In the fall of 2003, I began the Washington Reads program of selecting Washington books for all ages on specific themes. I hoped to shine a light on the wealth of excellent books relevant to our state. The themes varied from locales within the state (Mount Saint Helens, Olympic Peninsula, etc.), history, genre such as mysteries and beach reads, Washington centric topics such as geology, artists, tastes of Washington, and the themes of Courage, Diversity, Washington Screams, Washington Inspires, Washington Works and others. We discovered Twilight before it became an international phenomenon. I had superb reader’s advisors in Kathryn Hamilton-Wang and Sean Lanksbury, who continue to be experts in northwest history and literature. Some believe I had a ghost reader, but I honestly did read each of these books, and decided that, with the opportunity to do that, I had the best job in the world.
Now, as I close my chapter as State Librarian, I am issuing the last episode of my favorite selections of Washington Reads. My goal was to select the books that had made an imprint on me and the state. Doing so wasn’t easy, as Washington has scores of incredibly gifted authors, and many of the books will have an impact on future generations. I am surprised to find that, of the books on this select list, two are Lewis and Clark themed, two are set in fictitious islands, two have become major movies, and two involve Japanese internment camps. There are also numerous works of fiction, reflecting my firm belief that the literature of a region mirrors the stories of the state, rounding out our history by showing the feelings and emotions integral to our past.
I hope that in looking at this list, you are inspired to go back over the past themes or to seek newer books that feature Washington and its exceptional literature. Please join me in continuing the celebration of the remarkable reads of Washington.
Jan Walsh, State Librarian, August 2010
Jan Walsh, State Librarian
SEE THE FALL 2010 SELECTIONS »