Classes

Online Class: Wendy Walsh - Continuing the Journey with Dante's Paradiso

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm



Eight Tuesdays: March 23 - May 11, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • Live • 3:30-5:30pm PT • $240

The course is taught in English with frequent references to Dante’s brilliant and evocative Italian.


 

Join Wendy Walsh in reading and studying Paradiso, the luminous—and dense—third cantica of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The pilgrim Dante accompanied by Beatrice (until Canto XXXI) travels through the different spheres of planets and stars to the highest and outermost circle of the heavens, the Empyrean, where he will be granted the Beatific Vision.

Wendy Walsh has a PhD in Italian Literature from UC Berkeley. She has been teaching Italian language and literature since 1979.

 

 

Simon Winchester - Five Things I've Learned About The Joy of Dictionaries (Online Class)

Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 1:00pm

Saturday, April 17th • Online

Live • 1:00-2:30pm PT• $40


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about the history, art, and heart of dictionary-making.

I have been passionate about dictionaries all my life. That passion was profoundly deepened when I discovered the story of the Oxford English Dictionary and the unlikely collaborators who created it, a tale I first told in The Professor and the Madman and then expanded upon in The Meaning of Everything.

In this class, I want to share some of the most intriguing, illuminating, and joy-inducing things I’ve learned about dictionaries. Among the questions I’ll address are: What was the first dictionary and how was it created? Who decides what gets included in a dictionary? How are words added and dropped? What’s the most surprising thing I’ve learned about dictionaries? What role have dictionaries played in the dissemination and evolution of culture? What is the oddest word in the English language? What is the most commonly misused word? What’s my favorite word in English?

I’ll be joined for part of this journey by a longtime friend and fellow logophile, the writer and editor Don George, who will be asking me some of the questions that you submit in advance of the class.

I warmly welcome your questions, and very much encourage you to send in any queries you may have, in advance of the class.

Dictionaries have provided me with a lifetime of amusement and edification. I look forward to sharing my passion and my discoveries with you!

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of numerous New York Times best-selling books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Perfectionists, The Men Who United the States, and The Map that Changed the World. His most recent book is Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World. In a career spanning five decades, Simon has been a geologist, a journalist, and a correspondent based in Northern Ireland, the United States, India, Hong Kong, and New York. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to journalism and literature. He lives in Massachusetts and New York City.

 

Online Class: Don George - Write Your Best Travel Story

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 4:00pm to 7:00pm

Six Wednesdays: March 17th - April 21st, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • 4:00-7:00pm PT • $495

Class limited to nine attendees

Please note: This class is currently at capacity. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email kathryn@bookpassage.com

This class is patterned on a graduate school creative writing workshop, with emphasis on the craft of writing a publishable travel story. In this workshop, participants will conceive, pitch, and write an original travel piece of up to 2,500 words. This may be based on a recent close-to-home travel experience or on a memory of a past trip. In the workshop, we'll begin by closely reading, discussing, and critiquing examples of excellent travel writing. Then each participant will present their story idea for discussion and revision, and then write an original travel piece of up to 2,500 words. Each piece will be closely read and discussed in class. Subsequent classes will allow for revision, discussion, and further refinement of each piece. During the course of the workshop, in addition to individual critiques, we'll talk about the fine points of structure, pacing, and making your point. This highly successful class has led to numerous published stories in widely known venues such as the annual Best Travel Writing and Lonely Planet anthologies.

Don George is the author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George and of Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of ten anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, Better Than Fiction, and An Innocent Abroad. George is Editor at Large for National Geographic Traveler, where he writes feature articles and the monthly Trip Lit column. He is also Editor of BBC Travel's literary travel column, Chance Encounters.
 

What students are saying about Don George:

“Don George's travel writing workshop was a rigorous, profound, magical experience, the product of a uniquely nurturing environment. Taking his courses has encouraged me to write without fear of failure, and with greater confidence and creativity than ever before. Any writer—whether officially a travel writer, or any other writer considering issues of place—should jump at the chance to work with him."
—Diane Vadino

"I have always wanted to take a writing workshop from Don George, but was never able to because I did not live in the Bay Area. When he offered his workshop virtually this year, I jumped at the chance and could not be happier with the experience. It motivated me to work on a piece and the feedback I received from the other attendees enabled me to take an "okay" piece I had written and turn it into a piece I'm really proud of by the end of the workshop. I ended up going in a different direction than intended, but it ended up being the right direction I could not see by myself. I would have not been able to get my writing to where it needed to be without Don and the workshop participants. I would sign up for another virtual workshop with Don George in a heartbeat.”
—Lisa Boice

 

Online Class: Pat Holt - Contemporary Classics Book Group (Fridays)

Friday, March 12, 2021 - 10:30am to 12:30pm



Five Fridays: March 12, April 16, May 14, June 11 & July 16, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • Live • 10:30am-12:30pm PT • $125

 

Pat Holt leads a discussion of books that have captured the contemporary imagination. Pat is the former book review editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and publisher of Holt Uncensored.

March 12
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

April 16
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

May 14
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

June 11
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

July 16
Real Life by Brandon Taylor

 

All titles are available at Book Passage. Please support your local, independent bookstore and buy from us!

 

 

Online Class: Pat Holt - Contemporary Classics Book Group (Tuesdays)

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 10:30am to 12:30pm


Five Tuesdays: March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8 & July 13, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • Live • 10:30am-12:30pm PT • $125

 

Pat Holt leads a discussion of books that have captured the contemporary imagination. Pat is the former book review editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and publisher of Holt Uncensored.

March 9
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

April 13
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

May 11
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

June 8
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

July 13
Real Life by Brandon Taylor

 

All titles are available at Book Passage. Please support your local, independent bookstore and buy from us!

 

 

Online Seminar: Connie Josefs - Finding Form: Shaping Your Memoir (Session II)

Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm



Session I: The 3-Act Paradigm (Sat., March 13, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

Session II: Alternative & Hybrid Structures (Sat., March 20, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

$125 per class • $200 for both
 

 

“We often turn to memoir for wisdom rather than form. But sometimes the form is the wisdom." —Stephanie Burt

You’ve written a draft of your memoir... a series of personal essays... a few vignettes. Now what? How do you revise, organize, put the pieces together?

Structure is more than a container, it’s a dynamic expression of voice, character and theme. This seminar will examine how writers of memoir and memoir-based fiction shape their work. We will analyze elements of the 3-Act Paradigm as well as alternative and hybrid structures, and explore how the shape of a memoir, its organizing principle, comes from inside the story. Seminar format includes advance readings, class handouts, lecture, and Q&A.

Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and memoir coach. She has led workshops in memoir and fiction for 30 years and has taught at UNM Albuquerque, Southwest Writers, The Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She holds an MFA from Antioch LA and has worked as a writer and story analyst for film and television. Find more at conniejosefs.com.

 

Online Seminar: Connie Josefs - Finding Form: Shaping Your Memoir (Session I)

Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm



Session I: The 3-Act Paradigm (Sat., March 13, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

Session II: Alternative & Hybrid Structures (Sat., March 20, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

Online • Live • $125 per class • $200 for both
 

 

“We often turn to memoir for wisdom rather than form. But sometimes the form is the wisdom." —Stephanie Burt

You’ve written a draft of your memoir... a series of personal essays... a few vignettes. Now what? How do you revise, organize, put the pieces together?

Structure is more than a container, it’s a dynamic expression of voice, character and theme. This seminar will examine how writers of memoir and memoir-based fiction shape their work. We will analyze elements of the 3-Act Paradigm as well as alternative and hybrid structures, and explore how the shape of a memoir, its organizing principle, comes from inside the story. Seminar format includes advance readings, class handouts, lecture, and Q&A. *For those unable to attend the live sessions, classes will be recorded and video replay will be available for a limited time. 

Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and memoir coach. She has led workshops in memoir and fiction for 30 years and has taught at UNM Albuquerque, Southwest Writers, The Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She holds an MFA from Antioch LA and has worked as a writer and story analyst for film and television. Find more at conniejosefs.com.

 

Catherine Grace Katz - Five Things I've Learned About Writing the History We Think We Know (Online Class)

Sunday, February 28, 2021 - 1:00pm


Sunday, February 28th • Online

Live • 1:00-2:30pm PT• $40


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about uncovering the forgotten voices and experiences that make us reconsider the people and events that we assume we know inside and out.

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt. World War II. These are some of the biggest names on the biggest stage of history—the people and events that have endured in the public imagination perhaps more than any other. As Winston Churchill said in 1940, “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this?” Indeed, what is its worth? And with more than one thousand books written about Winston Churchill alone, it is natural to wonder what is left to say that hasn’t been said already.

However, it is the history we think we know so well that is the history that most needs to be reexamined. Sometimes this is because new sources come to light, revealing perspectives we did not know existed that suddenly illuminate the shadows that lie just beyond these well-trodden paths. Long-forgotten voices and experiences make us reconsider the people and events that we assume we know inside and out, offering nuance through crucial details that have escaped notice. In other instances, it is because events in our own times spark fresh ideas about how to think about the past, and new technologies make it possible to reconstruct what has come before in tangible and immersive ways.

When I set out to write The Daughters of Yalta, I knew that it would be very different from any book written about the 1945 conference between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. Yes, it is the story of Yalta, the consequences of which we are still living with today, but despite all that has been written about Yalta, a crucial story had remained hidden. Yalta is also the story of the special bonds between three fathers and their remarkable daughters—Winston and Sarah Churchill, Franklin and Anna Roosevelt, Averell and Kathleen Harriman—all brought together on the world stage. These three women had been passed over by historians, in part because historians only engaged with their story to sprinkle in tidbits of lighthearted human interest between heavy debates about the fate of the world. But never before seen sources and the forces of the present brought these daughters to the forefront of the narrative. They also challenged me to see their famous fathers as I had never seen them before.

In this class, I’ll share the things I’ve learned about what we mean when we talk about “history” — about how the ways that we and our contemporaries see things impact what feels like a new story worth telling about the past, about how historical perspectives change over time, and about how a fresh look at what we think of as a well-known figure or historical event can teach us something new about the legacy we inherit from the past.

More than anything, I will share what I’ve learned about history’s time-bending power. History should not be considered in a vacuum. It is about so much more than static memorization of names and dates in the steady march of time. It is also sold short by the dire warning that we must learn the past so as not to repeat our mistakes in the future. History is dynamic. It should be harnessed to comfort and inspire us today and tomorrow. It can show us that even in the most challenging times, those who we think of as the “Great Men of History” grappled with the same doubts, fears, and trepidations that we face in our own times, and that ingenuity, creativity, and cooperation can win the day.

At its heart, history is just a story about relationships, whether it is relationships between nations or relationships between individuals—including the relationship between one father and his daughter. Most of us will never know what it’s like to tussle with Stalin over the future of Europe in a Tsar’s former palace on the war-torn coast of the Black Sea, but we all know what it’s like to be someone’s parent or child. It is in the most difficult times, we need to look again and again at the history we think we know so well to remind ourselves that the individuals we put up on a pedestal are not so very different from us after all.

We’ll do that together when we meet. I hope you’ll join me.

Catherine Grace Katz is the author of the internationally acclaimed book The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War, named one of the Best Books of 2020 by Publishers Weekly and one of the Best History Books of 2020 by the Telegraph. Originally from Chicago, Catherine graduated from Harvard in 2013 with a BA in History and received her MPhil in Modern European History from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge in 2014, where she wrote her dissertation on the origins of modern counterintelligence practices under the supervision of Professor David Reynolds. After graduating, Catherine worked in finance in New York City before a very fortuitous visit to the bookstore in the lobby of her office in Manhattan led her to return to history and writing. She is currently pursuing her JD at Harvard Law School. The Daughters of Yalta is her first book.

Don George - Five Things I've Learned About How to Be a Travel Writer (Virtual Class)

Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 1:00pm

Saturday, February 6th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-3:00pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about creating and publishing great travel writing.

Join the author of How to Be a Travel Writer, Lonely Planet’s best-selling guide to travel writing. (It’s actually the best-selling travel writing guide in the world!)

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a travel writer and editor all my professional life, more than three decades. I’ve been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, and Lonely Planet, and I’m now an Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel. Through the years, I’ve learned what makes a great travel story and how to maximize your chances for success in travel writing. My goal in this class is to share the most important lessons I’ve learned, as a writer and as an editor, for both print and online publications.

Some of the questions I’ll answer include: What are the secrets of great travel writing? How do you get started? How do you decide what to write about? How do you research a story before a trip and on the ground?  How do you shape a story for maximum effect? What are the biggest mistakes you should avoid? How do you take your writing from good to great? What’s the best way to work with editors and travel industry professionals? Can you actually make a living as a travel writer? Is it all as good as it sounds?

Whether your goal is simply to write unforgettable emails and wow-inspiring blog posts or to make a career from your travels, I’ll share field-tested tips that will help distinguish your writing from everyone else’s and give you the best chance for realizing your dreams.

I’ve been teaching travel writing for three decades, and I love sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey into the art and heart of travel writing.

Don George is the author of the award-winning anthology The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, and of How to Be a Travel Writer, the best-selling travel writing guide in the world. He is also the editor of ten acclaimed literary anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and An Innocent Abroad.

Don is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel, and has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, Salon, and Lonely Planet. He has visited more than 90 countries and has written more than a thousand articles for print and online publications. He has been honored 17 times in the Society of American Travel Writers’ annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism competition.

In addition to his writing and editing, Don has spoken and taught at dozens of colleges, conferences, and corporations, including Google, the New York Times Travel Show, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, TravelCon, TBEX, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, the San Jose State University MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the Melbourne Writers Festival. He is co-founder and chairman of the renowned Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, now in its 29th year.

As an editor, Don has worked with numerous celebrated writers, including Isabel Allende,  Anthony Bourdain, Paul Bowles, Bill Bryson, Tim Cahill, Dave Eggers, M.F.K. Fisher, Robert Hass, Pico Iyer, Peter Matthiessen, Frances Mayes, Peter Mayle, Alexander McCall Smith, Jan Morris, Eric Newby, Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Orlean, Ann Patchett, Francine Prose, Jane Smiley, Gary Snyder, Wallace Stegner, Cheryl Strayed, Paul Theroux, and Simon Winchester.

He remains as passionate about travel and travel writing now as he was at the beginning of his career, and he loves sharing what he’s learned along the way.

Pico Iyer and Michael Shapiro - Five Things We've Learned About Deepening the Creative Flow (Online Class)

Saturday, March 6, 2021 - 1:30pm

Saturday, March 6th • Online

Live • 1:30-3:30pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things we’ve learned about cultivating your creative spirit and making it as deep and wide-ranging as possible in your art and in your life.

We’re all creators—not just consumers of others’ creations—and in this class we’ll explore how to give voice to your creativity on the page and in the world. We’ll address how to develop your creative muscles and your creative confidence; how to break rules and go in unexpected directions; and how to ignore the pressures of society to craft a life that sustains you and those around you.

Michael Shapiro recently published The Creative Spark, a collection of interviews with musicians, writers, explorers, and visionaries who suggest exciting new ways of living and being. Pico Iyer has spent much of the virus season writing on writing—which is to say, the subconscious, surrender, and leaps of faith.

Together, we’ll share the five things we’ve learned about deepening the creative flow in our own lives and how this same process has played out in the lives of people we admire: Sometimes creativity involves simply taking things out, sometimes it involves bringing together two familiar worlds to create something liberatingly unfamiliar. Often it means finding ways of crafting lives of value and thinking afresh — thinking, for example, about how best to raise children, how to make a living, and how to honor our deepest selves. Our hope is to help you engage and cultivate your own creative spirit, and to make that spirit as deep and wide-ranging as possible in your art and in your life.

We hope you will join us.

Pico Iyer is the host of the “Speaking with Pico” series in Santa Barbara, regularly conducts interviews for the City Arts and Lectures series in San Francisco and, over 25 years, has conducted intimate onstage conversations with everyone from Philip Glass to Zadie Smith and from Martin Scorsese to Ireland’s President Mary Robinson. His four talks for TED have received more than 10 million views so far.

Since 1982 he has been a full-time writer, publishing 15 books, translated into 23 languages, on subjects ranging from the Dalai Lama to globalism, from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism. They include such long-running sellers as Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, The Open Road, and The Art of Stillness. He has also written the introductions to more than 70 other books, as well as liner and program notes, a screenplay for Miramax and a libretto. At the same time he has been writing up to 100 articles a year for Time, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and more than 250 other periodicals worldwide. Since 1992 he has spent much of his time at a Benedictine hermitage in Big Sur, California, and most of the rest in suburban Japan.

Michael Shapiro is a journalist and author of two interview collections: A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration, which includes Bill Bryson, Isabel Allende, Paul Theroux, and Jan Morris; and the recently published The Creative Spark (including Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Graham Nash, and many others). He moderates panel discussions at events such as Key West Literary Seminar and Book Passage’s travel conference.

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