Secret Garden Gift Guide
Curated by our booksellers
Your Secret Garden booksellers have always excelled at making personal recommendations during the holiday season. For many of us, it is our favorite time of year because we get to talk about the books we're most excited about.  Sometimes it’s that little-known obscure title we loved that has just been sitting waiting for the right customer. Other times, it’s a national bestseller that we can barely keep in stock that just happens to be the perfect gift for your family member.  Whatever it is, we are heartened by the trust you place in us, and promise to make our recs thoughtfully, personally, and with much care.
This year, we’re also putting our recommendations in newsletter form, creating a holiday gift guide for the Ballard neighborhood. This list is tailored specifically for you from us. We hope that you find what you’re looking for, and we’ll be at the shop with even more personal recommendations if you don’t. Scroll through and click the titles for links to our website! 
Thank you for all of your support this holiday season and throughout the year.
For the coffee table...
Our America by Ken Burns

Beloved documentarian Ken Burns has compiled a series of images representing America's history. The images span the years 1839-2019. This book is quite an achievement, and the perfect gift for any historian.
Women Holding Things by Maira Kalman

This book contains numerous illustrations and powerful, seemingly straight-forward text. It stays with you long after you turn page after page of reminders of what women hold. It will make an ideal gift for anyone you want to introduce to Maira Kalman and her whimsical art.

Recommended by Mary
Shuna's Journey by Hayao Miyazaki

A gorgeous new manga from Hayao Miyazaki, never before published outside of Japan. Reminiscent of Miyazaki's best films and featuring his classic storytelling style, this is bound to be a new favorite for readers of all ages.

Recommended by Becky
You Are Not Too Late by Nikki McClure

Fiercely local, emotive, with little personal observations that are almost memoir-like in nature, Nikki McClure will make you feel with both her art and her words. This is such a lovely book.
Trees of the West by Molly Hashimoto

This gorgeous book features Hashimoto's art paired with quotes, facts about the trees, and the thought-process that went into choosing which trees to include. For any nature lover/artist.

Recommended by Christy

An overview of life under the sea, featuring specific creatures from the deep ocean to the wetlands. For that kid (or adult!) enamored with the fascinating and alien underwater world.

For the cook...
Dinner in One by Melissa Clark

Melissa Clark has built up quite a following with her last few cookbooks and her latest does not disappoint. These are quick and simple one-pot meals perfect for a weeknight dinner.

This is the perfect gift for any amateur baker in your life. It really is formatted like a classroom syllabus, with clear step-by-step instructions and mouthwateringly beautiful photographs.
For crafters and gardeners...
Close Knit by Larke Bagger

Unlike other knitting books I've read, this one is part technique, part art philosophy, and part knitting patterns. Bagger has a background in fine art, and it shows in these radical designs. More radical is her approach to materials--she saves every bit of scrap yarn to use in her knitting, making each piece both cost-efficient and environment-friendly.

Recommended by Lucy
American Wildflowers by Susan Barba

An illustrated collection of poetry and essays assembled by Susan Barba featuring an incredible diverse group of writers. It's absolutely beautiful and would make the perfect gift for the gardener or poetry-lover on your list.

Recommended by Christy
For the puzzler..
The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs

Each chapter investigates the history and community around a different type of puzzle. From English cryptics to sudoku to escape rooms to the famous MIT Puzzle Hunt, the author explores them all! He even represents USA in an international speed jigsaw-puzzling tournament. The book includes many puzzles to try out for those who are puzzle-curious.

Recommended by Lucy
by Will Shortz

This holiday themed crossword book is just one of many puzzle books that we carry. Mary also keeps our jigsaw puzzle selection well-stocked year round!

For the musician...
by Hanif Abdurraqib

This classic collection of essays is now in a beautiful hardcover edition with bonus writings, and when it comes to Hanif Abdurraqib, more writing is better. A master of the craft, Abdurrqib explores music, aging, love, and loss with an ease that only he can pull off. All beauty. No cynicism. The perfect gift for your politically engaged leftist who needs a little break.

Recommended by Kevin
A Book of Days by Patti Smith

This gorgeous book is the culmination of Patti Smith's musings & photographs corresponding to the days of a year. It is the perfect gift! There is a bonus readling list in the back with wonderful suggestions from well-read Smith.

Recommended by Mary
For your out-of-town guests...
by Harriet Baskas

This is my new favorite book about Seattle! Many classic special places are, of course, included, but also a lof of cool, unique, well-researched places to discover by yourself or with guests.

Recommended by Mary

Two of the best parts of living in the Pacific Northwest - and now there is a guide! No one will blame you if you pick up an extra copy for yourself...
Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

Set in a rural town in France in the 1950's, about poverty and privilege and the fickle nature of truth as two girls attempt to escape their circumstances. This book is beautifully written, strange and fascinating. 

Recommended by Becky
By Gabrielle Zevin

Zevin combines culture, arts, & literature in the world of game design to tell an outstanding story of friendship that is clever & powerful with many wow moments.

Recommended by Mary
(...and Lucy, and Andrew...)
Kaleidoscope by Cecily Wong

Twin stories of sibling love and romantic love are woven together to ultimately tell a nuanced story of self-love. I ached for Morgan and Riley, for how strong their bond was despite the secrets they kept. Wong's wisdom of the heart shines.

Recommended by Lucy

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

This absolutely brilliant book about a Jamaican family in Miami is so profound and funny and moving. It centers around Trelawny - a character who will make you laugh and break your heart as he struggles to find his identity and purpose. I loved every second of this book. One of my favorites of the year.

Recommended by Becky
The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson

Andy Davidson is an exciting new voice in the horror genre, and his second book, "The Hollow Kind," does not disappoint. Gripping from the jump, this historically set family drama has plenty of deep wooded chills, gore, and tension. The perfect gift for a reader who has already finished most of Stephen King's novels and just wants to tuck themselves away and brood during family time this holiday season.

Recommended by Kevin
The Book of Night by Holly Black

A gripping tale of dark magic, mystery, and the things we find in the shadows, Book of Night will have you turning the pages nonstop. With dynamic characters, a compelling voice, and a plot that has you questioning everyone, Holly Black leads you into a world that you will never forget! 

Recommended by Theresa
The Books of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

This gorgeous illustrated edition of The Books of Earthsea is a perennial favorite for our neighborhood. Just one look at the cover and I'm sure you'll understand why...

Recommended by our customers
Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A powerful new mystery set in a small town in Colorado where tensions between American nationalists and immigrant communities are reaching a boiling point. An inspiring picture of those who continue to fight what often feels like a losing battle. Can't wait for more in this detective series!

Recommended by Becky
Red Paint by Sasha LaPointe

A raw memoir of significant moments in Lapointe's life - filled with music, travel, and writing - often paired with heartbreak and healing. Emotional, impactful, and brilliantly constructed, Red Paint celebrates and honors LaPointe's own history in the making.

Recommended by Andrew
by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Poetically and intimately written, this memoir is about memory and magic, and the ways our personal and political histories are passed down as legends, as hauntings. A one-of-a-kind book.

Recommended by Lucy
For the historian...
Seattle from the Margins by Megan Asaka (University of Washington Press)

Nobody does local and interesting like the University of Washington Press. Covering race, immigration, and labor, Megan Asaka’s carefully researched and eloquently written book reads like our very own “People’s History.” Essential reading for the history buff in the family or anyone interested in learning about the city we all call home. 
by Gideon Defoe

This little paperback book has become a bestseller at the shop and sells out nearly every time we highlight it. It is an atlas of 48 countries that no longer exist today with a look at what went wrong.

Recommended by our customers
Science and Nature
by Barry Lopez

Published posthumously, (Lopez passed away in 2020) this book is a blend of memoir and essay and is a testament to Lopez's personal reckoning with climate change and his incredible talent for writing.
Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Another new book by a Pulitzer-prize winner, Mukherjee, author of Emperor of Maladies and Gene, begins his book with the discovery of the cell and what that meant for medicine and humanity's future. A ground-breaking book by all accounts.
For a laugh...
The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry

This book had me howling with laughter! Perry covers some of the most iconic media of the era, including the cringe factors. If you're looking to reminisce and relive the disastrous magic of the 2000's, read this!!

Recommended by Andrew
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

After you reread your old, worn copy of Holidays on Ice, pick up the latest masterpiece by David Sedaris. This one covers life during the pandemic and more. Sedaris bring his unmatched humor and self-awareness to more somber issues and the result is pure magic.

Recommended by Becky
Short and sweet...
Galatea by Madeline MIller

This beautiful little book is perfectly sized for a stocking. A short story by beloved author of Circe and A Song of Achilles - a reimagining of the myth of Galatea and Pygmalion.
by Robert Frost

Frost's famous poem beautifully packaged in a hardcover edition. This makes a lovely addition to a Christmas book collection. For readers of all ages.

For teens
by Jas Hammonds

We Deserve Monuments is a phenomenal and emotionally captivating debut that weaves together small town secrecy, intersectional identity, and America's violent history into one stunning, poignant, and sure-to-be influential novel. The kind of book that will keep you up until 2 AM-- or at least, it did for me.

Recommended by Andrew
The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

A solid start to a new fantasy series by seasoned YA author Susan Dennard. This book has it all - a hint of romance, monsters, deception, and friends in unexpected places. I couldn't stop reading this and I am so excited for the sequel.

Recommended by Becky
For kids
Children of Stardust by Edudzi Adodo

"It's a nice mix between fantasy and sci-fi. There were some parts that really made me laugh and it's a really cool world. The end really builds suspense and makes you want to keep reading."

Recommended by Becky's son Lawrence, age 9. For readers ages 8-12
Wildoak by C.C. Harrington

In this world where one's voice can't always be heard, Maggie and Rumpus tentatively form an unlikely friendship that will change both of their lives. This engaging and heartfelt novel is perfect for fans of Pax and other stories that explore the bonds between animals and people.

Recommended by Andrew
For readers ages 8-12
Working Boats by Tom Crestodina

We had the privilege of hosting Tom Crestodina for Ballard ArtWalk in November and we're so excited to be adding his book to our gift guide. It features Tom's original art and would make a great gift for readers of all ages.

Recommended by Christy
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall

Blackall has crafted the most AMAZING picture book about an old farmhouse on property she bought - she researched the family's story and incorporates actual left behind materials in her art.

Recommended by Mary
by Randall Deseve

Leave it to a kitten to bring a community together and leave it to Carson Ellis to provide amazing art.

Recommended by Mary
For children ages 4-7
The Little One by Kiyo Tanaka

Tanaka's art is hand-crafted with tons of care. Each page is full of details to pour over.

Recommended by Kevin
For children ages 4-7
We are open for browsing 11am-6pm on weekdays, and 11am-5pm on weekends
Visit us online 24/7 and be sure to check out our staff recommendations!