It might be mid-summer, but it’s time to read up for one of fall’s most anticipated author events, the Seattle Reads 2021 event with Brit Bennett, author of “The Vanishing Half.”

Seattle Reads is Seattle’s city-wide book club, started by The Seattle Public Library in 1998. Every year, the Library works with the community to select a book for the whole city to read, with an aim of deepening engagement in literature. This year’s selection – “The Vanishing Half,” by Brit Bennett – is one of the most acclaimed novels of 2020, exploring complex themes of race, identity and family.

Here’s how to get started exploring this year’s Seattle Reads title, including finding your copy, downloading a just-published discussion guide and planning for the October events.


Library patrons may find or place a hold on “The Vanishing Half” in the Library’s catalog, which has more than 700 physical and digital copies of the book. The book is also a Peak Pick! This means that you can check it out without waiting at some locations. (Need a Library card? Go to or stop by a Library location to get started.)

Limited copies of "The Vanishing Half" are also available at some branches for informal borrowing (meaning that you don’t need to check out a copy).


Whether you’re discussing “The Vanishing Half” with a group or reading it on your own, you’ll want a copy of the Seattle Reads discussion guide, which has just been published at You can download an electronic copy of the guide or pick up a print copy at any Library location that is open (see a list of locations and hours at

The guide includes information about the book and author; discussion questions about the book; and an extensive list of suggested readings that complement “The Vanishing Half,” exploring themes such as multigenerational stories, sibling relationships, the intergenerational impacts of anti-Blackness, internalized Colorism/Shadism, code switching, and the social/cultural politics of Jim Crow south. Authors covered in the book list range from Ralph Ellison (“Invisible Man”) to Angela Flournoy (“The Turner House,” the Seattle Reads 2017 pick) to Dr. Yaba Blay (“One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race”).

The guide also shares a link to a Library list of films and TV shows that explore some of the themes in the book. Find it at


You can participate in two virtual Seattle Reads events this year. Registration will open later this summer at

  • Seattle Reads presents Brit Bennett with Jazmyn Scott: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6. Brit Bennett will join Jazmyn Scott, program manager of LANGSTON, for a virtual Seattle Reads event.
  • African-American Writers’ Alliance Showcase: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10. The African-American Writers’ Alliance will lead an event showcasing local voices in poetry and prose. (Brit Bennett will not be in attendance at this event.)


Published in 2020 by The New York Times-bestselling author of “The Mothers,” Brit Bennett, “The Vanishing Half” is a stunning novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds — one Black and one white.

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, “The Vanishing Half” considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


Born and raised in Southern California, Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel. She is one of the National Book Foundation's 2016 5 Under 35 honorees.


Seattle Reads is a city-wide book group, where people are encouraged to read and discuss the same book. Seattle Reads’ “The Vanishing Half” is presented in partnership with the African-American Writers’ Alliance, LANGSTON, Northwest African American Museum, and Wa Na Wari. It is made possible by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, with additional support from media sponsor The Seattle Times, Riverhead Books and Penguin Random House.

For more information, visit, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask Us.