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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