How to do book readings

Picture of Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

How to do book readings: it’s easier than you think! Examples of talks I gave in Salzburg and Graz, in Austria. For more examples, subscribe to this blog or to my YouTube page or Podcasts. Or contact me for advice.

Q: How do you engage a classroom full of teenagers?

A: Teach them something useful.

How to do book readings: an Academic Grammar School

I was delighted when Christian Lutsch, an English teacher from the Akademisches Gymnasium in Salzburg (Academic Grammar School – link in German) contacted me in October 2021. Would I like to show how to do book readings by presenting one of my novels “Eternal Life”? Could his class of 14- and 15-year-olds interview me? Plus, would I like to do a workshop on how to write a blog or newspaper article?

I said yes, at once, to all three.

How to do book readings: Leigh Turner reading to English Class 5a at Salzburg Akademisches Gymnasium
How to do book readings: English Class 5a at the Akademisches Gymnasium

Staying in touch with young people helps keep your brain working. I was keen to see what a team of teenagers would make of my sci-fi thriller Eternal Life. I suggested that my three blog-posts starting with “Writing the perfect article or blog: 7 tips to speed things up” might be a good basis for the workshop.

Leigh Turner reading to English Class 5a at Salzburg Akademisches Gymnasium
Class 5a sketch out their draft articles

Excellent English

I’ve got to admit: I wasn’t sure whether the class’s English would be good enough to read “Eternal Life” or to put up with me reading Chapters 1 and 2 out loud. Might it be embarrassing if I ended up staring at blank faces?

I need not have worried. Class 5a had not only read the first 100 pages of Eternal Life (then called “Corona Crime”). In the class, they listened attentively to my reading and asked wise questions that showed they had a good grasp of what was going on. They interviewed me about my life. Then, in the workshop, they did an excellent job of sketching out articles using the lede, nut-graf, body and cosmic kicker structure I’d suggested, and read out the results – all in English.

I found the way they discussed the tasks with each other, pooled their learning, and then knuckled down to work particularly impressive.

Ausgezeichnet, Class 5a of the Akademisches Gymnasium in Salzburg und danke sehr!

Leigh Turner reading to English Class 5a at Salzburg Akademisches Gymnasium
Always lovely to sign a few books!

How to do Book Readings: European Dialogue

Also in October 2021, “European Dialogue” in Graz (the site, in German, describes it as “A critical and interactive European dialogue platform for ideas with a future”) invited me to come and talk about how my diplomatic career had inspired my writing, and vice-versa.

I like Graz and know the team at European Dialogue, including the dynamic Andreas Schröck. So I was delighted to put together an all-new Powerpoint presentation for a German-language talk about my career and my writing.

How to do book readings: Leigh Turner in Graz
My talk in Graz

The event took place, at the cool Café Global in Graz. Over 50 people attended, and sat, apparently rapt and enthusiastic, as I gave an all-new talk of around an hour about my career and my writing, illustrated with pictures such as this one:

Leigh Turner and Boris Johnson
With then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Vienna, 2016

Giving an all-new talk is always a bit nail-biting, so I was delighted that the people of Graz gave my efforts such a warm welcome. The following day, Andreas kindly arranged for a tour of the excellent Graz Museum on the Schlossberg with Director Prof. Otto Hochreiter. Recommended. I’ll be keen to return to Graz – beautiful city and lovely people.

What struck me was that although the talk in Graz was not actually a book reading, people were still fascinated in the books, and almost literally stormed the book table afterwards.

How to do book readings: Leigh Turner in Graz
With the “European Dialogue” team in Graz

How to do book readings: Future readings

I usually have a reading or two coming up somewhere. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to this blog (just scroll down this page to the bottom).

Or take a look at, and subscribe to my YouTube page for lots of writing inspiration and loads of readings. My Spotify podcast page (no need to belong to Spotify) has dozens of podcasts about writing and life. 

What to do next

As well as subscribing to my podcasts and YouTube page, you might like to read one of my books. How about Eternal Life? See what you think!

Eternal Life by Leigh Turner

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