Best reading series

  1. The Happy Ending Series
    Curated by author Amanda Stern, this series recently made the move from Chinatown’s Happy Ending Bar to the larger space at Joe’s Pub. And no wonder: Under Stern’s guidance, excellent authors read and humiliate themselves. It’s simply the most energetic series out there. 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (212-539-8778,

  2. The FSG Reading Series
    Yeah, it’s kind of a publishing-nerd scene, but in the best way possible. Held upstairs at the fabled Russian Samovar (Susan Sontag hung out there, blah blah blah), this series, organized by the venerable publisher FSG, introduces you to writers established, up-and-coming and simply good. Since it functions as sort of a party, a lot of people hang around afterward, scratching their chins, getting hammered on grappa—you know, literary stuff. 256 W 52nd St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-257-0168)

  3. Littoral
    This sporadic series—held in the atmospheric, chapel-like space in Brooklyn’s Old American Can Factory—is one of the city’s most idiosyncratic. Organizers say they're devoted to (among other things) the Gordon Lish school of writers, and if you know what that is, this might very well be the place for you. 230 3rd St at Third Ave, Gowanus, Brooklyn (212-865-7915,

  4. Upstairs at the Square
    These events might occur under the glaring lights of a Barnes & Noble, but their selections are almost always top-notch, the Q&A sessions in depth and the general vibe relaxed. 33 E 17th St between Broadway and Park Ave South (212-253-0810,

  5. St. Mark's Reading Series
    The preeminent downtown bookstore has started showcasing some of its favorite writers, many of whom are themselves lumped into the genre of downtown. Knowing that bookstores are bad places for readings, they hold the events at a bar, Solas. 232 E 9th St between Second and Third Aves (212-375-0297,