Litquake kicks off in SF, ushering in the most literary season of all, in my mind, is the most literary season of all. Something about pumpkins, red-orange leaves, and apple cider makes me want to read a little Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, or other eerie 19th century writers who were slightly out of their gourds.

Why fall? Maybe it’s because there’s something poetic yet ghastly about a season where nature is at its most beautiful right before it all shrivels up and dies for winter. Or maybe it’s just because as a New Jerseyan by birth, I associate fall nights with being too chilly to spend outside, making autumn a season of reading.  Whatever the reason, I’m out of my gourd with excitement for Litquake 2012.

Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival, kicked off this weekend and runs through October 13th. As a fairly new San Franciscan, I’m still getting used to the idea that fall isn’t really a season here. But the origins of this festival sound positively autumnal to me:

Originally hatched over beers at the Edinburgh Castle pub in 1999, Litstock debuted as a free one-day reading series in a fog-bound Golden Gate Park.

Thirteen years later, the festival now runs for nine days and features a variety of free or affordable events like public writing sessions, a literary quiz night, and a chance to see creative minds like Daniel Clowes and Dave Eggers in conversation.

But the event I’m most excited for is LitCrawl on October 13th– the “wildest, most wanton literary night of the year” featuring free readings that move across 85 venues including bookstores, bars, cafes, and more. (It allegedly stemmed from a USA Today report that “San Franciscans spend twice the nation’s average on books and booze.”)

It’s such a brilliant idea that the event has caught on in a handful of cities across the U.S. So look for a LitCrawl in a city near you. And if there isn’t a LitCrawl near you, never fear. From Indonesia to Canada to England, this is one of the most popular times of year for literary festivals the world over. Or, you can just curl up with a good book and your favorite libation and celebrate the spirit of fall. After all, there’s no better season for getting lit — literary that is.

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