Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Only in Seattle

Seattle's most recent accolade is being crowned the "Most Literate City" in the nation. We have been number two for a number of years, I guess, but once they took into account book orders online and newspaper reading online, we soared to victory.



In the above article about a small independent book store, Seattle readers are described as "voracious". There is something about our rain and our coffee that requires a book to go along. Actually, the book reading culture of Seattle has a way of making me feel like I am always behind in my reading---which I am and it causes me stress. One of the criteria for the "Most Literate" designation was newspaper circulation. I certainly have positively contributed to this factor. We get three newspapers daily which I pretty much read cover to cover with the exception of the Sports section and we get a weekly local paper.

But I have my own observations to tell me that Seattle definitely is the hands down winner of "Most Literate City" in America:

1. Only in Seattle are the small independent book stores actually surviving in spite of the Barnes & Nobles and Borders. My favorite is the Elliot Bay Book Company in Pioneer Square and it is not exactly small--it is huge.

2. Only in Seattle is the lack of smoking due to one thing: It is impossible to hold a cigarette, a latte, and a book at the same time.

3. Only in Seattle do people not honk in traffic and I know why. When you are at an interminably long red light, you cannot resist picking up your book sitting right there on the passenger seat next to you and sneaking in another paragraph or two or three. The person behind you is doing the exact same thing so nobody has an extra hand to honk to get traffic going when the light turns green. Come on, admit it, we all do it.

4. Only in Seattle do the Seattle born teen-agers bug their parents to read more and watch less TV. My daughter just last week took herself to our local used book store to find "The Sun Also Rises" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Hemingway. My son, and I kid you not, has given me a stack of books I need to read that he has read. My kids are truly true to their culture and are "voracious".

5. Only in Seattle do people want a book store gift card for Christmas more than anything else---and in fact, my friend just told me this last Thursday.

6. Only in Seattle is the source of most of our home mold problems the boxes and boxes of books tucked under the stairs, under the workbench in the garage, in the guest room closet, in the trashy book shelf in the bonus room, in the den closet, and behind the suitcases in the bedroom closet. If you are from here, you know exactly what those boxes smell like!

7. Only in Seattle do people who belong to book clubs actually read their books and authors at book signings are treated like rock stars. Unless, of course, the author is a rock star like Paul McCartney who appeared here at an independent book store to sign his new children's book a couple of weeks ago. Bill Bryson was treated like a rock star when he appeared at the UW. Lucas, at the time, was doing his senior author paper on him and managed to get Bill Bryson to autograph it with a note to Lucas's English teacher to give him an A+. Cos (that's what the kids call him), his English teacher, enjoyed this stunt very much. Unfortunately, Kaley, who also has Cos, is going to have trouble pulling this off with Hemingway.

8. Only in Seattle (well, actually Edmonds) is the Senior Warden of a small Episcopal church givien the job of coming up with a book list of the tons of books that have been mentioned during the adult education class just since September.

9. Only in Seattle (well, actually Mukilteo) is there a woman who walks her two gigantic yellow lab-like dogs pretty much everyday while reading a book. Two leashes with two dogs in one hand and a book in the other--true, absolutely true. I wouldn't dare try that because I must see the squirrels and the cats first before Apolo does or I am dead.

10. Only in Seattle does the Monorail mysteriously crash two weeks ago and I know why. Evidently for some strange reason, they built the monorail tracks too close together at one point so that the trains going two different directions could not pass each other just at that point. But it happened--they sideswiped and smooshed together and are stuck--practically tipping sideways off the tracks. No drugs or alcohol were involved but it was pinned on human error.

"Rolfe said both drivers were suspended immediately after the accident, pending further investigation.
Police and the monorail operators would not disclose the drivers' identities.
The driver of the northbound Red Train was not at fault, and the company's post-accident drug test indicated no illegal substances in either driver, SMS said.
Rolfe wouldn't go into detail about what happened just before impact." [emphasis mine]

It seems obvious to anyone who can read that maybe when you build tracks for two trains to pass one another, there should be enough room. They had a system set up with a red light signal so that the trains would avoid each other at this section. But beyond that, I bet the monorail driver at fault was....

.....reading a book--- and maybe just a glance to get two or three paragraphs in.