In the shadow of this disastrous election, it’s almost impossible to think about Christmas. But whether you’re ready or not, the holidays are coming, and there are lots of people you love out there in the world who deserve a little happiness. Books are the best gift: They’re deeply personal, they help us empathize with one another, and they’re so much more meaningful than, say, a juicer. And books are especially the best gift for our current state of anxiety—they make us better, they’re fairly modest in price, and after they’re read they can be passed on to others in a free exchange of ideas. They’re democratic, they’re rewarding, and they provide a much-needed sense of escape.
So since we’ve decided you’re giving out books for the holidays this year, the question remains: How do you get them? Obviously, rather than buying them at a chain bookstore, you should support your local independent bookseller. Now more than ever, we want to keep our money in the neighborhoods where we live, supporting jobs in the area rather than airlifting our cash out of the local economy.
This Saturday, November 19, local writers’ organization Seattle 7 Writers is teaming with great independent bookseller Phinney Books to take over the Phinney Neighborhood Center to create a one-of-a-kind Seattle-centric book festival called the Holiday Bookfest. Proceeds benefit the Phinney Neighborhood Association and the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a great nonprofit youth writing organization. And if you’d like to make your neighborhood a more literate place, feel free to bring some “gently used books,” which Seattle 7 Writers will then distribute to little free libraries around the city.
At the Holiday Bookfest you’ll find 25 area writers, including fantasy novelist Terry Brooks; the incredible New York Times columnist and historian Tim Egan; fiction writers Jim Lynch, Garth Stein, and Carol Cassella; short-story writer Donna Miscolta; and poet Ed Skoog. They’ll be there to talk, sign books, and make recommendations for everyone on your list. The only gift better than a book is a personalized book, after all, and this is your best chance to get a wide array of titles all in one stop.
Additionally, the latter half of the show will feature a lightning-round reading stage with local authors so you can try out new books in readings of 15 minutes or less before you buy. Readers include young-adult novelist Sean Beaudoin, historical-fiction author Megan Chance, and Steve Arntson, one of Seattle’s most underrated writers of middle-grade fiction.
Books indisputably make the world a better place. Writers are an important part of Seattle’s artistic community. And we could all use a little time with our good-hearted neighbors right now, to remember why we choose to live where we do and the beautiful, brilliant ideas that spring from the city around us. Seattle 7 Writers Holiday Bookfest, Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., seattle7writers.org. Free. All ages. 3–5 p.m. Sat., Nov. 19. Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.