Seattleite Book Club: May 2011

Dear Seattleite Readers,

Welcome to the Seattleite Book Club – the only virtual book club that spotlights the Pacific Northwest’s own authors and publishing houses!

On the first Friday of each month, we’ll profile a literary work that coincides with our monthly theme. Readers are encouraged to pick up a copy of the month’s selection; once you have read it, submit your comments to Then, we’ll feature some of your feedback in each successive column – along with the next featured book. So, polish your reading glasses and let us know what you think of our literary choices!

Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs

Photo: Microcosm Books

Most folks will find something useful in 2008’s Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills, a compendium of DIY projects related to health and first aid, cleaning products and gardening. This illustrated guide to creating homemade products covers a range of topics, including all-purpose laundry soap, using essential oils and composting and many more.

However, author Raleigh Briggs claims you need not be a Martha Stewart devotee or a die-hard hippie to derive usefulness from her book. “These sorts of things have been made out by the media and pop culture as things that only domestic goddesses do,” Briggs explained. “But even if you don’t consider yourself to be a creative person, a punk person or an environmentalist, you can still find a way to benefit from these things.”

A lifelong DIY enthusiast, Briggs says this handy little volume came about as a result of her involvement with the Zine Archive and Publishing Project, a program of Hugo House, which is headquartered in Capitol Hill. In 2005, the group asked her to teach a handful of summer courses, for which she wrote and illustrated several zines as “teaching aids.”

These materials found their way into the hands of Microcosm Publishing, a Portland-based house that specializes in non-fiction titles. This allowed Briggs to circumvent the tiresome process faced by most authors, in which they must hire an agent and shop around for publishers.

“I feel very fortunate, because I had an easier time than most authors,” she admitted. “Every other aspiring writer probably hates me for that.”

Not only is Make Your Place a comprehensive source of helpful tips – it’s beautifully-rendered as well. Printed in hand-written fashion and featuring Briggs’ own detailed illustrations, the book is as much a work of art as it is a work of literature. A life-long artist, Briggs also hopes to employ this style in her future publications.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Make Your Place for $7 + shipping and handling, please visit the book’s official Microcosm Publishing page for more information. Comments for the Seattleite Book Club column are due to by May 31st.

About Microcosm Publishing: As a not-for-profit*, collectively-run publisher and distributor of zines and related work, Microcosm Publishing strives to add credibility to zine writers and their ethics, teach self empowerment, show hidden history, and nurture people’s creative side! Now based in Bloomington, IN and Portland, OR, Joe Biel started the distro and then-record-label out of his bedroom in 1996. Since then we’ve grown to become one of the largest zine distributors in the world, reaching an international audience through our website and retail store.

* (We operate central to a mission statement and are financially not for profit, but we are not a 501c3 organization because it does not allow us to self- manage.)