Book Corner: Get a Backstage Pass to the Making of These Books

There is a certain thrill to hearing an author speak. It turns the author into a tangible human being, one who exists outside the pages of their book. You get a sense of their personality and who they are as a person. Plus, you often get an insider’s glimpse into their works, almost like a backstage pass to their writing. You get to hear first-hand stories of their research and the inspiration behind their narratives, and this makes reading their writing that more exciting and personal. This experience is magnified when you have the chance to hear an author who is well-known on a national or international level, like glimpsing a Hollywood star at the airport.

Luckily, you get to have these encounters regularly starting in July! Central Rappahannock Regional Library is launching the Library Speakers Consortium Author Talks, a range of online author talks from bestselling authors and thought leaders representing a wide variety of genres and topics. You can register to attend each talk live and even submit questions in advance for the author to address. If you can’t make the live talks, you’ll be able to watch the recordings later on. Visit, opens a new window to see the full lineup and register for the talks of your choice at no charge.

Here are the speakers and their books for July and August:

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, opens a new window by David Allen
Live talk: Thursday, July 14, 12:00 p.m.

First published in 2001 and since updated to reflect today’s technology and evolving work practices, Getting Things Done, or “GTD,” is the ultimate book on organizing one’s personal and professional lives. Management consultant and executive coach Allen provides a comprehensive set of tools for time management that leaves no stone—or task—unturned. His approach has generated an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, and more.

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, opens a new window by Marcia Chatelain
Live talk: Wednesday, August 3, 2:00 p.m.

Chatelain, in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, examines the fraught history of how fast food became one of the biggest generators of Black wealth in America. Fast-food restaurants are ubiquitous in Black neighborhoods and are often blamed for rising rates of obesity and diabetes among African Americans. How did this happen? In the tumultuous years after King’s assassination, fast food companies, Black capitalists, and civil rights leaders decided the answer to racial inequality and economically improving Black lives was the franchising of fast food restaurants by Black citizens in their own neighborhoods. Chatelain synthesizes years of research to tell this disconcerting success story of an industry that grew from a declining freedom movement.

The Beauty in Breaking, opens a new window by Michele Harper
Live talk: Monday, August 22, 9:00 p.m.

Harper, a female African American ER physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white, chronicles her experiences in this thought-provoking memoir. Growing up in an elite, yet abusive family in Washington, D.C., Harper went to Harvard, where she and her husband met and stayed together through medical school. Two months before Harper was scheduled to start at a Philadelphia hospital, her husband ended their marriage. Harper had to begin her new life in a new city alone while learning to become a competent ER physician. Navigating trauma in herself and her patients, as well as racial microaggressions, Harper recognizes that each of us is broken in some way. Yet she also witnesses incredible resilience in her patients and is able to begin her own process of self-healing through yoga and meditation.

The Henna Artist, opens a new window by Alka Joshi
Live talk: Thursday, July 7, 9:00 p.m.

In Joshi’s New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, 17-year-old Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage and makes her way to 1950s Jaipur. There, she becomes a highly sought-after henna artist and confidante to the women of the upper class. Keeping her own secrets close, Lakshmi pursues her dreams of independence until her husband tracks her down years later, threatening her carefully constructed life. Joshi, in her talk, will share her inspirations for The Henna Artist and its sequel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, opens a new window, as well as what it’s been like working on creating a Netflix series based on her books.

Long Bright River, opens a new window by Liz Moore
Live talk: Tuesday, August 9, 9:00 p.m.

Drawing on deeply personal volunteer work, Moore tells a story of suspense of two sisters, one a police officer and the other living in a haze of addiction. In Philadelphia, Mickey patrols the streets on which her sister Kacey lives, constantly keeping an eye out for her estranged sibling’s whereabouts. Then Kacey disappears during a series of mysterious murders, and Mickey fears her sister might have fallen victim to a serial killer that has been targeting young women in Mickey’s district. Mickey’s investigation leads her deep into the opioid crisis gripping her city and to corrupt police officers who were either involved in the murders or ignored them.

Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact, opens a new window by Liz Wiseman
Live talk: Thursday, August 25, 12:00 p.m.

New York Times-best selling author, researcher, and executive adviser Wiseman addresses the question, “Why do some people break through and make an impact while others get stuck going through the motions?” The impact players are those who can be counted on in critical situations and consistently receive high-profile assignments. It’s not always obvious what sets them apart from everyone else, so Wiseman draws from insights from leaders at top companies to reveal what impact players do differently and how this mindset is available to everyone who wants to perform at their peak.

Treat yourself! Sign up for Summer Reading at, opens a new window for the chance to win weekly drawings and grand prizes.

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.