Each year the Library hosts readings, lectures, and discussions by authors and other public figures. You may watch video recordings of recent programs on our YouTube channel. Our archive of audio recordings goes back more than 10 years and includes thousands of memorable Library events.
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A Tribute to Ivan Doig
We celebrate the life of beloved storyteller Ivan Doig and the release of his final novel, 'Last Bus to Wisdom.' -- This event is one of 10 that took place in Doig's favorite venues nationwide on Aug. 18, the release date of 'Last Bus to Wisdom.' It features music, readings and remarks by fellow writers and friends of Ivan Doig. -- Annie Proulx, longtime friend and author of the novel 'The Shipping News' and the story collection 'Close Range.' Proulx's many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Seattle writer and friend David Laskin, award-winning author of 'The Family,' 'The Long Walk Home' and 'The Children's Blizzard.' Poet Linda Bierds, longtime family friend, UW professor of English, recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a MacArthur fellowship. Myra Platt, who portrayed the voice teacher Susan, and Geoffery Simmons, Monty, her student, and performed original music in Book-It Repertory Theatre's stage adaptation of 'Prairie Nocturne.'
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 33.96MB] [Play time: 01 hr 14 min]
William Vollmann reads from 'The Dying Grass'
William Vollmann's 'The Dying Grass' depicting the Nez Perce War is the latest in the National Book Award-winning author's series of novels examining the collisions between Native Americans and Europeans. -- Defrauded and intimidated at every turn, the Nez Perces finally went on the warpath in 1877, subjecting the U.S. Army to its greatest defeat since Little Big Horn as they fled from northeast Oregon across Montana to the Canadian border. Vollmann's main character is not the legendary Chief Joseph, but his pursuer, General Oliver Otis Howard, the brave, shy, tormented, devoutly Christian Civil War veteran. In this novel, we see him as commander, father, son, husband, friend and killer. -- Teeming with many vivid characters on both sides of the conflict, and written in an original style in which the printed page works as a stage with multiple layers of foreground and background, "The Dying Grass" is another mesmerizing achievement from one of the most ambitious writers of our time.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 21.28MB] [Play time: 0 hr 46 min]
Author Jeff Hobbs Reads from 'The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace'
'The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace' is a heartfelt and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets, and of one's own nature, when he returns home. -- When Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn't get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale, and at home. -- 'The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace' encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It's about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds; the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It's about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It's about reaching one's greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It's about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 25.90MB] [Play time: 0 hr 56 min]
Bob Santos and Larry Gossett in a conversation about “The Gang of Four”
'The Gang of Four: Four Leaders, Four Communities, One Friendship' tells how a Native American, African American, Latino American and Asian American came together to form a powerful political alliance. -- Bob Santos and Larry Gossett, the two surviving members of Seattle's Gang of Four, tell how they, with the late Bernie Whitebear and Roberto Maestas, helped bring four ethnic groups together to battle city powerbrokers over issues related to civil rights, development, poverty, fishing rights and gentrification. -- The Gang of Four, or Four Amigos, or Fabulous Four, formed lifelong friendships and alliances during sit-ins, protests and acts of civil disobedience that changed Seattle's political, social and cultural landscape.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 26.96MB] [Play time: 0 hr 58 min]
Seattle City Council Debate - Candidates running for: At Large Postions 8 & 9
Listen to this Seattle City Council debate moderated by Q13 FOX News' C.R. Douglas. The discussion features candidates running for at large positions 8 and 9. We've collected questions from voters throughout greater Seattle to build an event that reflects Seattle's concerns and priorities. -- Position 8 Candidates: Tim Burgess, Jonathan A. Grant, John Persak, John Roderick -- Position 9 Candidates: Alon Bassok, Bill Bradburd, M. Lorena González.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 38.84MB] [Play time: 01 hr 24 min]
The Wild Geese Players Present Readings from James Joyce's 'Ulysses'
For this year's reading of 'Ulysses,' the Wild Geese Players are continuing last year's approach of following Joyce's timeline for June 16th, rather than reading the chapters in strict linear order. Chapters 2 ("Nestor") and 5 ("Lotus-Eaters") will be interwoven to highlight the parallel journeys of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Daedalus during the novel's ten o'clock hour.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 37.64MB] [Play time: 1 hr 22 min]
James Longhurst discusses his latest book 'Bike Battles'
Author James Longhurst discusses his latest book 'Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road' -- Join avid cyclist and historian James Longhurst as he tackles the question of why most American cities are still so ill-prepared to handle cyclists. Longhurst brings together traditional policy research with unusual and wonderful pop culture references to give a deeper account of cycling and the sharing of the road in America.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 30.23MB] [Play time: 01 hr 05 min]
Jim Shepard reads from his new novel 'The Book of Aron'
'The Book of Aron' is a devastating, heartbreaking, sometimes comic, novel of the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation, as seen through the eyes of a street-wise boy. -- Aron's family is driven from the Polish countryside into Warsaw. Aron and a handful of boys and girls smuggle and trade contraband through the quarantine walls in hopes of keeping their families alive, hunted all the while by blackmailers and by police and the Gestapo. Separated from his family, Aron is rescued by Janusz Korczak, a real-life doctor, an advocate of children's rights, who was put in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. -- "This moving novel bears witness to human complexity with an uncompromising compassion. It is a testament not only to Janusz Korczak and the children in the Warsaw Ghetto but to every child abandoned in war. History must open our hearts to the present and this is Jim Shepard's powerful achievement." --Anne Michaels, author of 'Fugitive Pieces'
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 28.34MB] [Play time: 01 hr 01 min]
Stephanie Kallos reads from her new novel 'Language Arts'
Kallos, the bestselling author of "Broken for You," spins the stories of a dedicated teacher, his enigmatic son, and a wartime survivor into a tale of love, loss and handwriting. -- High school English teacher Charles Marlow's wife has left, his daughter is headed for college and he can't communicate with his autistic son. A series of unexpected events forces him to reflect on the lifetime of decisions and indecisions that have brought him to this point. With the help of an ambitious art student, an Italian-speaking nun and the memory of a boy in a white suit whose friendship both saved and condemned him, Charles may finally be able to rewrite the script of his life.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 23.64MB] [Play time: 0 hr 51 min]
Jack Nisbet discusses his latest book 'Ancient Places'
'Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest', presents stories about the interplay between people and landscape. -- Drawing on a range of fresh personal research, both oral and written, Nisbet engages some of the iconic images in Northwest history: from fossil riches to ice age floods; from the Willamette Meteorite to the 1872 Earthquake; from up-and-down mining cycles to steady rounds of tribal food gathering.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 26.96MB] [Play time: 0 hr 58 min]