Book Bites: Sacramento Speaker Series announces 2016-17 lineup

Comedian Jay Leno is among those who will headline the Sacramento Speaker Series’ 2016-17 program.
Comedian Jay Leno is among those who will headline the Sacramento Speaker Series’ 2016-17 program. AP file

Comedian Jay Leno, “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed and former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard will headline the Sacramento Speaker Series’ 2016-17 program, it has been announced.

“For our 12th season, we have assembled some of the most entertaining and informative forward thinkers in America,” said Mitchell Ostwald, managing principal of the series. “We Sacramentans can say we have something unique that’s ours to share.”

The six-event series brings top-tier professionals from the arts, sciences, politics, media and other fields to Sacramento to speak about their careers and issues of the day, and answer questions from the audience.

Each of the events will start at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) at the Community Center Theatre, 1301 L St., Sacramento. Subscriptions are priced at four levels, from $210 to $450. For tickets and more information: (916) 388-1100,

Here’s the lineup:

Sept. 28: Michael Lewis is a social commentator and author of “The Big Short.” The film version has been nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Nov. 16: Brian Greene is a theoretical physicist and author of “The Elegant Universe,” which became an Emmy and Peabody award-winning “NOVA” PBS special.

Jan. 18: Jay Leno is the former host of the “Tonight Show” and a collector of world-class autos.

Feb. 27: Fareed Zakaria is a political analyst, author and host of CNN’s “GPS.”

April 5: Julia Gillard captured global attention for her speech in the Australian Parliament on the treatment of women.

May 3: Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail for her memoir.

New series

The Sacramento Public Library will get provocative with its new community-conversation series, “Let’s Talk About …” It’s designed to “engage the community in a deeper discussion about difficult-to-talk-about subjects.”

The debut will focus on race relations. Opening the topic will be playwright and Emmy-award winning journalists Ginger Rutland. Co-hosting will be Dia Penning the education manager for World Trust, “a catalyst for racial equality.”

The conversation starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento. Tickets are not required, but seating is limited. A book-signing will follow. The next program will be May 15 with “Death and Dying.” Information: 916-264-2920,

Stories take stage

Stories on Stage is a literary series in which local actors perform authors’ short works. Continuing its seventh season will be Anthony Marra, whose “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” won the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize for First Book. His new collection of short stories is “The Tsar of Love and Techno.” Reading from it will be Ethan Ireland. The words will flow at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the Verge Center For the Arts, 625 S. St., Sacramento; $10 donation suggested.

Author events

▪ Novelist, essayist and screenwriter and former California poet laureate Al Young will give a presentation at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the University Library Gallery on the California State University, Sacramento, campus. It’s part of CSUS’ Author Lecture Series. Free. Get a free campus parking permit from Sally Hitchcock at 916-278-5954.

▪ Lorri Ann Code encourages her students to sweat. She’s the career coach, fitness trainer and ranked Ironman athlete who runs the Folsom-based Mama Bootcamp. It sponsors 70 classes at venues around town, emphasizing “exercise, nutrition- and life-coaching, and goal-setting.” No, you don’t have to be a mother to participate. Yes, there are co-ed classes.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, Code has a new book you can use at home. “Find Your Mojo” is filled with “action plans,” exercise programs, progress charts and nutrition tips (CreateSpace, $25, 131 pages).

Code will host book signings at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Whole Foods Market, 4315 Arden Way, Sacramento; at noon Sunday, Feb. 28, at Athleta in Westfield Galleria, 1151 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; and at noon March 12, at Sports Authority, 6740 Stanford Ranch, Roseville. Visit her at