What a great year, in so many ways. For me. For some friends of mine, it was awful. I hope for a better year for everyone who wants a redo—and for those of us who were lucky enough to spend most of it happy.

A special shout-out to the folks at A Room of One’s Own, where my friends and fans gathered for a standing-room-only book launch for The Halcyon Bird. The staff were sweet, helpful and supportive, and confirmed that I’d made the right choice by trying to use my superpowers to get butts across their threshold. If you haven’t stopped down there lately, go on in: they’ve somehow combined snugness and huge selection.

I gathered tasty food from local producers for a Milanese-style aperitivo. Special thanks to Day Host-Jablonski, Madison’s best perfumer, who provided the delicious fizzy fermented drinks, Honey Bee Bakery, for tarts and breads, Underground Catering for amazing salamis and pickles, and Farmer John for cheeses.

I also want to thank Book Passage for my reading on Small Business Saturday. Again, everyone made me feel so welcome, and we had a grand time. Hilariously, they apologized to this fledgling professional for the small turnout despite publicity; I told them, I play to the house I get. I always enjoy readings, and talking with folks about writing. An intimate gathering is just as much fun for me as a hall full of high school students or a bookstore packed with friends. I only wish I could draw more folks into independent bookstores.

Here’s why. As we enter the new year, and think about all that’s happened before, let’s remember that the storms of our lives strike unexpectedly. For me, as for many, there are certain books, certain words that got me through the great storms of my life. And when a non-metaphorical blizzard or thunderstorm strikes and the power goes out, the only words we have are on the physical page, and the only books we have are those in our homes, our libraries, and our local bookstores.

I encourage all of you, dear readers, to remember which books have helped you weather your own storms, and to make sure you have some analog form of them on your bookshelves. If you’re still at the point where you have to choose between books and groceries, you can still make a list, ask friends (I have become a shameless book-giver), go to library sales. The luckier among us can go to our local independent bookstore, or to Alibris, and make sure to keep the doors of these temples open and our own store of words secure.

I mention this because one of the ways we can make this a good year is by planning ahead, being prepared, and enjoying what we have right this very second. Those are all things that are easy to do in bookstores and libraries.

What’s your favorite storm-weathering text? What’s the passage in it that sticks with you, that you find yourself repeating quietly in tough times and easy ones?