Published April 30, 2020

Join us in May for the ongoing SHELF LIFE series from the Virginia Festival of the Book, featuring virtual author events every Tuesday and Thursday at noon (EDT), livestreamed on Zoom and Facebook… 

Tuesday, May 5 at Noon

Loft Wordplay and Virginia Festival of the Book host Deb Olin Unferth and Jeff VanderMeer

In her latest Deb Olin Unferth (Barn 8) wryly takes on animal activism with a heist at a chicken farm. Jeff VanderMeer (Dead Astronauts), in his signature cli-fi style, builds a world in the shadow of a nefarious company where strange animals and happenings abound. Both Unferth and VanderMeer use fiction to examine the shortcomings of capitalism, the inherent greed rampant in the world, and the ways in which humans are failing the earth. Join us as these writers discuss how urgent environmental concerns impact and inspire their work. This event is presented in partnership with Loft Wordplay and moderated by Amanda Korman.

Thursday, May 7 at Noon

A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: Jason DeParle in conversation with Dan Doernberg

Join author Jason DeParle as he discusses his newest book, A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: Family and Migration in the 21st Century, in conversation with Dan Doernberg. “This is epic reporting, nonfiction on a whole other level… One of the best books on immigration written in a generation.”—Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted

Tuesday, May 12 at Noon

The Mindfulness Room: Amanda Lynch in conversation with Mack McLellan, Jr.

Join Amanda Lynch, author of The Mindfulness Room, and Mack McLellan, Jr., for a conversation about self-care, mindfulness, and restorative justice—for children and adults alike. “Guided by her own experience teaching mindfulness, Lynch has written a lovely guide to mindfulness for children. Beautifully illustrated and cleverly written, The Mindfulness Room helps both children and adults see the value of teaching mindfulness skills… This is a great resource for anyone who is interested in sharing some peace and calm with stressed-out kids.”—Holly Rogers, Duke University psychiatrist

Thursday, May 14 at Noon

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr: Laura Lee Gulledge in conversation with Amber Loyacano

Join author and illustrator Laura Lee Gulledge as she discusses her new graphic novel, The Dark Matter of Mona Starr, with Amber Loyacano. “Heartfelt, emotionally vulnerable, and visually stunning, The Dark Matter of Mona Starr is a story that takes the inner life of a teenager seriously, while giving readers a new way to look at the universal quest for meaning and connection.”—Amulet

Tuesday, May 19 at Noon

Ordinary Girls: Jaquira Díaz in conversation with Sharon Harrigan

Join author Jaquira Díaz as she discusses her memoir, Ordinary Girls, with Sharon Harrigan. “Every once in a while, a truly electric debut memoir comes along, and this fall, Ordinary Girls is it. It’s the story of an ordinary girl; it’s the story of all of the extraordinary girls. Díaz is a skilled writer; the depth of layering is strong, from the details to the larger structures of identity, white supremacy, colonialism, and brown, queer, and femme resilience and resistance.”—BuzzFeed

Thursday, May 21 at Noon

Cool Beans: Joe Yonan in conversation with Sally Swift

Join cookbook author and dining editor of The Washington Post Joe Yonan as he discusses his new cookbook, Cool Beans, with Sally Swift, co-creator of The Splendid Table. “This is the bean bible we need.”—Bon Appétit

Tuesday, May 26 at Noon

Everywhere You Don’t Belong: Gabriel Bump in conversation with Abby Palko

Join debut novelist Gabriel Bump as he discusses his book, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, with Abby Palko. “A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work… Bump’s meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are, is handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.”—Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review

In order to fully participate in any event, please register in advance so that you can ask questions and take part via Zoom. You may also choose to simply watch the event livestreamed on the Virginia Festival of the Book’s Facebook page.

During most (but not all) events, there will be some time for audience questions, so if you have any please type them into Zoom’s question feature, below the live screen.

Finally, whenever possible, we strongly encourage you to support your local booksellers and libraries by buying or borrowing Shelf Life featured books:

  • To find a local bookseller near you and purchase books online or by phone, visit
  • To find a library near you and explore lending collections, visit

SHELF LIFE is presented as part of #HumanitiesAtHome from Virginia Humanities

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