In 2018, the steering committee shifted their focus slightly to authors currently touring to promote their latest work which led them to schedule Rick Bragg, author of “All Over but the Shoutin” to join them in March 2019.
Just before the event, Bragg became ill and was unable to travel. Instead of canceling the event, and with a nudge from Cioffi, he encouraged Roswell Reads to send volunteers to video his program.
“We came back and turned the footage into something like a little movie,” she said. “We offered people a refund if they wanted it, but we were able to show the movie and people loved it. Here he was larger than life on a screen. Rick Bragg was so generous to offer that option.”
Fortuitously, videotaping Bragg set the group up well for the pandemic years to follow. That same year, Roswell Reads added a fall edition of the program with Delia Owens, author of “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
“At that time her book had been number one for weeks and months, maybe a whole year,” said Cioffi. “Delia Owens was the book equivalent to Taylor Swift.”
Having sold out their 250 luncheon tickets for Rick Bragg, they knew they would need a much larger venue.
“The Roswell Cultural Arts Center was available to us,” added the Roswell Reads Chair. “We announced Delia Owens and in no time, I’m talking maybe a day or two, we had sold out the 600 seats of the center.”
Through a new cooperative agreement with the city and the Cultural Arts Center, Roswell Reads continues holding author-by-author ticketed events at the CAC.
“Roswell Reads is a program of Friends of the Roswell Library and in partnership with the Roswell Cultural Arts Center and Bookmiser,” notes Cioffi.
At the end of September, the group hosted William Kent Krueger in person to discuss his “The River We Remember.” His reading, discussion and writing workshop were also filmed.
Once a year the group offers a weekend opportunity to view all the videos (including writing workshops) they’ve recorded called Roswell Reads Rewind.
The literary group’s momentum is building with a big announcement for 2024 just weeks away.
In the meantime, Roswell Reads will host a free virtual discussion of Krueger’s novel at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Learn more and sign up for their newsletter at www.roswellreads.com.