Thanksgiving is coming for our U.S. readers, and that also means that Black Friday approacheth. For the unfamiliar, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving wherein American big-box retailers open at crazy early hours and offer deep discounts to shoppers. This usually results in horrifying news clips of crowds piling up outside Best Buy in tents and trampling each other as the doors open so they can get a television for 60% off (can you tell I don’t like Black Friday?).
During the Black Friday of 2011, there was violence in stores in at least seven states (including an incident where a woman in Wal-Mart sprayed more than ten people with pepper spray in the mad dash for X-box consoles). For those of us who would rather stay home than be trampled for an inexpensive toaster, here are a few literary antidotes/alternatives to Black Friday:
Find Your Siddhartha. Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, a book about a young man’s journey from ascetism to material indulgence to enlightenment, is the book I think of whenever I start to feel my first-world possession-accumulation giving me a twitch. On Black Friday, find whatever book inspires you to eschew heated consumerism in exchange for moderation. Another appropriate I-don’t-need-stuff-to-make-me-happy option would be any book about decluttering your home (here are three recs from The Washington Post).
Participate in a Read-a-thon. Jenn from Jenn’s Bookshelves is hosting a Thankfully Reading weekend along with The Literate Housewife. There aren’t any hard-n-fast rules for participation so you can read on and off throughout the weekend, but it does give you an excuse to skip camping outside of Wal-Mart with your family. “I already signed up to read all day!”
Give to a Bookish Charity. There are countless book-related charities that would be happy for your donations, especially on a day when some Americans are focused on buying more…stuff. For example, Book Aid International works to support literacy in sub-Saharan Africa. Literacy For Incarcerated Teens works to change the lives of New York youths who are in prison by building up the facility libraries and literacy services.*
Get Crafty. There are bookish holiday crafts out there for anyone who can wield a pair of scissors and a glue stick, and who has some old books lying around. If you’re squeamish about repurposing old or unwanted books, use old phone books. Check out our recurring feature Get Your Craft On for ideas. It’s bookish, it’s fun, and in direct opposition to the spirit of Black Friday, it’s about using and appreciating what’s already around your house.
Visit an Indie Bookstore. If you do get a little stir-crazy and want to join in the Black Friday festivities, check out your local independent bookstore (if you have one). While the curmudgeons among us decry Black Friday as a tool of multi-national corporate oppression, even the grouchiest out there can’t fault you for supporting your neighbors. Plus, they’re less likely to be overrun with hordes, and more likely to give you cookies. Find your nearest indie on the IndieBound website.
*a more extensive round-up of literary charities is coming!