In San Francisco in October? Then Litquake is a Must

Dennis Lehane in Conversation with Eddie Muller: Presented by Litquake at the Herbst Theatre

by Jo O’Neil

What is Litquake? Litquake is what the city of San Francisco is really all about. San Franciscans spend twice the nation’s average on books (as reported by USA Today) and Litquake, the city’s annual festival of literature devoted to the written word, celebrates that. Chelsea Handler, Ismael Reed, Christopher Moore, Jeffrey Eugenides, James Ellroy, Mary Roach,  Adam Mansbach, Jane Smiley, Deepak Chopra, Cyra McFadden, and Guillermo Gomez-Peña are just a few of the approximately 850 authors, both famous and “Barely Published” scheduled to read at this year’s festival.

But Litquake is best known for Lit Crawl, which this year takes place on October 15, the last day of the nine-day festival. It boasts 75 venues in the Mission District, including many bar stops, such as the Edinburgh Castle pub where, in 1999, the idea for Litquake was first conceived. Its parents, local authors Jane Ganahl and Jack Boulware first called it Litstock, and then rechristened it Litquake in 2002 just about the time it began expanding its programming to include all elements of the Bay Area literary scene. There is an event for every literary inclination from traditional to quirky as the diverse list of authors will attest.  The Litquake site describes it best:

“Whether it’s poets reciting in a cathedral, authors discussing science versus religion in a library, or novelists reading in a beekeeping supply store, the goal remains the same: whet a broad range of literary appetites, present the literary fare in a variety of traditional and unlikely venues, and make it vivid, real, and entertaining. Now grown to the largest independent literary festival on the west coast, Litquake continues its mission as a nine-day literary spectacle for book lovers, complete with cutting-edge panel discussions, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings.”

This year, Litquake makes its way north over the Golden Gate Bridge for Words on the Waves, a debut celebration which takes place on several houseboats in the picturesque bayside city of Sausalito.

In addition to the yearly festival,  the more than 100 member strong  Litquake Committee has expanded their reach even further, (by popular demand) adding more national and international authors, youth programs, classroom visits and book giveaways, a spring season of literary events, and special localized editions of the Lit Crawl now held each year in New York City and Austin. It also has hundreds of worldwide and corporate sponsors. Litquake’s aim is “to foster interest in literature for people of all ages, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for Bay Area writing as a complement to the city’s music, film, and cultural festivals.”

To see Litquake’s full schedule visit their website at:

Litquake is a project of the Litquake Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit registered in the state of California.

photo credit: Niko Volonakis

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