PBS’ The Great American Read explores and celebrates the written word and the power of reading. While the series focuses on America’s 100 best-loved novels, literature encompasses a much broader spectrum, from poetry to nonfiction and experimental writing. Luckily for us, Los Angeles is rife with author events and readings.
Here are five awesome literary events happening in L.A. this month:
We Fed an Island: José Andrés
The Los Angeles Times’ Ideas Exchange series welcomes superstar chef José Andrés on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. to The Theatre at Ace Hotel. Andrés discusses his new book (written with Richard Wolffe), We Fed an Island, which documents how Andrés and a group of chefs tackled the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. They fed people one hot meal at a time, eventually cooking 100,000 meals a day in more than a dozen kitchens across the island. The book also details broken systems, wasteful practices and ineffective NGOs, and how a community network of kitchens alleviated some of the tragedy. Tickets: $25-$39.99.
This Is (Not) L.A.: Jen Bilik with Kate Sullivan
The recently released book This Is (Not) L.A.: An Insider’s Take On The Real Los Angeles, co-written by Jen Bilik and Kate Sullivan, takes on misconceptions about the City of Angels with humor and facts. With a forward written by the late Pulitzer prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, the book addresses 18 common myths about LA and takes a deeper dive into the city’s history and culture. To celebrate the launch of the book, Bilik hosts a special panel discussion at the Natural History Museum on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. with Patty Rodriguez (On Air with Ryan Seacrest), Lynell George (KCET’s Artbound), Ed Leibowitz (Los Angeles Magazine) and Alissa Walker (Curbed), followed by a Q&A. KCRW’s Good Food host Evan Kleiman reads Gold’s forward at the start of the event. The Becoming Los Angeles exhibition will be on view as well. Tickets: Free.
My Struggle: Book Six – Karl Ove Knausgaard
The Central Library’s ALOUD program heads to the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo to welcome Karl Ove Knausgaard on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 5:00 p.m. The Norwegian author discusses his sixth and final installment of the My Struggle autobiographical series, which chronicles the ebbs and flows of his daily life, replete with dark moments and mundanity. Though categorized as fiction, Knausgård is set as the protagonist with relatives as supporting characters, names largely unchanged. The series encompasses more than 3,500 pages. At this rare West Coast appearance, the author will be interviewed by Los Angeles Review of Books Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz. Tickets: $25-$75.
Reading by Moonrise: David Ulin & Lynell George
On Sunday, Sept. 23 from 5:30-7:00 p.m., the Clockshop arts organization presents an evening of reading by firelight. Writers David Ulin and Lynell George read new works while the full moon rises over the LA River. The second edition of Ulin’s book, The Lost Art of Reading was released earlier this month, and George’s After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame was published earlier this year. Tickets: $5.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen: Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Dreamer. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and founder and CEO of Define American, was born in the Philippines and sent to the U.S. unwittingly at the age of 12 to live with relatives. His new memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, chronicles his experience as an undocumented person living in the U.S.—and hiding in plain sight. On Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m., Skylight Books teams with USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Immigration (CSII) and USC Visions and Voices to present a discussion about the book between Vargas and Vietnamese-American author Viet Thanh Nguyen. The event takes place at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. Tickets: $8-$27.
Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based arts and culture writer who loves to tell people what to do (and where to go). Check out her events columns and other musings on PopRadarLA.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.