An Abundance of Literacy

The past two weeks in Salt Lake have been a book lover’s dream. It started at TKE with the Red Wagon Read-a-thon where we had kids sprawled on the floor of the childrens’ room on a Saturday reading, reading, reading! The following Wednesday, writers from all over Utah gathered at the downtown library to celebrate the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition, the May Swenson Poetry award winner (Idris Anderson) and the Utah Book Awards. The wonderful finale of the evening was a performance by Red Rock Rondo of songs from their Zion Canyon Song Cycle. It was pure magic.

Then we gathered again in the auditorium to watch the film, Paperback Dreams, produced and directed by Salt Lake’s own Alex Beckstead. I had the privilege of being on a panel with 4 other booksellers including Patrick de Freitas (of Waking Owl fame), Tony Weller from Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore, Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books, and Drew Goodman of the University of Utah bookstore. We had a lively discussion of the future of the independent bookstore and I think everyone agreed that we need to Buy Local First!

And then, best of all, the Utah Humanities Council 11th Annual Book Festival took place all day last Saturday at the downtown library. The urban room is an absolutely perfect setting for celebrating books and the people who love them. We connected with favorites like Ann Cannon and Katharine Coles and were thrilled to hear Thrity Umrigar speak. Terry Tempest Williams moved her entire audience to tears with her talk about her new book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World.

And across town that same afternoon we listened to Naomi Wolf speak about her new book, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Thanks to the Salt Lake City Film Center for bringing her to SLC.

Sound exhausting? A little; mostly it was invigorating. It was definitely a reminder of the abundandance of literacy that Salt Lake and Utah have — an abundance that we are thrilled to be a part of.

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