Elliott Bay Book Company Matt Hanna

Local Literary Culture

SEATTLE routinely ranks among America’s most literate and well-read cities. Its citizens not only devour books but also foster a diverse array of literary hot spots, big and small. No wonder Seattleites pushed to anoint the metropolis as a UNESCO City of Literature (seattlecityoflit.org).

To get on the right page, start at one of the stalwarts in town: Elliott Bay Book Company (1521 10th Ave; elliottbaybook.com). The huge space in Capitol Hill features shelves of new and used tomes, plus a charming cafe and helpful, friendly staff, who write great book recommendations. The city’s other icon is University Book Store (*4326 University Way NE; ubookstore.com), which grew from a cloakroom into a multibranch powerhouse that hosts 450-plus author events annually.

Writers have their turn in the spotlight with readings, talks, and poetry series at Town Hall Seattle (*1119 Eighth Ave; townhallseattle.org), Hugo House (1634 11th Ave; hugohouse.org), and various Seattle Arts & Lectures (lectures.org) events. Visiting authors also touch down at Seattle Public Library (*1000 Fourth Ave; spl.org), which turned 125 in 2016. The giant central branch fields children’s story times and is worth a self-guided tour (dial 206-686-8564) for the architecture alone. Local indie book chain Third Place Books (multiple locations; thirdplacebooks.com) mixes things up, too, combining splendid shelves with author readings and even a print-your-own book press machine at the Lake Forest location.

If you want to simply enjoy a good read, bring your own book to a Silent Reading Party in the cozy Fireside Room at Hotel Sorrento (*900 Madison St; hotelsorrento.com). Even if you’re just wandering a neighborhood, literature is probably right around the corner—Seattle is closing in on some 300 Little Free Libraries (littlefreelibrary.org), where passersby can take a book and leave a book for other readers.

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