Read Contra Costa Brings You Portrait of a Thief

Submitted by CCCL_TeresaR

The process of bringing Read Contra Costa to the community begins with a season’s worth of reading. Our library team meets in January to compile a list of the best books from every genre. Over the next few months, we meet regularly to talk about which of those books to present to the community. By springtime we finalize our list and ask the public to vote for their favorite title. This year’s choice is the best-selling debut novel Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li, which is inspired by the true story of ancient artifacts looted from China.    

It's been exciting to plan virtual programs that we hope will expand the discussion of themes in Li’s book. Please join us from October 15 through November 15 for our series of online events. From London, we are presenting the director of the United Kingdom-based Institute of Art and Law, Alexander Herman, who is an expert on restitution of stolen cultural artifacts. We’re delighted to feature mystery writers Rachel Howzell Hall, Margaret Lucke, Simon Wood who will be in conversation about their craft with UC Berkeley Librarian Randal Brandt. We’ll also hear from two FBI agents that work on national and international art crime cases; and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will discuss the hidden meanings in Chinese art. Our virtual community book discussion on Zoom will provide a place to unpack and explore together because talking about books helps boost a love of reading and community. Dates, times, and full descriptions of each event are available here or by visiting, opens a new window

Portrait of a Thief is Grace Li’s first novel, and it quickly became a best seller. The book has also been optioned by Netflix. Li is a graduate of Duke University, where she studied biology and creative writing. She currently attends medical school at Stanford University. Her hospital schedule is daunting, but she is taking time to meet with us at CCTV studios for an interview. You will be able to view the recorded interview starting on November 15 on our YouTube channel and on CCTV.    

We would also like to thank the Friends of the Brentwood and Pleasant Hill libraries for their financial support in bringing these programs to you.