Find a complete list of readings and talks in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out our other picks for the best things to do in Seattle this winter from Seattle Art and Performance.
This monthly reading series curated and hosted by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore features queer writers. This iteration features writer and translator Randa Jarrar and poet and writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home earned Piepzna-Samarasinha an American Library Association Stonewall Award and a finalist nod from Lambda. The poems are pretty straightforward lyrical performance pieces about the daily inequities, triumphs, and loves of a "queer disabled femme of color writer." In October, the independent but generally very good Saraband Books published Jarrar's collection of stories, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, which uses humor and a fabulist touch to reveal the diversity and complexity of modern Arabic life. RS
Hugo House First Hill
Frederick L. Brown: The City Is More Than Human
Frederick Brown will read from The City Is More Than Human: An Animal History of Seattle, an exploration of the way that animals—from pigs to dogs—have shaped Seattle. The book takes a broad view, explaining the way our city's former inhabitants traded livestock for pets, outlining the relationship between Euro-American and Native American residents, and examining the nature of the modern city.
Elliott Bay Book Company (Dec 7); Third Place Books Lake Forest Park (Dec 8)
Peter Godfrey-Smith: Octopus Intelligence
Learn about cephalopod and octopus intelligence, communication, and biology with Peter Godfrey-Smith, author of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. Humans may have more in common with those eight-legged weirdos than we'd like to think.
Painter and writer Rabih Alameddine (author of The Hakawati and An Unnecessary Woman, the latter of which made him a finalist for the National Book Award) will read from his latest work, The Angel of History.
Elliott Bay Book Company
Seattle Human Rights Day Celebration
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and filmmaker. He's also an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines. Download his documentary, Documented, on iTunes and you'll hear several stories like his, stories that challenge preconceived notions about what undocumented immigrants do in this country, stories that show America—as ever—only serves to benefit from inclusive immigration policies. As part of this day's celebration of local human rights victories and an accounting of setbacks, Vargas will speak more broadly about his work as an immigrant rights activist. I don't have to tell you we need him now more than ever, but he also needs us to stand up and show support. Go. Learn. Maybe poke around for some free candy. Then act. RS
Seattle First Baptist Church
Dianne Kornberg: Madonna Comix
Elliott Bay Book Company and Prographica Gallery present this evening with artist Dianne Kornberg, co-author (with poet Celia Bland) of Madonna Comix, a book that blends text with visual art.
Elliott Bay Book Company
Fantagraphics 40th Anniversary Panel
Learn about the history of Fantagraphics at this panel featuring founder Gary Groth and rock-star cartoonists Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Gilbert Hernandez a.k.a. Beto, Eisner Award-nominated cartoonist Carol Tyler, Peter Bagge (Hate and Neat Stuff), Stranger Genius Jim Woodring, and Stranger Genius Ellen Forney (known for Marbles and her Shtickers emojis).
Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
Live Wire! With Luke Burbank
This live taping of radio show Live Wire! is hosted by Luke Burbank and features Maria Semple (who Christopher Frizzelle called "the author of the funniest book ever written about Seattle") and Misha Collins (best known for his role as Castiel on Supernatural).
Quenton Baker: This Glittering Republic
Poet and educator and 2016 Made at Hugo House Fellow Quenton Baker will read from his debut full-length This Glittering Republic. Based on the handful of times I've heard him read, I'm confident I'm supposed to see some irony in that title. Baker's poems focus on Blackness in America. He often uses a series of arresting images to link contemporary violence against black people with America's history of slavery, and his deep, driving voice makes you feel the power in each line, even if sometimes they leap into abstraction. If you haven't already, check out the poem "negroes exist / for the throwing," which was published in Seattle's own The James Franco Review. RS
Hugo House First Hill
Conjuring: An Evening of Poetry & Performance on Nature, Justice, and Magic
Poet JM Miller will celebrate the release of their debut collection Wilderness Lessons (described as "a love letter to the planet that explores human violences") with this event that will explore "how nature, social justice, and magic conjure the human spirit for a night of poetry, experimental writing, and performance." Featuring Samar Abulhassan, Natasha Marin, Cody Pharigo, Anastacia Renee Tolbert, Jane Wong, and Lena Khallaf Tuffaha.
Hugo House First Hill
Everything to Me: Homeless Seattleites and their Pets
Homeless people are often criticized for not taking advantage of shelter services in the area. One of the reasons they don't use shelters? They (almost always) can't bring their pets, a source of love, companionship, comfort, and even safety on the streets. Hear about these important relationships from documentary photographer and One Health researcher Gemina Garland-Lewis, who will share photos and stories from her efforts to start a health clinic for people and pets. You'll also hear from some of the people who will make use of the clinic.
Origin Stories: All We Left Behind
Hear origin stories from local stars including poet and writer Sarah Galvin, poet and Stranger Genius nominee Robert Lashley, poet and writer Michelle Peñaloza, and fiction writer Jessica Mooney.
The Pine Box
Dava Sobel: The Glass Universe
Intellectually shallow and priggish internet pundit Milo Yiannopoulos has been "debating" with journalists on BBC 4 and "speaking" nonsense about gender. One of his more recent misogynistic hobbyhorses is the idea that women aren't cut out for careers in science and "maths." Dava Sobel's latest work of nonfiction, The Glass Universe, is one of the many books of hers we can buy and throw at his head. This one recounts the story of the group of 19th-century women who, from their desks at Harvard College Observatory, showed us the stars in a way we'd never seen them before by inventing the fucking spectrum we use to identify them. RS
Root to Branch: Work of Ousmane Sembene, Gloria Rolando, Euzhan Palcy, and Julie Dash
For the final installment of the "Visual Culture of the African Continent and its Diaspora" series, Frye Art Museum Educator Negarra A. Kudumu will speak about the aesthetics and concepts used by these four influential artists (Ousmane Sembene, Gloria Rolando, Euzhan Palcy, and Julie Dash) and outline the social and political context of their works.
Frye Art Museum
Jessica Bennett with Jeannie Yandel
Journalist Jessica Bennett is the author of Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual, a book that garnered positive reviews from both Ilana Glazer and Sheryl Sandberg. Today, she'll speak about workplace sexism and offer potential solutions.
Henry Rollins: Spoken Word
The relentlessly productive Henry Rollins (musician, actor, writer, television and radio host, comedian, and more) will host this evening of spoken performance that will probably be as impossible to categorize as he is.
I'm not a squealer, typically, but I let out a high-pitched noise when I saw the lineup for for this iteration of Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's reading series featuring queer writers. These are two of the funniest Seattleites alive, and they're going to be telling jokes and talking about writing while sitting very close to each other! Sarah Galvin is a local writer and Stranger contributor. She's the author of The Three Einsteins (a very funny and quietly poignant book of poems) and The Best Party of Our Lives (a very poignant and quietly hilarious book of essays about gay marriage). She's got a new book of poems coming out called Ugly Time, and I hope she reads from and talks about that. Stranger weed columnist and former "Last Days" shiva-sitter David Schmader has a new-ish book out, too, and it's all about gettin' hiiiiiigh. Weed: The User's Guide is a handy and hilarious guide to big chiefin. RS
Hugo House First Hill
Gary Taubes: The Case Against Sugar
Put down your mocha frappe—Gary Taubes (Why We Get Fat) will speak about his 2016 book The Case Against Sugar, which exposes the sugar industry, the substance's detrimental health effects, and the influential lobbies working to keep it so popular.
Ask the Oracle: Tod Marshall and Storme Webber
Presented by Hugo House and Hotel Sorrento, this mystic event about precognition will feature Washington Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and poet and performer Storme Webber, and will be hosted by Johnny Horton. Before the show, audience members will write down questions about their futures, and Horton (in a velvet tuxedo) will pose them to the "writer-oracles," who will answer by reading a random passage from their own work.
Tyler Nordgren: Sun Moon Earth
You need to start making plans for August 21, 2017. On that day there's going to be a total eclipse of the sun, a celestial effacement that hasn't occurred in over 40 years. You need to prepare in a number of ways. (1) Reserve a campsite on a mountain. You'll going to want to be in the "path of totality" so that you can see the full eclipse, and you'll going to want to be high up so you can have the best view. (2) Lube up. There's going to be a lot of people flying in from places that aren't in "The Path," lots of hippy outdoor parties, and lots of witchy orgies. (3) Go to this talk and listen to astronomer Tyler Nordgren read from Sun Moon Earth, a new book about the way ancient and modern scientists from all over the world view this awe-inspiring phenomenon. RS
David Sedaris: Manuscript Workshop
After his yearly reading at Benaroya, the witty, self-deprecating, hilariously judgmental David Sedaris will return to Seattle to workshop his new manuscript, Theft by Finding. His work will probably be polished and beautifully performed, with perfect timing and absurdly funny material. Feel lucky that he chose our town, and help him out by being a responsive, honest audience.
Broadway Performance Hall
Hear Claudia Rowe read from The Spider and the Fly, a true crime book about the relationship between a reporter (Rowe) and a man who murdered eight women in cold blood.
Elliott Bay Book Company
Michael Lewis in Conversation with Steve Scher
Michael Lewis (author of bestselling books like The Big Short, Moneyball, and The Blind Side) will speak about his latest work, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. This new book explores the research-based collaboration between psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky that showed "the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations."
University Temple United Methodist Church
An Evening with Ira Glass: Seven Things I've Learned
Ira Glass, host of NPR's hit radio show This American Life, is in the business of making meaning out of ordinary (or not-so-ordinary) stories. At this event, he'll use bits of video, audio clips, and storytelling to make broad points about culture and society. Glass is clear that the show will morph and grow: "This talk is a container for whatever lessons interest me the day I show up on stage."
Portland writer Jon Raymond is known for his novels (The Half-Life and Rain Dragon), his short story collection Livability, and his screenplays (including Kelly Reichardt's Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy). At this event, he'll speak about his new novel Freebird, which follows the struggles of a contemporary California family.
University Book Store
Ayelet Waldman: A Really Good Day
Ayelet Waldman—author of mystery novels, essays about motherhood, and more—is a funny if controversial internet presence (look up her New York Times Notable Book List rant/self-proclaimed "hissy fit" for an example). At this event, she'll speak about her new book A Really Good Day that explores mood disorders, LSD micro-dosing, and being a Jewish mom.
This monthly reading series curated and hosted by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore features queer writers—this time, hear from writer and critic John Treat and educator and author Chad Goller-Sojourner.
Hugo House First Hill
Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk is a well-observed, lyrical memoir about hawks, T. H. White, and the grief of losing a father. Her descriptive sentences pull you in so that you feel like you're just walking around and having a nice chat full of arcane facts with your pal Helen MacDonald, but then she'll drop a surprising image and it'll hit like a firework up close. RS
Ottessa Moshfegh, whose celebrated novel Eileen was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker prize and named a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, will read from her latest work, Homesick for Another World.
Elliott Bay Book Company
Ross Gay, who just won the very lucrative Kingsley Tufts award (a $100,000 purse for outstanding mid-career work), is a poet who is the exact opposite of pretentious. He will read from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and is full of chatty and warm but not smothering poems that are easy to grasp on a first read. RS
Author Paul Auster (known for a variety of works, from his debut memoir The Invention of Solitude to the detective fiction series The New York Trilogy) will speak about his writing and share his latest project, a novel about parallel timelines and life choices titled 4 3 2 1. Tickets include a copy of the book.
Short Stories Live: Stories from the New Yorker Magazine
This edition of "Short Stories Live" will focus on tales from the New Yorker magazine, showcasing stories from the '40s through the '80s, including work by Oliver La Farge and Renata Adler.
A Conversation with the Parents of Trayvon Martin
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin (the parents of Trayvon Martin, the high school student famously and fatally shot by neighbor George Zimmerman) are coming to Seattle to share their new book, Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, which alternates between the perspectives of each parent. Learn more about Trayvon—who he was, who he could have been—as well as the public response to his death, the personal ramifications for his parents, and their hopes for the future.
Literary Series: Angela Flournoy, Megan Kruse, and Phillip B. Williams
Hugo House presents another installment of their Literary Series, which pairs readings and music to reflect a specific theme: this time, "Exile." Look forward to hearing from fiction writer Angela Flournoy (who wrote the celebrated and National Book Award-nominated novel The Turner House), writer Megan Kruse (Call Me Home), poet Phillip B. Williams, and electro-pop duo Crater.
Fred Wildlife Refuge
A Tiny Sense
Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter's podcast A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment took a long hiatus recently—but now they're back, ready to merge readings, storytelling, lively discussion, and funny chit-chat in a digestible nugget of sound. This time, the featured guest is novelist and short story writer Karen Russell (Swamplandia!), with additional guests and musicians to be announced later.
John Darnielle: Universal Harvester
John Darnielle is the face of the Mountain Goats, an angsty indie folk band known for its lovely melodies and even lovelier lyrics ("I hope that our few remaining friends/give up on trying to save us/I hope we come up with a fail-safe plot/to piss off the dumb few that forgave us"). He's also a celebrated author—his debut, Wolf in White Van, was a National Book Award nominee. Hear him read from and talk about his second novel, Universal Harvester, which centers around a creepy, black-and-white scene that suddenly appears on a tape at the local Video Hut.
Writer, cultural critic, and famous feminist Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist, An Untamed State, and the forthcoming book Hunger) will speak as part of Seattle Arts & Lectures' "Women You Need to Know" series.
Derek Thompson: Hit Makers
Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business—and at this event, he'll look at what makes a hit (from celebrities to business ventures) a hit.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975. This year, his debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as a bunch of other top awards. The book tells the story of the American war in Vietnam from the perspective of a communist spy serving in the Vietnamese army. He's got a couple new books coming out—including Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, a multi-genre investigation about the way different nations remember, work through, and forget the lessons of war—but he'll read from his latest, The Refugees, a collection of short stories that explores "immigration, identity, love, and family." RS
Sacred Breath: Ernestine Hayes, Raven E. Heavy Runner, and Elissa Washuta
The Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington will host the second event in the new quarterly reading series highlighting Indigenous writers and storytellers, called Sacred Breath because, as they write in press materials, "Both storytelling and reading aloud can impact audiences through the power of presence, allowing for the experience of the transfer of sacred breath as audiences are immersed in the experience of being inside stories and works of literature." This reading will feature writers Ernestine Hayes (Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir), Raven E. Heavy Runner (oral historian and storyteller), and Elissa Washuta (Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules).
National Geographic Live: The Risky Science of Exploration
Follow along with environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad, National Geographic's 2011 Explorer of the Year, as he takes the audience and the Seattle Symphony on a story evolution of his global journeying.
George Saunders (whose political essays, cultural analyses, or short stories you might have seen in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's, or GQ) will read from his newest work, Lincoln in the Bardo. Saunders has a number of acclaimed short story collections and novellas under his belt, but this is his (highly anticipated) first novel. Tickets include a copy of the book.
Ben Fountain, an author and journalist who has been called "genius" by Malcolm Gladwell, has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writers Award, an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards. He'll speak as part of the 2016-17 Seattle Arts & Lectures Literary Arts season.
Every First Wednesday
Silent Reading Party
Invented by our own Christopher Frizzelle, the reading party is every first Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. That's when the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel goes quiet and fills with people with books tucked under their arms. (And, occasionally, a Kindle or two.) By 7 p.m., you often can't get a seat. And there's always free music from 6 to 8 p.m.
Every First Thursday
A live amateur storytelling competition in which audience members who put their names in a hat are randomly chosen to tell stories on a theme. Local comedians tend to show up, but lots of nonperformers get in on the action as well.
Fremont Abbey Arts Center