It's not secret that I'm a sucker for author readings- 60 miles into LA on a work night for a 7:30 event? Sure, no problem. There's something about being surrounded by intelligent, literary people while listening to someone who writes the books I love that makes the inconvenience totally worth it. I've never been to a bad one before, nor have I ever regretted the inevitable drowsiness I encounter the next day. And now that I'm slowly getting friends to join me it's even better. A lot of people ask how I find out about them, so I thought I'd jot down a few tips:
Check out the more popular independent bookstores in the major cities or college towns near you In Southern California I frequently check the even calendars for Book Soup, Skylight Bookstore, and recently The Last Book Store.
Get to know different museums cultural groups The Skirball Center (run through the Jewish community) is a great resource in Los Angeles, hosting both Jewish and non-Jewish authors. I know different Latino societies will also promote author readings as well and The Hammer Museum in Westwood recently hosted Michael Chabon (on the same damn night as Junot Diaz).
Check out colleges and universities Being in Southern California there are many, many options in terms of higher education and often writers will stop by for readings. I know Sandra Cisneros was at UC Riverside last year and Margaret Atwood and David Sedaris stop by UCLA on occasion.
Check out your public library's website The Los Angeles Public Library has the amazing ALOUD program which brings authors big and small, global and local, to their stage. Most events are free, but the ones that cost are usually less than twenty (and you know the funds are going to a great cause).
Look into public radio and different performing arts groups During the last year or two I've discovered the Writer's Bloc and LA Live Talks, both non-profit organizations that bring authors like Salman Rushdie, Ann Patchett, Nick Hornby, and Junot Diaz to town.
Visit author websites Most authors will go on some sort of book tour near the time they're scheduled to have a book come out- check out their websites! They usually have event pages that link you to the venue near your city where you can buy tickets. I found Writer's Bloc through Junot Diaz's website!
Look at your newspapers calendar in the arts section The LA Times generally posts events, although usually only for larger named writers and sometimes only the week before. But, it's better than nothing!
Join mailing lists I've managed to join enough mailing lists that I'm now at the point where I get advanced notification on a lot of the readings I'm interested in. Sometimes priority registration is offered to people who have gone to past events.
I've been madly going to all my favorite sites looking for readings to go to this fall. I went to Junot Diaz last week, am going to Salman Rushdie on Sunday, and then have Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Nick Hornby coming up. Fingers crossed a few more folks come to town before the end of the year (since four of our current best aren't enough)!