I attend so many readings that I often forget that there are people who have never attended an author reading. That's why I'm glad Questionland exists. Danno Davis asks:

What should I expect at one of these readings at Elliott Bay?

I'm pretty interested in this reading on Milosevic tonight, but I've never been to one before. I'd kind of like to get a better idea of what to expect. Is the format something like the following: Intro; Reading of a snippet; Question time? How long does the whole thing last? Thanks.

My response:

Hey Danno,

Thanks for asking.

Well, every reading is different, but most single-author readings do generally follow a template. The introduction, hopefully, will be brief; just a welcome, a short mention of upcoming events the audience might find interesting, and a little context about the author.

The author will usually read from his or her book—-that usually takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. Sometimes they prefer to speak about the subject without reading from the book. If there are slides or the author loves the sound of his or her own voice, it could go a half an hour, but that's rare.

Then the author will take questions from the audience. Sometimes that can go on for a while, if the questions are good and the audience is particularly inquisitive. Often, the questions can be the longest part of the night. (I think that might be the case tonight.)

And then it's time for the signing. If you want, you can take off. Or you can buy a book. And you're not obligated to buy a book, either—if you'd like to just wait in line and say something to the author, you should feel free to do that.

Usually, they go for about an hour, maybe a little more, sometimes a little less. And they're almost always free (except for readings at Town Hall, which cost five bucks to pay for the rental of the space). They're a great way to learn more about a subject without committing to the price of a book.

Have fun!

Seriously, people: Readings Are Your Best Double-Dip Recession Entertainment Value™. Danno is going to his first one tonight; you should go to your first one sometime soon.