Lit Life

Lots of local literary news this week!

Seattle Arts & Lectures has announced its 2019-20 season, which features names like Malcolm Gladwell, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Min Jin Lee and Amor Towles. Gladwell’s Sept. 23 appearance, with his new book “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,” will kick off the Literary Arts series, which also features Towles (“A Gentleman in Moscow,” speaking Nov. 12); Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story (Jan. 29, 2020); Lee (“Pachinko,” March 17); Carol Anderson (“White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” April 15); and Luis Alberto Urrea (“The House of Broken Angels,” May 20).

SAL’s Poetry Series begins Sept. 19 with Naomi Shihab Nye, and continues with Richard Kenney, Mary Ruefle, Paisley Rekdal, Rick Barot and Natalie Diaz.

The SAL Presents series features two of fall’s most anticipated new books. Musician/writer Patti Smith, whose 2010 memoir “Just Kids” won the National Book Award, will speak Oct. 6 about her latest memoir, “Year of the Monkey,” in which she documents a year spent in solitary wandering. Ta-Nehisi Coates (“Between the World and Me”) arrives Oct. 20 with his new book and first novel: “The Water Dancer,” about a young man born into slavery who learns to marshal a magical gift.

Carmen Maria Machado, whose debut story collection “Her Body and Other Parties” received numerous honors in 2017, will be here Jan. 24 as part of the Women You Need to Know series, which also includes author/illustrator Maira Kalman (April 29). Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert (“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”) will speak on Earth Day, April 22, as part of the Journalism Series. And poet/essayist/music critic Hanif Abdurraqib (“Go Ahead In the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest”) will be here with his first full-length volume of poetry, “The Crown Ain’t Worth Much,” on Oct. 23. Additional speakers will announced later.

Subscriptions for each of the individual series are now on sale, as is a “Super SAL” subscription (which admits subscribers to 15 events of their choice, with associated books included; $1,000). Literary Arts Series subscriptions range from $149 (balcony seating) to $469 (Grand Patron), all of which include copies of books by Gladwell, Kantor and Twohey. Single tickets for special events are on sale now: Smith’s event begins at $42 and Coates at $45 (both prices include copy of book); Abdurraqib’s event is $10. Student tickets, at steep discounts, are available for all events; student prices do not include books.

To buy tickets or for more information, see or call 206-621-2230, ext. 10.


In other literary news: West Seattleites will soon be welcoming a new bookstore to their neighborhood. Paper Boat Booksellers will be a general bookstore selling new books and hosting author events, readings, book clubs, etc. Its owners, Eric and Desirae Judy, recently announced on Twitter that they have signed a lease for 6040 California Ave. S.W., near the Morgan Junction, and will be opening the store sometime in midsummer. More on this as the opening gets closer; in the meantime, watch or @PBooksellers for updates.

And finally: Seattle Independent Bookstore Day, on April 27, was a roaring success, with multitudes of book-lovers descending on their favorite local bookstores. My carload and I, fueled with caffeine and pastries (the Red Twig bakery near the Edmonds Bookshop is to die for, by the way), did indeed visit 21 bookstores that day, starting on the 6:10 a.m. Bainbridge ferry en route to Eagle Harbor Books, and ending about 12 hours later at Elliott Bay Book Co., where jello shots were waiting.

We were among the 636 people — breaking last year’s record of 500 — to complete the marathon and earn the coveted title of Bookstore Champion; another 1,034 stalwarts made it to three stores or more. I’m all in for next year; maybe I’ll see you too. Information: