Maria Semple's last novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, might be the funniest book ever written about Seattle. Hear her read from her new novel, Today Will Be Different, on October 8. Kelly O

Find a complete list of readings and talks in Seattle this fall on our Things To Do calendar.


SEPT 29
Writing for a Cause: Muatasim Qazi, Frederica Jansz, and Mike Lewis
There are lots of reasons to be fed up right now. Everything from Mayor Ed Murray’s regressive plan for bike infrastructure to police brutality to LGBTQ discrimination to the inhumane treatment of Syrian refugees. One response to all the pain and injustice in the world is to curl up in a ball and fall down brain-numbing rabbit holes on YouTube. Another much more powerful response is to pick one of those injustices and write really, really well about it. But that’s hard to do, especially if you feel like you’re alone and writing in a vacuum. At Writing for a Cause, you won’t feel that way. You’ll get to hear how great local writers write about causes that are important to them, and also have time to start working on your own stuff. RS
Hugo House First Hill

SEPT 30
David Quammen: America’s Wild Heart
Learn about the first (and arguably most impressive) national park, Yellowstone, from bestselling science writer David Quammen, who will speak about the park in the context of his new book, Yellowstone: A Journey Through America’s Wild Heart.
Town Hall

Wave Books Celebration
Nearly every year, Stranger Genius Nominee Wave Books introduces Seattle to a group of poets and writers they've recently published, some of whom live just down the street. This event features Tyehimba Jess, whose latest book, Olio is a sweeping, multi-genre engagement with blues poetics. Read it. And, before you go, also read Don Mee Choi's challenging and excellent book of poems, Hardly War, which is about fathers and the Korean War and flower children and colonialism and photography. Anselm Berrigan and editor of the press, Joshua Beckman, will contribute their latest work as well. Last I heard, Beckman has been working on a sprawling essay about clouds. You love get this variety of subjects and aesthetics at poetry readings like these, and the writers who inhabit these modes are doing so in very weird, fresh ways. You'll want to pay attention. RS
Fred Wildlife Refuge

OCT 3
Patti Smith
The punk-rock queen and author of Just Kids, for which she won the National Book Award in 2010, presents her 2015 book, M Train. The "M" seems to stand for Manhattan, mental, Michigan, more coffee, memento mori, melancholy, music, Murakami, memoir about living in New York and taking out a mortgage for a coffee shop, and making a living by making art. Throughout the book, Smith winds readers through the last few decades of her personal and professional life, noting inspirations and showing off photos of the journey along the way. Your ticket includes a copy of the book. RS
University Temple United Methodist Church

OCT 4
Six Pack Series
Washington Ensemble Theater's quarterly-ish variety show is my favorite reading series in Seattle. It's always energetic, often politically engaged without being too self-serious, and sometimes very moving. The theme for this installment is "EAT ME," which will feature "stories of food, famine, and feasting!" Local literary organizer Willie Fitzgerald may or may not read a story about buying himself pounds of Utz's crab chips for his 30th birthday. The Stranger's music calendar editor Kim Selling is sure to draw a snort-laugh or two with her poems or essays. One of the promotional photos on Sara Porkalob's website shows her in character as the Dragon Lady holding up a shrink-wrapped package of raw duck heads, so. And MJ Seiber will probably be loud and funny. Beers and booze available at the bar. RS
12th Avenue Arts

OCT 5
Ada Limón
Ada Limón, a poet whose most recent work, 2015’s Bright Dead Things, was selected as one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by the New York Times, will speak as part of the 2016-17 Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series.
McCaw Hall

Contagious Exchanges
This monthly series curated and hosted by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore will feature two stellar queer writers—this time, hear from author Rebecca Brown and Stranger Genius Award-winning artist C. Davida Ingram.
Hugo House First Hill

Gary Younge: Another Day in the Death of America
Author and Guardian journalist Gary Younge (No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the American South) will speak about his new book, Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives, which deals with 10 young lives lost on November 23, 2013. That day wasn't historic—in fact, the day is random. Each day in the United States, seven young people will be shot dead. This book offers a glimpse into the lives of just a few of the numerous people struck down before their time.
Town Hall

OCT 6
Define American: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant
Journalist, filmmaker, and activist Jose Antonio Vargas was part of the team at the Washington Post that won a Pulitzer for their breaking news coverage of the 2008 Virginia Tech shooting—but you’re more likely to know him from his autobiographical film, Documented, or his brave writing about his status as an undocumented immigrant. Hear him speak about his work and life story.
Kane Hall

OCT 7
(A)live Heart Book Release
Celebrate the release of artist and poet Imani Sims’s new collection of poems with an evening of live performance.
Common AREA Maintenance

Snap Judgment
This storytelling event—created by Glynn Washington and co-produced by WNYC—will combine elements of music, radio, stage, screen, and web, to give audiences “a glimpse into the lives of a stranger.”
Moore Theatre

OCT 8
Charles Burns
Charles Burns will read from and sign copies of Black Hole, a 12-part comic series that tells the story of a sexually transmitted disease that disfigures teenagers.
Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery

Maria Semple
My esteemed colleague Christopher Frizzelle calls Maria Semple "the author of the funniest book ever written about Seattle." He's referring to her wildly successful, clue-filled novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? The new book, Today Will Be Different, contains a humor similar to the old book. The whole thing is basically the inner monologue of an upper middle class Seattleite who runs around town being delightfully indignant about her little dog, her precocious and possibly gay son, her do-no-wrong husband, and the larger world around her. But there's an added layer of gravity that complicates the glib in this book. RS
Town Hall

OCT 11
Luvvie Ajayi and Lindy West
Ajayi (author of I’m Judging You and the Awesomely Luvvie blog) will join former Stranger staffer Lindy West (whose new book, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, is hilarious and poignant) for a discussion about their work, as well as the intersection of comedy and activism.
Central Library

Mark Bittman: How to Bake Everything
Food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything) will share insights from his new baking-centric book, including recipes for desserts like baked Alaska, gingerbread whoopie pies, and Afghan snowshoe naan.
Town Hall

OCT 14
Hugo Literary Series: Téa Obreht, Eduardo C. Corral, and Quenton Baker
The Literary Series at Hugo House presents new work from established and emerging writers based around a theme. The theme for this event is "theft," literary or otherwise, and it's gonna be real interesting to see where these writers take it. Seattle poet and writer Quenton Baker was a Made at Hugo House Fellow, and his book This Glittering Republic is due from Willow Books in 2017. The poems I've read of his work to dismantle white supremacy using a variety of styles. Sometimes he'll use a musical three-beat line, sometimes he'll let the line run. And he's just as comfortable with narrative as he is with abstraction. Téa Obreht wrote The Tiger’s Wife, a novel about doctors and death in a fictional Balkan province that won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Poet Eduardo C. Corral has won a ton of prizes for his gorgeous lyrics about sex, immigration, and, of course, poetry. RS
Fred Wildlife Refuge

OCT 16
Bryan Cranston
Actor Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad and now, All the Way) will be joined in conversation by the wonderful Sherman Alexie to speak about Cranston’s new book, A Life in Parts.
Benaroya Hall

OCT 17
Geraldine Brooks
Bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks is a master of building on and adapting existing stories to make new narratives...whether she’s writing detailed, heavily researched historical fiction, exploring the lives of her childhood pen pals, or filling out the life of the absent father in Little Women. At this event, Brooks will read from and discuss her newest novel The Secret Chord, based on the life of the Bible’s King David.
Town Hall

OCT 19
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Bridging the Gap
Learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and listen to experts talk through some potential solutions—at this event featuring Palestinian Ambassador Maen Areikat, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, and KUOW’s Ross Reynolds.
Town Hall

OCT 21
Ralph Nader: Breaking Through Power
Activist, author, attorney, and infamous Green Party candidate Ralph Nader will speak about his new book, Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think, about "David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government."
Town Hall

OCT 23-25
National Geographic Live: A Photographer’s Life of Love & War
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario (who has photographed conflict zones including Afghanistan, Darfur, and Libya) will speak about her work and her memoir, It’s What I Do.
Benaroya Hall

OCT 24
Jess Walter, Tim Egan and Sherman Alexie: The Other NBA
Celebrate the eve of the season opener for the NBA (National Basketball Association), with “The Other NBA”—i.e., the National Book Award. Three winners of the NBA will speak about “life, longing, basketball and the Northwest.”
Town Hall

OCT 25
Arlie Russell Hochschild
Sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild (The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home) will discuss her latest work, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, an investigative look at the Tea Party and members of the conservative right.
Central Library

OCT 26
Timothy Egan
Timothy Egan is a former Seattle Times correspondent, current lefty columnist for The New York Times, and winner of the 2006 National Book Award for The Worst Hard Time, which was about the horrors of the Dust Bowl. His current book is The Immortal Irishman. RS
Benaroya Hall

OCT 27
T.C. Boyle
Author T.C. Boyle—known for infusing his often silly and humorous stories with themes of activism and environmentalism—will read from his latest book, The Harder They Come, about “the intertwined lives of a Vietnam veteran, his mentally unstable son Adam, and Adam’s much older, anarchist lover.”
Pigott Building

OCT 28
Nick Offerman
Nick Offerman—who you will probably recognize from his role as Ron on Parks & Recreation, or from making the New York Times bestseller list with Paddle Your Own Canoe—will speak about his work and his latest book, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers.
Benaroya Hall

NOV 2
Contagious Exchanges
This monthly series curated and hosted by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore will feature two stellar queer writers—this time, hear from artist, writer, and songwriter Vivek Shraya and filmmaker and writer Chase Joynt.
Hugo House First Hill

Daniel Menaker
Daniel Menakar will read from The African Svelte: Ingenious Misspellings That Make Surprising Sense, inspired by his time working as a fact-checker (then later, as an editor) for the New Yorker.
Town Hall

NOV 4
Ha Jin: The Boat Rocker
Poet and novelist Ha Jin (Waiting and War Trash) will speak about his newest novel, The Boat Rocker—”a darkly funny story of corruption, integrity and the power of the pen.”
Central Library

Hugo Literary Series: Alexander Chee, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Listen to new work based on the theme "Animals" from esteemed local writers Alexander Chee (Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night), Kirstin Valdez Quade (Night at the Fiestas), and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and Pulling Taffy). Hear music from folk-pop duo The Royal Oui between readings.
Fred Wildlife Refuge

NOV 13
Anthony Bourdain
Chef, author, and TV star Anthony Bourdain presents this new live show featuring “an unyielding, brutally honest monologue reflecting on diverse culture, street cuisine and his travels to lesser-known locations around the world,” which will be followed by a Q&A session.
Paramount Theatre

Taxidermy Mermaids, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, and Other Marvels
Did you know that having a baby can make your vagina and nipples turn a darker color forever? Partly because I am an idiot man with very few mother-friends, I did not know this fact nor several others, which form the basis of many of the poems in Kathryn Nuernberger's latest book, The End of Pink (BOA Editions). Nuernberger's poems are frank, funny, chatty, and in this book involve a lot of straight talk about the body during pregnancy or else imaginative talk about raccoon villages and taxidermied mermaids. They're full of humor and lyrical heat, and they're certainly worth a read. She'll read with fiction editor of Crab Creek Review and Central Washington University professor Maya Zeller, whose book Yesterday, the Bees also involves parenting and families. RS
Hugo House First Hill

NOV 14
Rachel Zucker
Rachel Zucker’s The Pedestrians came out a couple years ago on Wave Books and blew everybody away. The book’s a discursive and lyrical meditation on the way motherhood affects one’s experience of time. Zucker follows in the tradition of Sylvia Plath, Alice Notley, and Adrienne Rich in giving us long, unflinching stares into the lives of women. She’ll be here to give a lecture on “poetry, confession, and ethics.” RS
McCaw Hall

NOV 16
Ed Skoog Book Launch
Many of the individual poems published from Ed Skoog's forthcoming book of poems, Run the Red Lights (Copper Canyon Press), have already yielded phrases that deserve a permanent spot in the lexicon. Describing a Grateful Dead show in the poem "Grateful Dead Tapes, he writes, 'It was terrible, / a lot of twentieth-century business coming due / at once. Bob Dylan opened, unintelligible / and sleepy as if reaching from the frost / to make known 'in life I was Bob Dylan.'" The poems read like transcriptions from a Sunday catch-up call with an old friend, veering wildly but casually around a lot of personal and political "twentieth-century business coming due," which is a sharp turn from the fragmented beauty of his last book, Rough Day, winner of the Washington State Book Award for poetry. And if you've never heard Skoog read before, you're in for a treat. Skoog's dulcet baritone and comic timing skillz make the poems jump off the page. RS
Hugo House First Hill

An Evening with David Sedaris
The witty, self-deprecating, hilariously judgmental David Sedaris is visiting Seattle and speaking at Benaroya Hall. Drawing from both his old and recent works, Sedaris will treat us to a reading.
Benaroya Hall

NOV 17
Charles Eley
Learn about the use and future of “Zero Net Energy” buildings at this event featuring Charles Eley, author of Design Professional’s Guide to Zero Net Energy Buildings, who will be joined by a panel of local experts.
Town Hall

NOV 18
Marina Abramovic
As part of SAL’s Women You Need to Know series, artist Marina Abramovic will speak about her visual art and how it relates to and is made possible by the physical body.
Town Hall

Michelle Tea and Donna Kaz
Michelle Tea and Donna Kaz will read from and celebrate the release of their latest books—Black Wave and Unmasked: Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl on Tour, respectively—and follow with a Q&A.
Fred Wildlife Refuge

NOV 19
Word Works: Patricia Smith
Writing a book is daunting. In this “Word Works” talk, Patricia Smith will break the process into discrete parts, and give us a peek into her own process—specifically, how she put together her latest book, Incendiary Art.
Washington Hall

NOV 28
David France
Journalist, author, and producer David France made the award-winning documentary How to Survive a Plague, about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Now, he presents a book inspired by (and with the same title as) the film. Hear about "the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight."
Town Hall

DEC 1
Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi (author of award-winning book The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972) will read from his latest work, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.
University Book Store

Michael Chabon
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Telegraph Avenue, among others) will speak about his latest work, Moonglow, which Booklist called "his most beautifully realized novel to date."
Central Library

FIRST WED
Silent Reading Party
Invented by our own Christopher Frizzelle, the reading party is every first Wednesday of the month. 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.)
Sorrento Hotel

FIRST THURS, THIRD FRI
Seattle StorySLAM
A live, amateur storytelling competition much like The Moth, in which audience members who put their names in a hat are randomly chosen to tell stories on a theme.
Fremont Abbey Arts Center & St. Mark’s Cathedral