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Open Book / Open Mind

Join us for more great author talks!

About the Series

Open Book / Open Mind is our popular author conversation series, founded in 2015. (Click here for history.)  Over the past few years, we’ve hosted Michelle Zauner, Colson Whitehead, Maggie Haberman, Isabel Wilkerson, Ann Patchett, Jhumpa Lahiri, Charles Blow, Christina Baker Kline, Sandra Cisneros, Alice Hoffman, Mary Roach, Toluse Olorunnipa, Elizabeth Kolbert, Michael Schmidt, Jonathan Alter and so many more. We’re proud that attending our events has become a Montclair tradition.

Please use the blue navigation buttons above to learn more about the history of Open Book / Open Mind and to view a complete annotated list of programs with YouTube links for each year.

For more information, contact MPL librarian Ariel Zeitlin

Upcoming Conversations

Thursday, February 29, 6:30 p.m. James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams, “Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy.” In conversation with Tom Hall of Montclair Film. An instant bestseller by a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York columnist and an Emmy-winning New York Times producer. “In this riveting, Succession-esque tale of the fight for control of Paramount Global, James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams weave together a lawsuit, familial conflict, and the lurking Les Moonves.” Vanity Fair. 


Saturday, March 9, 4 p.m. Howell Raines, “Silent Cavalry: How Union Soldiers from Alabama Helped Sherman Burn Atlanta–and Then Got Written Out of History.” In conversation with Edward Ball (“The Life of a Klansman” and “Slaves in the Family”). The Pulitzer Prize-winning former executive editor of The New York Times challenges the conventional wisdom that no Southerners actively opposed the Confederacy—with a story that inlcudes members of his own family—in discussion with a National Book Award-winning historian. “’Silent Cavalry’ marks another chapter in Raines’s storied career of giving voice to the voiceless, highlighting the men and women who, without proper credit, did their part to make America a better, more equitable place.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

This event is made possible through the generous support of Jill and Alan Johnson.


Wednesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m. Celebrate Spanish-Language Poetry/Celebremos la poesía en español. A panel discussion and poetry reading with Rigoberto González, Alexis Romay, C. E. Wallace, and others.

Co-presented by the Latinos of Montclair.


NEW DATE–Saturday, April 27, 4 p.m. Ray Isle, “The World in a Wineglass: The Insider’s Guide to Artisanal, Sustainable, Extraordinary Wines to Drink Now.” In conversation with Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino. “For many years, [Isle] has been the wine editor for Food & Wine magazine….His palate is beyond reliable. It should be insured, as Betty Grable’s legs were, by Lloyd’s of London. I would take his wine advice to the bank. —The New York Times.

Co-presented by Amanti Vino.

The author conversation will be free, open to the public, and will take place in the library auditorium. Stay tuned for more information about the Library Foundation’s ticketed winetasting fundraiser with Ray Isle to follow the conversation.


Saturday, May 4. Emily Raboteau, “Lessons for Survival: Mothering Against ‘The Apocalypse‘” and Leslie Jamison, “Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story.” In conversation with Kate Tuttle. Two highly distinguished memoirists discuss how they parent through painful, unexpected complications with a leading book critic.

“In caring for her daughter, [Leslie Jamison] finds — at least on the page — a way to live with it all, the sleeplessness and the joy, the rapture and the frustration, the immense love and the wish to have a single moment alone . . . She’s a master at closing nearly every paragraph with what lands as an epiphany.”Time magazine

“Emily Raboteau dedicates her considerable intellectual gifts, clarity and moral courage to confront the catastrophes of our era. She traverses generations and geographies, all the while caring for her children, and in so doing, teaches us that to ‘mother; is to tend, to study, to nurture, and to hand over our most precious inheritances.”Imani Perry, author of “South to America.”

Co-presented by Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival.


Saturday, May 4. Nell Irvin Painter, “I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays.” In conversation with Ira Wagner of the Montclair Art Museum. The history professor emerita of Princeton, now a visual artist, is “consistently brilliant, restlessly curious and profoundly empathetic….With a historian’s sense of context and a poet’s gift of language she lays bare truths we’ve collectively ignored and points us toward the democratic possibilities we have yet to realize.” —Jelani Cobb, dean of Columbia Journalism School. The talk will include a PowerPoint presentation of her own original artwork.

Co-presented by Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival.


Saturday, May 18.  Liana Finck, “How to Baby: A No-Advice-Given Guide to Motherhood, with Drawings.” In conversation with Mira Jacob (“Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations”). The New Yorker cartoonist and author skewers “traditional” parenting books to chronicle the absurdities, frustrations, and joys of new parenthood.


Thursday, June 13, 6:30 p.m.  Claudia Cravens, “Lucky Red.A bestselling debut queer Western about an orphan making her way in Dodge City, Kansas–no holds barred! 

Co-presented by Out Montclair


Thursday, September 12, 6:30 p.m.  Matthew Diamond, “Poverty, by America.” In conversation with Andrea Elliott (“Invisible Child”).  At the First Congregational Church of Montclair. A Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Princeton professor of sociology discusses his bestselling book with a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and author. “Provocative and compelling . . . [Desmond] packs in a sweeping array of examples and numbers to support his thesis and . . . the accumulation has the effect of shifting one’s brain ever so slightly to change the entire frame of reference.”NPR

Co-sponsored by Partners for Health


Wednesday, September 25, 6:30 p.m.  Nicholas Kristof, “Chasing Hope: A Journalist’s Life.” In conversation with Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica. At the First Congregational Church of Montclair. The candid, adventure-filled memoir of a life in journalism by a New York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and best-selling author. “Nick Kristof…has a penchant for covering the stories too many shy away from—rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty with the hope that it will motivate us to act. His North Star has never wavered. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in journalism, or for those who need to be reminded that, in the right hands, it can be a truly noble profession.”—Katie Couric.

A ticketed event co-sponsored by Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival. Co-presented by The Local/Baristanet.


Saturday, October 5, 4 p.m.  Tracy O’Neill, “A Woman of Interest: A Memoir. The genre-bending story of a South Korean adoptee seeking her missing birth mother. Written like a mystery novel, “Woman of Interest” features a femme fatale, a former CIA operative with a criminal record, and a dogged investigator of radical connections outside the nuclear family. “A story about secrecy, intimacy, and hidden systems, O’Neill’s sentences are expertly crafted marvels of economy. Her prose feels almost redacted, as if someone has cut out just the right bits to keep you guessing and thinking and feeling.”— Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of ​”Interior Chinatown.”

Co-presented by AAPI Montclair


Saturday, November 16, 4 p.m.  Bruce Jackson, “Never Far from Home: My Journey from Brooklyn to Hip Hop, Microsoft, and the Law. In conversation with Jon Fortt of CNBC. Microsoft’s associate general counsel shares his rise from impoverished youth to the top of the technology and music industries with a top technology journalist. “Bruce Jackson’s portrait of New York is as nuanced as it is hopeful. In grappling with the complexity of his own childhood—from poverty’s pernicious effect on his neighbors to early encounters with a flawed criminal justice system—Jackson asks his readers to confront the systemic inequalities that continue to plague communities of color across our nation. Jackson’s own story of success… inspires us to continue the fight for a world where no one is underestimated and opportunity comes to every single zip code.” U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries


Recent Conversations

Saturday, February 3, 4 p.m. Ayana Mathis, “The Unsettled.” In conversation with book critic and memoirist Emily Raboteau. “[A] masterpiece … poised to be a significant addition to contemporary literature, affirming Mathis’s status as a gifted and influential voice in the literary world . . .  An emotionally charged journey through the intricate tapestry of family, love, and the relentless pursuit of belonging.” Essence magazine.

Wednesday, January 24, 6:30 p.m. Kate Manne, “Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia.” In conversation with Kate Tuttle, book critic, writer and editor.  An associate philosophy professor at Cornell and author of “Down Girl: A History of Misogyny” and “Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women” takes on the lingering prejudice of size. “An elegant, fierce, and profound argument for fighting fat oppression in ourselves, our communities, and our culture.”—Roxane Gay, author of “Hunger”


Thank you

We are grateful to all of the wonderful authors, conversation partners, library staffers, and, of course, attendees who make Open Book / Open Mind Online such a success.

Special thanks to the  Open Book / Open Mind Advisory Committee: Co-chairs David Jones and Kate Tuttle; Jonathan Alter, Reagan Arthur, Neal Carruth, Catherine Chung, Alice Elliott Dark, Jennifer Dorr, Elisabeth Egan, Dionne Ford, Jon Fortt, Gabrielle Glaser, DT Max, Dale Russakoff, Juan Milà, Margot Sage-EL, Rachel Swarns, 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, Watchung Booksellers, New Jersey Council for the Humanities, David and Mary Lee Jones, Rosemary Iversen, and an anonymous donor.  Many thanks to our generous in-kind sponsors, First Congregational Church of Montclair, The George Montclair, and Amanti Vino. 

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