For my third annual summer reading challenge list of books with a social justice slant, I’ve decided to focus on global to local from my Pacific Northwest (Seattle) corner of the country. These are all excellent books to read no matter where you happen to live. Here they are from the top of the pile working down:
- Murray Morgan’s classic on the underbelly of Seattle, Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle (New York: Viking Press, 1951).
- Jamie Ford’s lovely historical novel about Japanese internment camps and Seattle’s International District, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (New York: Ballantine Books, 2009).
- Jane Wong’s first collection of poetry, OverPour (Notre Dame, Illinois: Action Books, 2016).
- Elizabeth Austen’s book of searing poetry, Every Dress a Decision (Selah, Washington: Blue Begonia Press, 2011).
- Kathleen Flenniken’s poetry collection Plume (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012) focusing on her life and work around the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.
- Pramila Jaypal’s reflective memoir Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India (Seattle, Washington: Seal Press, 2000). Pramila is our newly elected U.S. Congresswoman for Washington’s 7th congressional district (my own).
- Coll Thrush’s enlightening Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007).
- Alondra Nelson’s Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011). Dr. Nelson’s book includes extensive historical information on Seattle’s Black Panther Party and the formation of the Carolyn Downs Clinic which is still in existence in Seattle’s Central District (and where I worked as a nurse practitioner for five years).
- Quintard Taylors’ The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).
- The lovely and powerful book Our Table of Memories: Food and Poetry of the Spirit, Homeland and Tradition, edited by Merna Ann Hecht (Seattle: Chatwin Books, 2015). This book includes poems and short prose pieces by participants in The Stories of Arrival: Refugee and Youth Voices Poetry Project at Foster High School in Seattle.
- Another local collection of important stories and poems, Words from the Cafe: An Anthology, edited by Anna Balint (Seattle: Raven Chronicles Press, 2016).
- An eclectic collection of little known histories, More Voices, New Stories: King County, Washington’s First 150 Years, edited by Mary C. Wright (Seattle: Pacific Northwest Historian’s Guild, 2002).
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