Open Book / Open Mind is a series of live, interactive conversations featuring top authors and thinkers on the important issues of our time. The series is curated by the Montclair Public Library and its foundation board members. The talks are free and open to the public, thanks to the generosity of our funders and the speakers who donate their time. Open Book / Open Mind Conversations take place at the Montclair Public Library (170 seats) and satellite venues, such as the Mount Hebron School (700 seats). We do a social media campaign and local press outreach for each talk (Montclair Times, Baristanet.com, The Star Ledger, etc.). OB/OM Conversations are consistently well-attended. Books are sold by our wonderful local bookstore, Watchung Booksellers.

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Our Mission: Inspiration & Education for Everyone

Open Book / Open Mind’s purpose is an extension of the Montclair Public Library’s mission to provide lifelong learning to the residents of Montclair and its surroundings. We are passionate about eradicating barriers to education. Montclair is an economically and racially diverse town saturated with journalists, publishers and writers. With these talks, the library seeks to deepen the public’s understanding of important issues like civil rights, economic justice, the environment, and education, and to provide a home for the Montclair literary community. The magic of the talks is in the pairings of speakers, and the interaction with the audience. The series is open to writers of every genre. We believe in the potential for words and ideas to change lives.

Spring, 2017  Authors

Sponsored by Susan and Thomas Dunn

  • January 8 – Jonathan Alter, journalist and author of three best-selling books, former columnist and senior editor of NewsweekStephen Engleberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, in conversation with Thomas Johnson of Bloomberg Politics predict what to expect from the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency.
  • February 24 – Christina Baker Kline returns to OB /OM to discuss her new novel, A Piece of the World, revealing the mysterious muse behind Andrew Wyeth’s masterpiece Christina’s World with Caroline Leavitt, best-selling author of Cruel Beautiful World and ten other novels.
  • March 23 – Mark Kurlansky, author of New York Times Best-Sellers Cod, Salt, 1968, and Food of a Younger Land will discuss his new book Havana: A Subtropical Delirium and Cuba’s cultural bright and dark spots with Alexis Romay, Cuban born author of the novels “La apertura cubana” (The Cuban Opening) and “Salidas de emergencia” (Emergency Exits).
  • April 30- Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal launches her new book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back, and discusses the hidden truths behind America’s healthcare system and industries with Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News Richard E. Besser, M.D.  
  • May 9- Best-selling author and international makeup mogul Bobbi Brown debuts her new book Bobbi Brown’s Beauty From The Inside Out and will be in conversation with Kristen Dollard, brand director and digital editor for Yoga Journal about make up, wellness and confidence.
  • May 19- Watched: A spoken word performance based upon the young adult book of the same name by Marina Budhos about modern day police surveillance in a Queens, NY Muslim community.
  • June 16 – Jacqueline Woodson, Poet and Newberry and National Book Award winning children’s author (Brown Girl Dreaming, Miracle’s Boys) will debut her first adult novel Another Brooklyn.

We are currently booking for Fall/Winter 2017.
Booking Contact: Jennifer Dorr, 917-797-6396, Jennifer@elevatedcomm.com

Event Manager: Eileen Lundberg, 973-744-0500 x2222 Eileen.lundberg@Montclair.bccls.org

Previous Seasons

2016 Authors – The Second Season

Sponsored by Susan and Thomas Dunn

  • Feb 11 – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and NYT Kabul Bureau Chief Rod Nordland discussed The Lovers: Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet with Montclair’s Marc Lacey, NYT Weekend Editor and a former foreign editor.
  • March 6 – Khalil Gibran Muhammad discusses the subject of his book, The Condemnation of Blackness with David Troutt, founder and director of Rutgers Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity, and the acclaimed author of The Price of Paradise.
  • April 28 – Anna Quindlen discusses her newest novel Miller’s Valley with Elizabeth Egan, books editor for Glamour, journalist, author of the novel A Window Opens. This will be the first event the library hosts at Mount Hebron School, a 500-seat venue. 
  • May 22 – Michael Waldman, President of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, will discuss his new book “The Fight to Vote,” the story of the struggle to uphold our most fundamental democratic ideals with Elise Boddie, an expert on civil rights and professor at Rutgers Law School.
  • September 18 – Reporting on Election 2016- Four New York Times journalists — political reporters Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns, and editors Matthew Purdy and David Halbfinger — discuss the challenges of covering this most unusual presidential campaign.
  • October 15 – Alan Cumming is a genuine triple-threat as an acclaimed stage, television, and film star.  With Montclair native and  Executive Director and Program Director for CUNY Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Frank Hentschker, Cumming discusses his career and his new book, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams, full of personal photos, real-life stories of louche late-night parties, backstage anecdotes, and memories of loves and friends.
  • December  4, Leslie Bennett journalist and author of Last Girl Before Freeway discusses the lifes, loves and liberation of Joan Rivers with journalist and news editor Mary Alice Williams.

2015 Authors – Inaugural Season

Sponsored by Diana Lunin

  • January 9 – Bestselling hometown novelists Christina Baker Kline, author of “Orphan Train” and Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves.
  • March 22 – Frank Bruni, author and NY Times columnist, spoke with essayist Devon Corneal about his new book Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to College Admissions Mania.                                                                                                
  • May 31- Author and NY Times columnist Charles Blow in conversation with James Johnson shared his personal journey through his memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones.
  • September 27 – Dale Russakoff author of The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?  Interviewed by NY Times reporter Kate Zernike about the pitfalls and promises of education reform.
  • October 18 – Elizabeth Alexander, best known as the poet who read Praise Song for the Day at President Obama’s first inauguration, discussed her first memoir, The Light of the World, with her friend, Montclair’s James Johnson.
  • December 6 – David Levithan and E.R. Frank discussed the edge of Y.A. fiction with Kristen Kemp, Parents’ magazine book columnist and YA author.