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Conversations with Authors

Live sessions with the writers and thinkers most committed to America’s independent bookstores

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Coming Up Next

Tuesday, January 12th

9:00pm est/6:00pm pst

in conversation with Deborah Tannen

Gretchen Rubin‘s recent release, The Four Tendencies, considers what happens when people respond to Epicurus’ simple question: “How do I respond to expectations?” and explores how understanding your own response can help you make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively.

Gretchen is also the author of the bestselling books The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better than Before, and Outer Order, Inner Calm. She’s also written a bestselling biography of Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, and one of John Kennedy, Forty Ways to Look at JFK. She hosts a popular, award-winning podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” and a blog, where she writes about her daily adventures in happiness and habit-formation. She is also a regular columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine and makes regular appearances on CBS This Morning. Before turning to writing, Gretchen had a career in law. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, she clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Deborah Tannen’s newest release, Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow, traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to New York City in an intimate memoir about family, memory, and the stories we tell.

Deborah is University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of many books and articles about how the language of everyday conversation affects relationships.  She is best known as the author of the New York Times Bestseller, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness. In addition to her eight books for general audiences, Deborah is author or editor of sixteen books and over one hundred articles for scholarly audiences. She is also a frequent guest on television and radio news and has been featured in and written for most major newspapers and magazines, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticHuffPostNewsweekTimeUSA TodayPeople, and The Harvard Business Review. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

John Grisham

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

For more than 40 years, Book Passage has been the welcoming home for readers. And now, we’re pleased to share a remarkable schedule of conversations with many of our favorite authors—many long-time friends of Book Passage—well beyond the Bay Area.

Please join us here each week together with great authors and thinkers to share ideas and celebrate our community. These live, free, intimate conversations explore what it means to be living through these times, and what it means to stay connected to the people and the ideas that bind us.

Register once, and you’re guaranteed a seat at every upcoming Conversations with Authors event. You’ll be invited to help shape each session in advance by prioritizing the issues we discuss, and you’ll have the chance to ask additional questions during each conversation. You can also view the free archive of any event you might have missed, any time you like.

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

Join us live.

Register once, and join us for every upcoming conversation.

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Tuesday, January 12th

9:00pm est/6:00pm pst

in conversation with Deborah Tannen

Gretchen Rubin‘s recent release, The Four Tendencies, considers what happens when people respond to Epicurus’ simple question: “How do I respond to expectations?” and explores how understanding your own response can help you make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively.

Gretchen is also the author of the bestselling books The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better than Before, and Outer Order, Inner Calm. She’s also written a bestselling biography of Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, and one of John Kennedy, Forty Ways to Look at JFK. She hosts a popular, award-winning podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” and a blog, where she writes about her daily adventures in happiness and habit-formation. She is also a regular columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine and makes regular appearances on CBS This Morning. Before turning to writing, Gretchen had a career in law. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, she clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Deborah Tannen’s newest release, Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow, traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to New York City in an intimate memoir about family, memory, and the stories we tell.

Deborah is University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of many books and articles about how the language of everyday conversation affects relationships.  She is best known as the author of the New York Times Bestseller, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness. In addition to her eight books for general audiences, Deborah is author or editor of sixteen books and over one hundred articles for scholarly audiences. She is also a frequent guest on television and radio news and has been featured in and written for most major newspapers and magazines, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticHuffPostNewsweekTimeUSA TodayPeople, and The Harvard Business Review. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

Thursday, January 14th

9:00pm est/6:00pm pst

in conversation with Larry Brilliant

Rameshwar Das is the co-author of Ram Dass’ memoir Being Ram Dass, written together with Ram Dass before his death in 2019.

A writer and photographer, Ramesh met Ram Dass in 1968 and went on to collaborate with Ram Dass on many projects, most recently as coauthor of Be Love Now and Polishing the Mirror. Set against a backdrop of nine decades of sweeping cultural change, Being Ram Dass shares this modern day luminary’s journey from psychologist to renegade Harvard psychedelics researcher to beloved spiritual icon.

Dr. Larry Brilliant is a physician and epidemiologist, CEO of Pandefense Advisory, and a CNN Medical Analyst. He also serves on the board of the Skoll Foundation, as well as co-founded the Seva Foundation, an NGO whose programs have given back sight to more than 5 million blind people in two dozen countries. Dr. Brilliant is the author of Sometimes Brilliant, a memoir about working to eradicate smallpox. He lives in Marin County, CA.

Saturday, January 30th

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

in conversation with Peter Coyote

Sherry L. Smith‘s new book, Bohemians West: Free Love, Family and Radicals in the Twentieth Century is a revelatory biography of a radical romance at the dawn of the twentieth century.

Sherry L. Smith is a historian and author who grew up in Northwest Indiana, a place tucked between Chicago’s cultural treasures and the natural wonders of the Indiana Dunes. Yet, the American West won her over as a subject of historical study and place to live. She is University Distinguished Professor of History at Southern Methodist University.  Her award-winning books include Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power and Reimagining Indians: Native Americans Through Anglo Eyes, 1880-1940. Smith is a former president of the Western History Association and received the Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellowship at the Huntington Library, which supported research for Bohemians West. She has also been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and Yale University. Smith lives in Moose, Wyoming, and Pasadena, California.

Peter Coyote’s memoir of the 1960’s counter-culture Sleeping Where I Fall which received universally excellent reviews, and has been in continuous print since 1999. His second book, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education, about mentors and the search for wisdom, was nominated as one of the top five non-fiction books published in California in 2015. His third book, Unmasking Your True Self (the Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet the Buddha) conflates 50 years of Buddhist practice and acting and uses masks and improv exercises to foster liberation experiences and teach people “how to get out of their own way.” It will be released by Inner Traditions Press in early 2020, and so will his first book of poems, The Tongue of a Crow.

Peter has performed as an actor in over 160 films for theaters and TV. He is a double Emmy-Award winning narrator of over 150 documentary films. An ordained Zen Buddhist priest and transmitted teacher, Peter is currently giving live weekly dharma talks on Facebook, preparing for a fourth book called Vernacular Buddhism.

Sunday, January 31st

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

in conversation with Aarian Marshall

Alex DaviesDriven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car tells the dramatic, colorful story of the quest to develop driverless cars—and the fierce competition between Google, Uber, and other companies in a race to revolutionize our lives.

Alex is a senior editor at Business Insider, where he oversees the transportation coverage. He was formerly an editor at WIRED, where he launched the transportation section in 2016. Along with autonomous vehicles, he has covered everything from designing bike lanes to electric aviation to the quest to rebuild American infrastructure. Mr. Davies has written features about how General Motors beat Tesla in the race to build the affordable, long-range electric car, the nascent flying car industry, and X, Alphabet’s “moonshot factory.” A New Yorker by birth, Mr. Davies has lived in California’s Bay Area since 2014.

Aarian Marshall is a staff writer at WIRED covering the business of moving people and things. Before WIRED, Marshall wrote for The Atlantic’s CityLab, GOOD, and Agri-Pulse, an agriculture trade publication. She’s based in Washington, DC.

Saturday, February 6th

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

in conversation with R. O. Kwon

Chang-rae Lee‘s My Year Abroad is an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure – and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.

Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction, as well as On Such a Full Sea, A Gesture LifeAloft, and The Surrendered, winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also written stories and articles for The New YorkerThe New York TimesTime (Asia), GrantaConde Nast TravelerFood & Wine, and many other publications. Chang-rae Lee teaches writing at Stanford University.

R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book and Los Angeles Times First Book Prize. Kwon’s next novel, as well as an essay collection, are forthcoming.

R.O’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

Tuesday, February 9th

9:00pm est/6:00pm pst

in conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert

Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted is a searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery.

Suleika is an Emmy Award-winning writer, speaker, cancer survivor and activist.Born in New York City to a Tunisian father and a Swiss mother, Suleika’s career aspirations as a foreign correspondent were cut short when, at age 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She began writing the acclaimed New York Times column and video series “Life, Interrupted” from the front lines of her hospital bed, and has since become a fierce advocate for those living with illness and chronic pain.

Suleika served on Barack Obama’s Presidential Cancer Panel, and her advocacy work, reporting and speaking engagements have brought her everywhere from the main stage of TED, the United Nations and Capitol Hill to a maximum security prison and a two-room schoolhouse in rural Montana. When she’s not on the road with her 1972 Volkswagen camper van and rescue dog Oscar, she lives in Brooklyn..

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection, Pilgrims — a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.

Saturday, February 13th

9:00pm est/6:00pm pst

in conversation with Tom Barbash

Vendela Vida’s newest release, We Run the Tides is an achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco

Vendela is the award-winning author of six books, including Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. She is a founding editor of The Believer magazine, and co-editor of The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers and Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence, a collection of interviews with musicians. Two of Vida’s novels have been New York Times Notable Books of the year, and she is the winner of the Kate Chopin Award, given to a writer whose female protagonist chooses an unconventional path. She was a founding board member of 826 Valencia, the San Francisco writing center for youth, and lives in the Bay Area with her family.

Tom Barbash is the author of the novels The Dakota Winters and  The Last Good Chance and the non-fiction books On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11; A Story of Loss and Renewal, which was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin HouseMcSweeney’sVirginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives in Marin County, California..

Saturday, March 6th

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

in conversation with Terry Tempest Williams

Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Like a Tree, which grew out of her experience mourning the loss of a Monterey pine that was cut down in her neighborhood, provides an insightful look into the fusion of ecological issues and global gender politics.

Jean is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst and an internationally known author and speaker. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California Medical Center and a past board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the International Transpersonal Association, and the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. She is the author of thirteen books in over one hundred foreign editions and is in three acclaimed documentaries.

Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge, Red – A Desert Reader and most recently, Erosion: Essays of Undoing. Terry is also the Provostial Scholar at Dartmouth College. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. In 2015, She and her husband divide their time between Castle Valley, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Sunday, March 14th

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

in conversation with Ruth Reichl

Julia Turshen’s Simply Julia: 110 Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food is her first collection of recipes featuring a healthier take on the simple, satisfying comfort food for which she’s known.

Julia is the bestselling cookbook author of Small Victories, named a Best Cookbook by the New York Times and NPR, Feed the Resistance, Eater’s Book of the Year, 2017, and Now & Again, named the Best Cookbook of 2018 by Amazon. She hosts the IACP-nominated podcast “Keep Calm and Cook On” and has written for The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalVogueBon AppétitFood & Wine, and Saveur. She is the founder of Equity At The Table, an inclusive digital directory of women and non-binary individuals in food. Julia lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets.

Ruth Reichl began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. She moved to Berkeley, California in 1973, and became co-owner and cook at The Swallow Restaurant. In1978 she became restaurant critic for New West and California magazines, and went on to be the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times. From 1993-1999 she served as restaurant critic for the New York Times. In 1999 she moved to Gourmet Magazine, where she was Editor in Chief for ten years.

She has authored five memoirs, Tender at the BoneComfort Me with ApplesGarlic and SapphiresFor You, MomFinally and Save Me the Plums, which was published in 2019. Her novel, Delicious! was published in 2014, and her cookbook, My Kitchen Year, 136 Recipes that Saved My Life in 2015. She edited Best American Food Writing 2018, and The Modern Library Food Series, which currently includes ten books. She was Executive Producer and host of the public television series, Adventures with Ruth and a judge on Top Chef Masters. She is the recipient of six James Beard Awards. At the moment she is working on a novel. Her most recent project is a documentary, with Laura Gabbert, director of City of Gold, about the ways the current pandemic is altering the food landscape.

Saturday, March 27th

7:00pm est/4:00pm pst

Lisa Scottoline‘s new release, Eternal, offers a sweeping and shattering epic of historical fiction fueled by shocking true events, the tale of a love triangle that unfolds in the heart of Rome, in the creeping shadow of fascism.

Lisa is the bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of thirty-three novels. She has over thirty million copies of her books in print in the United States and has been published in thirty-five countries. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for the Philadelphia Inquirer. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of humorous memoirs including their most recent, I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But The Pool. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has served as President of the Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, “Justice in Fiction,” at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. She lives in the Philadelphia area.