Open Book / Open Mind is MPL’s live conversation series of top authors discussing their new books and the important events of our time, originally founded by Montclair residents Jennifer Dorr and David Jones in 2015, and now co-chaired by Jones and Kate Tuttle. Open Book / Open Mind went online in 2020 during the pandemic, and Fall 2022 will be the series’ first season of hybrid programming; guests can attend events in person or livestream on Zoom (Covid permitting). All books are available for sale by our partner, watchung booksellers in Montclair, and to borrow from MPL. For more information, contact MPL librarian Ariel Zeitlin.
Over the past few years, Open Book / Open Mind has hosted Isabel Wilkerson, Ann Patchett, Jhumpa Lahiri, Charles Blow, Alice Hoffman, Christina Baker Kline, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Roach, Ada Calhoun, Elizabeth Kolbert, Michael Schmidt, Jonathan Alter, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, Jesse Wegman, Lawrence Wright, and more. We’ve drawn as many as 500 or 750 for virtual events, including attendees from 35 states outside New Jersey as well as Canada, Mexico, Europe, the UK, the Caribbean, Thailand and New Zealand.
Please use the blue navigation buttons above to learn more about the history of Open Book / Open Mind in 2015 and to view a complete annotated list of programs with YouTube links for each year.
Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m. Laurie Lico Albanese, “Hester.” In conversation with Alice Elliott Dark (“Fellowship Point”). Attend in person or livestream on Zoom. Two distinguished fiction writers delve into Abanese’s new historical novel, which reimagines the sources of “The Scarlet Letter” from the heroine’s point of view. “A standout historical… Even those unfamiliar with the classic will be hooked by this account of a capable woman standing up to the sexist and racial prejudices of her time.” —Publishers Weekly
Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m. Evan Mandery, “Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us.” In conversation with Dale Russakoff (“The Prize: Who’s In Charge of America’s Schools”). Attend in person or livestream on Zoom. Mandery, an author, filmmaker, professor at John Jay College of Justice, and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, discusses his outspoken critique of Ivy-plus admissions policies with Russakoff, a longtime former reporter at The Washington Post. “A potent investigation into how elite colleges and universities in the U.S. perpetuate economic inequalities and fail to properly address the country’s ongoing racial divide.”—Kirkus Reviews
Thursday, September 29, at 7 p.m. Alice Elliott Dark, “Fellowship Point.” In conversation with Christina Baker Kline (“The Exiles,” “Piece of the World,” “Orphan Train”). Attend in person or livestream on Zoom. Dark, a professor of writing at Rutgers-Newark, will discuss her long-awaited instant classic about lifelong friendship, reunion and the world’s few remaining wild places with bestselling novelist Kline. “Enthralling, masterfully written . . . “Fellowship Point” is a novel rich with social and psychological insights, both earnest and sly, big ideas grounded in individual emotions, a portrait of a tightly knit community made up of artfully drawn, individual souls.”–New York Times Book Review
Thursday, October 13, at 7 p.m. Maggie Haberman, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” In conversation with Jonathan Alter, an award-winning author and political analyst. Attend in person at The Congregationalist Church of Montclair or livestream on Zoom. Debuted as a #1 New York Times bestseller. The Pulitzer-winning journalist known for her deep Washington sources will talk with Alter about her controversial new book on the 45th president, from his origins in Queens to the making of January 6, 2021 and beyond. “Over the past four years, Maggie Haberman has probably been the single reporter Donald Trump has most wanted to wish out of existence.”—The Daily Beast
Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. Tom Perrotta, “Tracy Flick Can’t Win.” In conversation with Elisabeth Egan of The New York Times Book Review. The acclaimed novelist talks with a top critic about the sequel to his bestseller, “Election,” the basis for the hit movie with Reese Witherspoon in the iconic role of Tracy Flick. “[A] sharp and perfectly executed story of frustrated ambition…This is the rare sequel that lives up to the original.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Thursday, May 5, at 7 p.m. Katherine Heiny, “Early Morning Riser.” In conversation with Kate Tuttle of The Boston Globe. Co-presented by Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival. A New York Times bestseller. “When you enter a relationship with a man who has had relations with, well, half the town, things will probably get weird. Jane, the star of Heiny’s offbeat and funny new novel, falls for Duncan — who comes with an oversize load of small-town baggage. The story…sparkles with Heiny’s trademark witticisms and cutting observations.”—Washington Post
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April 7, at 7 p.m. Ben Raines, “The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning.” In conversation with Sowandé Mustakeem (“Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage”) of Washington University. Raines, a journalist, filmmaker and charter captain discusses his discovery of the wreck of the Clotilda, which brought enslaved people from Africa to Alabama fifty years after the transAtlantic slave trade had been outlawed, with Mustakeem, an associate professor of history and African American studies. “The fast-paced narrative begins with the voyage and follows the Clotilda’s survivors beyond the Civil War….Raines vividly conjures the watery landscape into which the Africans stepped… Knowledge of these waterways also led Raines to locate the Clotilda in a place previous searchers had ignored.” — The New York Times
Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m. Patrick Radden Keefe, “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.” In conversation with D.T. Max. Two New Yorker staff writers discuss a longtime New York Times bestseller that appeared on virtually every “Best Books” list for 2021. In Keefe’s “engrossing and deeply reported book about the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma…[which] created Oxycontin, the opioid introduced in the mid-90s that sent a wave of addiction and death across the country….In [Keefe’s] hands, their story becomes a great American morality tale about unvarnished greed dressed in ostentatious philanthropy.” —The New York Times
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Thursday, February 10, 7 p.m. Jeremy Peters; “Insurgency: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted.” In conversation with David Halbfinger of The New York Times. A longtime New York Times correspondent and frequent MSNBC contributor discusses his new book on the transformation of the GOP with the political editor of the Times. “A bracing account of how the party of Lincoln and Reagan was hijacked by gadflies and grifters who reshaped their movement into becoming an anti-democratic cancer that attacked the U.S. Capitol.”—Joe Scarborough, MSNBC
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Tuesday, January 25, 7 p.m. Caitlin Petre; “All the News That’s Fit to Click: How Metrics Are Transforming the Work of Journalists.” In conversation with Andrew Marantz (“Antisocial”) of The New Yorker. Co-presented by The N.J. Society for Professional Journalists. An assistant professor of journalism at Rutgers takes us behind the scenes to probe the effects of “performance metrics” on the news cycle. “Content may be king, but to determine what content is produced, media businesses are increasingly turning to metrics. Caitlin Petre is a keen and incisive observer of the way metrics-driven systems, surveillance, and analysis have infiltrated newsrooms, and what the effects have been for workers, journalism, and democracy.”―Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble”
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Thursday, January 13, 7 p.m. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Jake Silverstein, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story.” In conversation with David Troutt of the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity. A Harvard professor and the editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine, two major contributors to the landmark reframing of American history, discuss this #1 New York Times bestseller with a Rutgers law professor and scholar. “[‘The 1619 Project’ is] a powerful and memorable work, one that launched a seismic national debate over the legacy of slavery and enduring racial injustice in American life.”—The Washington Post
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We are grateful to all of the wonderful authors, conversation partners, library staffers, and, of course, viewers who make Open Book / Open Mind Online such a success.
We extend our special thanks to the Open Book / Open Mind Advisory Committee: Co-chairs David Jones and Kate Tuttle; Jonathan Alter, Neal Carruth, Alice Elliott Dark, Jennifer Dorr, Priya Doraswamy, Elisabeth Egan, Dionne Ford, Marc Lacey, DT Max, Dale Russakoff, Juan Milà, Margot Sage-el, Rachel Swarns, Kate Tuttle, and Susan Weinberg.
Open Book / Open Mind is presented by the Montclair Public Library through the generous financial support of The Montclair Public Library Foundation, The Investors Foundation, and watchung booksellers. Many thanks to our generous in-kind sponsors, First Congregational Church of Montclair, The George Montclair, and Amanti Vino.