Steve Kornacki, the political writer and MSNBC political analyst, will talk with WPNR personality Colin McEnroe on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. The State of the (Political) Union program is presented by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, and proceeds will benefit the center. General admission is $20; $15 for students and center members.
Kornacki has been a senior political writer at Salon.com and has written for the New York Observer, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Boston Globe, and The Daily Beast. He is the Monday anchor of the MSNBC program "MTP Daily." Information and tickets: HarrietBeecherStowe.org or 860-522-9258, ext. 317.
Authors At R.J. Julia
R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road., Madison, will offer several free talks, each beginning at 7 p.m. All require reservations: 203-245-3959 or rjjulia.com.
Chris Bohjalian, a best-selling Vermont novelist, will talk about his latest book, "The Guest Room" (Doubleday, $25.95), on Monday, Jan. 18. His 18 books include "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands," "The Sandcastle Girls," "Skeletons at the Feast," "The Double Bind," and "Midwives," a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and an Oprah's Book Club selection. "The Guest Room" is about a bachelor party gone very wrong, resulting in murder, a failed career and a devastated marriage.
A Spiritual Journey: A Local and Independent Author Event will present five authors of inspirational books on Tuesday, Jan. 19: "How to Permanently Erase Negative Self-Talk" (New Chapter Press, $19.95), advice on overcoming fears and self-doubt for a better life, by Emily Filloramo; "Tanis and the Magical Valley" (lulu.com, $9.99), about a girl who gains spiritual wisdom from Peru's Sacred Valley, translated by Laurie Friedler; "Travels with My Son: Journeys of the Heart" ( Laura Noe Communications, $19.95 by Laura Noe; "Roots 2 Wellness: Unearth the Root Cause of Dis-ease and Discover Your Route to Wellness" (CreateSpace, $16.95), by Janet Verney; and "Just Be: Your Path to Meditation and Awareness The Mindful Way to Love Your Life" (CreateSpace, $12.97), by Djm Sodergren.
Don Trenner will talk about his memoir, "Leave It to Me ... My Life in Music" (BearManor Media, $32.95) written with Tim Atherton, on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Trenner, a musical director, conductor, arranger and bebop pianist, played with many big bands and such stars as Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus and Ben Webster, and singers who include Anita O'Day, Vicki Carr, Dick Haymes and Jose Feliciano. He also was Ann-Margret's musical director for 18 years. While with the Les Brown Orchestra, he was Bob Hope's personal accompanist and occasional music director for seven years. He lives in Guilford and leads the Hartford Jazz Orchestra.
Adam von Gootkin will talk about "Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine's Journey to Revive the American Spirit" (Career Press, $15.99), on Thursday, Jan. 21. It is both a family story and business advice book about how he and his partners grew Onyx Spirits from a start-up to a multimillion-dollar, award-winning spirit distillery, with lessons for budding entrepreneurs. Onyx Moonshine will be sampled at the event.
The Author's Table
Gee Williams, author of "The Secret of Christopher Topher" (The Omen Experience, $9.99), a science fiction fantasy novel, will be at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St., Hartford, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17. Gee's debut novel is about Alex, a pre-teen nerd, who discovers seven scrolls in a sewer that lead him and his best friend, Karen, to encounter aliens, government officials and Catholic high priests, along with the mysterious Christopher Topher. Information: hplct.org.
Metcalf In Tolland
Dawn Metcalf, a Connecticut author who writes dark, quirky and often humorous young adult fiction, will give a free talk at the Tolland Town Hall about her fourth book, "Insidious" (Harlequin Teen, $9.99), which is the third installment of her series, "The Twixt." She will speak at 11 a.m. at the town hall, 21 Tolland Green, as part of the Tolland Public Library Foundation's Eaton-Dimock-King Authors Series.
The novel is about Joy Malone, her mysterious boyfriend, Indelible Ink, and his twin sister, Invisible Inq, and a dangerous mission to find a forgotten door between the Twixt and the human worlds. Registration is required: 860-871-3620 and tolland.org/library.
The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, will offer a free BOOK/MARK talk by David Silverman, president of American Atheists and author of "Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World" (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99), on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m.
His outspoken manifesto maintains that almost all agnostics are atheists, that America wrongly grants religion a privileged status, that Christian politicians have unconstitutionally attacked science, health, women's rights and gay rights, and that observing dangerous teachings and disproportionate violence in Islam is not "Islamophobia." Reservations: 860-247-0998 or marktwainhouse.com.
Members of the Connecticut River Poets, Guilford Poets Guild and Old Saybrook High School poets will read works inspired by the current Florence Griswold Museum exhibit, "The Artist in the Connecticut Landscape," on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. at the museum, 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme. The clarinet duo of David Cohen and Alan Kennedy will play music inspired by the art and poetry. Admission to the museum and the program is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 for students and free for those 12 or younger. Information: 860-434-5542.
Connecticut poet and Manchester Community College adjunct professor John L. Stanizzi will lead a free workshop on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave., Hartford. "Confronting Iniquity with Our Poetry" is part of the Riverwood Poetry Series and will explore how poets can find inspiration in current and past global problems.
The West End Poetry Series: Poetry In The Parlor/Poetry On The Porch will present a free program by JoAnne Bauer and Richard Deming on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. in a historic West End home at 150 Oxford St., Hartford. Guests are asked to bring a drink or dish to share. Information: 860-965-8800 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wintonbury Poetry Series will present "Exterior and Interior Landscapes," a free program with poets Joan Hofmann and Virginia Shreve, on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at P. Faith McMahon Wintonbury Library, 1015 Blue Hills Ave., Bloomfield. Hofmann is a professor of education at the University of St. Joseph and Poet Laureate of Canton. Shreve was last year's winner of the Naugatuck River Review's poetry contest. An open mike will follow. Information: 860-242-0041or prosserlibrary.info.
2016 Reading Challenge
Book Club Bookstore & More,100 Main. St. in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, offers monthly free, drop-in book discussions. On Thursday, Jan 21, at 6 p.m., there will be a discussion of "The Regulators" by Stephen King, and on Jan. 28, at 6 p.m., the subject will be "The Red Pony" by John Steinbeck.
The bookstore also is sponsoring a Read for the Stars 2016 Reading Challenge to encourage exploring many categories, such as a nonfiction book about science, a book adapted into a movie, historical fiction set before 1900, a book by an author you've seen in person and others. A check-in meeting will be held in June and those who complete the challenge by the end of 2016 will be eligible to win a year's worth of free books.
Information and full list of book categories: bookclubct.com and 860-623-5100.
'You Are Not Alone'
Sydney Sherman, a medium and author of "You Are Not Alone (Our Loved Ones Are Here ... You're Just Not Listening)" (Bart Bryant Productions, $19.99) will give a free talk on her beliefs about the afterlife and the contacts she claims to have with the spirit world at Hall Memorial Library, 93 Main St., Ellington, on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required: library.ellington-ct.gov and 860-870-3160.