The Best Bookish TED Talks From 2017

Nikki VanRy

Contributing Editor

Nikki VanRy is a proud resident of Arizona, where she gets to indulge her love of tacos, desert storms, and tank tops. She also writes for the Tucson Festival of Books, loves anything sci-fi/fantasy/historical, drinks too much chai, and will spend all day in bed reading thankyouverymuch. Follow her on Instagram @nikki.vanry.

From designing libraries that make kids want to read to talks from some of our most celebrated novelists, like Nnedi Okorafor and Elif Shafak, bookish TED talks were absolutely on-point this year and always eye-opening. Here’s eight of the best.

Michael Bierut: How To Design A Library That Makes Kids Want To Read

Hilarious and insightful. Bierut talks about some of the hurdles school librarians face and how they can create magical spaces for young readers.


Jack Conte: How Artists Can (Finally) Get Paid In The Digital Age

Conte created Patreon, one of the first digital membership platforms for artists. In this talk that so directly impacts some of our favorite writers, Conte talks about how this new service could change the way artists get paid for their art.


Jorge Drexler: Poetry, Music And Identity 

Bookish TED talks aren’t just for recitation. Some of the best talks include performance, like this one from poet and musician Jorge Drexler.


Anne Lamott: 12 Truths I Learned From Life And Writing 

Lamott is the celebrated author of writing classic, Bird by Bird. In this talk, she covers how writing helped her age gracefully and the beauty of words on the page.


Françoise Mouly: The Stories Behind The New Yorker’s Iconic Covers

If you love The New Yorker, you’ll love this bookish TED talk from Françoise Mouly, the long-time art director at the magazine. In this talk, she discusses some of the most iconic covers that attempt to capture singular moments in time.


Nnedi Okorafor: Sci-Fi Stories That Imagine A Future Africa

Acclaimed SFF writer of books like Binti, Lagoon, and Who Fears Death, graced the bookish TED talks stage this year to discuss the roots and inspiration of her work, Afrofuturist writing, and more.


Shonda Rhimes: The Future of Storytelling 

One of my favorite creators, and author of Year of Yes, hits the TED stage to talk about storytelling and why we all feel the intense need to connect through stories, no matter whether in they’re in our hands or on the screen.


Elif Shafak: The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought

Novelist Elif Shafak talks about the need for democracy and the power of diverse world views, now more than ever.

Hit the comments to share your favorite bookish TED Talks from this past year. And find even more favorites from years gone past: 2014, 2015, and 2016