4/3 at Town Hall Leta Warner
WED 3/13

Ernest Freeberg

The Age of Edison isn't another boring old account of how and why Thomas Edison came up with the lightbulb (spoiler alert: He was sick of the dark). Instead, it tells the little-known story of what happened after the invention part was done: How the electric light progressed through the world, how people reacted to this mind-blowing new invention, and how it became ubiquitous.

Town Hall, 6 pm, $5

THURS 3/14

Emily Anthes

Chances are, you're creeped out by biotechnology. That's totally understandable. But Emily Anthes's new book, Frankenstein's Cat, is an important one precisely because of that visceral reaction we all feel in response to the very idea of biotech. It's a no-bullshit account that looks at the way biotechnology is used today, separating fact from fiction and explaining what you need to know about this thing that creeps us all out.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

Sam Lipsyte

Home Land and The Ask are two of the funniest novels I've read in the last decade, and part of the reason they're so funny is they're ridiculously well-written. Any schmuck can tell a joke, but to be funny in print, you have to know what you're doing. Lipsyte's sentences and structures are masterful, representing the kind of craft that only a handful of authors achieve at any one time. His new book, The Fun Parts, is a collection of stories about youth, awkwardness, the Holocaust, and Dungeons and Dragons. Lipsyte will read from Parts, and then local author Ryan Boudinot will host a Q&A, making this a banner evening for fans of awkward, funny fiction.

Hugo House, 7:30 pm, $5

MON 3/18

Ruth Ozeki

Junot Díaz calls Ruth Ozeki "one of my favorite novelists," which more than makes up for her unfortunate Canadian-ness. Her newest novel, A Tale for the Time Being, is about a diary hidden inside a Hello Kitty lunch box, and it spans the farthest edges of the Pacific Rim.

Elliott Bay Book Company, 7 pm, free

WED 3/20

Joel Magnuson

Joel Magnuson's new book is titled Toward a Livable Post-Carbon Economy. And to many people, it probably may as well be titled Life in Oz: How I Grew Six Pairs of Wings and Flew to a Magical Land of Lollipops and Intelligent TV News Anchors. But despite some early falterings, America has finally started down that road to clean energy, and we need smart people to tell us how to get there.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

Rethinking Money

In their new book, Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne suggest that they have come up with the solution to everything—the deficit, the environment, poverty, social strife. The answer, they say, is as simple as this: Let's reconsider the concept of money. That's pretty fucked up, but maybe we should hear what they have to say.

Town Hall, 6 pm, $5

FRI 3/22

Maged Zaher

Maged Zaher is one of Seattle's very best poets. His new book from Ugly Duckling Presse, Thank You for the Window Office, calls on his relationship with his birth nation of Egypt and his day job as a software engineer. That background might be why his poems are fingerprint-unique.

Open Books, 7:30 pm, free

MON 3/25

Natalie Goldberg

Here's a secret: Most how-to-write books are total shit. There are exceptions, of course, especially Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, which demystifies the writing process and offers actually valuable advice on every single page. We haven't yet seen Goldberg's newest book, The True Secret of Writing, but if it's even half as useful as Bones, you'll be a better writer for reading it.

Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave, 7 pm, free

TUES 3/26

Behind the Legend of JT Leroy

Back in the dark ages before the iPhone and Twitter, a novelist named JT Leroy captured the attention of readers and celebrities with novels that were supposedly based on his experience as a homeless transgender teen. Several years later, JT Leroy was revealed to be the pen name of a writer named Laura Albert. People were outraged. Tonight, Rebecca Brown, Sean Beaudoin, and Nicole Hardy will read Albert/Leroy's work, and A&P editor Christopher Frizzelle will interview Albert onstage.

Hugo House, 7:30 pm, $25

FRI 3/29

Verse Chapter Verse: Sherman Alexie, Fly Moon Royalty

I've been hosting The Stranger's books-and-music series for a couple years now, featuring hot local bands like Tomten and the Curious Mystery and blockbuster out-of-town authors like Cory Doctorow, Michael Chabon, and Colson Whitehead. But because this next Verse Chapter Verse is tied in with APRIL, the great local independent literature festival (see Ongoing Events and Festivals, below, for more details), I finally had the opportunity to ask one of my very favorite local authors, Sherman Alexie, to headline the event. This should be fun, especially because the band is the up-and-coming hiphop duo Fly Moon Royalty. It's all about the hometown pride tonight.

Neumos, 925 E Pike St, 6 pm, $7 adv/$10 door, 21+

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Possibly the only author on the planet who has received praise from both Howard Zinn and T Cooper, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is a queer activist who makes waves with even the titles of her books—her previous one was Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Her newest, The End of San Francisco, is a crossbreed of memoir, social criticism, and a tender good-bye to a San Francisco that doesn't exist anymore.

Elliott Bay Book Company, 7 pm, free

Pam Houston

Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness, always brings a crowd of rowdy women out to her readings, and with good cause: She's funny, she's got an acerbic wit that leaves scars, and she's very good to her fans. This Seattle visit has more meaning than her others, because parts of her new collection of linked stories, A Little More About Me, were commissioned by Hugo House for its literary series a few years back. Those stories are coming home tonight, and they're bringing their sisters with them.

University Book Store, 7 pm, free

Emily Kendal Frey, Kate Greenstreet

Kendal Frey is the author of The Grief Performance, an award-winning poetry collection. Her newest book, Baguette, is published by Open Books' very own letterset publishing business. Greenstreet's poems veer between haunting clinical lines ("the baby will born like him, but the baby is fine") and playful moments of discovery, using word games and test constructions to demonstrate the possibilities that exist every time an author sits down to write.

Open Books, 7:30 pm, free

WED 4/3

Maria Semple

Look. I'm not going to tell you how good Where'd You Go, Bernadette is anymore. It's good. I reviewed it and loved it. All of Seattle loves it. Hollywood people definitely love it—it's being adapted into a movie right now. And Nancy Pearl, who'll be interviewing Semple tonight, also loves it. If you're not going to read it now that it's out in paperback, I give up. You're totally hopeless.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

Karen Russell

The author who wrote the great debut novel Swamplandia! is back with her second collection of short stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Both books have been extravagantly praised by critics. She was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction alongside David Foster Wallace. And did I mention she's just 31? You can hate her all you want, but you should still come out to this reading, because she's a brilliant young writer who we'll be talking about for decades.

Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm, $15–$50

SAT 4/6

Sister Spit

The touring road show comes back to town with a new group of novelists, memoirists, poets, and authors, including DavEnd, Daniel LéVesque, TextaQueen, Ali Liebegott, and Sister Spit cofounder Michelle Tea.

Hugo House, 8 pm, $20

SUN 4/7

Jo Comerford

Just one short week before your taxes are due—it's time to panic!—Jo Comerford, the National Priorities Project executive director, will read from A People's Guide to the Federal Budget. Think of it as a Federal Budget for Dummies, only smarter, with a better cover, and a much less humiliating title. Guide explains the history of the federal budget and explains where every last goddamned penny of your tax dollars go, using charts and graphs and easy-to-understand explanations.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

MON 4/8

Mary Roach

After her most recent book, Packing for Mars, Mary Roach returns to her one-word title pattern (her previous books were titled Stiff, Spook, and Bonk) with Gulp. Like all of her previous books, which prodded around little-known and often nauseating truths about death and space travel and sex with a gentle sense of humor, Roach is examining an often-disgusting subject (the digestive system) with grace, wit, and tireless enthusiasm.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

FRI 4/12

Celebrating the Legacy of Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler is one of the most important writers the Pacific Northwest has ever produced. Her science-fiction novels are classics, and she has inspired generations of writers. Bloodchildren is an e-book anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories written by authors who have been touched by Butler's legacy, and this reading is an occasion for people to get together and celebrate the buildup to what would have been her 66th birthday.

Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE, 7 pm, free

TUES 4/16

Urban Waite

Local author Urban Waite will be reading at pretty much every bookstore in town over the next few weeks, from Elliott Bay to Secret Garden Books. But this is the first event, and you'll want to get to this book before everyone else. The Carrion Birds is a noir-tinged thriller set in a dusty western town—reviews mention Jim Thompson, which is always a good sign—and Waite has a reputation for gorgeously written, taut suspense.

Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, free

THURS 4/18

T(OUR) Magazine Reading Party

T(OUR) Magazine (which, to be all conflict-of-interest-y, was cofounded by Stranger employee Catherine R. Smyka) is a writing and arts quarterly that publishes work by "both queers and allies." This is the launch party for the April issue, which is "Youth" themed. There will be readings and dancing.

Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave, 7 pm, free

FRI 4/19

Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's autobiographical comics buck the trend of cartoon memoirs. Rather than working in sketchy and rough line work like Jeffrey Brown's comics, they're lushly illustrated; and rather than the raw black-and-white that most autobio cartoonists work in, her strips are presented in a full, delightful color. Her newest book is titled Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, and it's a combination of food-related stories and recipes written out in cartoon form (which is a GENIUS IDEA). Knisley will read from her book, sign copies, and offer samples of recipes from Relish. The only thing better than comics? Free food.

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 7 pm, free

THURS 4/25

Eamon Espey

It's always tough for authors to figure out what to do at a graphic-novel reading: Do you just show slides? Do you talk about the book? Just jump straight to the Q&A bit? The tour for the newest book from cartoonist Eamon Espey offers a unique solution to the eternal problem: Espey will present a shadow puppet show adapting a chapter of his newest book, Songs of the Abyss, that is "based on the true story of a man that has often been referred to as 'the last wild Indian.'" The rest of Songs of the Abyss features Egyptian gods, biblical figures, and reveals Santa Claus's true job: agent of Satan.

Hugo House, 7 pm, $5

MON 4/29

Fred Donner

According to every readings calendar editor's best friend Wikipedia, Fred Donner is "a scholar of Islam and professor of Near Eastern History at the University of Chicago." His talk will examine the history of Islam with a focus on how the fluid boundaries of Muhammad's followers became much more rigid in comparison with other monotheistic religions.

Kane Hall 210, UW Campus, 7 pm, free

SAT 5/4

Dash Shaw

Back in the 1990s, the names of cartoonists like Chris Ware and Dan Clowes were fringey talismans of cool. Dash Shaw is the modern equivalent of those cartoonists. His comics, especially the epic Bottomless Belly Button, are pushing comics forward at a pace that no other artist is approaching. Shaw's artwork will be on display at Fantagraphics Bookstore from April 13 through May 8, but tonight Shaw will be in attendance to screen his new animated short Seraph. This is your chance to be in on an "I-knew-him-when" kind of moment.

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 6 pm, free

SUN 5/5

Confronting Our Legacy of Torture

Joshua E. S. Phillips, who wrote a book called None of Us Were Like This Before, appears in discussion with Ian Fishback, the soldier who sent a letter to John McCain in 2005 that launched the public discussion about torture. The two of them will talk about how torture became normal, discuss the reasons that torture happens, and what torture does to us all.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5


Eric Drexler

Eric Drexler is considered by many to be the founding father of nanotechnology. If you don't know what nanotechnology is, let me put it in simplistic terms for you: tiny robots fucking with molecular structure. Interested yet? I thought so.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

FRI 5/10


If you're at all familiar with science, the name E. O. Wilson probably means a whole hell of a lot to you. Town Hall's publicity materials call Wilson "one of the greatest scientists alive," and that's only a bit of hyperbole. Tonight, the biologist reads from his new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, and the thought of Wilson sharing the collected wisdom of six decades of scientific work should be enough to get you panting.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

MON 5/13

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan's newest book, Cooked, claims that Americans need to take "control of cooking" back from the food industry by examining the way humans transform food with fire, water, air, and earth. Advance copies haven't been released at the time of this writing—but it sounds like a logical extension of Pollan's food-based journalism as reported in The Omnivore's Dilemma and his other books.

Benaroya Hall, 8 pm, $24–$125

Daniel Dennett

It's not often that a straight-up philosopher comes to town, and when they do show up, you have to recognize. Daniel Dennett is here to talk about the act of thinking about thinking. If you're one of those people who whines that philosophy has no purpose, you definitely have to come out to this one; Dennett's "imagination-extenders and focus-holders" have practical uses that could inspire you to think a little more deeply about philosophy.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

TUES 5/14

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean is one of the few living authors who can say she was played by Meryl Streep in a movie. She probably has to answer questions about that all the time, but you should probably also ask her questions about her great books The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, as well as all the other quality journalism she's written for the New Yorker.

Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm, $15–$50

THURS 5/16

Kathlene Postma

Hollow Earth Radio's Furnace Reading Series is a quarterly performance of adventurous literature, using music and other sound effects to enhance the experience. The latest performer, Kathlene Postma, is editor of the Silk Road Literary Journal. She'll be performing a new short story titled "Fetch" with some sort of aural accompaniment, which should make this a unique performance experience.

Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 E Union St, 7 pm, free

Kay Ryan

The Roethke Reading is a Seattle institution, an annual event in which the UW brings in contemporary poets of note to talk with students. To celebrate this 50th Roethke Reading, the UW invited Kay Ryan. Ryan is a poet—beautiful, capable of bringing up gut-punchingly magnificent phrases in every line—who deserves every ounce of fame she's received. And her legend keeps growing: She's been a MacArthur fellow, the US poet laureate, and is frequently published in the New Yorker. This should be the kind of event that happens only twice a century.

Kane Hall 130, UW Campus, 8 pm, free

SAT 5/18

Eve Ensler

The Vagina Monologues author/playwright/performer has a new book titled In the Body of the World that discusses Ensler's personal experiences with cancer. This event is a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.

Benaroya Hall, 8 pm, $24–$500

MON 5/20

Temple Grandin

This reading for Temple Grandin's newest book, The Autistic Brain, is already sold out, but I just wanted to tell you about it so you'll feel bad about missing it. Bottle that feeling. Remember it. Now vow to yourself to never miss another reading again for as long as you may live.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

THURS 5/30

Jaron Lanier

If you missed Jaron Lanier's manifesto You Are Not a Gadget, you really have some catching up to do. The book, which imagines a more humane internet, was praised by people as diverse as engineers, software designers, Zadie Smith, and me. Now Lanier has returned with a new book titled Who Owns the Future?, and he's giving a talk about how digital technology can save our economy. This one is not to be missed.

Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

WED 6/5

Joan Didion

Do you really need me to tell you why you should attend a Seattle appearance by Joan Didion? Come on.

Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm, $15–$50

Ongoing Events and Festivals


APRIL is a yearly festival of independent publishers and writers. Last year's festival was incredible, and just the kind of jump-start that Seattle's literary community needed. This year's festival features an event titled "A Poet, a Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen," a special Verse Chapter Verse featuring an onstage interview with Sherman Alexie, readings from Matthew Rohrer and Matthew Dickman, three happy-hour readings, and a giant Small Press Expo at Hugo House.

Various venues, March 25–31, aprilfestival.wordpress.com


Breadline is an ongoing readings series featuring poets, visual artists, scientists, and other performers, along with an open mic. It's consistently one of the most interesting readings events in any given month. You should try to attend one sometime.

Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave, third Wednesday of every month, breadlinepoetry.com


Castalia is the ongoing series run by the UW's Creative Writing program. It features current UW students, professors, and alumni. The next few events will feature readers like Sierra Nelson, Amaranth Borsuk, and David Shields.

Hugo House, Tues April 2 and Tues May 7, 8 pm, uwcastalia.blogspot.com

Jack Straw Reading Series

Jack Straw is an invaluable local program that teaches writers how to present their work in the audio medium, an important skill that most writing programs don't bother with. Every year, they present what their graduates have learned in a series of readings. This year's class includes Daemond Arrindell, Larry Crist, Peter Munro, Emily Perez, Judith Skillman, and Chelsea Werner-Jatzke.

Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, Fri May 3, Fri May 10, Fri May 17, 7 pm, free