Published May 18, 2020

Over halfway through May, we still have plenty of virtual programming for you to enjoy this month, including NEWLY ADDED speakers in our SHELF LIFE series, every Tuesday and Thursday at noon (EDT), livestreamed on Zoom and Facebook… 

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

Thursday, May 28 at Noon

Leah ‘n Lulu’s Virtual Picnic: Environmental writing in your own backyard

Join poet Leah Naomi Green (The More Extravagant Feast) and author Lulu Miller (Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life) for a one-of-a-kind virtual event all about the natural world. They will give brief readings, ask each other a few questions, share a short nature writing prompt, and take questions from the audience. Attendees are invited to pick up pencil and paper, if you like, and take part in the virtual event from an outdoor spot—a park, yard, porch, or even while on a hike—immersing yourself in nature as you consider its role in writing.

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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