Open Book / Open Mind is MPL’s live conversation series of top authors discussing their new books and the important events of our time. We transitioned to a webcast format during the lockdown in April 2020, featuring Jonathan Alter, Peter Baker, Ada Calhoun, Susan Glasser, Alice Hoffman, Christina Baker Kline, Michael Schmidt and Jesse Wegman.
Please use the blue navigation buttons above to learn more about the beginning of the series in 2015 and to view a complete annotated list of programs with YouTube links for each year, including Isabel Allende, Nathan Englander, Jacqueline Woodson, Katy Tur, Maureen Dowd, Tayari Jones, Anna Quindlen, Lawrence O’Donnell, Alan Cumming and so many more.
Our events are usually scheduled on Sundays at 4 p.m. or Thursdays at 7 p.m., and now take place online through GoToWebinar (similar to Zoom). We will remain virtual until large gatherings become safe again. Most programs are free to the public, some include a fee, but all require registration. All books are available for sale by our partner, watchung booksellers, which offers free curbside pickup in Montclair, and to borrow from MPL. For more information, contact MPL programming librarian Ariel Zeitlin.
Sunday, January 10, 2021, 4 p.m. Ann Patchett; “The Dutch House.” In conversation with Jeanine Cummins (“American Dirt”). A longtime New York Times bestseller by the lyrical award-winning author of “Commonwealth,” “Bel Canto” and “State of Wonder.” “Patchett’s concern here, as in much of her fiction, is with the often unconventional families we cobble together….you won’t want to put down this engrossing, warmhearted book even after you’ve read the last page.”—NPR
View the video on MonclairLib, our YouTube channel
Thursday, February 11, 7 p.m. Charles Blow; “The Devil You Know.” In conversation with Jim Johnson, former chair of the Brennan Center for Social Justice. A New York Times bestseller. “‘The Devil You Know’ [is New York Times columnist] Charles Blow’s own declaration of radical thought — for Black Americans to reconsider their Great Migration North and imagine new possibilities of Black political might…throughout the book, Blow grounds his ideas in this central question: ‘What could and should Black people do to acquire and maintain the economic and political power — for the many, not just for the few — that the Great Migration failed to secure?’”—NPR
View the video on MonclairLib, our YouTube channel
Monday, February 22, 2021, 7 p.m. Isabel Wilkerson; “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” In conversation with NYU journalism professor Rachel Swarns (“American Tapestry”). A #1 New York Times bestseller by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Warmth of Other Suns.” “An instant American classic about our abiding national sin…how brutal misperceptions about race have disfigured the American experiment”—The New York Times
The video will be posted soon on MontclairLib, our YouTube channel
Sunday, February 28, 4 p.m. Gabrielle Glaser; “American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption.” In conversation with bestselling novelist and editor Benilde Little. “‘American Baby’ tracks the unconscionable losses incurred by one woman and child. But it’s a reminder of how routinely and ruthlessly this country has stripped its most vulnerable populations of the things that matter most…The intimate story of Glaser’s subjects makes her book compelling, but the societal dots she’s able to connect make it important.”—The Washington Post
View the video on MontclairLib, our YouTube channel
Sunday, March 21, 4 p.m. Elizabeth Kolbert; “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” In conversation with fellow environmentalist writer Michelle Nijhuis (“Beloved Beasts”). Co-sponsored by Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival. “Pulitzer-winner Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction) [employs]…immersive journalism (which involves being hit by a jumping carp, observing coral sex, and watching as millennia-old ice is pulled from the ice sheets of Greenland) [to] make apparent the challenges of ‘the whole-earth transformation’ currently underway. This investigation of global change is brilliantly executed and urgently necessary.”—Publishers Weekly
Thursday, April 22, 7 p.m. Quiara Alegría Hudes; “My Broken Language: A Memoir.” In conversation with Elena Martinez, co-artistic director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center. “A Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright [best known for writing the book to ‘In the Heights’] presents a tender yet defiant tale about finding strength in one’s roots. In this elegant and moving memoir, Hudes begins with her upbringing in Puerto Rico and Philadelphia, examining the complexities involved in negotiating two distinct worlds early on.”—Kirkus Reviews
Thursday, May 6, 7 p.m. Jhumpa Lahiri; “Whereabouts.” “The latest from Pulitzer winner Lahiri (‘The Interpreter of Maladies’) is a meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension. The unnamed narrator, a single, middle-aged woman, lives a quiet life in an unnamed Italian city, ambling between cafes and storefronts, dinner parties with friends, and a leisurely career as a writer and teacher….Throughout, Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display. This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations, and longings of solitude and remembrance.”—Publishers Weekly
Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m. Barry Meier; “Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies.” In conversation with Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo News. “A former New York Times reporter and a member of the paper’s team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, Meier here exposes the big business that is private spying today…Want dirt on your enemies? No problem! It’s cheaper and easier than ever, as these spies stare into our private lives, checking out our emails and shaping what we see on social media, and dangerously influence political elections.”—Library Journal
We are grateful to all of the wonderful authors, conversation partners, library staffers, and, of course, viewers who made our first virtual season of Open Book / Open Mind such a success in 2020.
Open Book / Open Mind is presented by the Montclair Public Library through the generous financial support of The Montclair Public Library Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, and The Investors Foundation.
And, as always, the series is made possible by the support of the Open Book / Open Mind Advisory Board: Co-chairs and series founders Jennifer Dorr and David Jones; Jonathan Alter, Neal Carruth, Ivan Held, Marc Lacey, DT Max, Margot Sage-el, Rachel Swarns, Kate Tuttle, Juan Milà, Susan Weinberg, and Abby West.