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Originally published Monday, February 18, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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Which city is more literate — Seattle or D.C.?

Seattle Times book editor

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Lit Life

Lots of literary news to report. Live, from America’s second most literate city:

• Indeed — Seattle came out No. 2 (for the third year) in the latest survey of bested again by Washington, D.C. In an interesting analysis over at Atlantic Magazine’s “Cities” blog, John Metcalfe wrote: “While the final resting place of Kurt Cobain took top slot in 2011 for bookstore fecundity and educational attainment, D.C. pushed ahead with its plethora of page views and unique visitors to local media websites, newspaper circulation and number of magazines and journals. Nevermind that the journals have names that make you want to pass out with boredom, like the CommLaw Conspectus and AAUP Policy Documents & Reports ... ”

For the first time, the survey compared literacy and wealth, and found that they don’t go hand in hand. Survey author John W. Miller wrote: “Using US Census data for income in the relevant cities, I learned that wealthier cites are no more likely to rank highly in literacy than poorer cities. For example, Cleveland ranks second lowest for median family income (among the AMLC cities) and yet, thanks to its great library system (ranked #1 in the AMLC) and strong newspaper (#6) and magazine (#5) circulations, it is ranked 13th most literate in the survey. On the other hand, Anchorage, AK is ranked 5th in median family income and only 61st in literacy.”

• Seattle University’s Search for Meaning Literary Festival returns March 9. This year’s author lineup includes Michael Chabon, Reza Aslan, Paul Elieand numerous local luminaries, including Sherman Alexie, David Montgomery and Lesley Hazleton.The Michael Chabon/Sherman Alexie presentation has sold out. Tickets are available for some other sessions — for more information go to

• On March 14, Richard Hugo House hosts author Sam Lipsyte, who has a new story collection out called “The Fun Parts.” Lipsyte will be in conversation with Seattle author Ryan Boudinot. Tickets are $5. For more information go to

• Every year I am knocked out by the lineup atGet Lit!, the Spokane-Cheney, Wa., book festival, and this year the trend continues. The headliners for this spring’s festival include novelists Joyce Carol Oates, Jaimy Gordon, Kim Barnes and Jonathan Evison, poets David Wrigley and Major Jackson, and author/essayist David Shields. This year’s festival runs April 8-14; for more information go to

• Finally, if you needed an excuse to make a trip to Tacoma, now you have it — beloved children’s book illustrator Eric Carlewill be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum. “Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle” will feature a wide range of Carle’s work in various media. It opens in two galleries at Tacoma Art Museum on April 6 and runs through July 7.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.

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