8 Awesome Videos of Authors Reading Their Work

Going to an author reading is one of the coolest ways to connect with your favorite writer and his or her work. But not all of us live in a city where author readings are frequent – and that’s why YouTube is such an awesome resource for book lovers. YouTube is full of really cool videos of authors reading. From popular modern authors to rare footage of writers who are no longer with us, these are our favorite videos of author readings!


Maya Angelou

Angelou’s poetry recital took place on the grandest stage of any of these readings. She spoke to a huge crowd at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. This video features an excellent performance and a slice of history.


Charles Bukowski

Bukowski had a great way with his audience, and that makes it really fun to watch his readings on tape. This one is bittersweet, though, since it was Bukowski’s last live reading before his death in 1994. This is a nice long video, so savor it!


Neil Gaiman

This great reading comes from Heartbreak Hotel, a one-night-only show that Gaiman did with his wife, Amanda Palmer. Gaiman reads from his most recent release, Trigger Warning. We also think his stage is pretty great!


Allen Ginsberg

This video features audio of Allen Ginsberg reading his poem “In My Kitchen In New York…” and an accompanying video starring him as himself in (where else?) a kitchen in New York. The footage is from an old show called Poetry Spots. Poetry Spots aired on a New York City public station. It ran from 1987-1993 and was produced by Bob Holman, himself a respected poet.


John Green

John Green is an experienced vlogger (video blogger!) and he’s read a couple of chapters of his most famous book, The Fault in Our Stars, to his fans on YouTube. This video is particularly cool because it was deliberately created for online consumption. There’s no in-person audience at all: you’re the person Green is trying to reach.


Chuck Palahniuk

This video is of slightly lower quality than the others, but it’s worth checking out because of Palahniuk’s reputation. Palahniuk is known for his shocking writing, and it’s been reported that at least 75 people have passed out at his readings. Usually, this story is the culprit. It probably doesn’t help that Palahniuk asks listeners to hold their breath while he reads.


J.K. Rowling

This reading from J.K. Rowling has a pretty impressive setting: the White House lawn. Rowling was a guest at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2010, and she read a section of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to a lucky group of kids. There’s a great question and answer session at the end of this video, too.


Zadie Smith

There are better-produced author reading videos out there, but there’s something kind of cool about a fan-shot video, like this one or the Palahniuk video above. For all the criticism we levy at people who are absorbed in their phones, we ought to be grateful that inspiring moments like this get captured for us all to enjoy. Smith is reading at Shakespeare & Co. in this video.

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