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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Arlie Russell Hochschild reads from ‘Strangers in Their Own Land'
Influential sociologist and author ("The Second Shift" and "The Outsourced Self") Arlie Hochschild takes readers on a journey to the heart of our political divide. -- In "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right," Arlie Russell Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into the bayou of Lake Charles, Louisiana, to examine the rise of the American right and the Tea Party. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: Why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea? -- "There could not be a more important topic in current American politics, nor a better person to dissect it. Every page-every story and individual-is fascinating, and the emerging analysis is revelatory." -- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America"
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 26.69MB] [Play time: 0 hr 58 min]
Lessons from World War II: Enduring Legacies of Japanese American Incarceration
Listen to a panel of scholars in Japanese American history as they discuss racial profiling during World War II and current racialized politics. It's been nearly 75 years since 120,000 people of Japanese heritage were imprisoned as a result of racist wartime hysteria. It took decades for the U.S. Government to acknowledge their wrongdoing and Americans are still coming to terms with this black mark on our nation's history. In this panel, three leading scholars of Japanese American history will discuss the circumstances that lead to incarceration and its bearing on current events, including racial profiling of American Muslims and the racialized politics on display in the current election cycle. Panelists: Karen M. Inouye is the author of "The Long Afterlife of Nikkei Wartime Incarceration". She is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. -- Greg Robinson is professor of history at Université du Québec À Montréal. He is the author of "The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches" as well as author and editor of several notable books on Japanese Americans, including "A Tragedy of Democracy," which was awarded the history book prize of the Association for Asian American Studies; "After Camp," winner of the Caroline Bancroft History Prize in Western US History, and "By Order of the President." -- Lon Kurashige is the author of "Two Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States". He is associate professor of history at the University of Southern California. -- The panel will be moderated by Brian Niiya, Densho Content Director, who edits the Densho Encyclopedia and is the author of the "Encyclopedia of Japanese American History."
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 30.36MB] [Play time: 01 hr 06 min]
Film Discussion - “Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell”
A recent documentary follows the journey of a mother who experienced homelessness as a teen. Listen to a Question and Answer session with film director Martin Bell, the documentary's key subject Erin ‘Tiny' Blackwell and a leading housing advocate.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 15.51MB] [Play time: 0 hr 33 min]
7th Congressional District General Election Debate
Listen to a debate where citizens help set the agenda. This year the residents of the 7th Congressional District will vote to replace Rep Jim McDermott, who has held his seat since 1989. This will be a hotly contested race between Pramila Jayapal and Brady Walkinshaw, and one which will have a lasting impact on our region. The debate is moderated by: C.R. Douglas - Q13 FOX News and Essex Porter - KIRO 7 News.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 24.42MB] [Play time: 0 hr 53 min]
Kim Stafford reads from ‘Having Everything Right’
Listen as we present a celebration of the 30th anniversary edition of Kim Stafford's critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest essays on nature and place: "Having Everything Right: Essays of Place". Kim Stafford writes with poetic and evocative prose as he reflects on the history, folklore and physical beauty of the Pacific Northwest. When "Having Everything Right: Essays of Place" was first published in 1986, the book was awarded a precedent setting Special Citation for Excellence by the Western States Book Awards. The book has been compared to the essay collections of Edward Abbey and Wendell Berry, books that blend personal vision and regional evocation. -- The 30th anniversary edition of "Having Everything Right" is published by Pharos Editions, a small publisher dedicated to bringing to light out-of-print books of distinction. Pharos works with contemporary authors and asks them to select a title that is out-of-print or hard to find that means a lot to them which they would love to re-introduce to readers everywhere. Kim Stafford's essays were selected by, and now introduced by, Robert Michael Pyle. In the introduction, Pyle says, "(Each essay) is a small masterpiece of concision, precision, and incision. Each is also witty, elegiac, and wise."
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 24.24MB] [Play time: 0 hr 52 min]
Luvvie Ajayi and Lindy West
A don't miss event with two of the most insightful, funny, feminist voices writing today. Lucky for us, both have brand new books. Luvvie Ajayi, the comedic voice behind the blog Awesomely Luvvie, brings her debut book, "I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual," to Seattle to share the stage with friend Lindy West ("Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman"). -- In "I'm Judging you," the unique voice and sharp wit that Ajayi's dedicated followers have come to expect ricochet throughout essays such as "When Baehood Goes Bad," "Nobody Wins at the Feminism Olympics," and "So You're Kind of a Big Deal on the Internet." Luvvie Ajayi is an equal opportunity shade thrower, and none of us are safe from her gimlet eye. -- Lindy West is a columnist at The Guardian, a contributor to This American Life (Ira Glass calls her a "totally entertaining and original writer") and a freelance writer whose work focuses on feminism, social justice, humor and body image. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Vulture, Jezebel, The Stranger, and others. West is the founder of I Believe You, It's Not Your Fault, an advice blog for teens, as well as the reproductive rights destigmatization campaign #ShoutYourAbortion. Her debut book, "Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman," is a bestseller.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 36.35MB] [Play time: 01 hr 19 min]
James Gleick reads from ‘Time Travel’
Listen to an exploration of time travel ‘s subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself with the author of the groundbreaking bestseller "Chaos." Author James Gleick's story begins at the turn of the 20th century with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation, "The Time Machine." A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological-the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations and the perfection of clocks. -- Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture-from Marcel Proust to "Doctor Who," from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 25.74MB] [Play time: 0 hr 56 min]
"Raising Mixed Race": An Evening with Sharon H. Chang
Listen to a discussion with Sharon H. Chang. Drawn from extensive research and interviews with sixty-eight parents of multiracial children, "Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World" examines the complex task of supporting our youngest around being "two or more races" and Asian while living amongst post-racial ideologies. -- "Racist America" author Joe R. Feagin hailed Chang's work as "one of the best field interview studies of multiracial issues yet to be done," one which captures "the gritty realities of being mixed-race in this country." -- Sharon H. Chang is a writer, scholar and activist who focuses on racism, social justice and the Asian American diaspora with a feminist lens. She serves as a consultant for Families of Color Seattle and is on the planning committee for the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 29.36MB] [Play time: 01 hr 04 min]
Stacy Schiff reads from "The Witches: Salem, 1692"
The author of "Cleopatra" and "Véra" unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and a 75-year-old man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic. As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, "The Witches" is an American mystery now unveiled fully by author Stacy Schiff in a book the New York Times described as having "an almost novelistic, thriller-like narrative." -- "Schiff brings to bear a sensibility as different from the Puritans' as can be imagined: gentle, ironic, broadly empathetic, with a keen eye for humor and nuance. Thanks to this, and to Schiff's narrative gifts, the present-day reader flits above New England's smoky chimneys and thatched rooftops... it is wizardry of a sort-in a flash of brimstone, a whole world made wondrously visible." - The Atlantic
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 27.95MB] [Play time: 01 hr 01 min]
Colson Whitehead reads and discusses 'The Underground Railroad'
Bestselling author Colson Whitehead's newest novel,"The Underground Railroad", tells the story of Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor-engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Like the protagonist of "Gulliver's Travels," Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey-hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. "The Underground Railroad" is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. -- A Publishers Weekly starred review says, "... spellbinding and ferocious.... The story is literature at its finest and history at its most barbaric. Would that this novel were required reading for every American citizen."
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 29.45MB] [Play time: 01 hr 04 min]