Literary Devices

Reading at home can’t replace the sense of community and connection offered at your local bookstore, but virtual book clubs, talks, and classes may help fill the void. Independent booksellers and publishers across the US are moving their scheduled spring programming online and some are launching entirely new web series for your quarantine-viewing pleasure. Attending these won’t be the same as meeting in person, but it’ll come close.

And don’t forget to support indie booksellers by making a direct purchase of books, gift cards, or merchandise, contributing to a fundraising campaign, or donating to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. For the next few weeks, we’ll be listing more ways that you can get involved in supporting the literary community while physical spaces aren’t available.

San Francisco’s Green Apple Books
San Francisco’s Green Apple Books

Writer Jason Diamond has formed a “Quarantine Book Club” in collaboration with Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic. The group will meet to consider Olivia Laing’s 2017 book, The Lonely City, and the author will answer readers’ questions. Check Diamond’s page for the meeting details and get a discounted copy of The Lonely City through the Books Are Magic website.

Books Are Magic is also hosting their own set of online events, including Zoom conversations with novelists C Pam Zhang (How Much of These Hills Is Gold), Chelsea Bieker (Godshot), and Janelle Brown (Pretty Things).

The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore has launched Read With The Ivy, an online, author-led book club that will meet each Tuesday. This month, Sarah Pinsker (A Song for a New Day), Abi Daré (The Girl with the Louding Voice), and Kevin Nguyen (New Waves) lead sessions on their new books.

The recently formed organization We Love Bookstores has put together several events to benefit independent booksellers in the Bay Area. Next week, Carl Zimmer and Apoorva Mandavilli discuss their experience reporting on the coronavirus pandemic. Pay-what-you-can tickets are available through Eventbrite, and all proceeds go directly to San Francisco’s Green Apple Books.

Cambridge’s Harvard Book Store has moved many of their April programs online, among them, discussions with Jennifer Steinhauer (The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress), Michael Arceneaux (I Don’t Want to Die Poor), and Mikel Jollett (Hollywood Park: A Memoir).

Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore is hosting a number of virtual events this month, including two book launches: Emily Gould will discuss her new novel Perfect Tunes with the New Yorker’s Naomi Fry, and Jennifer Finney Boylan will present her memoir Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs.

If you love plants as much as books, then Princeton’s Labyrinth Books has the perfect occasion for you. Marta McDowell is hosting a “cocktail hour” in honor of her book Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, which explores the poet’s little-known passion for horticulture.

If you prefer politics to plants, then tune into P&P Live!, an online series hosted by Washington, DC’s Politics and Prose Bookstore. In April, Madeleine Albright discusses her new memoir, Alina Das examines US immigration policy, and David Rohde probes the mysteries of the deep state.

Not sure where to start with your quarantine reading? Then get a custom book recommendation from the staff of BookPeople in Austin. Every Friday, they will be on call from 4pm to 5pm CST to offer book tips and suggestions.

You could also use your time at home to sharpen your writing with a class from Old Town Books in Alexandria, Virginia. Trust Exercise author Susan Choi is leading a writing Q&A and book chat. The following week, Weather author Jenny Offill teaches a class on the art of erasure poetry and flash fiction. Visit Old Town Books’s events page for more information and instructions on how to enroll.

Hannah Stamler is a Ph.D. student in history at Princeton University.