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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2016 Seattle Reads - Main Event with Karen Joy Fowler
Listen in to our 2016 Seattle Reads - Main Event, as Book-It Repertory Theatre presents staged readings from “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.” Karen Joy Fowler joins adapter, director, and cast for a post-performance discussion. -- Fowler’s smart, funny, heartbreaking novel is about a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way except one: Fern, being raised by psychologist parents, is a chimp. Rosemary, the narrator, knows Fern as her sister. Then something happens and Fern disappears from the family. The novel explores memory, family life, childhood, child rearing, and what it means to be human. -- 2016 Seattle Reads “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” is a project designed to deepen engagement in literature through reading and discussion. Recorded on May 21, 2016.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 36.34MB] [Play time: 01 hr 19 min]
Housing is a Human Right: Frontlines of the Housing Crisis
Join us for the second installment of the year-long series "Housing is a Human Right". This community talk highlights the voices of people affected by Seattle's housing crisis. This series is created in conjunction with the New Foundation exhibition by artist Martha Rosler "If You Lived Here."
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 40.00MB] [Play time: 01 hr 27 min]
We Are Seattle
What is it like to be an immigrant or refugee in Seattle? How do we address their needs and celebrate their strengths? How have world events and national politics impacted our communities? Listen to our panel discussion and explore images of Seattle's changing populations. Featuring Broadcast Journalist Enrique Cerna as moderator.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 50.41MB] [Play time: 01 hr 50 min]
Steve Olson discusses his book 'Eruption, The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens'
Award-winning science writer Steve Olson presents an illustrated talk about 'Eruption.' He explains why the Mount St. Helens blast happened and recounts the untold stories of the 57 people who were killed. Some people thought that these individuals had foolishly entered the danger zone, but that turns out not to be true. Only three people were in the designated danger zone, and two of them had permission to be there. A major contributor to the death toll on May 18, 1980, was that the danger zone was much too close to the mountain. The Weyerhaeuser Company logging in the Northwest, construction of the transcontinental railroads, establishment of the national forests, and the conservation movement in Washington State all played in to what happened that day. -- "This first-class, meticulously crafted piece of reportage was as exciting as it was informative and will long stand as a classic of descriptive narrative of the biggest American volcanic eruption of all our lifetimes or so we all hope!" --Simon Winchester, author of 'Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded.'
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 27.92MB] [Play time: 01 hr 00 min]
Chris Cleave reads from “Everyone Brave Is Forgiven”
'Everyone Brave Is Forgiven,' based loosely on Chris Cleave's grandparents' lives, is the story of young people thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging, in World War II London. -- War breaks out in 1939 London, and Mary leaves finishing school to volunteer for the war effort. But rather than a glamorous war job, she is assigned to be a teacher working with children left behind when others are evacuated. Her lover, the school administrator Tom, decides to give the war a pass; his flatmate Alistair enlists. When Mary and Alistair meet, love and war will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passions, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams. -- "Insightful, stark, and heartbreaking, Cleave's latest novel portrays the irrepressible hopefulness that can arise in the face of catastrophe." Publishers Weekly starred review.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 32.78MB] [Play time: 01 hr 11 min]
An Investment Plan for Busy People
Do you want to learn to invest in, and monitor, individual companies in a portfolio? Do you have a 401(k) and don't know which fund to invest in? Listen in to learn how quick and easy it is to make investment decisions. Also learn how to encourage teenagers and young adults to get an early start in investing.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 32.35MB] [Play time: 01 hr 10 min]
Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami read from 'Burning Country'
Syrian-British co-authors Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami discuss their book 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War'. -- In 2011, many Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Today, much of Syria has become a warzone and many worry that the country is on the brink of collapse. 'Burning Country' explores the complicated reality of life in present-day Syria, drawing on new firsthand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists. The authors interweave these stories with an incisive analysis of the militarization of the uprising, the rise of the Islamists and sectarian warfare, and the role of Syria's government in exacerbating the brutalization of the conflict. Through these accounts and a broad range of secondary source material, the authors argue that the international community has failed in its stated commitments to support the Syrian opposition movements.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 35.77MB] [Play time: 01 hr 18 min]
A Reading by Seattle’s Civic Poet, Youth Poet Laureate & Friends
The Poets Are In! is an intergenerational reading featuring Seattle's Civic Poet, Youth Poet Laureate and friends. Hear six poets share what it means to live, love and remember in the Emerald City. -- Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna, Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr and Anastacia Rene'e Tolbert, Alan Chong Lau, Maya Chinen and Max Taylor will share individual work and together create a poetic cartography of Seattle. -- The reading celebrates National Poetry Month and marks the inaugural reading of The Poet Is In!, Claudia Castro Luna's tenure as artist-in-residence at the Seattle Public Library.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 27.52MB] [Play time: 01 hr 00 min]
Shakespeare, Here & Now with Jeffrey Todd Knight & Allison Meyer
Listen in to an evening of debate on Shakespeare's cultural influence. Shakespearean scholars Jeffrey Todd Knight (UW), Allison Meyer (Seattle U) and other experts from the worlds of academia and theater present a lively debate on Shakespeare's influence on theater, pop culture and more.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 39.87MB] [Play time: 01 hr 27 min]
Jonathan Levi reads from 'Septimania'
'Septimania,' Jonathan Levi's first novel since 'A Guide for the Perplexed,' presents a strange and magical picaresque romance, set from the 8th century to the present. -- On an spring afternoon in 1978 in the loft of a church outside Cambridge, England, an organ tuner named Malory loses his virginity to a dyslexic math genius named Louiza. When Louiza disappears, Malory follows her trail to Rome. There, the quest to find his love gets sidetracked when he discovers he is the heir to the Kingdom of Septimania, given by Charlemagne to the Jews of eighth-century France. Malory is crowned King of the Jews, Holy Roman Emperor and possibly Caliph of All Islam. Malory's search for Louiza leads to encounters with Pope John Paul II, a magical Bernini statue, Haroun al Rashid of Arabian Nights fame, a shadowy U.S. spy agency and one of the 9/11 bombers, the secret history of Isaac Newton and his discovery of a Grand Unified Theory that explains everything, and more. -- "...an energetically brilliant, genre-defying masterpiece filled with lavish descriptions, mysteries intertwined with history and legend, and a large cast of memorable, offbeat characters." Booklist starred review.
Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 23.79MB] [Play time: 0 hr 51 min]