We love to work with and support all types of creatives.


What we do.

We host a variety of events at A Novel Idea, from author readings and signings to workshops to book clubs and storytimes. In our first three years, we held an astonishing 600 events! 70% of which were free or suggested donation. We have numerous events that run monthly, such as our open mic and two book clubs. Our goal is to offer regular events to the community that are interesting and innovative. To stay up to date on A Novel Idea events, check out our calendar. If you’re interested in hosting an event, please reach out to us at Our books are currently closed to event requests. We will reopen sometime this summer for Fall 2022 events.

Upcoming Special Events


I Know What's Best for You: Stories on Reproductive Freedom (In-Person)

Join us for an evening of stories on reproductive freedom, in celebration of the new anthology I Know What’s Best for You.


Edited by Shelly Oria—author and editor of Indelible in the Hippocampus—this explosive, intersectional collection of essays, fiction, poems, plays, and more, explores the universality of human reproductive experiences, as well as their distinct individuality.’


Thursday, May 26th 6pm at A Novel Idea on Passyunk

*Masks required for all attendees


About the Readers

Shelly Oria is the author of New York 1, Tel Aviv 0 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) and the editor of Indelible in the Hippocampus, Writings from the MeToo Movement (McSweeney’s 2019), as well as the forthcoming I Know What’s Best for You: Stories on Reproductive Freedom (McSweeney’s 2022). Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and on Selected Shorts at Symphony Space, received a number of awards, and been translated to several languages.


Kim Gek Lin Short is the author of The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits and China Cowboy, both from Tarpaulin Sky Press, as well as the chapbooks Run (Rope-a-Dope) and The Residents (Dancing Girl Press). Her work appears in anthologies such as Narrative (Dis)Continuties (Moria Books), &Now Awards (Lake Forest College Press), Electric Gurlesque (Saturnalia), and Forgotten Philadelphia (PS Books), as well as literary journals such as American Poetry Review, Pen America, Fence, and others. She lives in Philadelphia.


Abeer Hoque is a Nigerian-born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer. She likes green smoothies, glitter, and choosing her own adventure. Her books include a travel photography and poetry monograph (The Long Way Home, 2013), a linked collection of stories, poems, and photographs (The Lovers and the Leavers, 2015), and a memoir (Olive Witch, 2017). She has won fellowships from the NEA, Queens Council on the Arts, NYFA, and the Fulbright Foundation, and holds BS and MA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. See more at


Raena Shirali is the author of two collections of poetry. Her first book, GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award, and her second, summonings (forthcoming on Black Lawrence Press in October 2022 and available for preorder now!)won the 2021 Hudson Prize. Winner of a Pushcart Prize & a former Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University, Shirali is also the recipient of prizes and honors from VIDA, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, & Cosmonauts Avenue. Formerly Co-Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine, Shirali now serves as Faculty Advisor for Folio—a literary magazine dedicated to publishing works by undergraduate students at the national level. She holds an MFA in Poetry from The Ohio State University and is an Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University.


Christina Rosso lives and writes outside of Philadelphia with her rescue pups and bearded husband. Together they run an independent bookstore and event space called A Novel Idea on Passyunk. In 2016, Christina received her MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from Arcadia University. She is the author of CREOLE CONJURE (Maudlin House, 2021) and SHE IS A BEAST (APEP Publications, 2020). Her writing has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. For more information, visit or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.



Join us for a very special in-person story time with Lil Miss Hot Mess, author of If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It.


Strike a pose. Blow a kiss. Mouth the words. A fun, sing-along book with a drag twist that encourage kids to embrace all the playfulness of drag culture written by a founding member of Drag Queen Story Hour. If you’re a drag queen and you know it, let it show by winking, shaking your bum, laughing real big, twirling around, and more! Join a cast of fabulous drag queens as you sing along to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in this playful celebration of expressing your brightest and boldest self. A perfect companion to The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish written by a board member of Drag Queen Story Hour.


Saturday, May 28th 11:30am at A Novel Idea

Masks required for all adult attendees!


Lil Miss Hot Mess is a renowned storyteller and board member of Drag Queen Story Hour. She is the author of The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish and If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It, and has written for Wired, Salon, and The Guardian. She’s performed at venues from Stanford to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to Saturday Night Live.


A Philly Author Double Feature: Essential Facts for Real Philadelphians (Online)

Join us for an hour with Jim Murphy, author of Real Philly History, Real Fast and Kathryn Canavan, author of True Crime Philadelphia: From America’s First Bank Robbery to the Real-Life Killers Who Inspired Boardwalk Empire.


Essential facts for Philadelphians

  • Meet authors Jim Murphy and Kathryn Canavan for conversation and two-minute readings from their new books about Philadelphia.
  • Did you know East Passyunk was once dubbed “arsenic alley” because so many murderers lived here?
  • Learn about the murder ring that operated 440 feet from the bookstore’s front door in the 1930s. Discover why Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes died at 1400 East Passyunk Avenue.
  • Meet the Lanzetta brothers of 633 Christian Street, real-life models for the murderous D’Alessio brothers on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
  • And find out: Who was Philadelphia’s first nude model. (The name will surprise you.) What is the second-most-photographed statue in the city? Where is the oldest quarantine station in the Western Hemisphere?


Join our conversation at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 2nd via Zoom. Suggested $5 donation.


Jim Murphy is a certified tour guide, former magazine writer and editor and a lover of Philadelphia history who has been walking the city and writing about it since 2010.


Kathryn Canavan began her journalism career on the crime beat. To get a story, she has reported at gunpoint, lived with the Moonies, negotiated with a killer and joined Tug McGraw in the Phillies dugout. She is the author of Lincoln’s Final Hours from University Press of Kentucky, and a former dinosaur docent at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences. She was a 2011 National Health Journalism Fellow at the University of Southern California.


'Twas the Night Before Pride Story Time (In-Person)

Join us for a very special story time with Joanna McClintick, author of ‘Twas the Night Before Pride.


Sunday, June 11th 11am at A Novel Idea on Passyunk
*Masks required for all adults!


This joyful picture-book homage to a day of community and inclusion—and to the joys of anticipation—is also a comprehensive history. With bright, buoyant illustrations and lyrical, age-appropriate rhyme modeled on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tackles difficult content such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS marches. On the night before Pride, families everywhere are preparing to partake. As one family packs snacks and makes signs, an older sibling shares the importance of the march with the newest member of the family. Reflecting on the day, the siblings agree that the best thing about Pride is getting to be yourself. Debut author Joanna McClintick and Pura Belpré Award–winning author-illustrator Juana Medina create a new classic that pays homage to the beauty of families of all compositions—and of all-inclusive love.


Joanna McClintick is a social worker at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center in Manhattan, and writes children’s books and songs. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.


Authors in Conversation: Maya Deane and Molly Lazer on Retelling, Reimagining, and Refashioning the Canon (In-Person)

Whether epics like the Iliad or folktales and fairytales like Cinderella, canonical stories have a complex, layered, troubled role, at once used to uphold and challenge the powers that shape our lives. Maya Deane, author of the highly-anticipated Iliad reimagining Wrath Goddess Sing (out June 7), and Molly Lazer, author of the multiple-award-nominated dark Cinderella retelling Owl Eyes, will read short selections from their books, then discuss the power of retelling and reimagining the canon, both to reveal what was always there and to let buried voices speak.

Wednesday, June 15th 6:30pm at A Novel Idea on Passyunk

*Masks required for all attendees!

Molly Lazer‘s first novel, Owl Eyes: A Fairy Tale, was published by Fire & Ice YA in 2018. This retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale has been a finalist for several awards, including the National Indie Excellence Awards and the Dante Rossetti Award. Her short story collection, Lentils in Black Rice: Myths and Fairy Tales, was released in 2019 and received an honorable mention for the North Street Book Prize.

A former editor at Marvel Comics, Molly has been a high school reading, creative writing, and drama teacher for the last thirteen years. ​In 2016, Molly received a MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College. Her short stories have been featured in literary magazines including Gone LawnScissors & SpackleSilver Blade, and Medical Literary Messenger. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and twin sons.


A graduate of the University of Maryland and the Rutgers-Camden MFA, Maya Deane lives with her fiancée of many years, their dear friend, and two cats named after gods. She is a trans woman, bisexual, and fond of spears, books, and jewelry. Wrath Goddess Sing (HarperCollins/William Morrow) is her first novel.


An Evening with Tyler James Russell & Rosalia Scalia (In-Person)

Sometimes when we try to connect with others—even loved ones—we miss. Pennsylvania-based Tyler James Russell and Baltimore-based Rosalia Scalia explore the myriad of ways relationships can detach and connect, wound and heal, in the most ordinary—and extraordinary—circumstances, in readings from their respective fiction works When Fire Splits the Sky and Stumbling Toward Grace.

Thursday, June 16th 6:30pm at A Novel Idea on Passyunk
*Masks required for all attendees!

Tyler James Russell is the author of To Drown a Man (2020), a poetry collection, and When Fire Splits the Sky (2022), a novel, both from Unsolicited Press. He works as an educator and lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Cat and their children. His writing has been nominated for the Rhysling and Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in F(r)iction, Janus Literary, the NonBinary Review, and Sepia, among others. You can find him at, or on Twitter at @TJamesRussell.


Rosalia Scalia‘s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Oklahoma Review, North Atlantic Review, Notre Dame Review, The Portland Review, and Quercus Review, among many others. She holds an MA in writing from Johns Hopkins University and is a Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artist’s Award recipient. She won the Editor’s Select award from Willow Review and her short story in Pebble Lake was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Baltimore with her family.


Realistic Happiness and Optimism to Improve Your Life (Online)

Join us virtually on Thursday, June 23 at 6pm Eastern for an uplifting conversation with authors Pamela Gail Johnson and Kimberly S. Reed. Learn how to think differently about your happiness and live a life of optimism with practical and inspirational advice from the authors.


Thursday, June 23rd 6pm ET via Zoom

Suggested $5 Donation


Pamela Gail Johnson is the author of Practical Happiness, a new book which shows readers how to think differently about their happiness with a philosophy for creating a realistic yet joyful life through four principles. In her book, she shares real stories from real people who put the four practical happiness principles into action.


Kimberly S. Reed is the author of Optimists Always Win! In her book, Reed discusses how difficulties and struggles are unavoidable in life, but a person has complete control over one’s personal response to the situation. This book offers readers 10 Discouragement Eliminators for responding with optimism for both the challenges and blessings that come their way.


An Evening with Mike Keren & Amanda Headlee (Online) - POSTPONED!

Woodhall Press is thrilled to partner with A Novel Idea to present two of its acclaimed (and sort of local) authors: ascendant horror writer (and Pennsylvania’s own) Amanda Headlee with her debut novel ‘Till We Become Monsters + award-winning memoirist Mike Keren (from nearby neighbor New Jersey) with his debut caregiving memoir Four Funerals, No Marriage. Both books are rich with family dynamics, obligations and heartbreak, as well as their respective unique takes on the terrors that can accompany such dynamics, obligations, and heartbreak.


Wednesday, May 18th 7pm ET via Zoom
Suggested $5 Donation


“With her debut novel, Till We Become Monsters, Amanda Headlee raises the genre to a chilling new level. I recommend reading this one with all the lights on.” —Phil Giunta, author of Like Mother, Like Daughters 


“Four Funerals, No Marriage isa heartbreaking memoir that is also highly relatable and often darkly funny.” – Michael Sadowski, Author of Men I’ve Never Been: A Memoir, one of Book Authority’s 100 Best Gay and Lesbian Books of All Time

With a love of scary stories and folklore, Amanda Headlee spent her entire life crafting of dark fiction. She has a fascination with the emotion of fear and believes it is the first emotion humans feel at the moment they are born. Most of her work focuses on dark fiction associated with folklore and cosmic horror. You can follow Amanda on    Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at her website:


Trained as a psychologist and psychoanalyst, Mike Keren first learned caregiving while helping to raise his younger brother, but really flourished as he “came out” into the AIDS pandemic. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles for publication. He is supported in his endeavors by his loving husband, Tom, and their two canine children, Carley and Clyde. They divide their time between central New Jersey and the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania.