Literature

Where to Find Virtual Author Talks and Book Events around Boston This Spring

Reading a book can be like entering into a whole new world for a few hours, and that kind of escape sounds pretty great right now.


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While the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep most Bostonians at home, local bookstores and literacy organizations are coming up with creative ways to engage with readers, from poetry open mic sessions and live author talks on Zoom, to interactive book recommendations offered via Instagram Live.

Want to read along during these events? Before you rush to Amazon, support small businesses by checking your favorite local bookstore’s webstore, as well as the audiobook app Libro.fm, which partners with individual storefronts to keep some money in users’ communities.

Here are seven ways to connect with authors and get reading right now.

Boston Poetry Slam

Typically, the Boston Poetry Slam organizes weekly open mics and author talks at the Cantab Lounge to further its mission of fostering new voices and audiences for poetry. But for the foreseeable future, the Wednesday night series has moved to Zoom. “Extremely Online” versions of these gatherings are basically the same (though you’ll have to supply your own Pabst Blue Ribbon): About an hour of open mic readings followed by a featured poet from Boston or beyond. On deck for April 22 is Cassandra de Alba, a Massachusetts author and editor who cohosts the in-person events at the Cantab. On April 29, attendees will hear from Cassandra Myers, a Canadian poet, arts-activist, and community organizer. A suggested $3 Venmo entry fee pays the featured poets. Open-mic signups begin on Facebook the evening of events at 7:15 p.m. Coming up May 9, BPS is also producing a virtual poetrython to benefit incarcerated people impacted by COVID-19.

Wednesdays, 7:15/8-10 p.m., bostonpoetryslam.com.

Brookline Booksmith

One of the many reasons why this beloved bookstore remains indispensable in the Amazon era is because of the wide range of engaging author events it brings to its Coolidge Corner headquarters. While we social distance, many of these programs have moved online, including occasional Children’s Storytime dates and author talks held many nights of the week. Check out Facebook and the online calendar for details, dates, and registration information. Donations are appreciated and easy to make online, and all the books are for sale, but the Booksmith’s programming continues to be free.

Event schedule varies, brooklinebooksmith.com.

Harvard Book Store

The landmark Harvard Square shop has a robust slate of virtual events happening this spring, including author talks with the likes of Bess Kalb, Robert B. Reich, and Dr. Vivek H. Murthy. There’s a suggested $5 ticket price for most events, which supports the 88-year-old bookstore.

Event schedule varies, harvard.com.

Porter Square Books

While several in-person events slated for this spring have been postponed or canceled, Porter Square Books is bringing a great lineup to the web. Upcoming virtual events include a conversation between popular novelist Jodi Picoult and New York Times opinion columnist Jennifer Finney Boylan, about the latter’s book about dogs; the co-creators of podcast Welcome to Night Vale discussing their new book, set in the mysterious fictional town; and a crowdcast with absurd author Christopher Moore. Most events are free with donations accepted, though some tickets include the featured book shipped to your door.

Event schedule varies, portersquarebooks.com.

Raising A Reader

The Massachusetts chapter of the literacy organization had to postpone its annual Dinner with the Author Gala until October 15—though it has launched a complementary online events series in the meantime. Live! with an Author talks begin Thursday, April 23, with local authors and influencers Ben and Tonya Mezrich in conversation, hosted by Kennedy of the Karson and Kennedy Show on MIX 104.1. On April 28, meanwhile, you can connect with New York Times bestselling crime novelist Ace Atkins from your living room. The free, interactive Zoom chats also provide an opportunity to learn more about Raising a Reader and ways to support its mission. Stay tuned for more events to come online .

Event schedule varies, raisingareaderma.org.

Tres Gatos

This quirky book and record shop (which does triple-duty as one of the city’s best restaurants) is keeping things local and libation-filled with its virtual online programming. Intermittent online author talks will all begin with a cocktail demonstration from a Tres Gatos bartender. So far, these cats have shared the recipe for their “Last Waltz” cocktail and hosted Ryan H. Walsh, a Boston-based musician and author of Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, his debut book based on the Boston magazine story he wrote about the local origin of one of rock’s greatest albums. Coming up on April 30, award-winning fiction writer and Bostonian Ron MacLean is the featured guest; and Jamaica Plain playwright Michelle Gabow is on deck for May 7. Email [email protected] to register for the Zoom-hosted events, which are listed on Tres Gatos’ Facebook page. Author talks are free, but Tres Gatos welcomes donations that support its out-of-work restaurant employees.

Event schedule varies, tresgatosjp.com

Trident Booksellers

The cafe at this Newbury Street bookstore remains open daily for takeout (and book delivery). But to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, Trident is also getting into the virtual world with a series of social media-based events through April 25. To wit: Join the daily “happy hour” chat with the shop’s lead bookseller, hosted live at 5 p.m. on Facebook and Instagram; and keep an eye out for #TwitterTakeover sessions where the store’s booksellers will share recommendations on Twitter and take questions.

Daily at 5 p.m. on Instagram and Facebook, plus various times on Twitter, tridentbookscafe.com.