Literary Event of the Week: Do your holiday shopping at an independent bookstore

I know I'm biased, because I come from a bookselling background, but I think a good independent bookstore is one of the most compelling reasons to live in a city. You can tell the quality of a city by its independent bookstore scene.

I don't need to tell you, a reader of the Seattle Review of Books, all this. But you might need a reminder that if you love a bookstore, the best way to demonstrate your love is by buying stuff there — especially during the holidays.

You could do worse in life than to be known as the person who always gives books for gifts. In fact, I'd argue that books are the perfect gift: they're personal and the receiver thinks of the giver the whole time they're reading the book.

Even better, bookstores have these humans called booksellers who work in them. These booksellers are happy to recommend books for you to give to friends and family. These are the kinds of people who love talking about books with people. They love it so much that they choose to do it for a living.

And you can feel free to ask your bookseller anything. There is — trust me — no question too dumb for a bookseller to handle thoughtfully. The dumbest question you can muster is not even likely to be in the bottom three hundred dumbest questions a bookseller of five years has heard.

When you give the gift of books you bought at an independent bookstore, you're really giving two gifts at once. You're giving the book, of course, but you're also investing in a local institution and improving the quality of life in the city you love. I don't know about you, but that's all I want for Christmas.

For more information about the bookstore nearest you: