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At the most distressing and anxiety-inducing stretches of this nightmare year, two things helped keep me sane: audiobooks and poetry. I've often returned to Spoon River Anthology throughout my adult life, but it's basically been a permanent fixture on my nightstand in recent months. The poems are a series of monologues, told from the perspectives of the long-dead residents of a fictional Midwestern town called Spoon River, now reflecting from their shared cemetery. These vignettes connect the speakers in ways that illuminate the drama of small-town life; they talk about affairs, abuse, corruption, progress, love earned and lost, a lot of regrets. I know this sounds morbid as hell — and in some ways it is — but it's also human and affirming. And it contains one of my favorite lines of poetry, which opens "Fiddler Jones": "The earth keeps some vibration going / There in your heart, and that is you." How can you not feel a little better?Get your copy.—Arianna Rebolini
Curtis Sittenfeld hosts a celebration of The Best American Short Stories, featuring an excerpt from "The Special World" by Tiphanie Yanique, performed by Hampton Fluker; "It's Not You" by Elizabeth McCracken, performed by Hope Davis; and "Rubberdust" by Sarah Thankam Mathews, performed by Purva Bedi — hosted by Symphony Space, 7:30 p.m. ET. More info.
Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore (Miss Meteor) and Bethany C. Morrow (A Song Below Water) discuss teen heroines, power, and magic with Emilly Prado — presented by the Portland Book Festival, 3:30 p.m. PT. More info.