Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for April

By Arroyo Staff

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

The Vroman’s Live events are held virtually and in person. Vroman’s Virtual events will be presented through Crowdcast. Register through
vromansbookstore.com. Anyone with questions is asked to contact email@

Virtual events

Gina Sorell, in conversation with Jennifer Robertson,
discusses “The Wise Women”

6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13

Popular advice columnist Wendy Wise has been skillfully advising the women who write to her seeking help for four decades, so why are her own daughters’ lives such a mess? Clementine, the working mother of a 6-year-old boy, has just discovered that she is renting the Queens home that she thought she owned, because her husband Steve secretly funneled their money into his flailing startup. Meanwhile, her sister, Barb, has overextended herself at her architecture firm and reunited semi-unhappily with her cheating girlfriend.

When Steve goes MIA and Clementine receives an eviction notice, Wendy swoops in to save the day, even though her daughters, who are holding on to some resentments from childhood, haven’t asked for her help. But as soon as Wendy sets her sights on hunting down her rogue son-in-law, Barb and Clementine quickly discover that their mother has been hiding more than a few problems of her own.

As the three women confront the disappointments and heartaches that have accumulated between them over the years, they discover that while the future may look entirely different from the one that they’ve expected, it may be even brighter than they’d hoped.

Crowdcast registration link: https://bit.ly/GinaSorell

Peter Dreier discusses his two new books,
“Baseball Rebels” and “Major League Rebels”

6 p.m. Tuesday, April 19

“Baseball Rebels” tells stories of mavericks, reformers and radicals who shook up the baseball establishment and helped change America. These players, managers, sportswriters, activists and even a few owners were influenced by, and in turn influenced, America’s broader political and social protest movements, including battles against racism, sexism and homophobia. 

“Major League Rebels” is a captivating history of the baseball reformers and revolutionaries who challenged their sport and society — and in turn helped change America. Athletes have often used their platform to respond to and protest injustices, from Muhammad Ali and Colin Kaepernick to Billie Jean King and Megan Rapinoe. Compared to their counterparts, baseball players have often been more cautious about speaking out on controversial issues; but throughout the sport’s history, there have been many players who were willing to stand up and fight for what was right. 

In “Major League Rebels: Baseball Battles over Workers’ Rights and American Empire,” Robert Elias and Peter Dreier reveal a little-known yet important history of rebellion among professional ballplayers. These reformers took inspiration from the country’s dissenters and progressive movements, speaking and acting against abuses within their profession and their country. 

Elias and Dreier profile the courageous players who demanded better working conditions, battled against corporate power, and challenged America’s unjust wars, imperialism and foreign policies, resisting the brash patriotism that many link with the “national pastime.” American history can be seen as an ongoing battle over wealth and income inequality, corporate power versus workers’ rights, what it means to be a “patriotic” American, and the role of the United States outside its borders. For over 100 years, baseball activists have challenged the status quo, contributing to the kind of dissent that creates a more humane society. 

Crowdcast registration link: https://bit.ly/PeterDreier

David Baldacci, in conversation with Robert Crais, discusses “Dream Town”

6 p.m. Tuesday, April 26

It’s the eve of 1953, and Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles to ring in the New Year with an old friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan, when their evening is interrupted by an acquaintance of Callahan’s: Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter in dire straits.

After a series of increasingly chilling events — mysterious phone calls, the same blue car loitering outside her house, and a bloody knife left in her sink — Eleanor fears her life is in danger, and she wants to hire Archer to look into the matter. Archer suspects that Eleanor knows more than she’s saying, but before he can officially take on her case, a dead body turns up inside of Eleanor’s home… and Eleanor disappears.

Missing client or not, Archer is dead set on finding both the murderer and Eleanor. With the help of Callahan and his partner, Willie Dash, he launches an investigation that will take him from mob-ridden Las Vegas to the glamorous world of Hollywood to the darkest corners of Los Angeles — a city in which beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, where the cops can be more corrupt than the criminals… and where the powerful people responsible for his client’s disappearance will kill without a moment’s hesitation if they catch Archer on their trail.

Crowdcast registration link: https://bit.ly/DavidBaldacciVromans

Vroman’s Local Author Day with Dr. Ian Brooks,
Shanti Hershenson and James Cox

6 p.m. Friday, April 29

Dr. Ian Brooks presents “Intention,” a step-by-step guide in transforming the reader’s story, by reinforcing and building new capabilities to move forward. 

Shanti Hershenson will discuss “You Won’t Know Her Name,” a “haunting, shocking novel told in poetry.” 

“Silver or Lead” is James Cox’s presentation. “What would you do if you found out that the person you were trying to save might have to kill you?”

Crowdcast registration link: https://bit.ly/LocalAuthorVromans

In-person events

Vroman’s in-person events are no longer ticketed but are free and open to the public. Masks are strongly encouraged for those attending. All in-person events will all be held at Vroman’s, 695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, unless noted otherwise.

Lian Dolan, in conversation
with Rico Gagliano, discusses
“Lost and Found in Paris”

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6

Joan Blakely had an unconventional childhood: the daughter of a globe-trotting supermodel and a famous artist. Her artist father died on 9/11, and Joan, an art historian by training, has spent more than a decade maintaining his legacy. 

Life in the art world is beginning to wear on her — and then one fateful afternoon her husband drops a bombshell: He fathered twins with another woman.

Furious but secretly pleased to have a reason to blow up her life, Joan impulsively decides to get out of town, booking a last-minute trip to Paris as an art courier: the person museums hire to fly valuable works of art to potential clients, discreetly stowed in their carry-on luggage. Sipping her champagne in business class, she chats up her seatmate, Nate, a good-looking tech nerd who invites her to dinner in Paris. He doesn’t know she’s carrying drawings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But after a romantic dinner and an even more romantic night together, Joan wakes up next to her new lover to discover the drawings gone. Even more shocking is what’s been left in their place: a sketch from her father’s journals, which she thought had been lost when he died on 9/11, and a poem that reads like a treasure hunt.

With Nate as a sidekick, Joan will follow the clues all over Paris — from its grand cathedrals and romantic bistros to the twisty side streets of Montmartre — hoping to recover the lost art and her own sense of adventure. What she finds is even better than she’d expected. 

Gary Phillips discusses
“One-Shot Harry”

7 p.m. Thursday, April 7

Los Angeles, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Harry risks ending up one of the victims at every crime scene he photographs. 

When Harry hears a call over the police scanner to the scene of a deadly automobile accident, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old Army buddy, the white jazz trumpeter Ben Kingslow, with whom he’d only just reconnected. 

The LAPD declares the car crash an accident, but when Harry develops his photos there are signs of foul play. Harry feels no choice but to play detective, even if it means putting his own life on the line. Armed with his wits, his camera and occasionally his Colt .45, Harry plunges headfirst into the seamier underbelly of LA society, tangling with racists, leftists, blackmailers, gangsters, zealots and lovers, all in the hope of finding something resembling justice for a friend.

Dean Sluyter discusses “The Dharma Bum’s Guide to Western Literature: Finding Nirvana in the Classics”

7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12

With droll humor and irreverent wisdom, Dean Sluyter unpacks the Dharma of more than 20 major writers, from William Blake to Dr. Seuss, inspiring readers to deepen their own spiritual life and see literature in a fresh, new way: as a path of awakening. 

Melissa Chadburn discusses
“A Tiny Shove Upward”

7 p.m. Thursday, April 21

Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.

Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories — an aswang, a creature of mystery and vengeance. She spent her time on earth on the margins; shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, she was a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance, understanding very little of her own life, let alone the lives of others. 

Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known — even her killer — as she accesses their memories and sees anew the meaning of her own. In her nine days as an aswang, while she considers whether to exact vengeance on her killer, she also traces back, finally able to see what led these two lost souls to a crushingly inevitable conclusion.

In “A Tiny Upward Shove,” debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s castoffs as they make their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. 

Michelle Huneven discusses “Search”

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27

Dana Potowski is a restaurant critic and food writer and a longtime member of a progressive Unitarian Universalist congregation in Southern California. Just as she’s finishing the book tour for her latest bestseller, Dana is asked to join the church search committee for a new minister. Under pressure to find her next book idea, she agrees, and resolves to secretly pen a memoir, with recipes, about the experience. That memoir, Search, follows the travails of the committee and their candidates — and becomes its own media sensation.

Dana had good material to work with: The committee is a wide-ranging mix of Unitarian Universalist congregants, and their candidates range from a baker and microbrew master/pastor to a reverend who identifies as both a witch and an environmental warrior. Ultimately, the committee faces a stark choice between two very different paths forward for the congregation. Although she may have been ambivalent about joining the committee, Dana finds that she cares deeply about the fate of this institution and she will fight the entire committee, if necessary, to win the day for her side.

Kim Dower reads from “I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom”; special introduction by Ron Koertge, poet laureate of South Pasadena

7 p.m. Thursday, April 28

Acclaimed for combining the accessible and profound, Kim Dower’s poems about motherhood are some of her most moving and disarmingly candid. “I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom” is an anthology of her poems from being a mother — childbirth to empty nest — as well as being a daughter with all the teenaged messiness, drama and conflict to finally caring for one’s mother suffering from dementia.

Culled from her four collections as well as a selection of new work, these poems, heartbreaking, funny, surprising and touching, explore the quirky, unexpected observations and bittersweet moments mothers and daughters share. 

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