Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for January
By Arroyo Staff

The renowned bookstore Vroman’s is hosting more top-notch virtual programs throughout January.

The “Vroman’s Live” events are held virtually. Register through vromansbookstore.com. Anyone with questions is asked to send an email to email@vromansbookstore.com.

Vroman’s Live presents Gina Apostol discussing “Biblioepsy”

6 p.m. Thursday, January 6

Gina Apostol’s debut novel, available for the first time in the United States, tells of a young woman caught between a lifelong desire to escape into books and a real-world revolution.

It is the mid-’80s, two decades into the kleptocratic, brutal rule of Ferdinand Marcos. The Philippine economy is in deep recession, and civil unrest is growing by the day. But Primi Peregrino has her own priorities: tracking down books and pursuing romantic connections with their authors.

For Peregrino, the nascent revolution means that writers are gathering more often, and with greater urgency, so that every poetry reading she attends presents a veritable “Justice League” of authors for her to choose among. As the Marcos dictatorship stands poised to topple, Peregrino remains true to her fantasy: that she, “a vagabond from history, a runaway from time,” can be saved by sex, love and books. 

Leonard Mlodinow discusses “Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking”

7 p.m. Tuesday, January 11

We make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to how we should invest, and not one of those decisions would be possible without emotion. It has long been said that thinking and feeling are separate and opposing forces in our behavior. But Leonard Mlodinow, the best-selling author of “Subliminal,” says extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking.

How can we connect better with others? How can we make sense of our frustration, fear and anxiety? What can you do to live a happier life? The answers lie in understanding your emotions. Journeying from the labs of pioneering scientists to real-world scenarios that have flirted with disaster, Mlodinow shows us how our emotions can help, why they sometimes hurt, and what we can learn in both instances.

Using deep insights into our evolution and biology, Mlodinow gives us the tools to understand our emotions better and to maximize their benefits. Told with his characteristic clarity and fascinating stories, “Emotional” explores the new science of feelings and offers us an essential guide to making the most of one of nature’s greatest gifts. 

Ticket includes one copy of “Emotional.”

Xochitl Gonzalez discusses “Olga Dies Dreaming”

7 p.m. Thursday, January 13

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latino neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1% but she can’t seem to find her own — until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico, Xochitl Gonzalez’s “Olga Dies Dreaming” examines political corruption, familial strife and the very notion of the American dream — all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

Ticket includes one copy of “Olga Dies Dreaming.” 

Emily Levesque discusses “The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers”

6 p.m. Friday, January 14

Starting with the earliest civilizations, humans have craned their necks each night, using the stars to orient themselves in the large, strange world around them. Stargazing is a pursuit that continues to fascinate us: from Copernicus to Carl Sagan, astronomers throughout history have spent their lives trying to answer the biggest questions in the universe. 

Now, award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers in this new nonfiction release, the people willing to adventure across high mountaintops and to some of the most remote corners of the planet, all in the name of science.

From the lonely quiet of midnight stargazing to tall tales of wild bears loose in the observatory, “The Last Stargazers” is a love letter to astronomy and an affirmation of the crucial role that humans can and must play in the future of scientific discovery.

In this sweeping work of narrative science, Levesque shows how astronomers in this scrappy and evolving field are going beyond the machines to infuse creativity and passion into the stars and space and inspires us all to peer skyward in pursuit of the universe’s secrets. 

Ticket includes a copy of “The Last Stargazers.”

Vroman’s Live presents Barbara F. Walter discusses “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them”

6 p.m. Tuesday, January 18

Political violence rips apart several towns in southwest Texas. A far-right militia plots to kidnap the governor of Michigan and try her for treason. An armed mob of Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists storms the U.S. Capitol. Are these isolated incidents? Or is this the start of something bigger? Barbara F. Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq and Sri Lanka, but now she has become increasingly worried about her own country.

Perhaps surprisingly, autocracies and healthy democracies are largely immune from civil war; it’s the countries in the middle ground that are most vulnerable. And this is where more and more countries, including the United States, are finding themselves.

Over the last two decades, the number of active civil wars around the world has almost doubled. Walter reveals the warning signs — where wars tend to start, who initiates them, what triggers them — and why some countries tip over into conflict while others remain stable. Drawing on the latest international research and lessons from over twenty countries, Walter identifies the crucial risk factors, from democratic backsliding to factionalization and the politics of resentment. A civil war today won’t look like America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, or Spain in the 1930s. It will begin with sporadic acts of violence and terror, accelerated by social media. It will sneak up on us and leave us wondering how we could have been so blind.

In this urgent book, Walter redefines civil war for a new age, providing the framework we need to confront the danger we now face — and the knowledge to stop it before it’s too late. 

Vroman’s Live presents Mike Sielski, in conversation with John Gonzalez, discussing “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality”

6 p.m. Thursday, January 20

Kobe Bryant’s death in January 2020 did more than rattle the worlds of sports and celebrity. The tragedy of that helicopter crash, which also took the life of his daughter, Gianna, unveiled the full breadth and depth of his influence on our culture, and by tracing and telling the oft-forgotten and lesser-known story of his early life, “The Rise” provides an insight into Bryant that no other analysis has.

In “The Rise,” readers will travel from the neighborhood streets of Southwest Philadelphia — where Bryant’s father, Joe, became a local basketball standout — to the Bryant family’s isolation in Italy, where Bryant spent his formative years, to the leafy suburbs of Lower Merion, where Bryant’s legend was born. 

The story will trace his career and life at Lower Merion. He led the Aces to the 1995-1996 Pennsylvania state championship, a dramatic underdog run for a team with just one star player — and the run-up to the 1996 NBA draft, where Bryant’s dream of playing pro basketball culminated in his acquisition by the Los Angeles Lakers.

In researching and writing “The Rise,” Sielski had access to a series of unreleased interviews during his senior season and early days in the NBA. For a quarter century, these tapes and transcripts preserved Bryant’s thoughts, dreams and goals from his teenage years.

Dale Maharidge, in conversation with Tom Zoellner, discusses “Burn Coast”

7 p.m. Friday, January 21

Earthquake-rattled and clinging to the thousand-foot cliffs of the Northern California coast, McGee Ridge is nestled in one of a very few truly wild places left in the Lower 48. It is also home to a band of off-grid outlaws who vanished behind the famed Redwood Curtain in the 1960s, and whose time there is swiftly coming to an end.

Will Spector, a burned-out journalist for the LA Times, arrived here to build a wilderness cabin for himself in the ’90s, after spending a decade as a war correspondent. In a community that subsists mainly off illegal cannabis farming, Will is an outlier. As is Zoë Vanderlip, the revered matriarch of the original ’60s settlers, whose adult son Klaus is one of the largest growers in the region. 

Unlike nearly everyone else, neither Will nor Zoë has grown marijuana, but when Zoë suddenly goes missing from her home — a large hand-built structure known as the Ark — the industry’s competing forces can no longer be ignored.

Pairing up with Daniel Likowski, a principled but mysterious grower whose business has been crushed by legalization, Will finds himself swept into a world of lost idealism and desperate loners, mobsters and corporate shell companies, violence and hypocrisy, all operating beneath the canopy of an ancient forest teetering at the very edge of the continent. Spurned on both by his journalistic zeal and a strange love for the place and its people, Will’s investigation is a journey to understand not just what happened to Zoe, but all of them.

In this atmospheric rural noir, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dale Maharidge’s debut novel plunges readers into a country that has existed for decades beyond the bounds of America-at-large, but nevertheless reflects the essential conflicts of our divided culture.

Ticket includes one copy of “Burn Coast.”

Vroman’s Live presents Marie Rutkoski, in conversation with Leigh Bardugo, discusses “Real Easy?

6 p.m. Thursday, January 27

It’s 1999 and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She’s not used to mixing work and friendship. After all, between her jealous boyfriend and his young daughter, she has enough on her plate. But the newest dancer is so clueless that Samantha feels compelled to help her learn the hustle and drama of the club: how to sweet-talk the boss, fit in with the other women, and make good money. One night, when the new girl needs a ride home, Samantha agrees to drive: a simple decision that turns deadly.

Georgia, another dancer drawn into the ensuing murder and missing person investigation, gathers information for Holly, a grieving detective determined to solve the case. Georgia just wants to help, but her involvement makes her a target. As Holly and Georgia round up their suspects, the story’s point of view shifts between dancers, detectives, children, club patrons — and the killer.

Drawing on her experience as a former dancer, Marie Rutkoski immerses us in the captivating world of the club, which comes alive with complicated people trying their best to protect themselves and those they love.  

Vroman’s Local Author Day featuring Robert Abad, Dr. Ian Brooks and Gregory Deinzer

6 p.m. Monday, January 31

Robert Abad presents “Moment”

It’s easy for children to develop preconceived notions about the world and other people based on simply what they see and hear in their immediate surroundings. “Moment” aims to dispel such biases and misconceptions by presenting young readers with over 100 images of places, faces and landscapes from around the “emerging world.”

“Moment” is a unique resource that educators and librarians can integrate into their global study lessons and that parents can use with their children to explore the rich cultural diversity that exists in the great wide world.

Dr. Ian Brooks presents “Intention”

“Intention” provides a step-by-step guide in transforming your story, by reinforcing and building new capabilities to move forward. if you’re ready to:

• Prioritize who you are in understanding your stories characters, its set, and script that influence you

• Explore beyond your immediate reasons for change to reflect on your wants

• Take manageable action for something new, while adjusting old habit

• Build capabilities to manage changes for an unknown future

Gregory Deinzer presents “The Path We Follow”

“The old man breathed heavily as he and Neel rested beneath a rocky overhang on the mountain trail. Eight hours of climbing and they were not even halfway to the temple. The others were right, thought Neel. We should have waited for better weather. How did this day get so off track, when it started out so hopefully?”

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