The Contra Costa County Library’s countywide reading program called Read Contra Costa begins today (October 1.). This year's book is, “Portrait of a Thief” by Grace D. Li. The novel is about a high-stakes heist and is inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums. The story involves an inexperienced group of thieves who agree to try and recover the stolen art in exchange for $50 million.
Read Contra Costa is an annual event that encourages all county residents and library users to share the experience of reading and discussing the same book. The program includes several virtual events that complement the themes in the book, as well as an interview with the author. Read Contra Costa runs from October 1 through November 15.
The book was chosen for this year’s program after an online vote by library patrons. Earlier this year, patrons were given the opportunity to vote on the book they wanted to read from a pool of six. When the votes were tallied, “Portrait of a Thief,” was the clear winner.
Grace D. Li is a full-time medical student and author. Her book is a New York Times Bestseller, a Steph Curry Book Club Pick, and called one of the most anticipated books of the year by Buzzfeed, NBC News and the Washington Post.
“The book is a fun page-turner that hooks you in from the opening pages,” said Deputy County Librarian Lynne Noone. “It has clever heists, fast cars and smart character development, making it a great read that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.”
Some of the virtual programs offered as part of this year’s program include a mystery writers panel discussion, a presentation from two FBI Special Agents about their work with the FBI Art Crime Team, a discussion with the director of the UK-based Institute of Art and Law about the theft of genuine cultural artifacts and the efforts to recover them, and an interview with the author, Grace D. Li. In the interview, she discusses the book and the Netflix deal to develop a series based on the book. Registration links and descriptions of each event are available at ccclib.org/read-contra-costa.
The book is available in hardback, eBook and eAudiobook formats. Place a hold and pick up the book at any of the 26 branches in Contra Costa County or read or listen to the book on your smart device using the Libby app by OverDrive.