Every couple of years a new study comes out proving that Seattle is a great city for people who love books—we buy more books per capita, we have independent bookstores and a great library system, authors come here from all over the world to read from their books, etc. All these things are true; Seattle is a great city for readers and writers.

But the literary arts are damn wimpy when it comes to standing up to the other artistic disciplines in this town. A reading just doesn't generate as much excitement—or have the publicity budget—that a rock show does, even though, as you and I know, a talk by Jonathan Lethem or Zadie Smith or Stephen King or Joan Didion is a lot more inspiring than standing at the back of a sweltering nightclub while some drunk guy in tapered jeans thrashes around onstage. As it happens, Jonathan Lethem and Stephen King are both in the Seattle Arts & Lectures 2006—2007 season (see www.lectures.org for info). Joan Didion did an event last year at the library (www.spl.org) and Zadie Smith did an event last year produced by The Stranger. Check The Stranger's readings listings and Stranger Suggests on a weekly basis for information about a given week's literary events.

What are the bookstores you need to know about? Elliott Bay Book Company has creaky wood floors, a national reputation, an insanely knowledgeable staff, a cafe, and a website where their nightly events are listed (www.elliottbaybook.com). University Book Store is Seattle's biggest and oldest bookstore, and they also host tons of events (www.ubookstore.com). Great neighborhood bookstores include Bailey/Coy Books (on Capitol Hill and known for its particularly strong gay and lesbian section), Queen Anne Books (adjoining a cafe with great Cuban sandwiches), Magus Books (in the University District), and Seattle Mystery Bookshop (downtown). There are millions more. Plus chains. Plus a certain website is headquartered here.

Where should you publish your poems and short stories? That's another matter altogether. Seattle is not known for the quality of its literary publications, but what we lack in quality we make up for in quantity. There's the Seattle Review, which is associated with the University of Washington; Knock, which is associated with Antioch University; Swivel, which is "the nexus of women and wit"; Cranky, which hosts unending issue-launch parties featuring readings by their contributors every time the next mediocre edition hits newsstands; Rivet, which has a colorful cover and chaotic contents; Golden Handcuffs Review, which publishes the kind of experimental writing you always think you're going to make time for and never do. There are others. Honestly, any English major with a sense of humor, talented friends, and a bottle of wine could put together a better literary magazine in a weekend.

So what are you waiting for?