LIVE from the NYPL: A Spring Season Reading List

By Lynn Ann Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services and Engagement
February 27, 2018

This spring, read along with the Live from the NYPL, a series of conversations with notable thinkers, writers, activists, and artists. 

I'll Be Gone In the Dark

I'll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search For the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 7–9 PM

Patton Oswalt with Paul Holdengräber: I'll Be Gone In the Dark [Tickets]

The comedian and actor Patton Oswalt shares the posthumous true-crime masterpiece written by his wife Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly at the age of 46 in 2016. McNamara, creator of, spent years tracking a California serial killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer, who between 1976 and 1986 committed 50 sexual assaults and 10 murders up and down California. 

Can It Happen Here?

Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America by Cass Sunstein

Monday, March 5, 2018, 7–9 PM

Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power with David Cole: Can It Happen Here? [Tickets]

Harvard Professor Cass R. Sunstein polls some of the great thinkers of our generation to ask how democracy in the United States could actually crumble and whether authoritarianism can actually happen here. He will discuss the resulting volume, Can It Happen Here, which he edited, with Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, who is also his wife. Sunstein and Power will speak with David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Collected and New Stories by Thomas McGuane

Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories by Thomas McGuane

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 7–9 PM

Tom McGuane with Richard Powers: The Long and Short of It [Tickets]

The National Book Award–nominated author looks back on a life of stories, in celebration of Cloudbursts, his latest book, which collects short stories from throughout his career. McGuane will speak with fellow author Richard Powers, whose works explore connections among disciplines from photography and artificial intelligence to musical composition and game theory.

How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down by Dave Zirin

Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down by Dave Zirin

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 7–9 PM

John Carlos with Dave Zirin: Political Games [Tickets]

When you Google “1968 Olympics” the first suggestion returned is “1968 Olympics Black Power salute.” That iconic image, of John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City—shoes off, head down, black-gloved fist raised in salute—has come to define the spirit of protest that infused the late 1960s. Dr. Carlos will speak with sports writer Dave Zirin about the principles behind the protests of athletes, and what power they have to impact culture and influence politics.

Poems by Billy Collins

The Rain In Portugal: Poems by Billy Collins

Friday, March 16, 2018, 7–9 PM

Billy Collins with Paul Holdengräber: Ramblin Man [Tickets]

Poetry, to Billy Collins, is a journey, “the result of many contrivances ranging from rhetorical modulations to leaps of fanciful conjuring and sudden shifts in time and space…Poetry invites us to travel into new realms…Insofar as it is the only history we have of the human heart, poetry can carry us into the history of feeling and connect us to that largest of communities.” The former Poet Laureate  will take you on a journey up and down the meter and verse of his own poetic life.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Monday, March 26, 2018, 7–9 PM

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor with Shaun King: Reforming Justice [Tickets]

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University whose work on the history and politics of Black America has examined the realities of race and structural inequality in incarceration, housing policies, police violence, and unemployment. Shaun King is a writer for The Intercept and Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project as well as an activist who has rapidly risen to become one of the most public faces fighting for justice and families, and against brutality and discrimination. Join them for a crucial conversation on the America they see today, and the one they envision for tomorrow.

How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution by Menno Schilthuizen

Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 7–9 PM

Isabella Rossellini with Menno Schilthuizen: Chickens & Eggs [Tickets]

Actor Isabella Rossellini raises chickens; evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen studies them. In her upcoming book, My Chickens and I (March 2018) , Rossellini unexpectedly breeds 38 yellow chicks of diverse heritage breeds and capitalizes on the opportunity to study their traits, behavior, and history. In Darwin Comes to Town, Schilthuizen posits that the strange and rapid adaptations made by animals in urban environments suggest that evolution is perhaps not the slow grinding process biologists have long believed in.

Writing the Final Story

The Art Of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat

Friday, April 6, 2018, 7–9 PM

Edwidge Danticat with Paul Holdengräber: The Art of Immigration [Tickets]

The art of the immigrant experience in America has never lacked for political charge and complexity. Few people know this better than Edwidge Danticat. Haitian born, and raised partially in the States.  Danticat, who celebrates the immigrant as artist by claiming that “re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on par with the greatest works of literature,” will discuss the manners in which she has wielded her art to raise up immigrant voices and how the turmoil of today is changing her approach to it for the future.  


The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (April 15, 2018)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 7 - 9 PM

Rachel Kushner with Paul Schrader: Prison Complex [Tickets]

Bestselling author Rachel Kushner joins LIVE to discuss her most recent novel, The Mars Room, set in a women’s correctional facility deep within California’s central valley. Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences and severed from the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision. Kushner will speak with screenwriter and director Paul Schrader.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Thursday, May 3, 2018, 7–9 PM

Arundhati Roy with Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness [Tickets]

Roy’s previous novel, The God of Small Things was described as the private and intimate stories of people; The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which is published in paperback this spring, is said to recount “the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation.” Roy will speak with Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016.


The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

Monday, May 14, 2018, 7–9 PM

Mario Vargas Llosa with Paul Holdengräber: A Life in Letters [Tickets]

Legend has it that Mario Vargas Llosa was notified of winning the Nobel Prize while working in the Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library. Vargas Llosa has worked on at least two of his novels here—The Storyteller and The Dream of the Celt—and while teaching at Princeton he spent afternoons off here reading. This year, in celebration of his new novel, The Neighborhood, the titan of contemporary Western literature travels from the stacks to the stage to discuss his life in letters.

Dark Money

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise Of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

Monday, May 21, 2018, 7–9 PM

Jane Mayer with Paul Holdengräber: Investigative Journalism [Tickets]

Mayer's in-depth investigative reporting has uncovered hard truths about American life that challenge our understanding of culture, politics, and foreign policy. Her books and magazine pieces have tackled sexual harassment, the war on terror, the deployment of drones, the prosecution of whistleblowers, and, in her most recent book, Dark Money, the uses and abuses of money in electoral politics. 

On the Frontline by Susan Meiselas

On the Frontline by Susan Meiselas

Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7–9 PM

Susan Meiselas with Ann Hamilton: In Focus [Tickets]

Documentary photographer Susan Meiselas is probably best-known for her work dealing with human rights, cultural identity, and the sex industry. Meiselas joins artist Ann Hamilton, whose traveling retrospective, Meditations, celebrates her work from the 1970s to the present.

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (May 2018)

Monday, June 11, 2018, 7–9 PM

Roxane Gay: Not That Bad [Tickets]

In her latest book, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, Roxane Gay brings together an incredible array of women to share first-person essays that directly tackle rape, assault, and harassment. The book asks what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Gay will speak out at LIVE on a topic that is growing more timely by the minute.