Quarantine Innovations

Illustration by Hayrullah Yorgancı / United Nations Covid-19 Response

DURING A CRISIS, books provide solace and hope, offering comfort in the literary world. Even as we were held apart by shelter-at-home orders, books brought us together. The Covid-19 pandemic limited in-person access to bookstores and libraries around the world. In these times of uncertainty, many literary organizations took it upon themselves to provide literary content to readers without having to go outside. Through author interviews, readings, and writing workshops, the community stayed alive virtually. With the use of social-media platforms and other online formats, the following organizations helped keep open the gateway to the literary world. 


Literary Hub

This online platform for the literary community offers virtual content through a new platform, the Virtual Book Channel. The motive of this innovation is to provide those stuck in quarantine with original programs and interviews. Author interviews include the “Shelter in Place” series, which includes discussions about authors’ time in quarantine and how writers cope with writing in the current climate. Other content includes virtual book tours and virtual readings. By engaging their audience virtually, Literary Hub provides a space for readers to still be involved in the literary space. The series also aids authors and publishers by emphasizing how to support the literary industry even when bookstores are closed. 



This San Francisco–based organization, whose big festival occurs each fall, has been creating diverse virtual literary entertainment during the pandemic. Their “Litquake in Lockdown” series includes discussions, readings, and poetry. They have hosted their annual poetry celebration online and showcased author ideas on writing during the ongoing crisis. Readers are also treated to virtual book tours and performances. With this series, the goal is to bring people together through their love of reading and to inspire thought in the current political climate and the pandemic. Being online, they are serving any type of reader who needs an escape from the day-to-day life in quarantine. The broad areas of content provide an interesting new landscape for any bibliophile around the world. 


Bushwick Book Club

On April 26 Bushwick Book Club hosted a Facebook live-streamed author performance and show. This one-day event included a performance from the author of Stray, Tanya Marquardt, along with musicians, artists, songwriters, and dancers. The book club, normally held live in Brooklyn venues and featuring music inspired by the book under discussion, encourages audiences to read the novel and to engage with the reading. This live-streaming event allowed those interested to escape from quarantine, discover new writing, and enjoy a literary performance.


Poetry and Chill

Based in Oklahoma City, the poetry platform Poetry and Chill hosts open-mic events and allows artists to share their talents through music, books, and creative projects. The organization has been hosting adult poetry workshops via Instagram Live every Sunday. This platform gives writers the opportunity to share their work as well as learn new poetry techniques. In a time when poetry nights and performances have been vacant, the live workshop gives writers a chance to escape and be discovered in their own homes. Poetry and Chill invites all skill levels to participate in the weekly workshops. The event means to bring people together during a time of uncertainty and to spend some time learning a literary art form.

Olivia McCourry is a journalist from Norman, Oklahoma. She has interned for both World Literature Today and Oklahoma Today and recently graduated with a master of science degree from Columbia University.