24 Virtual Events to Check Out During National Reading Month

The Detroit Writing Room, the Zell Visiting Writers Series, Detroit Public Library, metro Detroit bookshops, and more offer plenty of things to do in March
National Reading Month - detroit bookshops
Detroit bookshop owners and author Anna Clark will discuss running a bookstore during the pandemic during The Detroit Writing Room’s upcoming event. // Photograph courtesy of The Detroit Writing Room

National Reading Month is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by enjoying all the best events the metro Detroit literary community has to offer? From speaker series with accomplished authors and book clubs with other avid readers to conversations with bookshop owners and open mics that spotlight local talent, there’s plenty (virtually) going on in March.

The City of Good Death Author Talk with Priyanka Champaneri

Source Book Sellers and Tuxedo Project are hosting this discussion with Priyank Champaneri. The event kicks off at 6:30 with a 20-minute knitting circle with the author. Then from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Champaneri will talk about her debut novel, The City of Good Death, which takes place in the Indian holy city Banaras and tells the story of a death hostel manager who welcomes those who seek a “good death.” No cost for general admission, $34 for a ticket that includes a copy of the book. March 5. Virtual; eventbrite.com

Speaker Series: Detroit Bookshop Owners

During this Detroit Writing Room event, the owners of Book Suey, Pages Bookshop, and Source Booksellers will join Anna Clark, a coach at the writing room and the author of The Poisoned City, for a virtual conversation. The local shop owners will discuss why they started their businesses and how they pivoted during the pandemic. Those looking to support the stores can purchase one of the three books by female authors that the bookshop owners recommend. The sales of each book will benefit the corresponding bookshop. $10. March 8. Virtual; eventbrite.com

Conversations on Hemingway: A Virtual Event Series  

Ahead of the April 5 premiere of Hemingway, a new documentary on the American writer, PBS is hosting a lineup of panel events. The film was created by documentarians Lynn Novick and Ken Burns. Upcoming events cover everything from Hemingway’s relationships with the sea and Cuba, gender and identity, and women. Burns, who grew up in Ann Arbor, will appear on all the panels with special guests that include author Joyce Carol Oates and musician Alan Price. No cost. March 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 24. Virtual; pbs.org

Pages Bookshop Virtually Presents Abdul El-Sayed & Micah Johnson

Doctors and co-authors Abdul El Sayed and Micah Johnson will discuss their book Medicare For All: A Citizens Guide during this Pages Bookshop event. The new release, which features a forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, explores how Medicare for all would transform healthcare in the U.S. No cost; $5 donations welcome. March 9. Virtual; crowdcast.io

National Reading Month - Amelia Pang, Made in China
Author Amelia Pang, pictured above, joins journalist Shannon Liao in a discussion hosted by Literati Bookstore this month. The two will talk about Pang’s new book, Made in China. // Photograph by Zachary Stieber

At Home with Literati: Amelia Pang in Conversation with Shannon Liao

The Washington Post staff writer Shannon Liao will lead a discussion with Amelia Pang — an award-winning journalist who has written for Mother Jones and the New Republic — on Pang’s new book, Made in China. Released last month, the book explores the hidden costs of America’s cheap consumer goods by investigating forced labor practices in China. No cost; $5 donations welcome. March 9. Virtual; literatibookstore.com 

March Virtual Creecy Book Discussion – Little Fires Everywhere

The Southfield Public Library’s Creecy Book Club is discussing Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng this month. The 2017 novel, which was recently made into a Hulu show starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, tells the story of two families living in Ohio in the ’90s who bring their children together. Those interested in attending can email abell@southfieldlibrary.org to get Zoom information. No cost. March 9. Virtual; southfieldlibrary.org

Book Discussion: Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson

Following its book club meeting on Little Fires Everywhere, the Southfield Public Library will host a discussion on Cicely Tyson’s new memoir, Just as I Am. In the book, published just a couple of days before Tyson died this January, the actress and activist shares her life story. No cost. March 10. Virtual; southfieldlibrary.org

Book Discussion: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

The Ann Arbor Public Library is leading a conversation on Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? this month. Beverly Daniel Tatum first published the best-selling book on racism and racial identity nearly 20 years ago. And, after two decades of success, she released a revised and updated version of the original in 2017. Nonprofit consultant, writer, and pastor Hillary Watson will join the library’s virtual talk. Watson is on the Champions for Change staff at Nonprofit Enterprises at Work (NEW), which aims to dismantle racism in the nonprofit sector. No cost. March 10. Virtual; aadl.org

Reading and Q&A with Mat Johnson

The University of Michigan’s department of English Language and Literature welcomes fiction writer Mat Johnson to the Zell Visiting Writers Series this month. Johnson, who published his first novel in 2000, uses his experiences as the son of a Black mother and an Irish-American father to explore racial identity. His satire, historical fiction, and graphic novels have been applauded by publications like The New York Times, and in 2007, he became the first person to be named a James Baldwin Fellow. No cost. March 11. Virtual; lsa.umich.edu

Mat Johnson, pictured above, will talk about his writing during the Zell Visiting Writers Series this month. // Image courtesy of Helen Zell Writers’ Program

Translation/Transnation: Translation as a Critical Practice for Writing a Nation in Transit

The public is invited to a book talk during the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, an event held by the University of Michigan’s Department of Comparative Literature. The conversation between Harold Augenbraum, an editor, translator, and former executive director of the National Book Foundation, and award-winning author Gina Apostol will focus on Augenbraum’s work translating Filipino novels. Following the book talk, guests can enjoy the launch of the virtual exhibit Translation, Memory and the Archive: The Literary Worlds of the Spanish Philippines. No cost. March 12. Virtual; lsa.umich.edu

The Virtual Mark Webster Reading Series

Second-year MFA poets and fiction writers from the University of Michigan Hell Zell Writers’ Program take the virtual stage during this event presented by the school’s art museum. On March 12, catch readings by fiction writers Matthew Wamser and Dur e Aziz Amna. And on March 19, fiction writer Anna Majeski and poet Nadia Mota will read. No cost. March 12 and 19. Virtual; lsa.umich.edu 

Citywide Poets Saturday Share Open Mic: Featuring Michael Lee

Citywide Poets, an award-winning afterschool program from Detroit-based nonprofit InsideOut Literary Arts that provides teens with creative writing opportunities, presents free open mics on Instagram Live twice a month. Norwegian-American writer Michael Lee is the featured performer for the March 13 event. No cost. March 13. Virtual; facebook.com/events 

Our Back Pages: Harvey Ovshinsky & Peter Werbe 

Detroit counter-culture figures Harvey Ovshinsky and Peter Werbe, who worked together at the city’s underground newspaper The Fifth Estate during the ’60s, will talk about their new releases during this event hosted by Book Beat. Ovshinsky’s memoir, Scratching the Surface: Adventures in Storytelling, includes stories of his days working at Fifth Estate and Detroit progressive rock station WABX-FM as well as advice on the creative process. Meanwhile, Werbe’s book, Summer on Fire: A Detroit Novel, tells a fictional tale of a The Fifth Estate staff member who lives in the city in the summer of 1967 during the Detroit Rebellion, anti-war demonstrations, and more. No cost. March 16. Virtual; thebookbeat.com

Michigan Opera Theatre & Pages Bookshop Present: Page to Stage – Bel Canto

During this event presented by Pages Bookshop and the Michigan Opera Theatre, MOT Directors Andrea Scobie and Arthur White will discuss Ann Patchett’s 2001 opera-themed novel, Bel Canto. The directors will talk about the true story that inspired the novel and use musical examples to discuss the operas referenced in Patchett’s work. A Q&A session will follow the event. No cost. March 16. Virtual; pagesbkshop.com

National Reading Month - literati
Literati Bookstore hosts an event with Lindsay Gardner, who illustrated and curated the new book Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection, and farmer, chef, and cookbook author Abra Berens. // Image courtesy of Literati Bookstore

At Home with Literati: Lindsay Gardner and Abra Berens

This event focuses on Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection, a new book curated and illustrator by author, artist, and Grand Rapids native Lindsay Gardner that features essays, profiles, and recipes. Gardner will be joined in conversation by Abra Berens, a chef, a former farmer, and writer who released her first cookbook, Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables, in 2019. Berens, who contributed to Why We Cook, currently works as Granor Farms in Three Oaks, Michigan. No cost; $5 donations welcome. March 18. Virtual; literatibookstore.com

Senator Carl Levin: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin released his memoir, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate, through Wayne State University Press this month. On March 18, Levin will discuss the book and current events, such as the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the impeachment and acquittal of former President Trump, during a webinar held by Brown University. Professor Richard Arenberg, interim director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at the university, will moderate the event. No cost. March 18. Virtual; watson.brown.edu

Pages Bookshop Virtually Presents Beth Kobliner

Personal finance reporter and The New York Times bestselling author Beth Kobliner will present her parents, Shirley Kobliner and Dr. Harold Kobliner, new book during this event presented by Pages Bookshop. Shirley and Harold’s book, So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That’ll Knock Your Socks Off, is a reference guide to idioms. The book is divided into nearly 70 categories and features more than two dozen word games. No cost; $5 donations welcome. March 23. Virtual; crowdcast.io

Book Discussion: Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by Riley Snorton

Ann Arbor Public Library staff will discuss the book Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity on its AADL.TV channel. The 2017 award-winning book by C. Riley Snorton explores how Blackness and transness intersect throughout the mid-19th century to present-day anti-trans legislation and violence. No cost. March 25. Virtual; aadl.org

Reading and Q&A with Kathleen Graber

Later in the month, the Zell Visiting Writer Series at the University of Michigan will host an evening with poet Kathleen Graber, whose latest work is the 2019 poetry collection The River Twice. Graber is an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and is the recipient of several prestigious fellowships. No cost. March 25. Virtual; lsa.umich.edu 

National Reading Month - literary events
Poet Krystalle, pictured above, hosts The Detroit Writing Room’s virtual open mic night on March 29. // Photograph courtesy of The Detroit Writing Room

Author Talk: Riley Arthur, Phone Photography for Everybody

In this event hosted by Hamtramck’s Book Suey, award-winning Michigan photojournalist Riley Arthur will discuss her book, Phone Photograph for Everybody. Arthur will also talk about her work as a photojournalist, tips for taking great photos, and how she published her book. The book can be pre-ordered through Book Suey. No cost. March 27. Virtual; booksuey.com

Book Discussion: Plainsong by Kent Haruf

The Detroit Public Library is inviting teens and adults to its virtual book club this month. The club will discuss Plainsong, a 1999 novel by Kent Haruf. The story is set in rural Colorado and features themes of grief, abandonment, hope, and kindness. Those interested in attending can email wilderbranch@gmail.com for the meeting link. No cost. March 27. Virtual; detroitpubliclibrary.org

The Art of Poetry: A Virtual Open Mic Night Experience

The Detroit Writing Room’s open mic night is hosted by the poet Krystalle. Participants, who can sign up by emailing hello@detroitwritingroom.com, are invited to share a poem, song, short story, or any other type of creative talent during this event. $5. March 29. Virtual; eventbrite.com  

Detroit Writing Room Book Club ft. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

The day after the open mic night, The Detroit Writing Room will present its March author talk with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over the Larry Nassar case and has written several novels. The author of the 2020 murder-mystery novel All Rise will talk about her writing and answer audience questions during a live Q&A. The event will close out with a book giveaway with signed copies of Aquilina’s work. $15 for the general public; free for Detroit Writing Room Book Club members. March 30. Virtual; eventbrite.com

Take Back the Night Ann Arbor & STARS Present Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman is the co-author of the book Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World. Published in 2020, the book questions what would happen if we believed women and centered survivors of sexual violence in our justice system. Take Back the Night Ann Arbor, an event put on by local students and community members that takes a stand against sexual violence, and the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STARS) nonprofit are hosting this author talk with help from the Ann Arbor District Library. The book can be purchased at Literati Bookstore. No cost. March 31. Virtual; literatibookstore.com