Catch summer's most picturesque literary series in New York City

Summer may be halfway finished, but New York City's free programming rolls on. 

Books Beneath the Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Books Beneath the Bridge has drawn more than 6,000 people to Brooklyn Bridge Park since 2012. Image by Etienne Frossard

Overlooking the East River, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, the borough’s Books Beneath the Bridge series started in July and runs through 12 August, featuring readings, discussions, and signings from a selection of singular authors. From illustrators and poets to music writers and memoirists, each Monday-night lineup is curated by a different indie bookstore in Brooklyn. 

sunset at Books Beneath the Bridge
Not only does the lit series offer bookworms the chance to see some stellar authors firsthand, it's also a great place to take in the sunset. Image by Julienne Schaer

On 29 July, Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene will bring three authors to the podium at Pier 1 Granite Prospect: Franny Choi (Soft Science), Willie Perdomo (The Crazy Bunch), and Jennie Xie (Eye Level). Dumbo’s Powerhouse Arena will welcome Marcy Dermansky and Julia Phillips on 5 August, when they’ll read from Very Nice and Disappearing Earth, respectively, and the series wraps on 12 August, with readings from translator Damion Searls, courtesy of Park Slope’s Community Bookstore.  

Poet Thiahera Nurse took to the podium in 2016.
Poet Thiahera Nurse took to the podium in 2016. Image by Julienne Schaer

So far this season, Red Hook’s Freebird Books brought When Brooklyn Was Queer author Hugh Ryan to the park; the next week, at the behest of Carroll Gardens’ Books are Magic, Susannah Cahalan read from her bestselling memoir The Great Pretender, followed by Karen Abbott with an excerpt from The Ghosts of Eden Park. The week after that, thunderstorms forced Greenpoint’s WORD Bookstores to move indoors for readings from Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly and Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield. 

The literary series is part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s free public programming, and it’s drawn more than 6000 people since its inception in 2012. The Conservancy is also responsible for one of the park’s most popular programs—the Movies with a View series, now in its 20th year—but it offers a slate of less publicized activities as well, from arts and culture to recreation to education. The season includes theatrical productions, dance classes, live music, and public art—not to mention stargazing, a Hindu Lamp Ceremony, and performances from Gibney Dance and the MET Opera.

Spring in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park's skyline views can't be beat. Image by Etienne Frossard

On the more active end of the spectrum, the Conservancy runs fishing clinics, basketball clinics, and a walk-up kayaking program from May to September, alongside free outdoor fitness classes like Sunset Yoga and Hip Hop Dance Aerobics. There are even volunteer opportunities, like gardening, coastal cleanup, and a teen-oriented environmental-science program. 

To see the full lineup of events, visit brooklynbridgepark.org.