December 6: David Levithan and E.R. Frank in conversation with Kristen Kemp; “Another Day” and “Dime.” Levithan’s best-selling novels are acclaimed for their realistic portrayals of LBGTQ teens; Frank’s award-winning, empathetic novels depict underage prostitutes and drug addicts. The two spoke about their most recent books and the changing culture of young adult publishing with Kemp, the book columnist for Parents magazine, who also writes for teens.
October 18: Elizabeth Alexander in conversation with Jim Johnson; “The Light of the World.” Best known as the poet who read “Praise Song for the Day” at Obama’s first inauguration, Alexander is also a leading African American scholar and essayist. She discussed her poignant first memoir about the death of her husband with her friend Johnson, an attorney, former prosecutor, and leader of New Jersey’s Advisory Committee on Police Standards.
September 27: Dale Russakoff in conversation with Kate Zernike; “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?” Journalist and author Russakoff spoke about the pitfalls and promises of education reform, focusing on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s controversial $100 million gift to fix Newark’s notoriously dysfunctional public school system, with Zernike, the national education reporter of the New York Times. The event was not recorded.
May 31: Charles Blow in conversation with Jim Johnson; “Fire Shut Up In My Bones.” Acclaimed New York Times Op Ed columnist Blow shared his personal journey in a discussion of his lyrical, deeply revelatory memoir with Johnson, an attorney, former prosecutor, and leader of New Jersey’s Advisory Committee on Police Standards.
March 22: Frank Bruni in conversation with Devon Corneal; “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to College Admissions Mania.” New York Times columnist Bruni discussed his longtime New York Times bestseller, criticizing the current punishing competition for college admission. His conversation partner Corneal, was an attorney who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developing and coordinating policies relating to children and families. She also writes a popular blog, Cattywampus, focusing on parenting and work-life issues. The event was not recorded.
January 9: Christina Baker Kline in conversation with Matt Thomas; “Orphan Train” and “We Are Not Ourselves.” In our debut program of the Open Book / Open Mind series, two hometown bestselling authors read aloud from their books and discussed how to create realistic fiction that strikes readers to the heart. The event was not recorded.