Local Lit | October’s top tips for book lovers

Banned Book Week: Oct. 1-7 | “Let Freedom Read”

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For more than 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, teachers, booksellers, publishers, writers, journalists, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools and include “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, and others listed on the American Library Association website.

Download books for free HERE and learn more about the Banned and Challenged Books initiative of the American Library Association HERE.

Litquake 2023 | Oct. 5-21

Litquake, the West Coast’s largest independent literary festival, is host to 90+ events and the carnival that is the closing night Lit Crawl in the Mission. Incoming Executive Director Norah Piehl indicated future plans include holding more Litquake events in the East Bay next year and beyond. 

October 2023; more information and schedules HERE

“AI and the Future of Literature” | Gray Area/Grand Theater, San Francisco | Oct. 8

Join Bay Area-Based ZYZZYVA Editor-in-Chief Oscar Villalon as he moderates a panel of Silicon Valley technologists and authors who will speak on the convergence of tech and literary worlds. ZYZZYVA is a triannual magazine/journal with a mission to publish and provide opportunities for writers, poets, and artists to bring forward their work and offer meaningful commentary on contemporary issues through workshops, lectures and other events. Villalon will be joined in this Litquake event by Raiya Kind (Google), Jessica Powell (Audioshake), author Robin Sloan, and James Yu (Sudowrite). The panel will consider how AI will change the writing process and seek to answer questions about the ways AI will be used as an assistive tool — or become interwoven in society to the extent it takes over or automates what has traditionally been a deeply human, individualistic endeavor. Like all but approximately 15 festival events, the program is free, with a suggested donation. If the event is sold out and interest in AI is vitally important, check the festival’s other offerings; it’s likely AI will come up anywhere people are talking about literature and its future.

Oct. 8, 7 p.m.; free, with $10-15 suggested donation; litquake.org

Evelyn McDonnell: The World According To Joan Didion, Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, Berkeley | Oct. 18

McDonnell will read from her new book and be joined in conversation by ceramicist and sculptor Lisa Reinertson. The book crafts an intimate profile of Didion, the revered writer whose influence spans generations. In addition to being a groundbreaking journalist, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter, Didion was an observer of life and encouraged one and all to “throw themselves into the convulsions of the world.” Under the gaze of McDonnell, a well-recognized journalist, essayist, critic, feminist, and university professor who regularly teaches Didion’s work, the book unfolds a vision meant to inspire readers and writers of all ilks. “The World According to Joan Didion” is described as “an illustrated journey through her life, tracing the path she carved from Sacramento, Portuguese Bend, Los Angeles, and Malibu to Manhattan, Miami, and Hawaii.” The journey is sure to be rich and enlivened during the discussion about what Didion saw and how her perspective might spark new ways of thinking and being alive in the world. McDonnell has written or coedited multiple books, including “Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce, “Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl,” and others. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Billboard, MS., and Los Angeles Times. Due to space limitations, early registration for this free event is strongly encouraged.

Oct. 18; 7 p.m.; free; Mrs. Dalloways

I Love You All, Please Leave with author Victoria Carlisle @ Great Good Place for Books | Oct. 18

Carlisle will present her new collection of essays that comes with the subtitle, “Essays on Covid Lockdowns and Psych Lockups”. That’s a strong indication of the stories the British Expat who lives in Oakland will bring to the in-person event at the cozy, independent bookstore in Montclair Village. Unapologetically opening her life to scrutiny, Carlisle’s writing is humorous, provocative, brazen, and unflinchingly honest about her failures as a Zoom parent and lack of discretion and questionable taste while shopping online during the pandemic. Throughout, the humanity that pops or sneaks to the surface delivers hope and has Carlisle, whose history includes psychotic breakdowns, reaching a place of self-acceptance. The debut book reflects the inner world of a woman that to outside observers is a leading voice and expert on topics related to mental health and sexuality. Carlisle is board chair of the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness and frequently lectures and writes on married sex and intimacy.

Oct. 18; 7 p.m.; free; Great Good Place for Books

Author mimi tempest, the delicacy of embracing spirals @ City Lights, San Francisco | Oct. 19

An in-person conversation at City Lights bookstore that is also available on Zoom leaves no reason to miss out on a discussion with multidisciplinary artist and writer mimi tempest and poet Truong Tran. Tempest’s new book on Black womanhood is published by City Lights and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Most Anticipated Poetry Books for Fall 2023. Known and heralded for writing that is “by turns cerebral, profane, revolutionary, comedic, erotic, and sentimental,” according to the publisher, tempest’s second book is a rare journey not only in its content but in her painterly, expressive, and radical presentation of words on the printed page. In one poem recounting an encounter with an elderly black woman in a grocery store, she writes that the woman “suggested i continue writing into an untapped possibility.” Tempest in this second book does nothing less. Tempest is currently a doctoral candidate in the Creative/Critical Ph.D. in Literature at UC Santa Cruz and lives in Berkeley. In 2021, she was selected for participation in the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices & Writers, and was a Creative Fellow at The Ruby in San Francisco. Her work can be found in Foglifter, Interim Poetics, and at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Oct. 19; 6 p.m.; in-person and on Zoom; free; City Lights

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *