Literary in Love: The 5 Best Places to Read in Seattle

Home Base

In case you haven’t gathered, I love to read. Few things in life are as gladdening as good book on a rainy day. Paired with a exquisitely brewed cup of tea, I could easily spend my days flipping the pages of my newest adventure. And sometimes I do precisely that. As autumn creeps closer, the number of perfectly rainy days is increasing, along with my desire to abandon myself to literature and a warm beverage.

As much as I adore my little shoebox apartment with its comfy chair and stacks of books, there are many (arguably better) places to indulge this habit of mine. Seattle is an enabler: there are endless options for the venturesome reader.

  1. The Seattle Public Library:img_1248My love for the Seattle Public Library system is infinite. Yes, I’ve had library cards before, and yes, I understand and appreciate the joys and benefits of libraries around the world. Free books, who could argue with that? But the Seattle Public Library system is simply superior. The ease and convenience. The attention to detail. The helpful and friendly librarians. The purposeful efforts to create and promote literature in the community. I seriously cannot express my love for the Seattle Public Library system clearly enough. I have my own personal neighborhood branch two blocks down from my little apartment. Almost without exception, I stop by after work on Friday to pick up my weekend’s entertainment. Then if the weather is chilly or if the mood strikes me, I settle in to the window benches between the stacks – watching the rain roll down the window and the world continue beyond the library’s four walls.
  2. img_0923-1Elliot Bay Books:
    Never have I encountered a book store that focuses so explicitly on building a community more than Elliot Bay Books. Sure they have a great selection of books on their shelves, but they’re more interested in bringing people together over a common love of literature. The number of book groups, author readings, and other community events they hold, not to mention their delicious cafe and perfectly arranged store all encourages you to spend every waking second (and all of you money) there. Every time I go, I find something new and exciting to read. While I hear there are a few other bookstores in Seattle (or at least that’s what I’ve been told), Elliot Bay Books won my loyalty the first time I stepped through the door. Even if I’m not buying a book, it is an incredible place to spend time immersed in bookish heaven.
  3. Hotel Sorrento:
    Picture this: fifty people settled into a hotel bar, drinks and food coming and going and not a single word being spoken. Strangers pushed close on a couch or sharing a table. Piano plucking out a soothing melody. It’s not a lull in conversation – this is the perfection known as the Silent Reading Party. The first Tuesday of every month, the room fills with people eager to engage in silently reading together. The atmosphere is peacefully electric. Chairs have to be scrounged from other parts of the hotel to accommodate the crowd, and the rustling and adjusting finally settle into two hours of bliss. The music fades out and people glide away, conversations start and the magic of the place transmogrifies back into real life. I have never experience anything like it, but I intend to go back again and again.
  4. The Parks:
    Despite popular belief, not every day in Seattle is a rainy one. On those occasions that the sun does part through the clouds, Seattle has an endless assortment of parks that pull readers outside. Boren Park has breathtaking views of Lake Washington and the mountains beyond. The Washington Park Arboretum has a chain of islands surrounded by trees and water. The Waterfall Garden Park has tables where the falling water washes out the city noises. I could list a dozen more – all designed for people to use, not just look at. They sport benches, tables, and trees to sit under. The parks of Seattle blend together the joys of the outdoors with the city atmosphere, creating a peaceful environment for readers to forget where they are.
  5. Basically Anywhere:
    Seattle is a city in love with literature. Somehow the real world feels more connected to the written word here than in any other place I’ve been. There is a vibrant community of literature lovers here, who are open and welcoming to likeminded bibliophiles. Local authors capture the unique essence of this place. Seattle as a city is embracing this identity. It wants to be a literary lover’s haven. There is even a movement to make Seattle one of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature. I hardly go anywhere without noticing people reading all around the city. It has made this book lover feel right at home.

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