, as with her Cinderella re-telling, Ash. With Last Night at the Telegraph Club, she returns with a character-driven, atmospheric love story set in 1954. Chinese American teen Lily Hu dreams of girls and rocket science and finds love and belonging in the Telegraph nightclub scene.

Cover of “Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Grace Porter, fresh from getting her doctorate in astronomy, heads to Las Vegas for a girl’s weekend and winds up with a wife. Things get complex as the newlyweds work to get to know each other and Grace navigates job-seeking in white-bred academia. A rich, layered debut. 

Check out this list for even more suggestions for your QTBIPOC square!

To enter the drawings by Sept. 7, drop off your card (or a copy) at any open branch, email an image of the front and back of your card to, or post a photo to Facebook (@SeattlePublicLibrary), Twitter (@SeaArtsLectures, @SPLBuzz), or Instagram (@seattleartsdandlectures, @SeattlePublicLibrary). Be sure to tag #BookBingoNW2021!

Abby Bass (she/her) is a librarian in the Arts, Recreation, and Literature department at the Central Library. When she’s not reading, knitting, or riding her bicycle, you can likely find her whipping up a tasty home-cooked meal with ingredients sourced from her backyard kitchen garden, P-Patch plot, or local farmer’s market.

Misha Stone (she/her) is a librarian in Reader Services specializing in readers’ advisory aka the art of helping people find books they will enjoy (which she also periodically teaches at the University of Washington’s Information School). A big speculative fiction fan, she also serves on the board of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, a local organization dedicated to supporting emerging and underrepresented voices in the speculative fiction field.

el Evans (he/him) is a Reader Services librarian who enjoys graphic novels, westerns, and ultra horror. Instagram: @el_likes_graphic_novels

Featured Image: Illustration by Tessa Hulls (@tessahulls)

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