As a teenager growing up in Wichita, I and my friends uttered one constant refrain: There’s nothing to do around here. That may have been true in the mid 1990s (it really probably wasn’t), but it’s certainly not true twenty-five years later, especially if you love going to author talks. Or participating in a book club. Or kicking ass (against yourself) in a reading challenge. Or taking a free writing course. Or hanging out with other writers. If it’s literary, you can do it in Wichita.
I mean, I can’t. Blame a variable work schedule, but every single literary event that I wanted to attend in the next six weeks lands on a day that I work or have another obligation. I’m seriously considering ditching the normally sacrosanct monthly Sister Dinner to go to a book group, just so I can say I’ve done something literary this month.
I won’t, of course. After all, it’s my turn to choose the restaurant. But I may subject my niece to a postmodern analysis of her current favorite board book, Where’s Mr Unicorn? Can we ever really find Mr. Unicorn? Or ourselves? (Spoiler: Yes, you can find yourself. There’s a mirror in the back of the book specifically for that purpose.)
But if you have a more normal, 8-to-5 kind of schedule, you could:
- Check the Watermark Events page to find an author talk or a book club.
- Keep an eye on the Wichita Public Library Events page to find out about free writing programs. We hosted a fiction writing class last fall and a memoir writing class is coming up this summer (facilitated by yours truly, thankyouverymuch).*
- The WPL also hosts writers whenever we get the chance. In the last few years, we’ve hosted Luis Alberto Urrea, Emily St. John Mandel, and most recently Kansas’s own Marci Penner. We would’ve invited Ray Bradbury, but he’s a tad dead, so we invited his biographer Sam Weller, instead. We also sponsor a hugely popular Local Author Day program; that’s coming up in August this year.
- Oh, and did I mention the book clubs that meet at the WPL? We’ve got book clubs based on themes and clubs based on schedule. Are you available on the third Thursday of the month? Or the fourth Monday? Or the second Tuesday? After work? Daytime? We have a club for you.
- Want to rub elbows with professional writers? You can attend the monthly Kansas Writer’s Association meetings and the Kansas Authors Club District 5 meetings. They schedule them on opposite Saturdays so writers can attend either or both.
- Want to talk to other readers without the formality of a book club? Come hang out with me and Suzanne Tobias on Saturday, April 13, at 10:15am, at the Advanced Learning Library. We’re going to talk about books that will fill the requirements for the 2019 #ReadICT Challenge, and then? THEN?! We’re gonna have a book swap! Bring the gently used books you want to be rid of and take home some new ones! For free!
There are a lot of literary-type events going on in Wichita. I didn’t even get to the authors visiting our universities or the plethora of book stores. (The book is not dying, people, no matter what that so-called think piece your cousin posted has to say.) I didn’t even mention that Laura Moriarty is giving a talk at the Wichita Art Museum next month about her research process for The Chaperone, which I can’t go to because I have to work and that shift is already the result of two separate trades and there’s no way I can trade again and I AM NOT BITTER IT’S FINE.
Just don’t let me hear you say you’re bored, is what I’m saying.
*Disclaimer: I adore working for the Wichita Public Library and very much do not want to get fired, so I need to be clear that all opinions expressed on this blog, in this and all other posts, are my own, and do not represent the official positions of the WPL or the City of Wichita.