South End Scoop: Books & More From KCLS — January 2023

The King County Library System (KCLS) and the South Seattle Emerald are teaming up to bring you the “South End Scoop.” Dig into this community-centered column each month for great book, music, movie, and event recommendations from your local librarians.

Adult Services librarian Jenna holds two of KCLS’ Best Books of 2022. (Photo courtesy of the King County Library System.)

If you set new reading goals for yourself this year and need some recommendations to get started, take a look at the King County Library System’s Best Books of 2022. Our highly anticipated annual list includes KCLS’ favorite titles of the year, chosen by staff from across the Library System. Find your Best Book at!

Staff Picks


The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith

I love this poetic picture book because it brings the past to life in fresh ways. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery Honor-winning author Renée Watson, the children’s companion book to The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story delves into a young girl’s family tree. Through her grandmother’s lessons, the girl learns about the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States. This moving story teaches the importance of knowing and understanding where you come from; history is powerful.

Marriam, public services assistant at KCLS, reading “The 1619 Project: Born on the Water” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Marriam, public services assistant.

Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson, illustrated by Daniel Sousa

Kapaemahu pays homage to a beautiful Hawaiʻian legend about cultural recovery and inclusion. Four healers of dual male and female spirit sail to Hawaiʻi to share their healing powers with the people of Waikiki. The islanders erect a monument of boulders in their honor and the healers transfer their powers to the stones before vanishing. Over time, the stones are lost and forgotten, then recovered and preserved. I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook, which brings the story to life. Be sure to check out the Academy Award–contending short film from the author as well!

Jim, outreach services specialist at KCLS, with a copy of “Kapaemahu” by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson, illustrated by Daniel Sousa. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Jim, outreach services specialist.


The Red Palace by June Hur

The Red Palace is a fascinating piece of historical fiction set in 1758 Korea. A ghastly night of murders throws the capital city into chaos, and suspicion falls on the Crown Prince. Readers follow an unlikely pair — an intrepid nurse and an amateur inspector — as they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth. June Hur’s latest book packs murder, mystery, historical court intrigue, and romance into one gripping read.

Brenna, Teen materials selector at KCLS, holds up a copy of “The Red Palace” by June Hur. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Brenna, Teen materials selector.

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy

Based on author Huda Fahmy’s childhood, this quirky coming-of-age graphic novel follows a Muslim family’s move to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. Huda is surprised to see so many girls wearing hijabs like her, and she struggles with her identity in the context of her new surroundings. In her signature style, Fahmy tackles growing pains, bigotry, and microaggressions with both gravity and humor.

JJ, Teen Services librarian at KCLS, stands with a copy of “Huda F Are You?” by Huda Fahmy. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of JJ, Teen Services librarian.

Adult Fiction

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

When Tova starts working at the local aquarium, she doesn’t expect to befriend an octopus named Marcellus. Grumpy Marcellus usually avoids his human captors, but Tova is different. When Marcellus learns that Tova’s son vanished in Puget Sound, he will do anything to solve the mystery and help his new friend. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, author Shelby Van Pelt’s heartwarming debut examines loneliness and the transformative power of friendship in a truly remarkable way.

Sona, library page at KCLS, poses with “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Sona, library page.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Mika is a lone witch who flies under the radar in all ways but one — she pretends to be a witch on social media. Someone catches on to her shenanigans, and she receives an invitation to tutor three young witches at the mysterious Nowhere House. Mika finds herself becoming attached to the children, their caregiver, and the promise of home in the cozy, feel-good fantasy you’ve been waiting for!

Jenna, Adult Services librarian at KCLS, smiles with a copy of “The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches” by Sangu Mandanna. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Jenna, Adult Services librarian.

Adult Nonfiction

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation by Linda Villarosa

Author and journalism professor Linda Villarosa reveals the centuries-long link between structural racism and health care discrimination in this chilling exposé. Under the Skin presents compelling personal accounts, studies, and statistical analysis to show how racism affects Black Americans’ health and quality of life.

James, library page at KCLS, stands with a copy of “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation” by Linda Villarosa. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of James, library page.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Former child actor Jennette McCurdy delivers a funny, insightful, and at times gut-wrenching memoir about her traumatic childhood and her struggles with an eating disorder. McCurdy was abused by her mother and others, but reclaims her life through extensive therapy. This is an inspiring must-read for anyone currently on a healing journey, or who may need a push to start one.

Teresa, division administrative assistant at KCLS, smiles with a copy of “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy. (Photo courtesy of King County Library System.)

Recommendation courtesy of Teresa, division administrative assistant.

Upcoming Events

KCLS offers a variety of in-person and online events and activities for all ages! All events are free. Find one that interests you at

Lunar New Year

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Renton Library

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at this family-friendly event! Welcome the Year of the Rabbit with fun arts and crafts activities, and learn about Lunar New Year traditions, cultures, and stories. Presented in English and Mandarin.

Author Voices: Taanvi Arekapudi

Saturday, Jan. 14, 3:00–4:00 p.m.

Meet Taanvi Arekapudi, a 13-year-old mental health advocate, speaker, and author, at this engaging event. Arekapudi will talk about her book, Uplift Teens Today which offers mental health coping strategies from a teen’s perspective.

Zine Machine

Thursday, Jan. 19, 4:00–5:00 p.m.
Federal Way Library

Join us for a zine-making class! What’s a zine (pronounced “zeen”)? It’s a do-it-yourself (DIY) magazine, pamphlet, comic, or book on any topic. Bonus: Take advantage of lessons learned in class to get a head start on the Washington State Zine Contest (open through Feb. 24).

Puget Sound Training Center: Job and Career Support 

Multiple Dates, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Tukwila Library

Learn about free employment services and skills training programs at drop-in events on Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, hosted by the Puget Sound Training Center.

Author Voices: Patricia Grayhall

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 6:30–8:00 p.m.
Skyway Library and Online

Patricia Grayhall will discuss her memoir, Making the Rounds — Defying Norms in Love and Medicine which reflects on coming out during second-wave feminism while juggling love, life, and a medical career. Please register in advance if you plan to attend online.

Author Voices: Molly Hashimoto

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Author and artist Molly Hashimoto pays homage to the West’s iconic trees in her latest book, Trees of the West. She will talk about the variety of media she uses to capture the essence of each species and share handy identification tips to use on your next hike.

Author Voices: Kiku Hughes 

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30–8:00 p.m.
Skyway Library

Join Displacement author Kiku Hughes to learn about her graphic novel and the power of storytelling. In her autobiographical debut, Hughes travels back in time to World War II where she witnesses her grandmother’s incarceration in a Japanese American internment camp firsthand.

Author Voices: Harriet Baskas

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Which public fountain has its own private DJ? Which bar is home to a museum of really bad art? And where can you float in a pool while orcas swim by? Harriet Baskas, author of 111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss, will lead you on a tour of Seattle’s most fascinating places and unexpected experiences, while sharing insights, cultural anecdotes, and insider tips.

Need a Library Card?

Residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the city of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a physical card to access our full collection, or a digital eCard to access our digital collection. Visit to get started. Contact Ask KCLS at if you need assistance with your account, or call (425) 462-9600 or (800) 462-9600.

📸 Featured Image: South Seattle Emerald and the King County Library System (KCLS) are teaming up to give you book, media, and event recommendations each month via the South End Scoop.

Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. 
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. 
We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!