Winter Arts Guide: Literary Events

A blizzard of authors is coming to Boston this winter, including Isabel Allende, Rick Moody, Bill Nye, and more.

You have two choices when it comes to New England winters: attack or retreat. Meaning, you can go on the offense, with skis, skates, and snowboards; or find some cozy nook to hole up in, and while away the wintry months on more interior pursuits. If you’re the type that prefers to exercise your mind when the snows come, you’re in good company—if the next few months bring blizzards, take comfort in the fact that they’re bringing plenty of top-notch author events, too.

Ian F. Svenonious

They don’t make ’em more multifaceted than Ian F. Svenonious. The punk icon, philosopher, and Sassy Magazine’s erstwhile “Sassiest Boy in America” returns this year with Censorship Now!!, which tackles such wide-ranging subjects as IKEA, Christian pornography, vampires, hoarding, and “how to properly tip at restaurants.”

November 8, 6 p.m., Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660, Free.

“Jordan Marsh: Boston’s First Department Store”

Over 150 years ago, Eben Dyer Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh set up shop in Downtown Crossing, creating what would be the world’s first department store.  Tonight, author Anthony Mitchell Sammarco gives us a sneak peek of his new book devoted to the history of Jordan Marsh.

November 10, 5:30 p.m., Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St., Boston, 617-482-6439, Buy tickets.

Isabel Allende

Chilean-American author and magical realism rock star Isabel Allende returns with The Japanese Lover. Her 18th fiction novel tells the story of a romance torn apart by WWII, but rekindled 70 years later.

November 11, 7 p.m., First Parish Church, 1446 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Buy tickets.

Rainn Wilson

Following his long-running stint as beleaguered Office antagonist Dwight Schrute, Rainn Wilson reveals his origin story in The Bassoon King.

November 11, 7:30 p.m., Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston, 617-248-9700, Buy tickets.

Ethan Hawke

The father in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is neither a hero or a villain—he’s a flawed man bushwhacking through life, trying to be the best dad he can. And perhaps Mason Sr. is who Ethan Hawke, the actor who played him, had in mind when he penned Rules for a Knight, a primer on virtues written from the perspective of a 15th-century Cornish knight, attempting to impart wisdom onto his children before he rides off into battle.

November 12, 6 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Buy tickets.

Tom Levenson

The space race of the 1800s was the scientific community’s mad scramble to prove the existence of a planet they dubbed Vulcan. In his new book, The Hunt for Vulcan, MIT professor Thomas Levenson leads us through a celestial wild goose chase co-starring Albert Einstein.

November 12, 7 p.m., Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660, Free.

Rick Moody

Rick Moody photo via Wikimedia Commons

Rick Moody

Author of Garden State and The Ice Storm, Rick Moody is back with a book with a distinctly of-the-times po-mo gimmick: Hotels of North America allows readers to piece together the life of fictional reviewer Reginald Edward Morse from his fabricated trail of online yawp.

November 13, 7 p.m., Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Free.

Warren Zanes and Bill Janovitz

The Brookline Booksmith presents a rock doubleheader at Berklee, with Warren Zanes discussing his new Tom Petty biography with Buffalo Tom founder Bill Janovitz.

November 13, 7 p.m., Berklee’s David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston St., Boston, 617-566-6660, Buy tickets.

Bill Nye

Behold, the stuff nerd dreams are made of: Bill Nye—the hero of ’90s children who spent their formative years glued to PBS—comes to the Booksmith to sign his new book, Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World, which attempts to debunk global warming myths and challenge readers to make the world a better place.

November 16, 6 p.m., Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660, Free.

An Evening with Dear Sugar: Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond

Five years ago, the sage mind behind The Rumpus’s famous cult-beloved advice column “Dear Sugar” was unmasked and revealed to be Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. And if there’s anyone who can give you life guidance, it’s someone who lost a parent, got hooked on heroin, and hiked across the Mojave Dessert before age 30. Tonight, Strayed comes to Cambridge for a live taping of “Dear Sugar Radio” and a discussion of her new book, Brave Enough. She’s joined by Steve Almond, who probably hasn’t survived 94 days in the wilderness but seems to give pretty good advice anyway. Sugar fans and Candyfreaks, this is your night.

November 17, 7 p.m., First Parish Church, 1446 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Buy tickets.

Jesse Eisenberg

When your mom’s a former birthday clown and your dad’s a hospital-owner-turned-sociology professor, and you spend your formative years as a painfully shy theater kid who achieves early dubious stardom as “Butt Naked Boy”—well, it’s a life story that’s bound to keep your therapists busy. But it’s also undoubtedly great fodder for a creative writing career. This November, Jesse Eisenberg comes to the Brattle not as Mark Zuckerberg or Lex Luthor, but as a first-time fiction author, reading from new short story collection Bream Gives Me Hiccups.

November 19, 6 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Buy tickets.

Josh Friedland

The creator of genius culinary chimera Ruth Bourdain is back, and he’s bestowing upon us a whole new world of gastronomic portmanteaux—carrotmobs, brocavores, meatmares, and more—in his new book Eatymology: The Dictionary of Modern Gastronomy.

November 19, 7 p.m., Porter Square Books, Porter Square Shopping Center, 25 White St., Cambridge, 617-491-2220, Free.

Billy Collins and Aimee Mann

Billy Collins and Aimee Mann / Courtesy photo by Alyssa Morris

Billy Collins and Aimee Mann

Four years ago, former United States poet laureate Billy Collins and acerbic singer-songwriter Aimee Mann met at the White House—an encounter that turned into a traveling stage show.

November 21, 8 p.m., Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, 617-496-2222, Buy tickets.

Blacksmith House Poetry Series presents Janaka Stucky and Simeon Berry

This December, a house that used to be a smithy hosts a poet who used to be an undertaker, as Black Ocean publisher Janaka Stucky comes to the Blacksmith House (whose long-gone spreading chestnut tree was immortalized by Longfellow). Stucky’s latest, The Truth Is We Are Perfect—released on Jack White’s Third Man Books—is described as “54 poems of heartbreak, ritual, and resurrection.” Simeon Berry will also read from his new poetry collection, Ampersand Revisited.

November 30, 8 p.m., Blacksmith House, 56 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-547-6789, Free.

America’s Test Kitchen

Long before Alton Brown brought his sock puppets and giant prop tongues to the Food Network, bow-tied Christopher Kimball was applying the scientific method to his quest for good eats. Tonight, Kimball and fellow ATK cast members preview their new cookbook, 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials.

December 2, 6 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, Buy tickets.

Science on Screen: The Blob with Ferris Jabr on the Great Molasses Flood

A gooey unstoppable mass that engulfs everything in sight? Anyone who’s crashed the dessert table during a holiday party can relate to the gelatinous antagonist of 1958 cult classic The Blob. But journalist Ferris Jabr is not here to judge our yuletide carb intake; instead, he’s here to explain the science behind the 1919 Boston Molasses Disaster, which he recently wrote about for Scientific American.

December 7, 7 p.m., Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St, Brookline, 617-734-2501, Buy tickets.

Boston Yeti

Boston Yeti, via BostonYeti2015 for “A Brief Interview With the Boston Yeti

An Evening with the Boston Yeti

Guess who’s coming out of hibernation? Our own local cryptid, the Boston Yeti, who makes an appearance following the Brattle’s screening of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. “We’re thrilled to sit down with the big, white guy to discuss his plans for the upcoming snow season as well as his lifestyle in general,” the Brattle reports.

December 17, 7 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617 876-6838, Buy tickets.

Arisia featuring John Scalzi

One way to get through a long Boston winter: Escape reality. Which is exactly what long-running sci-fi con Arisia offers—with gaming, cosplay, theater, film screenings, and discussion panels galore. This year’s special author guest of honor is John Scalzi, a creative consultant for Stargate: Universe and writer of the Old Man’s War series and Red Shirts.

January 15-18, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, 425 Summer St., Boston, Buy tickets.

Boskone featuring Garth Nix

Before there was Harry Potter, there was Garth Nix and his “Old Kingdom” books—a YA fantasy series that revolves around a world of heroic necromancers, spell casters, and strong female protagonists. Nix headlines this year’s Boskone, another venerable Boston sci-fi convention (and one that’s even more lit-focused than Arisia).

February 19-21, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, 425 Summer St., Boston, Buy tickets.

Looking for more winter arts coverage? Check out:

Winter Concerts and Comedy

Winter Theater Openings

Winter Museum Openings