Don't miss Fran Lebowitz on February 18. Christopher Macsurak

Find a complete list of readings & talks in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.

Get all this and more on the free Stranger Things To Do mobile app—available now on the App Store and Google Play.

On the Boards presents NW New Works 2019, a festival of the boldest new performance in the PNW!

Dec 6

A Conversation with Tom Hanks

The perennially likable star just came out with his first book, titled Uncommon Type: Some Stories and composed of 17 works of short fiction. Apparently he just wrote them on the side while filming movies, because some people never need to sleep.

McCaw Hall

Word Works: Jess Walter

National Book Award finalist, Washington State Book Award winner, and co-podcaster with Sherman Alexie Jess Walter will give a talk called "On the Clock, Time, and the Fiction Writer," delving into the sense of time in fiction—and for the writer.

Washington Hall

Dec 7

Dan Rather: What Unites Us

In the midst of post-Trump anxiety, Dan Rather's rational, morally solid musings on social media have become a source of much-needed sanity. Rather, one of the most celebrated TV journalists ever (he covered the news on CBS over several decades, including the 1968 Democratic convention, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, and 9/11) will present his new book What Unites Us, about quintessential American institutions that really do make us great.

University Temple United Methodist Church

Neil Patrick Harris

Dapper showman Neil Patrick Harris has turned his talents to kids' literature in a story of a street magician, his New England friends, and an unscrupulous circus boss, The Magic Misfits.

Temple De Hirsch Sinai

Poetry Across the Nations: An Indigenous Reading

Natalie Diaz is the author of the award-winning collection of poetry When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press). (She's also a very accomplished ball player, but that's for another blurb.) Her other work involves doing cool things like partnering with the Hugo House and Poetry Foundation to create Poetry Across the Nations, "a community outreach program facilitated by Native women." Basically, they host readings and workshops to build "intercultural and intertribal" networks. While she's here, Muckleshoot poet Celeste Adame and Diaz will offer a free poetry workshop for Native writers. There will also be a reading, open to all, featuring Diaz, Suquamish poet Cedar Sigo (who has a couple very good collections out on Wave), East Shawnee poet and UW grad Laura Da', Muscogee poet Jennifer Foerster (Leaving Tulsa), and Acoma Pueblo poet Sara Ortiz. These poets employ a wide range of styles, from narrative stuff to hyper-lyrical stuff to wildly experimental stuff, so there will be something for everyone, provided your something involves good poetry. RS

Fred Wildlife Refuge

Dec 8

Khizr Khan

It would be unfair to say that Khizr Khan became famous for the harsh and baseless words then-presidential candidate Donald Trump leveled at him after the Gold Star father spoke in favor of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention. Khan made a national impression because of his patriotism and calm dignity under pressure. In case you don't remember the background, Khizr and Ghazala Khan's son Humayun was killed in action in Iraq in the 2000s. Florangela Davila will engage Khan in conversation about his new book, An American Family, which details his grief, his family life, and his convictions.

Seattle University, Campion Ballroom

Dec 8–9

Tara Hardy

Tara Hardy will revive her meditation on her own illness and mortality, the Washington State Book Award-winning My, My, My, My, My, for the stage as a one-woman show called Why Should Just the Pretty Survive? But she won't be lonely up there: Each night, she'll be joined by prominent local artists, including Elissa Ball, Ebo Barton, Jourdan Imani Keith, Nikki Agee, billie rain, and Tobi Hill Meyer.

Gay City

Dec 9

Write-O-Rama: Winter 2017

Get the maximum amount of instruction from Hugo House's excellent prose writers and poets at this annual event featuring six hours of hourlong mini-workshops and talks.

Hugo House First Hill

Dec 11

Hillary Rodham Clinton

This reading is already sold out because of course it is, but in case any of the current ticket-holders suddenly come down with "pneumonia," you should know that the former Secretary of State / the first woman to win a major party nomination for the presidency is coming to town to tell you her side of the story, the one about the campaign we all watched with increasing dread (and misplaced confidence) during the Year of Our Dark Lord Satan 2016. She wrote it all down in What Happened, which, like Clinton herself, has drawn everything from blazing critiques to glowing paeans to dead-eyed shrugs. If you can slip through the doors of the Paramount this evening, you'll get to judge for yourself. RS

Paramount Theatre

Elliott Bay Book Company

Sebastian Bach

Solo artist and Skid Row lead singer Sebastian Bach, who has toured with artists including Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses and appeared on TV shows including Gilmore Girls, shares "lurid tales of excess and debauchery" in his new memoir, 18 and Life on Skid Row.

University Book Store

Dec 12

Annual Holiday Reading with Brad Craft

Join the Book Store's beloved used books buyer, Brad, to revel in Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," a tale of making Christmas traditions with his older cousin "from buying illegally made whiskey for their fruitcakes to cutting down their own tree and decorating it with homemade ornaments." Have some cookies and cider while you listen to this uncharacteristically sweet Capote story.

University Book Store

Elliott Bay Book Company

Sam Wasson with Andrew McMasters

Sam Wasson's new book Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art reveals the story of how experimental theater in 1950s Chicago led to the birth of a new type of comedy, and of how the new form influenced movie and TV acting. Hear him set forth the case for improv as America's great theater innovation.

Jet City Improv

Dec 14

Annie Leibovitz

The renowned photographer—she's captured such iconic images as naked John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen's bum, and pregnant Serena Williams—will speak about her life's work. Pick up a copy of the new collection Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 at this Town Hall event.

Campion Ballroom

Dec 15

E.J. Koh, Mita Mahato, Montreux Rotholtz, and Jane Wong

E.J. Koh, notable for what Stranger critic Rich Smith calls her "intense, image-driven poetry," will share poetry from her award-winning debut collection A Lesser Love. She'll be joined by other emerging local poets: Mita Mahato, Montreux Rotholtz, and Jane Wong.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Someday We'll All Be Free: Patrisse Cullors and Luis Rodriguez

Activists, lawyers, and community leaders will reflect on how libraries can contribute to "a future without prisons" and help reform the criminal justice system. Hear from Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, Los Angeles poet laureate Luis Rodriguez, the ACLU's Michele Storms, Rainier Beach educator Jerrell Davis, and Native American photographer and director Wesley Roach.

Central Library

Dec 16

Anastacia-Reneé, Jane Wong, and Leena Joshi: Tender Table

Three excellent, prize-winning local poets of color—Jane Wong, Anastacia-Reneé, and Leena Joshi, who's also a visual artist—will read work about food and identity.

Mount Analogue

Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce: Part I, Chapter 4

I love James Joyce. I do not, however, love his last and craziest work, Finnegans Wake. It's a book that really has only one reader, Joyce himself. And he is dead. But his book is still around. What to do with this unreadable work, with its mixed words, made-up words, forgotten words, dream-dripping words? One person, Neal Kosaly-Meyer, has decided to commit the entire thing to memory and then perform it from memory. Maybe this is the only way the novel could be saved. It's not all that amazing to memorize something that everyone understands; it's very impressive to memorize something understood by only one person, who has been in the grave for many years. CM

Chapel Performance Space

Dec 18

Joseph Janes

"Documents." What a boring word. UW associate professor Joseph Janes's new volume Documents that Changed the Way We Live shows documents for what they are: Far from dry bits of paper, they are tied to our images of ourselves and have momentous consequences for society. Among the artifacts discussed: "the 'We Can Do It!' poster, Joseph McCarthy's 'list' of communists, the passage on slavery deleted from the Declaration of Independence, the Watergate tapes," and others.

University Book Store

Jan 5–11

Ingrid Christie

David Sedaris

The witty, self-deprecating, hilariously judgmental David Sedaris will return to Seattle to workshop his new manuscript, Calypso. His work will probably be polished and beautifully performed, with perfect timing and absurdly funny material. Feel lucky that he chose our town for the second year in a row, and help him out by being a responsive, honest audience.

Broadway Performance Hall

Jan 7

Stephen Tobolowsky

Stephen Tobolowsky's the insufferable insurance agent who endlessly and hilariously infuriates Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day ("Watch out for the step, it's a dewwwwzy!"). He's also known for roles in Glee and Memento as well as his Public Radio International podcast, The Tobolowsky Files. Hear him share information about life in the industry, as told in his book My Adventures with God.

Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island

Jan 8

Sasha Senderovich

Hear from Sasha Senderovich, translator of the 1929 Yiddish-language novel Judgment by David Bergelson. This is the first time Bergelson's book, set in a Jewish shtetl during the Russian Revolution, has been rendered into English. Bergelson, author of The End of Everything and Descent, was murdered by Stalin in 1952.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 9

Daniel Ellsberg with Daniel Bessner

Daniel Ellsberg is a defense expert, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press, and the author of The Doomsday Machine. In this conversation with scholar and author Daniel Bessner, Ellsberg will speak on the existential threat posed to civilization by our nuclear arsenal and the Trump administration's strategy concerning it.

University Temple United Methodist Church

Jan 10

Achy Obejas, Robert Arellano, Nelson George

Three authors from Brooklyn's Akashic Books, which strives for "Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World," to quote their motto, will present their works. See Achy Obejas (the author of The Tower of the Antilles and editor of Havana Noir), Robert Arellano (who wrote Curse the Names, Fast Eddie, and King of the Bees), and mystery novelist Nelson George.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 11

Chloe Benjamin

Benjamin's new book is about four teens in 1969 New York who seek to know their fortunes from a mysterious mystic and proceed to live out their existences in accordance with prophecy. Will they die on the dates predicted? Or are they subconsciously fulfilling the destinies they've been given? This family epic has garnered praise from prominent authors Richard Russo, Karen Joy Fowler, and Nathan Hill.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 16

Alicia Eler

Alicia Eler's The Selfie Generation, an argument/queer memoir, analyzes selfie-taking as a reflection on our society and the larger culture's view of millennials. After the reading, she'll speak with local artist Ellie Dicola.

Hugo House First Hill

Sherman Alexie Loves: Nikki Giovanni

Writer, poet, activist, and living legend Nikki Giovanni rose to prominence in the late 1960s with her collections Black Feeling, Black Talk and Black Judgement. Since then, she's shaped the literary world with her political, historical, sometimes militant poetry, collecting numerous accolades (including seven NAACP Image Awards) along the way. See her perform in person as part of the "Sherman Alexie Loves" series.

Benaroya Hall

Jan 17

Jesmyn Ward

Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for Salvage the Bones, and then she won it again this year for her latest work, Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel. On top of that, this year the MacArthur Foundation called her a genius and gave her a bunch of money to keep writing more award-winning books. They describe her prose as "simultaneously luminous and achingly honest," capable of capturing "moments of beauty, tenderness, and resilience against a bleak landscape of crushing poverty, racism, addiction, and incarceration." RS

Benaroya Hall

Jan 18

Tom Storm Photography

Carmen Maria Machado

Every year, without exception, the book world agrees to like one book and to get all buzzy about it on social media and in the newspapers. This year that book was Carmen Maria Machado's debut collection of magical realist short fiction, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press), which is composed of eight fables about "women on the verge," according to Parul Sehgal in the New York Times. Ellie Robins at the LA Times says the book is "an example of almost preposterous talent that also encapsulates something vital but previously diffuse about the moment." Annalisa Quinn at NPR says "Machado's stories describe "familiar, unspoken truths about being women in the world that more straightforward or realist writing wouldn't." Sounds like this book is the perfect mix of political allegory and escapist lit for our post-Weinstein, post-Hillary (maybe?) world. RS

Seattle Public Library, Beacon Hill Branch

Jan 20

Winter Write-In with Write Our Democracy

Writers of all kinds will gather for this quarterly Hugo House/Write Our Democracy event focusing on the power of the word to fight against cynicism and for liberty and justice. This write-in promises readings, prompts, and time to write with fellow community members.

Hugo House First Hill

Jan 22

Juli Berwald

The future is jelly. Specifically, our warm, polluted, carbon-saturated ocean is more hospitable to jellyfish than to the fish we love to eat. Juli Berwald's book Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone explains how cnidarians' proliferation are a warning sign that we need to treat our oceans much better, or we'll be snacking on peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches instead of sushi.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 23

Laurie Frankel

Seattle writer Laurie Frankel will read from her third novel, This Is How It Always Is, which is about the trials, tribulations, questions, and unbridled delights that come along with raising a trans child.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 23, Feb 13, & March 6

Salon of Shame

Writing that makes you cringe ("middle school diaries, high school poetry, unsent letters") is read aloud with unapologetic hilarity at this Salon of Shame. Every show sells out extremely quickly, but if you can't get tickets, show up at 7 pm on the night of the show to get on the waitlist—cash only. The organizers say you have a great chance of getting in if you do so.

Theatre Off Jackson, Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center

Jan 25

WYNK: Ijeoma Oluo

Why can't white people say the N-word? What do you mean by privilege? But don't all lives matter? What do you mean when you say "intersectionality"? If you're seriously struggling with the answers to those questions, then current editor-at-large of The Establishment and former Stranger contributor Ijeoma Oluo's So You Want To Talk About Race? is here for you. In the book, Oluo employs humor and plenty of anaphora to explain, chapter by chapter, some basic ideas about race that a lot of powerful people (and powerfully loud people) don't seem to quite understand. RS

Benaroya Hall

Feb 2

A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment

Two of the PNW's most prolific, most accomplished, and most entertaining writers have somehow found the time to produce an incredibly entertaining podcast for literary lovers, not to mention an incredibly useful podcast for writers of all sorts. During this live taping, Alexie and Walters will chat with novelist Tommy Orange (whose praises Alexie has been singing for some time now), essayist Terese Mailhot (whose highly anticipated Heart Berries is due out soon), and Native rapper Supaman. RS

Benaroya Hall

Feb 5

Robert Gates

As part of the Unique Lives & Experiences series, hear from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under Presidents Bush and Obama.

McCaw Hall

Feb 6

Ross McMeekin

Ross McMeekin's The Hummingbirds is a Hollywood-set novel with a noir plot but an uncynical soul. A young man who was brought up in a bird-worshipping cult, and now works as a groundskeeper for an actress and her producer husband, dreams of becoming a bird photographer. The actress is drawn to her employee, but her husband's manipulative nature renders their relationship perilous. This is McMeekin's first novel; he edits the excellent literary magazine Spartan, which publishes short and incisive "minimalist prose."

Hotel Sorrento

Feb 7

Gregory Orr

Much beloved and legendary poet who I once used as an example of bad poetry reading in an essay called "Stop Using Poet Voice." I just want to stress here that Orr's work is much bigger and better and more important than his reading voice, and that you really should check out The Caged Owl (published by Copper Canyon Press—they're local, guys!) if you're looking for a lesson on how to turn your trauma into poems without discrediting either. RS

McCaw Hall

Feb 8

Terese Marie Mailhot

First Nations journalist and essayist Terese Marie Mailhot is out with her debut memoir, Heart Berries, which is about growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. The coming-of-age story follows Mailhot from her "profoundly dysfunctional upbringing" to her struggle with PTSD and bipolar disorder, and ultimately to the writing life she's cultivated in response to all that. Sherman Alexie regularly champions her work in radio interviews and in conversations, so she's got his stamp of approval. I imagine she'll have many others when this one hits the shelves. RS

Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 12

Box Brown

Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist Box Brown (Andre the Giant) will read from Is This Guy For Real?, a new biographical graphic novel about the incendiary comic Andy Kaufman, known for his occasionally shocking performance-art style of stand-up.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 15

Colson Whitehead

About novelist and MacArthur genius Colson Whitehead, Rich Smith wrote, "He won every major award in fiction this year for The Underground Railroad, which really was that good." In his review, Smith said the new novel was "even better than the hype." The Pulitzer Prize committee would agree with that assessment of the novel, which blends realistic historical atrocity and sci-fi premises to explore a woman's drive to escape slavery.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 16

Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali

Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney's, turns to nonfiction to tell the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a son of Yemeni immigrants who travels back to the land of his origin to discover coffee farms. Civil war breaks out in the middle of his trip, leaving him stranded. A tale of adventure and coffee nerdery, The Monk of Mokha and its real-life protagonist are sure to charm and inspire. Presented by Elliott Bay Book Company.


Feb 17

Xandria Phillips

In the 2016 Seattle Review Chapbook Contest, Xandria Phillips's Reasons for Smoking was chosen by Claudia Rankine as the winner. Phillips, an Ohio native, has received Cave Canem and Callaloo fellowships and previously published work in Beloit Poetry Journal, West Branch, Nashville Review, and more. Quenton Baker and Sarah Maria Medina will help fete the release of her chapbook with readings.

Open Books

Feb 18

Fran Lebowitz

Humorist Fran Lebowitz stands at a remove from popular culture, much of which she lambastes with sarcastic wit. She's also something of a grump. In a 1993 interview in the Paris Review, she groused, "I wouldn't say that I dislike the young. I'm simply not a fan of naïveté. I mean, unless you have an erotic interest in them, what other interest could you have?" But she's also an incisive observer and a concentration of New York bluntness in human skin, and she'll be worth seeing.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 22

Erik Larson in Conversation with Neal Bascomb

Erik Larson's books have taken a vivid approach to historic events like the sinking of the Lusitania (Dead Wake), the killings of the World's Fair murderer H.H. Holmes (The Devil in the White City), and the rise of Hitler through the eyes of an American family in Berlin (In the Garden of Beasts). His narrative nonfiction has netted him an Edgar Award and landed on bestseller lists, and he'll discuss the art with Neal Bascomb, New York Times-bestselling author of The Winter Fortress, about the sabotage of the German atomic bomb program.

Washington Hall

Feb 22–25

Imani Sims

Local queer poet Imani Sims presents Yes, Ms. White Lady, "an exploration of Black Femme/Non-Binary Identities through the literary and performing arts as a way to resist micro aggressive behaviors."

Gay City

Feb 23

Word Works: Ruth Ozeki

Former Stranger staffer Paul Constant once wrote, "In her novel A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki performed some next-level Being John Malkovich–style narrative judo flips. There are so many threads in the book—a journal written by a bullied Japanese teenager, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a novelist named Ruth who eerily resembles Ozeki—that a lesser novelist would have turned in a tangled mess of knotted twine. But Ozeki demonstrates the metafictional gift of a Vonnegut or a Kundera, the ability to insert herself into her novel and in so doing transform the personal into the universal.

Washington Hall

Feb 24

African American Writer's Alliance Annual Group Reading

This group reading is presented by the NW African American Alliance, a local group of writers.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 27

Brittney Cooper

Rutgers University professor and Crunk Feminist Collective blog co-founder Brittney Cooper has been making the talk show rounds and contributed her feminist insights to Al Jazeera's Third Rail, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Root, and others. She'll talk about her new book Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.

Northwest African American Museum

Feb 28

Steve Almond: A Night of Bad Stories: Straight Talk for the Politically Heartbroken

Steve Almond's Bad Stories: Toward a Unified Theory of How It All Came Apart draws on great authors like Baldwin, Orwell, Melville, and Vonnegut to wrestle some sense out of the last presidential election.

Hotel Sorrento

March 4

Anderson Cooper

As part of the "Unique Lives & Experiences" series, CNN news host Anderson Cooper will share his perspectives.

McCaw Hall

Tyehimba Jess

He won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and boy, did he deserve it. Stranger Genius Nominees Wave Books (they're also local, guys!) published his winning book, Olio, which explores, embodies, and thinks through the early origins of black music in America. If you have not checked out this book, you must. Jess is doing shit with the page that I have never seen before in my life—writing poems you have to rip out of the book and roll into a tube in order to read, writing mirroring ghazals that actually read forwards and backwards, just to name a few. RS

McCaw Hall

March 15–16

Historically Speaking

Local performers like songwriter Angie Louise, dancer and theater artist Markeith Wiley, poet Quenton Baker, actor Eric Ray Anderson, and actor/playwright Brian Neel will be inspired by historical events in Seattle.