Local Lit: April’s top literary picks

Although the coronavirus has disrupted in-person events, the Bay Area literary beehive continues to buzz. With shelter-in-place orders established and likely, lasting for weeks if not months, it’s a renaissance moment for online events and reading real books at home. During the month of April, explore these five suggestions for celebrating stories told online, on mobile devices, or between the covers of a physical book.

Berkeley Arts & Letters’ Visiting Author Series | Ongoing

Berkeley Arts & Letters is live-streaming selected author appearances and presentations cancelled by public health concerns related to COVID-19. Be quick and see and hear Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour discussing her new memoir, We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders on March 31. Plan ahead for Black Lives Matter movement’s Shaun King and his Make Change in early May. The civil rights leader was recently named by Time Magazine as one of its 25 most important people. King’s book explores social movements and staying safe in today’s volatile, political, hyper-speed digitally connected world. Host organization Booksmith also offers terrific archived taped events—catch Sarsour, Rebecca Solnit and others—at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/booksmith.


Take Place, an SFSU Reading and Open Mic event | April 9

Emerging authors land on Zoom to read and discuss their work. Writer, editor and filmmaker Celeste Chan, founder of the Queer Rebels festival for artists of color, conducts youth workshops for the Queer Ancestors Project. Alysia Gonzales, a San Francisco State University MFA in Fiction candidate, writes about racial and socioeconomic identity, family and food. Two-minute open mic slots allow SFSU students, alumni, professors and community members to contribute.

Apr. 9: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | https://www.facebook.com/TakePlaceReadings/


Escape From Quarantine Reading – a weekly online thing | Mondays in April

Monday meetings until May 4 allow poets and their friends to join weekly digital gatherings. From the comfort of home, participants share poems and discuss the experiences and emotions had while under quarantine. The early evening 90-minute Zoom meetings at 7 p.m. provide perfect sunset interaction and connectivity that many of us crave during this odd time of social distancing. With dial-in numbers available to people nationwide, community is America at its best and broadest. Find your local number at https://us04web.zoom.us/u/ftXvyehuU.

Apr. 6-May 4 | 7:00-8:30 p.m. | https://us04web.zoom.us/j/293972268


County Public Libraries during Shelter in Place | Ongoing

If you don’t know about regional public library digital resources available free to card holders, get in the groove immediately. If you don’t currently have a card, visit ccclib.org/get-a-library-card to sign up for an eCard. In addition to thousands of movies (streamed on Kanopy or Kanopy Kids) and music (Hoopla), there are games, stories and interactive puzzles in English, Spanish and French (TumbleBook Library); tutorials and practice tests (LearningExpress Library); access to online tutors (Brainfuse); and songs and rhymes with librarians (Video Storytime). For all readers, there are thousands of eBooks and eAudioBooks (OverDrive/Libby, Enki and others) and access to resources like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, People, Consumer Reports and other publications (Flipster). Learn more: https://oaklandlibrary.org/online-resources/e-books-and-digital-content


Local independent bookstores | 24/7 access, monthly

Last but never least, consider ordering a stack of new release, best-seller, nonfiction or classic books to fill the long days ahead. Your local bookshop likely offers drop off or delivery by post; check websites for policies. Among local shops are the Montclair Village Neighborhood’s Great Good Place for Books, Berkeley’s Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore or Moe’s Books (check out Moe’s terrific author podcasts); and don’t forget about Laurel Books, the cherished Oakland store that closed its bricks-and-mortar downtown location in 2018 but continues to operate online.

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