Author Events

Ellie Laks - Cow Hug Therapy

Left Bank Books and The Gentle Barn presents Ellie Laks, founder of the Gentle Barn Foundation, an animal communicator, TEDx speaker, educator, and author. Join us as we celebrate and discuss Cow Hug Therapy: How the Animals at the Gentle Barn Taught Me about Life, Death, and Everything in Between. This book is the inspirational story of the compassionate and wise animals of the Gentle Barn and how they became a therapeutic salve for countless guests. Christina Applegate says, "This book shows not only the power of Cow Hug Therapy with these wonderful creatures, but also their beautiful, individual personalities, which are evident when you meet them."

Laks will personalize and sign copies after the presentation! Personalized and signed copies will be available to be mailed anywhere in the country. For personalized copies, please order before noon on June 13th.

Join us at Left Bank Books
399 N. Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Watch the livestream on Left Bank Books' YouTube Page
Please RSVP for this event


About the Speaker

Ellie Laks is the founder of the Gentle Barn Foundation, a national organization that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted animals and heals people with histories of trauma. She is an animal communicator, TEDx speaker, educator, and author. Ellie lives at the Gentle Barn's California location with her partner, Jay Weiner, who runs the organization with her. They have three children and hundreds of animals.


About Cow Hug Therapy: How the Animals at the Gentle Barn Taught Me about Life, Death, and Everything in Between


The inspirational story of the compassionate and wise animals of the Gentle Barn and how they became a therapeutic salve for countless guests -- and mentors for all of us in how to live and die

In Cow Hug Therapy, Ellie Laks recounts the extraordinary journey that started with her first teacher, Buddha -- not the religious figure, but a rescued miniature Hereford cow. One evening Buddha wrapped her neck around an exhausted and upset Ellie and transferred a singular form of healing and comfort with an incredible impact. Understanding that this was something to be shared with others, Ellie developed Cow Hug Therapy, a groundbreaking approach to emotional healing that has proved effective for trauma, illness, disabilities, addiction, grief, and stress.

This colorful and compelling narrative introduces the healing mavens of the barnyard, each with a unique story of being rescued from trauma and treated with love and respect. In their new role at Ellie's Gentle Barn sanctuaries, these animals have transformed lives and ignited breakthroughs and newfound purpose for visitors including a young mother who lost her baby, a suicidal teenager, a wounded serviceman, an open-heart-surgery patient, and many more. A testament to empathy and the mission to heal animals, people, and the planet, Cow Hug Therapy serves as a beacon of hope for all seeking healing and connection.


Review Quotes:
"Our society is slowly waking up to the plight of animals, and more and more are taking steps to help wherever they can. We are acknowledging that animals have feelings, wants, and needs, much like our own, and animals are now much more like family members than ever before. But animals are also our healers, teachers, and witnesses. This is illustrated beautifully in Ellie Laks's book Cow Hug Therapy, in which she shares stories of some of her wisest and most resilient rescued animals at the Gentle Barn and relays their messages of hope."
-- Montel Williams

"Many years ago, when my daughter was about three years old, we went to the Gentle Barn for the first time. We had heard so many wonderful things about this sanctuary, but I don't think any of us knew what we would experience. A peacock hanging with pigs and llamas and sheep -- I was blown away! But the thing that has stuck with me, and why we go back so much, is cow hugging. At first, I was trepidatious because they were so large and powerful. . .yet they're gentle. Ellie said, 'Lay your heart on them, ' and I felt a sense of calm I had never felt in my life. I've had a lot of traumas, but at that moment, my heartbeat matched their rhythm, and I could breathe. The most amazing moment, however, was watching my tiny daughter who has a lot of energy and ADHD. She lay upon one of the cows and closed her eyes, and she was at peace. So for the past ten years, we have gone to the Gentle Barn whenever possible, especially when feeling lost, scared, or sad, and we know that these moments heal our hearts. Ellie and Jay and all the volunteers at the Gentle Barn have dedicated their lives not only to loving and caring for these incredible animals, but to caring for us as well. Dare I say they're angels? I was recently diagnosed with MS, and we made a trip there, and I actually left walking better. Thank you, cows. This book shows not only the power of Cow Hug Therapy with these wonderful creatures, but also their beautiful, individual personalities, which are evident when you meet them. I hope this book shows you how much of a blessing cows -- and all creatures -- are to our planet."
-- Christina Applegate

"I love animals, and, like Ellie Laks, I want to see a world where animals can live their own lives, free from human harm. Ellie's book gives us the reasons why this is necessary and possible. In the stories of her rescued animals, it is clear that they have personalities, intelligence, and the capacity for profound emotions. The remarkable animals in her book teach us how to be better and happier humans. Cow Hug Therapy helps us all fall more deeply in love with animals, life, and ourselves. It's a must-read for anyone who loves animals like I do, or for anyone walking their own path of self-discovery. I have been to the Gentle Barn many times and leave feeling more uplifted every time. This book is like a private tour of the Gentle Barn and a love story about these animals, all of whom are majestic, wise healers."
-- Moby

"Nonhuman animals need all the help they can get in an increasingly human-dominated world. The animals at the Gentle Barn are most fortunate to have Ellie Laks and her dedicated and tireless coworkers take care of them and give them a voice and much better lives than they previously had. Cows are highly emotional and sentient beings who deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Cow Hug Therapy clearly shows that when we care for other animals and honor who they are and what they need, we also profit, a win-win for all. This is a wonderful book and I hope it enjoys a global audience because its main messages and life lessons also apply to countless other animals who are used and abused in the name of humans."
-- Marc Bekoff, PhD, University of Colorado, author of Dogs Demystified and The Emotional Lives of Animals

Cow Hug Therapy by Ellie Laks should come with a warning: Tissue Alert! As you read this book, you will be transported into our original childlike wonder of the world where we hoped to wake up with a circle of cows around us, meditating and accepting us for all that we are. While reading this book, you'll shed tears that are a beautiful and necessary jumble of joy, sadness, and awakening. Ellie's stories read like a mix of a modern-day mystical-barnyard Beatrix Potter and James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. The characterizations of these individual bigger-than-life cows are true to form. I know because I've been fortunate enough to have a friendship with Ellie and Karma. Every story is a delight, and the chapters progress through each of the cows who shaped Ellie and the evolution of the Gentle Barn. I so wish I had met Buddha, the cow who accidentally started Cow Hug Therapy."
-- Joan Ranquet, animal communicator, author, TEDx speaker, and founder of Communication with All Life University

"Ellie Laks's experiences show readers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, the benefits of the human-animal bond extend to species beyond our domesticated pet dogs and cats. Relationships with cattle, horses, pigs, etc., are one of the most underutilized 'natural resources' because these animals are every bit as capable of having deep, meaningful connections with people. Cow Hug Therapy clearly demonstrates their advanced emotional and intellectual intelligence, as well as their resilience. I was most moved by Ellie's personal stories that involved people experiencing or overcoming severe hardship forming bonds with animals that also had abusive pasts. This read is perfect for anyone who appreciates being reminded of what's really important in life. At the very least, it clearly demonstrates why all our domesticated animals deserve to live humane lives."
-- Evan Antin, DVM

Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 7:00pm

Daniel Silva - A Death in Cornwall (Ticketed Event)

Daniel Silva

St. Louis County Library Foundation and Left Bank Books Present
An Evening with #1 Bestselling Novelist Daniel Silva

Author of “A Death in Cornwall”

Daniel Silva has been called his generation’s finest writer of international intrigue and one of the greatest American spy novelists ever.  With “A Death in Cornwall,” Silva presents the year’s most anticipated thriller. In this latest fast-paced international thriller starring art restorer and secret agent Gabriel Allon, a brutal murder and a missing masterpiece lead to a dangerous hunt across Europe.

Ticket Information

Tickets can be purchased starting May 11 through Eventbrite. Seating will be offered on a first come, first served basis.  A book signing line will follow the presentation. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Books provided by Left Bank Books.

Favorite (with a blue quill through the letter O) Author in brown text Series in blue on white


Daniel Silva is the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, The Defector, The Rembrandt Affair, Portrait of a Spy, The Fallen Angel, The English Girl, The Heist, The English Spy, The Black Widow, House of Spies, The Other Woman, The New Girl, The Order, and The Collector. He is best known for his long-running thriller series starring spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon. Silva's books are critically acclaimed bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than thirty languages.


A brutal murder, a missing masterpiece, a mystery only Gabriel Allon can solve . . .

Art restorer and legendary spy Gabriel Allon has slipped quietly into London to attend a reception at the Courtauld Gallery celebrating the return of a stolen self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh. But when an old friend from the Devon and Cornwall Police seeks his help with a baffling murder investigation, he finds himself pursuing a powerful and dangerous new adversary.

The victim is Charlotte Blake, a celebrated professor of art history from Oxford who spends her weekends in the same seaside village where Gabriel once lived under an assumed identity. Her murder appears to be the work of a diabolical serial killer who has been terrorizing the Cornish countryside. But there are a number of telltale inconsistencies, including a missing mobile phone. And then there is the mysterious three-letter cypher she left behind on a notepad in her study.

Gabriel soon discovers that Professor Blake was searching for a looted Picasso worth more than a $100 million, and he takes up the chase for the painting as only he can--with six Impressionist canvases forged by his own hand and an unlikely team of operatives that includes a world-famous violinist, a beautiful master thief, and a lethal contract killer turned British spy. The result is a stylish and wildly entertaining mystery that moves at lightning speed from the cliffs of Cornwall to the enchanted island of Corsica and, finally, to a breathtaking climax on the very doorstep of 10 Downing Street.

Supremely elegant and suspenseful, A Death in Cornwall is Daniel Silva at his best--a dazzling tale of murder, power, and insatiable greed that will hold readers spellbound until they turn the final page.

Friday, July 19, 2024 - 7:00pm

Mo Rocca - Roctogenarians (Ticketed Event) **SOLD OUT**

Mo Rocca

St. Louis County Library Foundation and Left Bank Books Present
An Evening with Journalist and Humorist Mo Rocca

Author of “Roctogenarians: Late in Life Debuts, Comebacks, and Triumphs”


In Conversation with TBD

Bestselling author and beloved CBS “Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca presents an inspiring collection of stories that celebrates the triumphs of people who made their biggest marks late in life. Rocca introduces us to an amazing cast of characters who peaked when they could have been puttering—breaking out as writers, selling out concert halls, and attempting to set land-speed records. With passion and wonder Rocca recounts the stories of yesterday’s and today’s strongest finishers. Because with all due respect to the Golden Girls, some people will never be content sitting out on the lanai.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024
7:00 p.m.
(Doors open at 6:00 p.m.)

Ticket Information

Tickets can be purchased starting May 3 through Eventbrite. Seating will be offered on a first come, first served basis.  A book signing session will follow the presentation. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.


Books provided by Left Bank Books.

Favorite (with a blue quill through the letter O) Author in brown text Series in blue on white


Mo Rocca is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, host of the hit Mobituaries podcast, and host of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation. He's also a frequent panelist on NPR's hit weekly quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! and host and creator of Cooking Channel's My Grandmother's Ravioli. Rocca is coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving and author of All the Presidents' Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over.


From beloved CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and humorist Mo Rocca, an entertaining and rigorously researched book that celebrates the dead people who have long fascinated him.

Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries--reading about the remarkable lives of global leaders, Hollywood heavyweights, and innovators who changed the world. But not every notable life has gotten the send-off it deserves. His quest to right that wrong inspired Mobituaries, his #1 hit podcast. Now with Mobituaries, the book, he has gone much further, with all new essays on artists, entertainers, sports stars, political pioneers, founding fathers, and more. Even if you know the names, you've never understood why they matter...until now.

Take Herbert Hoover: before he was president, he was the "Great Humanitarian," the man who saved tens of millions from starvation. But after less than a year in the White House, the stock market crashed, and all the good he had done seemed to be forgotten. Then there's Marlene Dietrich, well remembered as a screen goddess, less remembered as a great patriot. Alongside American servicemen on the front lines during World War II, she risked her life to help defeat the Nazis of her native Germany. And what about Billy Carter and history's unruly presidential brothers? Were they ne'er-do-well liabilities...or secret weapons? Plus, Mobits for dead sports teams, dead countries, the dearly departed station wagon, and dragons. Yes, dragons.

Rocca is an expert researcher and storyteller. He draws on these skills here. With his dogged reporting and trademark wit, Rocca brings these men and women back to life like no one else can. Mobituaries is an insightful and unconventional account of the people who made life worth living for the rest of us, one that asks us to think about who gets remembered, and why.


Review Quotes:
"Once again Mo Rocca delivers a funny and smart offering whilst punning off his first name." --Jon Stewart

"I'm dead keen to read it and alive with joy at not being included."-- P. J. O'Rourke, author of, most recently, None of My Business

"In our fact-challenged times, Rocca's joyful tour through the "didja know"s of history is an unexpected antidote."--T he New Yorker

"There's an attention to detail in Rocca's book (which he penned with college friend and current professor Jonathan Greenberg) that makes it readable in both long and short bursts....You can pick up the book for a few minutes or an entire afternoon and have a satisfying experience."-- Forbes

"[Mo Rocca's obituaries have] a rare and welcome generosity of spirit...They revisit people who died long ago but were denied full appreciation. They're exhumation as celebration. -- Frank Bruni, New York Times Opinion Columnist

"With wit, exuberance and a touch of mischievousness, Mobituaries provides fascinating facts for all ages."-- Shelf Awareness


Wednesday, June 26, 2024 - 7:00pm