Why I Love Book Bingo

By Libby Lewis, SAL Photographer

If you’ve met me—and I don’t mean if we’re friends, I mean if you’ve met me at all: mailman, in line at the store, next to me on the train—you know that I love book bingo. I’ll strike up a conversation about it with anyone—mostly because I’m obsessing about it, not only during the summer, but year-round.

During the summer, my conversations take on a more nuanced form. As I puzzle over specific categories that remain unfilled on my card, I’ll ask my dental hygienist if by chance she reads memoirs or poetry. During the rest of the year, my questions are more general, along the lines of what are you reading? or what’s your favorite book? but might veer towards questions about categories that have been on past cards and have proven challenging for me. For example, that notorious category, “set someplace you’ve always wanted to visit,” which felt so important I didn’t want to botch it. That category in particular has led to some pretty wild conversations in which I try to ensnare unwitting participants to delve deeper into the idea: what if where you’ve always wanted to visit was outer space or medieval England? (I went with Maine one year, West Virginia the next).

I’ve thought a lot about why I love book bingo and the reasons are varied.

I love it for the structure. I’m a lifelong reader, but in my 30s, I flagged. I wanted to read important books, books people were talking about, books you wanted to think about. But starting and growing my own business left me drained. I’d try to get back into reading but travel narratives devolved into magazine reading devolved into romances devolved into nothingness. Bingo gave me rules. It gave me a plan, a challenge, a goal. I’m never going to win the prize, and as the SAL photographer I work all of the events anyhow, but it gave me a personal path to accomplishment. Read more…

Summer Book Bingo: Two Recommendations from Local Pharmacist Beverly Schaefer

Summer Book Bingo is designed to provide free summer reading fun for both adults and kids. Last summer, participants read a total of 8717 books, and we received a whopping 248 blackout cards and 227 bingo cards—let’s do it again! Swing by one of SAL’s partner bookstores this year to grab an Adult or Kid Bingo Card or download it here and spend the summer of ’17 reading great books.

In this guest post, Beverly Schaefer – co-owner of the beloved Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy – gives us two recommendations for book bingo, using the same sharp curatorial eye she has for stocking her book corner at the pharmacy. If your bingo board needs a prescription, read on. . .

By Beverly Schaefer, Co-Owner of Katterman’s

I loved Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, for a “written by an author of color” square. This is an immigrant experience written like none other that I have ever read. It’s a debut novel (I’m partial to those), and the winner of the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award. The story tells of the lives of a pair of immigrants from Cameroon as they pursue every means possible to live legally in the United States and achieve their dreams. It also tells the story of a family in the top one per cent that is struggling with their dreams in the year 2009. This author writes in a gentle style that conveys hope even in the face of grim circumstances. I have thought often of this book since I read it in January, and that is one of my personal definitions of a good book—you think about it long after you finish it. Read more…

Introductions: Jeffrey Tambor

On May 23 at Town Hall Seattle, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Jeffrey Tambor spoke about his new memoir, Are You Anybody?, to close our 2016/17 SAL Presents Series. SAL Associate Director introduced the evening, and the night’s conversation was moderated by Seattle entertainment writer Melanie McFarland, who wrote about the experience on Salon.com.

By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Associate Director

If there were a column called “Celebrities, they’re just like Seattleites”—but of course there wouldn’t be, that’s ridiculous—there would be many pictures of one man, Jeffrey Tambor. He’s pale. He likes the rain. He not only loves to read, he owns a freaking bookstore, people. His first gig was at the Seattle Rep; he lived on Queen Anne where he baked a lot of bread in his downtime. Jeffrey Tambor is, indeed, one of us.

His bread may not have risen, but Jeffrey Tambor has, slowly, to become one of the best actors of his time exactly by being one of us. Maybe you discovered him on Three’s Company or The Ropers or Hill Street Blues or Mad Headroom. Maybe you joined the fan club when he played Hank Kingsley on the Larry Sanders Show. I joined the club after I’d had some minor stomach surgery and decided to recuperate by spending the weekend binging on this show I’d been hearing about, Arrested Development. This was a very bad idea. I couldn’t stop laughing even though it hurt so much. Read more…

“Do Not Forget” by 2017 YPL Ambassador Namaka Auwae-Dekker

Do Not Forget

My name is more than
Just a name
It is a proclamation
A declaration of prosperity

My name is dead ancestors
breathing fresh air
My name carries the near dead
Tongue of my lineage to shore
The mispronunciation of my name is
Wind blowing the sails

My name has been slaughtered,
Butchered, and labeled as
Cut with craft scissors
America hot glued onto
Every letter

My name was born from
The salt waters of Hawaii
Steamed in tea leaves
And boiled in a stirring pot
Surrounding the skies Read more…

Summer Book Bingo: Square One

Summer Book Bingo is designed to provide free summer reading fun for both adults and kids. Last summer, participants read a total of 8717 books, and we received a whopping 248 blackout cards and 227 bingo cards—let’s do it again! Swing by one of SAL’s partner bookstores this year to grab an Adult or Kid Bingo Card or download it here and spend the summer of ’17 reading great books.

Looking to get started? In Sonder’s first Book Bingo post of 2017, the SAL office is at square one. Below, read about which books and squares the SAL staff has chosen for their very first bingo accomplishment. . .


Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director

I’m half way through Truth Like the Sun, by Jim Lynch, which I’d been saving for Bingo, and plan to follow that with The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, by Nina Riggs. Nina was an amazing poet and a dear friend, who died at the end of February just shy of her 40th birthday. Her gorgeous Modern Love essay “When a Couch is More Than a Couch” gives a sense of why I am eagerly awaiting the book, which promises to be funny, clear-eyed, and heartbreaking. I loved this essay by Tita Ramirez about the book, which I’m planning to read with at least three boxes of tissues.


Christina Gould, Patron Services Manager

I packed Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward into my suitcase the night before leaving for vacation and started it on my last day while in Paris. I enjoyed falling for the characters (especially the narrator, a passionate precocious 14-year-old named Esch) on the plane ride home and am happy to complete my first Summer Book Bingo square “by an author of color” with this smart, poetic novel that has been on my list to read for quite some time. Read more…

“Our Parents are a Lost Cause,” by 2017 Youth Poet Laureate Lily Baumgart

Our Parents Are a Lost Cause

I told you to take our mother
into your timeless hands.
It takes effort for her to move her lips,
so let her tell you that she loves you,
let her ask you how school was,
and hide your leathered palms, as you will your calloused fingers.
Take her to the graveyard where our father is buried,
brother. Let her pick flowers from your neighbors’ gardens
and sprinkle them on the sidewalk
like it’s the church aisle she walked
down her first communion.
Brother, keep our mother away from me,
keep her veiled; as I want to remain
pure. Keep her wedding pearls
on her neck even if she has thrown
the ring away. This is how their faces
melt apart like wax falling
from candles. Find our father in her,
tell me when you see his teeth
behind her lips–tear her room apart
if it means that you will find his picture.
Brother, forgive me and our father
for leaving you. Know that it is the way
she chews gum and snores and loses herself without him
that causes our absence.
Brother, I have left to find our father
and if I have lost him, find him
in our mother. Pick her apart like chicken dinner
if you must; if I have been wrong,
cling to her aging memory and our father’s new face.
If they are to be presented together,
you must choose who to take home with you. Read more…