Summer is the time to experience the world with loved ones, whether it’s a music festival, beach getaway, road trip, or bookish events. There’s really something romantic about perusing the offerings at book festivals or attending an evening reading.
The warmth of the summer air entices me to leave the confines of my apartment and venture out into the world to find a new favorite book that I can curl up with later. It’s strange, reading is a notoriously solitary act; however, bookish events beckon book lovers out of their worlds on page and into the world outside. It’s refreshing.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has halted all in-person plans for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, book lovers are unstoppable, and there are numerous book stores and organizations that have successfully moved their social calendars online. There are benefits: no parking, no awkwardly asking if the seat next to someone is free, and no coming up with ways to sound smart to your favorite author.
Win. Win. Win.
So here are some exciting bookish events taking place during the last half of summer (July and August for our purposes). Mark your calendars.
Note: This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point.
Virtual Book Events: Online Book Cons and Festivals
This is the subset of events that I’m truly disappointed are online. However, many organizations have taken pains to ensure stimulating online experiences. Hopefully, attending one of these virtual events will tide your over until 2021.
What it is: An international science fiction convention that was planned to take place in New Zealand but is online for 2020.
When is it: July 29–August 2
Who’s gonna be there: Famous authors such as Mercedes Lackey, Greg Broadmore, and Rose Mitchell.
How to attend: Register online
What it is: A huge independent book festival that encourages “a love of reading, inquiry, and conversation in people of all ages, and build an enthusiastic and inclusive community of readers and writers that celebrates social, creative, and intellectual engagement.”
When is it: Next event is July 28 (there are events throughout July and August)
Who’s gonna be there: Joshilyn Jackson in conversation with Sameer Pandya and Kiley Reid
What it is: The panel will discuss what’s going on in the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture of the African Diaspora.
When is it: July 28
Who’s gonna be there: Bay Area poets James Cagney, Tongo-Eisen Martin, Thea Matthews, and Tureeda Mikell
How to attend: Find the event you wanna attend and register for the Zoom session
What it is: A conversation centered around supporting the book industry during the pandemic.
When is it: July 23
Who’s gonna be there: Jeff Kinney, Ann Patchett, and Peter H. Reynolds
How to attend: Save your spot
What it is: Although BIF has been cancelled, the organization is still releasing recordings of author interviews and panels. The Golden Age Crime Panel will feature three great crime writers from Britain who’ll discuss “the humanity of Golden Age Crime and why crime novels resonate with readers in difficult times.”
When is it: July 24
Who’s gonna be there: Sarah Ward, Martin Edwards, and Nicola Upson
How to attend: The recording will be published on the BIF website
Virtual Book Events: Online Book Store Events
Trust local bookstores to reliably adapt and deliver events for customers. If you enjoy attending the in-person events, please consider seeing if your local bookstore has moved events online.
What it is: Powell’s has moved all of its author events online, doing its best to simulate the in-person experience.
When is it: Multiple author talks each month
Who’s gonna be there: Upcoming authors include Adrian Tomine, Shayla Lawson, and Bonnie Tsui
How to attend: Find an author talk you’d like to attend and register for the Zoom session
What it is: The legendary Strand Bookstore is no stranger to putting together amazing author events. Each event includes a well-known presenter moderating a discussion with an author who’s just released a new book.
When is it: Multiple author talks each month
Who’s gonna be there: Upcoming authors include Amy Poeppel, Molly Jong-Fast, and Susan Abulhawa
How to attend: Go to the Events page, select an author talk you’d like to attend, and register for the Zoom session
What it is: All of Books are Magic’s bookish events are now virtual.
When is it: Throughout the rest of July and August (dates are posted as events are confirmed)
Who’s gonna be there: Authors and hosts discussing new releases
How to attend: Peruse the events and after selecting one (or three) that you fancy, simply register
Virtual Book Events: Online Book Club Meetings
Online book clubs have been rising in popularity thanks to Bookstagram—the ones listed offer recurring book talks that are wonderful ways to find community in a time of pandemic.
What it is: The Black Feminist Book Club promotes the discussion and celebration of books written by Black women writers. Everyone is welcome to attend but must respect that the space emphasizes the voices of Black women.
When is it: Once a month
Who’s gonna be there: Fellow feminists ready to discuss the latest reads
How to attend: Register for the event
What it is: A space to discuss great books with your favorite authors during the quarantine.
When is it: Multiple times a month
Who’s gonna be there: Upcoming authors include Lydia Millet, David Dylan Thomas, and Vali Chandrasekaran
How to attend: Go to the Events page, select the author talk you wanna attend, and pay the $5 fee to register for the Zoom session
What it is: A space to connect with fellow book lovers and talk to experts.
When is it: Twice a month, with one meeting centered on a theme and another on a book selection
Who’s gonna be there: Various authors and experts
How to attend: Join the Rebel Book Club
Virtual Book Events: Reading Series
If you had an excellent social life planned out for the summer of 2020, then reading series are for you. As the name suggests, these events generally take place once a month and are centered around a specific topic, such as a book genre rather than a specific book (like with book clubs).
What it is: Women Lit is a year-round reading series that elevates women’s voices to jumpstart conversation.
Who’s gonna be there: Upcoming speakers include Alexdrana Roxo and Sharon Salzberg
When is it: Throughout the year
How to attend: Become a Women Lit member
What it is: A community of readers obsessed with crime fiction in which 8–10 writers read from their work. The icing on the cake are the performances by D.C.-based jazz musician Sarah Jones and cocktail recipes from Chantal Tseng.
When is it: Next one is August 9 (event is monthly)
Who’s gonna be there: Paula Gail Benson, Sarah M. Chen, Steph Post, Susanna Calkins, Alexia Gordon, Eryk Pruitt, Steph Cha, Erica Ruth Neubauer, and Peter Rozovsky
How to attend: Select the event you’re interested in and save your spot on Crowdcast
What it is: Host Alyssa Cole moderates panels of Romance writers.
When is it: Next one is July 24 (event is every other Friday)
Who’s gonna be there: Milla Vane and Kit Rocha (AKA Donna Herren + Bree Bridges)
How to attend: RSVP
The pandemic has forced the world to slow down and take stock of our shared experience as humans. After all, there isn’t much to do once you’ve zoomed through all the bookish TikTok videos and bungled your way through that sourdough recipe. This doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from the world; I urge everyone to find online community somewhere—many of these events are a great (virtual) places start. Stay safe.