18 Free or Cheap Literary Reading Series in NYC

See your favorite writers, or find new favorites, on a starving artist budget

Photo by Richard Clyborne of Music Strive

New York City is a mecca of creative power, housing together individuals with the same passion and literary conviction toward forming and sustaining active community. With events happening every night, it can feel intimidating to even know where to begin. Don’t worry; we’ve taken the first step for you. This is by no means a complete list of all the readings occurring in the city, but it is a good start if you are seeking to join the literary scene or wanting to hear incredibly talented writers, familiar and new, who command the stage. With so much available, why not take advantage? Cheers to the great city of words! Cheers to New York!

F-Bomb Flash Fiction Reading Series

F-Bomb Flash Fiction, originally founded in Denver by writer Nancy Stohlman, highlights stellar flash fiction and connects the flash community together in themed readings. This series is for those who believe good things come in small packages and are unafraid to drop some F(lash)bombs. 

Where: KGB Bar & Lit Mag (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003)

When: First Friday of every month

Cost: No cover charge; two drink minimum


Tables of Contents 

Tables of Contents pairs literature with snacks inspired by the text at a farm-to-table restaurant in Williamsburg. Featuring three readers and a Q+A, each ticket includes admission, small bites, and one complimentary drink.

Where: Egg (109a North 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11249)

When: Varies

Cost: $15

Guerrilla Lit Reading Series

Curators Lee Matthew Goldberg, Camellia Phillips, and Marco Rafalá, the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series showcases amazing works from emerging and established writers. Past readers have included Paul Cohen, Nancy Hightower, and Melissa Rivero.

Where: Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002) 

When: Varies

Cost: Free

Miss Manhattan Nonfiction Reading

For nonfiction fans, Miss Manhattan is a series that hosts four writers in every reading to give light to nonfiction in New York’s literary scene. Curated by Elyssa Maxx, or Miss M, this reading has included writers like Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Paula Mejía, and Jeanne McCulloch.

Where: Niagara Bar (112 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009)

When: First Monday of every month

Cost: Free

Experiments & Disorders

Experiments & Disorders is a well-established Dixon Place series that supports experimentation and cross-genre work. Established by Christen Clifford and Tom Cole, this series is open to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and performance writing. Previous participants have included Lynne Tillman and Phillip Lopate. 

Where: Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002)

When: Varies

Cost: Free

Franklin Park Reading Series

Franklin Park Reading Series, curated by Penina Roth, features new and prominent writers. Audience members have the opportunity to win a free-to-enter raffle. Prior readers have included Tayari Jones, Colson Whitehead, Alexander Chee, and Karen Russell. 

Where: Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden (618 St Johns Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11238)

When: Second Monday of each month

Cost: Free

FPP Reading Series

First Person Plural illuminates creativity in the Harlem community through writing from a first person plural point of view. Since 2011, this reading series has been interested in the collective that can be shown with the “we” perspective, showing writers and artists like Jericho Brown, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Tyehimba Jess.

Where: Silvana (300 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026)

When: Varies

Cost: Free

Pigeon Pages NYC Reading Series

Hosted by Alisson Wood, Pigeon Pages NYC seeks to provide spaces for a wide diversity of up-and-coming authors in addition to local writers across the city. This series has hosted writers like Rakesh Satyal, Melissa Febos, and Susan Choi.

Where: Varies

When: Monthly

Cost: Free

Ditmas Lit Reading Series

Ditmas Lit Reading Series curated by Rachel Lyon blends a diverse and prolific array of emerging and established writers from every genre to share writing in Ditmas Park. Past readings have included literary icons like Alice Sola Kim, Leslie Jamison, and Tommy Pico. 

Where: Hinterlands Bar (739 Church Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11218)

When: Third Wednesday of every month

Cost: Free

Pete’s Candy Store Reading Series 

Pete’s Candy Store Reading Series features notable literary writers, such as Sam Lipsyte, Jennifer Egan, and Lan Samantha Chang, as well as with up-and-coming stars. Curated by Jillian Capewell and Brian Gresko, Pete’s Candy Store has demonstrated fantastic readings for 15 years and counting. 

Where: Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211)

When: Every other Thursday

Cost: Free

826NYC Reading Series 

As a nonprofit, 826NYC is dedicated to helping students with their writing and inspiring a new generation of writers with unlimited potential. During its reading series, established writers, like Yahdon Israel and Lilian Mehrel, read from student works, along with their own.

Where: Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211)

When: Second Monday of every month

Cost: Free

Franklin Electric Reading Series

A Crown Heights reading series, Franklin Electric connects new and established poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writers whose works converse with one another. Past performances have included Chen Chen, Monica Ferrell, and Hafizah Geter.

Where: Work Heights (650 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238)

When: Monthly

Cost: Free

La Pluma y La Tinta New Voices Reading Series

La Pluma y La Tinta, hosted by Raquel Penzo, gives a platform to help, promote, and inspire marginalized voices and diverse writers of color in New York. Past readings have featured readers like Astrid Ferguson, Gia Shakur, and Steven Alvarez.

Where: Cafe con Libros (724 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11216)

When: Varies

Cost: Free

Memoir Monday Reading Series

Memoir Monday is a collaborative series between Narratively, Catapult, Tin House, The Rumpus, Granta, Guernica, and Longreads focusing on first-person memoir. Previous writers have been Lacy M. Johnson, Alexander Chee, and Nuar Alsadir.  

Where: powerHouse Arena (28 Adams St., Brooklyn, NY 11201)

When: Third Monday of every month

Cost: Free

Us&Them Reading Series

Us&Them provides literary translators an opportunity to demonstrate their writing and translation skills in one setting. Twenty-eight translators, including Kimi Traube and Taije Silverman, are handed the mic each year to read works from all around the world. This reading is full of international gems. 

Where: Molasses Books (770 Hart St, Brooklyn, NY 11237)

When: Varies

Cost: Free

The Freya Project 

The Freya Project is a fundraising reading series that celebrates and amplifies the voices of women and non-binary writers. The ticket sales goes towards various non-profits and small organizations that promote social justice. Founded by Natalka Burian and Nonie Brzyski after the 2016 election, past readings have included writers like Lilliam Rivera and T Kira Madden. 

Where: Elsa (136 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201)

When: Varies

Cost: Varies


LIC Reading Series

LIC Reading Series created by Catherine La Sota features readings by writers from Queens and beyond. Past readers have included Kathleen Alcott, Porochista Khakpour and Victor LaValle. The reading features three writers reading from their work, followed by a panel discussion and a giveaway of gift certificates donated by local Queens businesses.

Where: L.I.C. Bar (45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101)

When: Second Tuesday of every month

Cost: Free

Queens Writers Resist

Created in response to the 2016 election, Queens Writers Resist is multidisciplinary—celebrating democracy and resistance in all forms of writing, music, and art, while even allowing the audience to brainstorm themselves from a given prompt. In this series, everyone is inspired together. Past readers have included Jennifer Baker and Yael Horowitz. 

Where: Terraza 7 (4019 Gleane St, Elmhurst, Queens, NY 11373)

When: Varies

Cost: Free

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