50 Writers You Need to See Read Live

Here’s a dirty little secret about books and liking books and the fact that people who are real-life people write books: more often than not, a book reading is deadly boring. A writer will read something that they’ve written and answer some questions, and it’s all very boilerplate. Which is to be expected, as the pursuit of storytelling in the written word is not, on average, an extrovert’s game.

It’s a pleasant surprise when a writer is dynamite in person, whether they’re reading their work or answering questions with confidence and something like charisma. The best live appearances by writers are able to cast a spell over the audience — through a variety of elements — and here are 50 writers make that achievement look easy. Thanks to writers and readers Michele Filgate, Julia Bartz, and Amanda Bullock for their suggestions.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

You may know Coates as a blogger for The Atlantic, where he’s a national correspondent, and the author of the moving memoir The Beautiful Struggle, but it’s also wonderful to see him in person and to just luxuriate in the provocative, brilliant pleasures of his brain.