The Philadelphia literary calendar gets starrier every year. The Kimmel Center has folks like journalist Bob Woodward and former Secretary of State John Kerry at its sold-out Philadelphia Speakers Series. The Free Library offers another tremendous lineup, with bestsellers, big thinkers, celebrities, marquee media names, and pop stars (see below). Blue Stoop offers another year of excellent local readings, and so do Shakespeare & Co. Rittenhouse, A Novel Idea on Passyunk, and other venues. And, of course, colleges and universities such as Bryn Mawr, Temple, and Penn bring the world’s best to share their words and ideas. Here is just the cream atop a deep cup of loveliness. Events are free unless otherwise specified.

Téa Obreht, Inland (7:30 p.m. Sept. 18, Parkway Central Library). Author of the Orange Prize finalist The Tiger’s Wife and this year’s hot bestseller Inland. In conversation with Sara Nović. (215-567-4341,

Billy Bragg, Three Dimensions of Freedom (7:30 p.m. Sept. 23, Parkway Central Library). The musicologist, singer-songwriter, and political activist discusses his new book on how to fight authoritarianism. (215-567-4341,

Ann Patchett, The Dutch House (7:30 p.m., Sept. 24, Parkway Central Library). The beloved author brings along her new novel about two siblings, their family home in the Philly ’burbs, and their family’s fate. Tickets: $32-$47; includes book. (215-567-4341,

Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know (7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium). We’re not that good at evaluating other people — but the reasons and consequences may surprise you. Gladwell brings his usual brilliance to his new book. Tickets: $30 or $60, book included. (215-567-4341,

Malcom Gladwell, author of "Talking to Strangers."
Celeste Sloman
Malcom Gladwell, author of "Talking to Strangers."

Mary Laura Philpott, I Miss You When I Blink (7:30 p.m. Oct. 1, Shakespeare & Co. Rittenhouse). Her memoir about a completed bucket list and an identity crisis has charmed and encouraged many readers. In conversation with Jennifer Weiner. Free with registration. (215-240-1000,

Imani Perry, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (7:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Parkway Central Library). She has written beautifully on race, sexual identity, and the work of Lorraine Hansberry, and now her latest, Breathe, reminds us to uphold and celebrate the humanity and worth of black children. (215-567-4341,

Chris Ware, Rusty Brown; and Chip Kidd, Shazam! The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal (7:30 p.m. Oct. 3, Parkway Central Library). Ware is a true pioneer of the graphic novel; Rusty Brown concerns three Manhattanites and their interlocking lives. Kidd’s latest book is a huge compendium of all things Marvel. (215-567-4341,

Debbie Harry, Face It (7:30 p.m. Oct. 8, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts). The lead singer of Blondie discusses her memoir with Blondie cofounder Chris Stein and artist and director Ron Roth. With a visual presentation. Tickets: $44-$46, pre-signed book included. (215-567-4341,

"Face It" by Debbie Harry.
Courtesy of Dey Street Books
"Face It" by Debbie Harry.

Susan Rice: Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (7:30 p.m. Oct. 10, Parkway Central Library). The former national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has a new memoir that tells of her life and her vision of a more effective U.S. role in the international community. Tickets: $15; $35 with book. (215-567-4341,

Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth (6:30 p.m. Oct. 10, Shakespeare & Co. Rittenhouse). New Yorker writer, critic, acclaimed novelist. In conversation with Jennifer Wilson. Free with registration. (215-240-1000,

Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide for Occupants (7:30 p.m., Oct. 16, Parkway Central Library). Think you know your body pretty well? Bryson will give you plenty of new ways to look at it, plus some grins along the way. Tickets: $35-$50. (215-567-4341,

Sara Nović, America Is Immigrants (7 p.m. Oct. 17, A Novel Idea on Passyunk). The novelist, translator, and Stockton University professor kicks off her new collection of short profiles of real-life immigrants. (267-764-1202,

Hoda Kotb: I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By (1 p.m., Oct. 18, Parkway Central Library). The longtime Today co-anchor and award-winning Dateline correspondent offers a collection of 365 inspirational or entertaining quotes harvested from her Instagram posts. Tickets: $29; includes book. (215-567-4341,

Patti Smith, Year of the Monkey (7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts). The rocker/writer from Philadelphia and South Jersey has a new memoir/notebook out. Tickets: $42-$44, book included. (215-567-4341,

Joey Baldino and Adam Erace, Dinner at the Club: 100 Years of Stories and Recipes from South Philly’s Palizzi Social Club (7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, Parkway Central Library). You can’t get more Philly. Two South Philadelphians spin yarns about the historic Italian American club that is now one of this town’s most popular dining destinations. In conversation with Inquirer reporter Michael Klein. (215-567-4341,

Joey Baldino at the bar of the Palizzi Social Club in South Philadelphia. He is taking over his family's old-time, private social club, setting it up with a homespun menu. At left is a non-functioning 35-cent-a-pack cigarette machine. At right, a portrait of Frank Rizzo.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Joey Baldino at the bar of the Palizzi Social Club in South Philadelphia. He is taking over his family's old-time, private social club, setting it up with a homespun menu. At left is a non-functioning 35-cent-a-pack cigarette machine. At right, a portrait of Frank Rizzo.

Booker T. Jones, Time Is Tight: My Life, Note By Note (7:30 p.m. Oct. 30, Parkway Central Library). Cofounder of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, architect of the Memphis Sound, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tickets: $15. (215-567-4341,

Tom Perrotta (7:30 p.m. Nov. 6, Bryn Mawr College’s Ely Room). Best-selling author of novels such as Election, Little Children, and The Leftovers. (610-526-5210,

Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House (7:30 p.m., Nov. 7, Parkway Central Library). One of Philadelphia’s most sought-after new writers talks about her new memoir. In conversation with Emma Eisenberg. (215-567-4341,

Carmen Maria Machado, author of "In the Dream House."
Art Streiber
Carmen Maria Machado, author of "In the Dream House."

Second Annual Moby-Dick Reading Marathon (2 p.m. Nov. 9, until 3 p.m. Nov. 10, Independence Seaport Museum). In all the Walt Whitman hubbub, let’s not forget it’s Herman Melville’s 200th birth year, too. The Rosenbach’s yearlong Melville birthday party culminates in this 25-hour communal reading of his masterpiece. Free with registration. Want to take part in the reading? Contact Edward G. Pettit at (215-732-1600,

Joy Harjo (7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Heim Center for Civic and Cultural Engagement, Parkway Central Library). This much-loved Native American poet was recently appointed poet laureate of the United States. (215-567-4341,

Susan Orlean, The Library Book (7:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Parkway Central Library). One of our most beguiling weavers of creative nonfiction brings her most recent creation, on many Best Of 2018 lists. Among much else, it’s about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library. For all book-lovers! Tickets: $15. (215-567-4341,

Asali Solomon (5 p.m. Nov. 14, Temple University’s Charles Library). Acclaimed novelist, short-story writer, and Haverford professor. (215-204-1796,

Jon Dorenbos, Life Is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery (7:30 p.m., Nov. 18, Parkway Central Library). He was a beloved Eagle. He’s a gifted magician. He was also a finalist on America’s Got Talent … yet his youth was shattered by a family tragedy. His book traces his way up. In conversation with Larry Platt. Tickets: $15. (215-567-4341,

Podcasts, Pop Culture, News: Stephen Metcalf and June Thomas (6 p.m., Nov. 21, University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House). Metcalf is a columnist and critic at large for Slate; Thomas is senior managing producer of the Slate podcast network. (215-746-7636,

Salman Rushdie, Quichotte (7:30 p.m., Dec. 10, Parkway Central Library). The master post-modern storyteller brings along his new book, a 21st-century riff on Don Quixote. Tickets: $15; $34 with book. (215-567-4341,