Best New York book events this winter: Book readings, signings, marathons and dinners with writers

Book readings for new titles from George Saunders, Karen Russell and Nick Flynn help warm up a cold season

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  • Joyce Carol Oates

  • Photograph: Marnie Ware

    Chris Ware

  • Photograph: Marco Antonio

    Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich

  • Photograph: Gasper Tringale

    Louise Glück

  • Eileen Myles

    Eileen Myles

    Eileen Myles
  • Julie Otsuka

    Julie Otsuka

    Julie Otsuka
  • Suzanne Vega

    Suzanne Vega

    Suzanne Vega
  • Anne Waldman

    Anne Waldman

    Anne Waldman
  • peterhookLIST

    Photograph: David Sultan

    Peter Hook

    peterhookLIST
  • Nick Flynn

    Nick Flynn

    Nick Flynn
  • Photograph: Basso CANNARSA/Opale

    Subject: SAUNDERS George - Copyright: Basso CANNARSA/Opale - Date: 20090707-

  • Photograph: Tom Craig

    Martin Amis

  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy

    Bonnie "Prince" Billy
  • Karen Russell

    Karen Russell

    Karen Russell
  • Sherman Alexie

    Sherman Alexie

    Sherman Alexie
  • Photograph: Kenneth Noland

    Jamaica Kincaid

  • Ben Katchor

    Ben Katchor

    Ben Katchor

Joyce Carol Oates

With a bounty of book readings, signings and other literary happenings in New York this winter, there's no reason to stay holed up with a tome alone. The city's bookstores and cultural institutions are offering many different events—from dinner with Martin Amis to a marathon reading of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol—that should appeal to all sorts of literature fans.


Artful Dining

  • Critics choice

This special series of symposia bring readers face-to-face with favorite authors in New Yorkers' private residences. Those of us who are strapped for cash will have to stay away, but anyone feeling flush can receive dinner and discussion in close quarters, with just 24 other attendees.

  1. Location TBA
  2. Until Mon Dec 10
More info

Building Stories: Chris Ware in conversation with Zadie Smith

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Obsessive graphic novelist Chris Ware has done his part to prove what can be accomplished in his medium of choice, with meticulous and deeply affecting works such as Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. His latest, the defiantly corporeal Building Stories, is a series of short tales printed on all kinds of strips, pamphlets and booklets.

Selected Shorts: An Evening with Radiolab

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This coproduction between Symphony Space and PRI's Radiolab promises much more than a standard story reading. Hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad will undoubtedly blend fun, sonic experiments and big ideas into performances by their guests Liev Schreiber, Kyra Sedgwick and Jane Curtin.

  1. Symphony Space 2537 Broadway, At 95th St
  2. Until Wed Dec 12
More info

A Tribute to Louise Glück

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Notable new volume Poems 1962–2012 collects all of Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Glück's verses from that period. Tonight, Frank Bidart, Dana Levin, Robert Pinsky, Peter Streckfus and Ellen Bryant Voigt celebrate Glück's simple lines and their profound implications.

  1. Theresa Lang Community and Student Center (at The New School) 55 W 13th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, second floor
  2. Until Fri Dec 14
More info

What the Dickens? Third Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Downtown authors and actors transport a crowd from wintry NYC to wintry Victorian London in a marathon reading of Dickens’s classic tale of redemption from humbuggery. With readers including authors Eileen Myles, Mike Albo, Téa Obreht and undoubted unannounced surprises, what starts as a shopping pit stop may keep you enthralled until “God bless us, every one.”

  1. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe 126 Crosby St, between E Houston and Prince Sts
  2. Sun Dec 14
More info

Junot Díaz + Julie Otsuka

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the Pulitzer-winning Díaz’s latest book, This Is How You Lose Her,continues to strike a compelling balance between worlds. In 2011, Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic detailed the world of “picture brides” from Japan with the same straightforward, powerful prose as the author used in When the Emperor Was Divine.

  1. 92nd Street Y 1395 Lexington Ave, between 91st and 92nd Sts
  2. Until Mon Dec 17
More info

A Light That Never Goes Out: Tony Fletcher Reveals the Smiths

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Rock biographer Tony Fletcher turns his attention to the gloom and glam of Morrissey, Marr and the Smiths in his new A Light That Never Goes Out. The imposing but highly readable tome charts the band's inception, internal squabbles and dissolution, with access to both the band (minus Moz, of course) and its papers.

  1. Strand Book Store 828 Broadway, at 12th St
  2. Until Mon Dec 17
More info

39th Annual New Year's Day Marathon Benefit Reading

  • Critics choice

You’ll probably be too hungover to count this high, but this is the 39th edition of Poetry Project’s event. More than 140 writers, musicians and dancers read and perform to a standing-room-only crowd at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. Proceeds from admission, and book and food stalls, fund the group’s mission to inject some classy art into the city.

  1. The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church 131 E 10th St, at Second Ave
  2. Until Thu Jan 2
More info

Black Blizzard: The Alternative New Year's Day Spoken Word/Performance Extravaganza

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This 19th annual happening, an alternative to the annual Poetry Project marathon, is becoming something of a tradition itself. One hundred fifty poets and performers—including Anne Waldman, Bob Holman and Cornelius Eady—read their verses. Attendees are also invited to peruse a hall of visual art.

  1. Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St, between Delancey and Rivington Sts
  2. Until Wed Jan 1
More info

Film Screening and Book Discussion: Being Nick Flynn and The Reenactments

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

For those who prefer to brush away their layers of meta with a putty knife, tonight's event involves a screening of a film (Being Nick Flynn) based on a book by Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City), as well as a discussion about Flynn's new book (The Reenactments)—which is itself about the making of the aforementioned film. Flynn and Being Nick Flynn's director, Paul Weitz, worked closely together in adapting the material and on set, so the discussion should provide a certain degree of intimacy.

  1. BAM Rose Cinemas 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, 11217
  2. Until Tue Jan 8
More info

George Saunders

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

In previous imaginative and moralistic satires, Saunders (Pastoralia, In Persuasion Nation) captured something gross and hilariously unnerving about our commercial-drenched civilization. His new collection, Tenth of December, continues his rigorous play while promising even more vulnerability.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Until Mon Apr 14
More info

First Blues: Rags, Ballads, Harmonium Songs, Chanteys and Come-All-Ye's

  • Critics choice

Allen Ginsberg's 1983 double album, First Blues, is a moody combination of music and spoken-word verse, which features Bob Dylan and Arthur Russell, among others. To celebrate the album's vinyl and digital reissue, poets and musicians including Thurston Moore, Ambrose Bye, CAConrad and Steven Taylor discuss the record, as well as perform some of its tracks.

  1. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe 126 Crosby St, between E Houston and Prince Sts
  2. Wed Jan 22
More info

Eat, Drink and Be Literary

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

This series of civilized yet casual evenings features dinner, wine and a reading from a noteworthy writer, followed by a moderated Q&A about the author's creative process. This winter and spring, the excellent series welcomes names including Alison Bechdel, Colson Whitehead and January's first guest, Martin Amis.

  1. Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St
  2. Until Wed May 28
More info

Peter Hook

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Joy Division cofounder Peter Hook discusses the life and death of the group and its well-remembered singer, Ian Curtis. Named after the band's debut album, Unknown Pleasures also takes into account the wider music scene of the ’70s and ’80s, as well as the personalities that made it.

  1. Strand Book Store 828 Broadway, at 12th St
  2. Until Tue Jan 29
More info

Will Oldham in conversation with Alan Licht and Sasha Frere-Jones

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Indie hero Oldham sat down with compatriot and fellow musician Alan Licht for a number of long, revealing conversations, which have been compiled into a new volume titled Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Against all odds, Oldham appears tonight alongside Licht and New Yorker critic Frere-Jones to expand on the content of the book.

  1. BookCourt 163 Court St, between Dean and Pacific Sts
  2. Wed Feb 6
More info

Karen Russell

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Those who fell for the whimsical characters, fantastic plots and evocative Floridian landscapes of Russell's debut short-story collection (St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves) or her novel (Swamplandia!) will be ready for her new title, Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The stories involve the titular bloodsuckers (one of whom is aviophobic), a seagull's nest that communicates the universe's secrets and much more.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Until Mon Feb 18
More info

Selected Shorts: Lorrie Moore + Sherman Alexie

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Between Alexie's recent collection, Blasphemy, and Moore's continued interest in and talent for short fiction (not just longer pieces like her much-admired 2010 novel, A Gate at the Stairs), this evening of author readings should be both funny and touching.

  1. Symphony Space 2537 Broadway, At 95th St
  2. Until Wed Feb 20
More info

Jamaica Kincaid

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This Caribbean writer's semiautobiographical work, from her serialized New Yorker stories to the fractured 2001 title Mr. Potter, pinpoints mood with the help of a poetic diction. Her new novel, See Now Then—Kincaid's first in ten years—considers marriage and family from the perspective of mother, father and children alike.

  1. 92nd Street Y 1395 Lexington Ave, between 91st and 92nd Sts
  2. Until Wed Oct 23
More info

Ben Katchor

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The man responsible for surreal and satirical serials including Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer and the graphic novel The Cardboard Valise publishes a new collection of strips called Hand-Drying in America this winter. The imaginative snatches of consumer life in the city and abroad prove to be funny and jarring.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Until Mon Apr 15
More info


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