Fall is the best season for reading—there are no oily thumbprints to stain your pages, no sand getting stuck in the crevice of your book spine and no squinting at a glaringly sunlit page. Instead, time is spent indoors, fireside, donning comfortable sweaters, sipping tea. If squinting happens, it is only in accompaniment to the silent judgment of an author's unfortunate word choice.
This fall, the Bay Area is exceptionally wealthy in books and literary events. With new releases by Eileen Myles and Juan Gabriel Vásquez and exciting engagements—including a brunch with Chilean author Isabel Allende—this fall's literary season is not one to miss. Here are some of the highlights from the coming months.
Word for Word
Z Space. Sept. 1–2, 8pm.
I read a lot this summer and am looking forward to taking a break with Z Space's Word for Word—a series where a short story is turned into a play and performed in full (in whatever way possible). Word for Word celebrates its 25th anniversary with performances of Tobias Wolff's Deep Kiss and George Saunders' Victory Lap. Both are stories about teenage lives and that incandescent moment when everything changes.
Gabriela Alemán reads from Poso Wells.
Sept. 4, 7pm. City Lights Booksellers.
Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán's celebrates her first work in English at City Lights. Poso Wells is a noir, feminist and absurdist eco-thriller about corruption, exploitation and a woman on the run.
Vanessa Hua in conversation with Lydia Kiesling.
Sept. 6, 7pm. City Lights Booksellers.
In one of my favorite pairings of the season, Vanessa Hua and Lydia Kiesling will read from their debuts, both of which touch on different aspects of motherhood. A River of Stars tells the story of a Chinese woman who comes to the U.S. to a secret maternity center seeking citizenship for her unborn baby; in The Golden State, a young mother careens on the verge of a breakdown.
Brunch with Isabel Allende.
Sept. 15, 10:30am. Book Passage.
This is not a drill: you can get brunch with Isabel Allende. Allende is celebrating the paperback release of In the Midst of Winter. If this event sells out before you can snag a ticket, Allende will be in conversation with Khaled Hosseini on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7pm, also at Book Passage.
Nomadic Press chapbook release party.
Sept. 22, 7pm. Nomadic Press.
The chapbooks Nomadic Press puts out are a joy to read. So save all your money so you can have your pick at Nomadic Press' fall release party for their chapbook collection: it includes Ordinary Villains by EK Keith, Adaptations by Emily Pinkerton, By the Lemon Tree by Keenan Norris, How it Happens by Joyce E. Young, If the Color is Fugitive by Sara Mithra, When a Purple Rose Blooms by Jenee Darden and An Object in Motion by Patrick Newson.
Juan Gabriel presents The Shape of Ruins.
Oct. 1, 7pm. Green Apple Books.
Start your October right by securing your copy of The Shape of the Ruins, the latest by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. This novel distills and expands on the questions and myths surrounding two different assassinations of important Colombian leaders in the '80s. In The Shape of the Ruins, Vásquez seems to be asking how life relates to history and facts and conspiracy, where none are obviously demarcated.
Reyna Grande in conversation with Carolina De Robertis.
Oct. 3 at 7:30pm. The Bindery.
Reyna Grande is the acclaimed author of The Distance Between Us, a heartfelt and dazzling memoir about crossing the border when she was nine years old. In her latest memoir, A Dream Called Home, Grande writes with searing wit and candor about pursuing her dreams, finding a home in words and the quest to build a home that will endure.
Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
Oct 10. 7pm. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.
Here's a chance to hear Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot speak about her 10 rules of revolution. Tolokonnikova was imprisoned for 18 months by the Russian government when she and other Pussy Riot members performed an anti-Putin protest song in a Moscow church. Her new book, Read & Riot, is a Pussy Riot guide to activism.
Kiese Laymon in conversation with Tongo Eisen Martin.
Oct. 25, 6:30pm. Marcus Books.
Beloved writer Kiese Laymon will be reading with Tongo Eisen Martin for this evening curated by San Francisco State University's In Common writer series. In Heavy: An American Memoir, Laymon turns his attention to his coming of age in Mississippi, a lifetime of secrets and what his and his family's failed attempts to attain freedom and love mean to the nation.
Eileen Myles reads new poetry.
Nov. 7, 7pm. Point Reyes Bookstore.
I've waited eleven years for a new poetry collection by Eileen Myles, and I couldn't be more excited. In Evolution, Myles writes with trademark wit and candor about travel, the aisles of Target and an utopian future where Myles is elected president.
Micah Perks in conversation with Kate Schatz and Lucy Jane Bledsoe.
Nov. 7, 7pm. The Bindery.
True Love and Other Dreams of Miraculous Escape is a strange and hilarious wonder. These interlinked stories explore the eventualities of escape, of running from and toward love. Micah Perks is the author of the novels What Becomes Us, We Are Gathered Here and the memoir Pagan Time.
Nicole Chung in conversation with Daniel Mallory Ortberg.
Nov. 12, 7pm. Green Apple Books.
There's been considerable excitement over Nicole Chung's debut memoir, All You Can Ever Know, and with good reason. In this stunning memoir, Chung questions her origin story and searches for the people who gave her up for adoption. It is a book full of flights of insight, beauty and so much heart. At Green Apple Books, Daniel Mallory Ortberg, the author of Slate's Dear Prudence advice column, will join her in conversation.
Chaya Bhuvaneswar reads from White Dancing Elephants. Dec, 6, 7pm. City Lights Booksellers.
Winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize, White Dancing Elephants is urgent, captivating and deeply evocative. In seventeen stories, Chaya Bhuvaneswar explores experiences of harassment and violence from the points of view of women of color.
A conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Dec. 17 at 7pm. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.
I can't think of a better way to finish your literary year than by going to see Ta-Nehisi Coates. With his incisive journalism and best-selling books (Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power), Coates has shifted national debate over and over again.
The Spine is a biweekly column. Catch us back here in two weeks.