Monday, October 6, 2014

How We’re Making Our Way in the Big World of Books

Four years ago, it was nothing more than a good idea: set aside one week a year to celebrate Alaska books. With the help of some incredible volunteers and the support of generous sponsors, Alaska Book Week was born.

When we first began, we timed the week-long celebration so as not to conflict with the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. As it turned out, a book-themed event during the first full week in October is an excellent idea for another reason—it’s Permanent Fund Dividend time. This year, I’m sending out a personal challenge, to join me in setting aside 10 percent of your dividend for Alaska books.

$188.40 in books! What’s not to like about that? You get great reading material to ease you through winter, you support Alaska authors, and you show publishers and booksellers that you believe in the growing body of great Alaska literature.

While the gauntlet’s down, here’s another: join me in talking about Alaska books with 10 people this week—in person, on social media, however and wherever you like. Talk new books, old books, red books, blue books (No, Dr. Seuss wasn’t Alaskan, but he would have loved it here.) A favorite author, a favorite title, the latest buzz, the overlooked gem—we all rely on one another to expand our reading lists.

In fact, let’s make it a three-fer: how about showing up in person for at least one Alaska Book Week event? I’d tell you all the choices, but there are WAY too many to list here. For details, head on over to the Alaska Book Week website and click on the Anchorage and Around the State event tabs. Most are free (so you get to save the $188.40 for books), so all you do is get out and have fun and meet up with others who love books the way you do.

I will mention one special event that happens tonight in Anchorage, an onstage gathering of some of Alaska’s best-known authors—Peggy Shumaker, Seth Kantner, and Joan Kane—writers whose commitment to outstanding poetry and prose and to the literary community at large has drawn worldwide attention to the good books coming out of our state. (Shhh . . . don’t tell . . . I’m sneaking onstage with them, and don’t even think about trying to pry me out of my seat.) Joined by illustrator Beth Hill and gently guided by Peggy, we’ll be asking, please: “Will the real Alaska stand up?” We hope you’ll join us (7 pm, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson) for this lively conversation about the prose, poetry, and art that responds to—and shapes—the way the world perceives Alaska. Book signing and sales will follow...a great way to start carving into that $188.40.

Together, we did this: a little tyke of an idea, all grown up into the fourth annual Alaska Book Week. Come celebrate with us!

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