Free Reads: 5 Great Book Events That Are Giving It Away


Project Runway:The Show That Changed Fashion
The National Arts Club
Friday, 6 p.m., free
“Unwearable” was defined and redefined. Sewing got hip. We became frighteningly desensitized to the image of another human being crying. This is what 10 seasons of Project Runway will do. But at its best the series revealed the precise artistry and craftsmanship behind fashion, lifting the curtain on a fundamental but overlooked side of the industry–one that’s often frantic, fickle, and not really all that glamorous. In Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion (Weinstein Books), author Elia Mells, along with commentary by Heidi Klum, provides insight into the show’s development, most memorable moments, and widely popular reception through her interviews with the judges, designers, and producers. Tonight she will be joined by former contestants Andrae Gonzalo, Emilio Sosa, and Viktor Luna for a reading and discussion.

Brooklyn Zine Fest 2013
Public Assembly
Sunday, 11 a.m., free
We love blogging stuff. Clearly. But we admit that there was something ink-stained and magical about the ’90s zine culture we’d be willing to kill a few trees to relive. Lucky for us, today paper makes a (brief) comeback. BK Zine Fest returns for a second year with 80 writers and artists showcasing their self-published works. Organized by film magazine I Love Bad Movies, itself a genre success story, the all-day expo will highlight DIY print media and the delicate art of the classic, garage-cranked-out zine. Publications run the gamut of topics from cooking to arty experimental lit and Japanese crafting. There’s something for everyone, and unlike at your local Duane Reade, gratuitous browsing through the mags is encouraged.

Augusten Burroughs
PowerHouse Arena
Tuesday, 7 p.m., free
By now we’re all aware that Burroughs has been through the polished, ultra-efficient mill of first-world excess quite a few times over. His Valium-fueled and hyper-analyzed upbringing by a surrogate psychiatrist father was chronicled in Running with Scissors, and his subsequent alcoholism/rehab stint in Dry. Point is, Burroughs is adept at maintaining a sense of humor as life spirals down the proverbial shitter–a honed skill that makes him especially qualified to pen This Is How (St. Martin’s Press). A semi-comedic, semi-serious take on the self-help book, it is subtitled “Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.” We’re desperately curious about the “more.” You can try to stump the memoirist with your own crippling ailment tonight at the book’s paperback launch party.

André Aciman
192 Books
Tuesday, 7 p.m., free
“… We end up wearing different faces and speaking different tongues with different groups and hoping these groups never meet–because, if they did, we’d feel totally exposed for the frauds we are with each,” said André Aciman. The Egyptian native’s new novel, Harvard Square (Norton), is a semi-autobiographical account of what it’s like to juggle between two lives, as any immigrant or even just mildly class-conscious American might know the epic no-win nature of that situation. The protagonist, a poor Jewish Egyptian student, struggles to suppress the instinctive rapport he feels with cabdrivers and bartenders–“lowly” folk–while trying to fit in at the university and WASP nest that is 1970s Cambridge. A chance friendship with a boisterous Arab shakes things up and waxes mighty symbolic. Aciman will read and discuss tonight.

World Book Night
Various Locations
Tuesday, all day, free
We’re wildly enthusiastic about this concept, mainly because it appeals simultaneously to our high-minded love of books and our frugal-minded love of free stuff. Each year for World Book Night authors and publishers wave the royalties on a selection of titles and distribute copies to be personally handed out to professed non-readers, or people with restricted access to books. Sort of like door-to-door evangelism but with Fahrenheit 451 and The Phantom Tollbooth instead of bibles. Last year 2.5 million books were given away in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Germany. This year’s 30 chosen titles include more recent favorites like David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day and Tina Fey’s Bossypants, so we’re all for spreading the love. Look out for volunteer givers around the city, or join Greenlight Bookstore for their World Book Night Kickoff Party at 7:30.