LOOKING FOR FOOD for thought? Why, the metro area will be a veritable banquet of brainy ideas and brilliant words this season. Old books and concepts get a fresh look, environmentalism gets a hearing, and new novels get a boost. Plus, we threw in some bugs. You’re welcome.
PETER MATTHIESSEN: COLD CASES
In the travel journal “The Snow Leopard” and the novel “Shadow Country,” Peter Matthiessen has turned his keen eye and prodigious writing talent to urgent and controversial issues. In March, he appears at National Geographic Live to discuss the effects of climate change on the people at the top of the Earth, where the way of life that indigenous cultures have carved out of hostile land is threatened by warmer temperatures. His lecture is part of the Environmental Film Festival.
» March 18, 7:30 p.m., $25 general public, $20 members.
STAGE FRIGHT AND THE BRAIN: UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE …
There’s, uh … a lecture at … cough, cough. You’ll have to excuse us. We’re not very comfortable when addressing an audience. Norman Middleton of the Library of Congress‘ music division discusses “Stage Fright and the Brain,” the musical variety, in the lecture “I’m Frozen and I Can’t Play a Thing!” at the LoC. He’ll be talking about famous artists with performance panic and the research that focuses on the condition as part of the library’s “Music and the Brain” series.
» Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 1st St. SE; April 9, free.
JANE AUSTEN: OF MEN & MONSTERS
Everyone knows that Jane Austen’s novels are full of charm, wisdom and wit. But authors and filmmakers can’t stop with the prequels, sequels, movies, reinventions and other forms of tribute, and that’s not even counting the zombies and sea monsters Seth Grahame-Smith and Ben H. Winters, respectively, have folded into her work. Both authors, along with Regina Jeffers (“Vampire Darcy’s Desire“) and Austen scholar Tara Wallace discuss the peculiarly lasting magic of the lady in a Smithsonian Resident Associates program.
» March 9, 6:45-8:45 p.m., $45 general admission, $30 members, $27 senior members; 202-633-3030.
AYN RAND: AN OBJECTIVIST LOOK
The writings and thinkings of the 20th century’s most hard-nosed economic philosopher, Ayn Rand, are fashionable again. The Smithsonian explores this resurgence of interest in a daylong seminar divided into four segments, with a break for lunch (bring your own) in between. That’s a lotta Rand, but her admirers can’t get enough.
» March 20, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $120 non-members, $85 members, $77 senior members; 202-633-3030.
KATHARINE WEBER: SWEET TALK
We’re calling it now: It’s spring. OK, so there are hardly any crocuses — to say nothing of warm breezes — but if we’re claiming dibs on spring as of this issue, we get to tell you about Katharine Weber’s Feb. 18 appearance at Politics & Prose. Her new novel, “True Confections,” is about the wild and woolly history of the fictitious but utterly believable candy-making Ziplinsky family.
» Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; Feb. 18, 7 p.m., free; 202-364-1919. (Tenleytown-UDC)
ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH: NO. 1 SCOTTISH WRITER’S AGENCY
Everything Alexander McCall Smith touches turns to gold, and phenomenal success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. The affable Zimbabwe-born Scottish writer churns out novel after novel in his delightful series, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” (now an equally delightful HBO series), not to mention his “Sunday Philosophy Club” series, and books in between. He takes a break from writing and playing sousaphone with the Really Terrible Orchestra to speak at Lisner in April.
» Lisner Auditorium, 730 H St. NW; April 24, 8 p.m., $25-$35; 202-994-6800, 800-551-7328. (Foggy Bottom-GWU)
TIM O’BRIEN: HARD TO SHAKE
Fans of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” — and they are legion; the book garnered multiple prize nominations and impressive sales numbers — will want to honor the book of connected short stories about Vietnam at Politics & Prose’s March 24 event. O’Brien will be on hand to read from and discuss the book on the occasion of its 20th-anniversary paperback edition.
» Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; March 24, 7 p.m., free; 202-364-1919. (Tenleytown-UDC)
CHANG-RAE LEE: WAR’S REVERBERATION
Chang-rae Lee’s “The Surrendered” is an epic tale of an American soldier, a young girl orphaned in the Korean War and the mysterious missionary wife who binds them, and it’s already garnering praise and tears. The author will visit Politics & Prose’s to discuss the book, so fans of Lee’s previous best-sellers — “Native Speaker,” “A Gesture Life,” “Aloft” — should pre-order now.
» Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; March 11, 7 p.m., free; 202-364-1919. (Tenleytown-UDC)
MEET DR. BUGS: TWO LEGS GOOD; SIX LEGS BETTER
You might be too squeamish to ooh and aah over the crawly, wriggly or scuttle-y, but your kids aren’t. Quit with the unicorns and rainbows, and take ’em to hear “Dr. Bugs.” Photographer and naturalist Mark Moffett (wee ones know him as the author of that staggering nonfiction work, “Face to Face With Frogs“) uses illustrations and plenty of humor as he talks about insects.
» May 15 , 1 p.m., adults $10; children 12 and under $6; 202-633-3030.
Photo courtesy A.G. Media Corporation