These are stressful and lonely times, and it can be hard to feel connected when you’re stuck at home all day listening to an endless cycle of depressing news. As dark as things might seem, it’s important to find ways to feel hopeful. And community is still important—maybe now more than ever. As a die hard book nerd, obviously one of the first communities I look to for connection is the world of authors and bookworms like myself. And lucky for me—and you—they haven’t disappointed! Book lovers are out there (well, you know, metaphorically) doing some incredible things to help each other out and inspire a sense of ongoing community. And these five bookish ways to stay connected amidst Covid-19 should help you feel less lonely, too.
Gatherings of 50+ people causing problems? How about a virtual gathering to celebrate your favorite things online? That sounds more like it!
The HPA (that’s the Harry Potter Alliance) has created a virtual convention—Small Things Con—to bring a little light to the darkness, because, in the immortal words of Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” The Small Things Con is going on right now. Seriously, you can go sign up for your virtual ticket and start attending events and conversations like an Into the Spider-Verse watch party or a Quick Quills writing workshop with Black Girls Create.
The Everywhere Book Fest was thought up by Melanie Conklin (Counting Thyme), Ellen Oh (A Thousand Beginnings and Endings), and Christina Soontornvat (A Wish in the Dark) in the wake of all the recent event cancellations. The virtual book festival, which will take place from May 1–2, is intended to bring together kid lit authors and fans from the safety and comfort of their homes. Authors Gene Luen Yang and Nic Stone are lined up keynote speakers. That’s right, the authors of American Born Chinese and Dear Martin are headlining. There will be live sessions where attendees can ask questions and as well as pre-recorded panels.
The festival is partnering with We Need Diverse Books to supply schools, libraries and community-based literacy programs in need, and online sales will be directed toward independent bookstores. We love an event that supports worthy causes, and this one sounds incredibly cool to boot.
Virtual get togethers with other book lovers? It just doesn’t get much better than that.
Look, I’ve spent many a Friday night watching Netflix shows into the wee hours of the night. No shame. But now there’s a chrome extension that lets you watch movies or TV shows with your friends—even when they’re hundreds of miles away! The extension allows you to sync up a movie with others and even adds a text chat to the side of your screen so that you and your friends can share your thoughts in real time. If you can’t get together in person, it’s the next best thing! Just download Netflix Party and get started!
Longing to discuss books with someone who isn’t your roommate (AKA your dog or cat)? There are so many online book clubs to pick from including some great options on Goodreads like the Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club, Our Shared Shelf (original created by Emma Watson as part of her work with the UN), and even Oprah’s Book Club, where you can read along and join in on discussions with other readers.
There are even book clubs on Reddit and Instagram. Or, if you’re a huge Litsy fan, like me, you can sign up for all sorts of buddy reads, book swaps, and other various read-alongs. Plus, every post is an opportunity to connect with other bookworms. Check out book clubs like @LitsyFeministBookClub and @litsybookclub or just head on over to @LitsyHappenings to get the lowdown on everything going on in the Litsy community.
If book clubs aren’t your style, you might enjoy some socialization that’s a bit more hands off. So many authors (especially kid lit authors) are stepping up with live / recorded readings to bring some bookish joy into your life. Tune in to live readings from authors like Aminah Mae Safi (Tell Me How You Really Feel) and Roda Ahmed (Mae Among the Stars) on Instagram. Watch Internet Dad Clint McElroy (The Adventure Zone) read a chapter a night of The Hobbit (“just like I used to do with my kids”) or check out YouTube channels like Ours Poetics and Story Time at Awnie’s House.
LeVar Burton has been brainstorming ways to livestream #LeVarBurtonReads on Twitter…
But in the meantime you can always enjoy his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, where he reads short stories like “Staying Behind” by Ken Liu and “Valedictorian” by N.K. Jemisin.
I don’t know about you, but books and care packages are a few of my favorite things. Nothing brightens my day more than a surprise in the mail—and if it’s of the bookish variety, all the better! So why not set up a book swap with a friend? Whether it’s a simple book in the mail or a full bookish care package, you’ll both enjoy the surprise and getting to put something nice together for a friend.
And why not buy that book from a local bookshop while you’re at it? Lots of bookstores are offering free shipping or other discounts and perks right now, and like all small businesses, it’s a particularly hard time to stay afloat. So make your friend’s day and help out your favorite independent bookstore while you’re at it!
Stay safe and keep reading!
Want additional ideas? Here are more ways to stay bookish during quarantine.