Brooklyn’s Best Places to Be Literary

B is for Brooklyn

Brooklyn has a reputation these days as one of the most literary cities in the world. It seems like every book you pick up has in the author bio “and lives in Brooklyn” (with either a spouse or a cat). And you like books! So you come here, ready to get your book on, but then you’re like, uh, where do I go? Where are all the writers and the other people who like books? When they’re not at a cheap local bar or, you know, writing, they’re at these places.

Franklin Park Reading Series Brooklyn

  • Where’s Waldo the author?

Franklin Park Reading Series
Penina Roth really does a heck of a job curating this monthly reading series in the Crown Heights bar that gives this series its name. She puts, on the same bill, both big-name writers and up-and-comers, meaning you come to see some hotshot but leave with a book by some Brooklyn writer whose name you’d never heard but whose autograph you now have. (The writers are super accessible here.) Get there early if you want to sit down because the place fills up, with hundreds of young and attractive writers, entry-level publishing types, magazine editors and more packed in. After a few drink-special beers, they’ll be over their bookwormy shyness. Second Mondays, Franklin Park

Greenlight Bookstore Colson Whitehead

  • Colson Whitehead reads at Greenlight

Greenlight
Honestly? Part of the reason this Fort Greene spot is our favorite bookstore is because it’s clean and well-lighted; walking by, you really want to go inside and buy stuff (and they’re really good about stocking local books by local authors). The other reason we love this place so much is that they host some of the best writers coming through town—or down the block—to promote their latest books. If you want to see great writers read, and enjoy a little wine and schmoozing after, this is the place. Events calendar

BookCourt

BookCourt
If that author you want to see isn’t reading at Greenlight, chances are they’re reading at this South Brooklyn spot. The bookstore also hosts locally focused events like the Sackett Street Writers Workshop reading series, featuring the best students and instructors from the homegrown workshop. Events calendar [photo]

Fireside Follies

  • Founders Eric Nelson and Mike Lala

Fireside Follies
This regular reading series in Bushwick (which touts itself as the neighborhood’s finest) attracts a smart mix of local luminaries (like Ben Greenman, Kathleen Alcott), celebrated writers from around the country (like Scott McClanahan) and people you haven’t heard of—yet. They all read in the back room of local bar Brooklyn Fireproof East, in front of a projected fire, for an audience of North Brooklyn literary types. Official website

powerHouse Arena

  • Dave Itzkoff reading at powerHouse

powerHouse Arena
Many notable writers come through to this DUMBO bookstore/publisher, but we’re more impressed by the venue itself, with its mixture of church pews and amphitheater-style seating. (This is DUMBO—the ceilings are so high!) This place doesn’t just call itself an arena. It really is Brooklyn’s only literary arena. Events calendar

Eat, Drink and Be Literary

Eat, Drink and Be Literary
BAM’s irregular reading series recently wrapped up its 2013 season, but when it (presumably) returns next year, it’ll once again feature some of the biggest names in local literature—last season had Martin Amis, Colson Whitehead, and more—which makes it worth the steep ticket price. Official site

Brooklyn Book Festival

Brooklyn Book Festival
If you’re planning a trip to Brooklyn, you’d do well to wait for September—this year, September 22—when the borough president’s office presents this literary festival and its hundreds of readings, panels and signings. There are just as many vendors, too, lining the plaza outside Borough Hall. Official site

Books Beneath the Bridge

Books Beneath the Bridge
This annual summer series, held in Brooklyn Bridge Park, is curated event-by-event by the borough’s top bookstores, reflecting their distinct personalities and drawing great authors. (This year features Colum McCann, Victor LaValle, and more.) Plus, it’s outside! Official site

Word Bookstore Greenpoint Brooklyn

Word
We’d be dickishly remiss if we didn’t mention this Greenpoint neighborhood bookstore, which every once in a while hosts the most interesting reading happening in the city that week. Events calendar [photo]

Having a Whiskey Coke With You

Having a Whiskey Coke With You
This two-year-old local zine also hosts regular readings at the new South Slope Freddy’s, where poets, writers, musicians and more get together to share work and do the thing described in the name. Official Tumblr

Bay Ridge Poets Society

  • Matt Shelly
  • Thomas Fucaloro at a Bay Ridge Poets Society reading

The Bay Ridge Poets Society
Shameless self promotion: I host a monthly open mic series in Bay Ridge’s Owl’s Head wine bar that’s quickly becoming the premiere literary event for miles around! Is it because I’m so funny? Yes, but it’s also because there are lots of great writers in the neighborhood and surrounding areas (southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) longing for a literary community. And now they have one! Last Sundays at Owl’s Head

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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