Literary Death Match, the Librarian of Congress, and More Bookish Happenings!

Welcome to Book Riot’s Events Newsletter, hosted by me, María Cristina. When will the cold end?!?! This is not a rhetorical question. If you have hard intel, get in touch. In the meantime, we’ve got plenty of indoor book events to busy ourselves with until the glorious outdoor book fairs make their return. Clear your calendars on the following dates, my reading friends.

Sponsored by The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

In 1992, Abby is responsible for a car crash that kills her beloved brother. It’s a mistake she can never forgive, so she pushes away Liam, the man she loves most.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the man who pulled her to safety—the man who couldn’t save her brother. When a twist of fate brings Liam and Abby back into each other’s lives, they pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the terrible secrets they’ve been carrying…


Literary Death Match: March 14 in Brooklyn, NY

Here’s a lively hybrid event for y’all. Three celebrity judges sit in appraisal as four authors compete in a read-off. In this installment, authors Safiya Sinclair (Cannibal), Kanishk Tharoor (Swimmer Among the Stars), Simeon Marsalis (As Lie Is to Grin), and Alex Okeowo (A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa) duke it out at The Bell House

Montclair Literary Festival: March 15-18 in Montclair, NJ

I’m calling it right now: year two of this festival will avoid the sophomore slump. I mean, Patti Smith is going to be there! You won’t see her unless you already have tickets, because of course that part of the festival is a sold-out ticketed event. But I’m just as excited about the back-to-back panels Pachinko author Min Jin Lee is appearing in on Saturday (getting into print without the MFA, and the immigrant experience in fiction).

In Conversation with the Librarian of Congress: Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists: March 15 in Washington, DC

As part of the programming for Women’s History Month, this event brings Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (awesome lady) together with a panel that includes This One Summer artist Jillian Tamaki (another awesome lady). If you can’t take a long lunch to witness the conversation in person, you can livestream it.

NYC Teen Author Festival: March 18-25 in New York, NY

From the Strand to McNally Jackson to Books of Wonder you won’t be able to set foot in a New York bookstore without running into a panel or signing for this sprawling YA festival. A couple branches of the New York Public Library are also getting in on the fun. All events are free, but book purchases are always appreciated.

Virginia Festival of the Book: March 21-25 in Charlottesville, VA

There are some bookish events that just lack all kinds of self-awareness (e.g. centering themselves around a theme of activism but failing to feature a single woman of color). And then there’s Sunday night at the Virginia Festival of the Book, where Peter Ho Davies (The Fortunes), Tyehimba Jess (Olio), and Margot Lee Shetterly (Hidden Figures) “will share their writing and insights about race and culture, with a particular focus on the August 2017 events that took place in Charlottesville.” Sometimes the most obvious reaction is the bravest one.

Saints and Sinners Literary Festival: March 23-25 in New Orleans, LA

This LGBTQ literary festival is marking its fifteenth year, and doing so in style; the Hotel Monteleone, a Tennessee Williams haunt and official Literary Landmark, is hosting in the French Quarter. Interested in historical fiction? Humor? Speculative fiction? Playwriting? Are you a reader? Writer? Both? There’s something for everyone!


the merry spinsterMallory Ortberg

Stops include: March 14 (Berkeley, CA), 16 (Berkeley, CA), 18 (Portland, OR), 19 (New York, NY), 20 (Washington, DC), and 23 (Cambridge, MA)

There’s been an Ortberg-sized hole in my heart ever since the Toast shuttered. I’ve been getting my fix reading the Dear Prudence column, but I’m beyond excited for The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror. And I can’t decide if a poster-sized version of the cover would be a great or terrible thing to hang in the bedroom. I mean, it is in the room’s color scheme.

Shobha Rao

Stops include: March 14 (Manhattan Beach, CA), 19 (Pittsburgh, PA), 20 (Providence, RI), and 21 (Boston, MA)

Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter is no easy read. As the main characters grow from girls to women, they are continuously pitted against an abusive patriarchy. But they are drawn more roundly than mere ciphers for the plight of women. I guarantee that this debut novel will stay with you long after you finish it.

Junot Díaz

Stops include: March 13 (Brooklyn, NY), 15 (Washington, DC), 16 (Coral Gables, FL), 18 (Cambridge, MA), 20 (Los Angeles, CA), 21 (Menlo Park, CA), 22 (Seattle, WA), 23 (Salt Lake City, UT), 25 (Boston, MA), and 26 (Jamaica Plain, MA)

Grab your kiddo and head on over to pick up this Pulitzer Prize-winner’s first picture book! Name recognition alone is sure to catapult Islandborn to the top of every list, but the illustrations by Leo Espinosa are breathtakingly fun and evocative.


If you end up participating in any of the above, tell us about it on social media.

And if there are any bookish events that should be on my radar, tweet me @meowycristina or email me at

Hope to see you Riot readers in the wild!