For the past year, the Seattle7 has been soliciting books from individuals, schools and bookstores, and creating "pocket libraries" in area homeless shelters, domestic-abuse shelters and children's homes.

Share story

Really, you can keep it, Jennie Shortridge tells people. It’s yours for good.

Some don’t know how to respond. They’ll look at the book in their hands, then back at her, then the book.

“It’s like you gave them a million dollars,” said Shortridge, author of “When She Flew” and a member of the Seattle7Writers.

The “Seattle7” is a group of local authors who started gathering to support each other’s craft, but have branched out to support the community’s literacy.

For the past year, the Seattle7 (there are now almost twice that many) has been soliciting books from individuals, schools and bookstores, and creating “pocket libraries” in area homeless shelters, domestic-abuse shelters and children’s homes.

The twist is that the libraries aren’t for loaning out books, they’re to give them away.

In 2010, Seattle7 donated more than 1,500 books to places like Seattle Education Access, ROOTS Young Adult Shelter and a women’s work-release program.

In 2011, it donated 3,683 books to places like the St. Martin de Porres men’s shelter, the Downtown Emergency Service Center, Treehouse for Kids and the YWCA.

But this year, the group ran into an unusual problem: It has more books than places to install libraries.

So the group is looking for additional nonprofits and other organizations whose clients could be helped by the written word. (Send suggestions to

“There are large portions of our community that don’t have access to books,” said Erica Bauermeister, author of “Joy for Beginners,” who created pocket libraries in her children’s schools, then suggested the idea to Seattle7.

“We want everyone to have the experience of scanning a stack of books and finding the one that speaks to you, taking it home, and having it transport you to somewhere else for as many hours as it takes you to read it,” she said. “Everyone deserves that.”

Seattle has ranked first or second on Central Connecticut State University’s annual ranking of Most Literate Cities for the past seven years.

So there are plenty of books being consumed. But we still need to feed more people.

To that end, Seattle7 collects books at all of its events. On May 12, the group is hosting a Book Club Brunch, where a Seattle7 author will sit at each table and Seattle writer Jim Lynch will read from his new book, “Truth Like the Sun.” (For more information, go to

Last week, Seattle7 member Randy Sue Coburn, author of “Owl Island,” and the more recent “A Better View of Paradise,” distributed 70 boxes of books collected by the families of John Hay Elementary in Seattle.

“It feels great,” Coburn said, “like we’re feeding all of these budding readers, giving them something that will be with them forever, we hope.”

Even better, the books are to keep.

“To have things to call theirs is so important,” Coburn said. “Books feed them in a way that the clothes and the toys just can’t.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday.

Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

Spare them your old MS-DOS manuals.