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This Monday, November 30, is the 180th anniversary of the day Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) arrived in the world, and the occasion is being celebrated at two literary sites associated with the writer.

Mark TwainTwain’s distinctive facial feature is being touted during a birthday bash at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum (above left) in Hannibal, Missouri. Part of the festivities include a Mustache Contest with categories such as the “Mark Twain” for the one that bears the greatest resemblance to the writer’s own (dubbed the Walrus) and the “Dapper Stache,” the one most full of character and originality (styling aids are encouraged). November 28, 1 p.m. There is a $5 fee to enter the contest, and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

The Mark Twain House & Museum (above right) in Hartford, Connecticut, is hosting a reading of “Colonel Sellers: Reanimated,” based on one of the writer’s forgotten pieces—with a twist. Steampunk and zombie stories like The Walking Dead are currently in vogue, but Twain was well ahead of the trend. In 1883, he and a friend penned a play, Colonel Sellers as a Scientist, that contained elements of both but was panned by critics. In “Colonel Sellers: Reanimated,” playwright and Mark Twain House staffer Jacques Lamarre has refashioned the original into a Steampunk-zombie mash-up comedy. November 30, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10; $5 for members.

At both events, revelers will be served birthday cake and given a sneak peek at the designs of Mark Twain commemorative coins in gold and silver to be released by the U.S. Mint in early 2016. A portion of the purchase price of the coins will benefit four sites: The Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York; the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley; the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal. We’ll share more details about the coins soon.

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The only good thing about being sick is the extra time to read. Thrillers and other gripping, fast-paced stories are a necessary remedy for making it through a wicked head cold. At the rate I’ve been going through books, I’m grateful to have access to my library’s offerings with the #libbyapp for an immediate and seemingly endless supply. I recommend all of these reads, in sickness and in health. I especially liked #Transcription by #KateAtkinson about a young woman recruited by MI5 in London during World War II and #LoveandRuin by #PaulaMcLain about Martha Gellhorn, a celebrated war journalist and Hemingway’s third spouse (the only one of his wives to leave him). #greatstorytelling #thankgoodnessfornovels #bookstagram #igbooks #theflightattendant #thedeathofmrswestaway #intothewater #librarylove
This was my book club’s most recent read, selected by me. I always find it a bit nerve-wracking when it’s my turn to choose, and I start making a list of possibilities several months in advance and narrow it down from there. I’m happy to report that LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE made for an interesting, in-depth discussion, largely because of the gray areas in the story. The complexity of human behavior and motivations, parent-children dynamics, taking sides, keeping secrets, making tough decisions, disguising manipulation and dishonesty as altruism. And how much responsibility a person bears when they compel someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, into a destructive course of action—igniting little fires everywhere. #greatstorytelling #discussionworthy #bookclubpick #bookstagram #booksofig #littlefireseverywhere #celesteng
From sunshine reading to snowstorm reading, in the span of a day. #welcomehome #snowstorm #books #reading #imissmiami

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