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Princeton Public Library (PPL) is accepting applications from authors interested in participating in an Author Fair as part of the library’s 12th Local Author Day, to be held on Saturday, April 29. The Author Fair takes place from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the library’s Community Room and first floor area.  more

Join New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) for Philip Roth Unbound, a weekend-long festival that will celebrate, challenge, and explore the life, legacy, and work of novelist and Newark native Philip Roth, on what would have been his 90th birthday weekend.  more

On Thursday, January 12 at 6:30 p.m., join historian Maxine Lurie at Morven Museum & Garden for an evening exploring her new book, Taking Sides in Revolutionary New Jersey: Caught in the Crossfire. The talk will include a book signing with Lurie and her book will be available for purchase on site.  more

Princeton Public Library will host Sensory Storytime, a program for children ages 2 and up and is especially welcoming to those who are differently abled, on the autism spectrum, have sensory processing issues or feel overwhelmed by noises and crowds. Children are encouraged to bring a favorite toy or fidget. Registration is required at https://bit.ly/3VGQl1b.  more

On Thursday, February 23 at 6 p.m., Labyrinth Books, in partnership with the Princeton Public Library, welcomes MUTTS cartoonist and award-winning author Patrick McDonnell as he discusses his new book, Heart to Heart: A Conversation on Love and Hope for Our Precious Planet. This event will be held at Labyrinth Books and is free to attend.

In this tale, a world-renowned religious leader and an American cartoonist join forces to create a whimsically illustrated volume with deceptively simple messages about saving the planet. The Dalai Lama supplies text and McDonnell provides the charming visuals as a panda comes to call on the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, India.  more

In May 2022, Rutgers University Press announced the addition of a new series editor to the board of its award-winning scholarly book series, Critical Issues in Health and Medicine. Rana A. Hogarth, a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, officially stepped into this new position. more

Shop the Friends of the Lawrence Library January Book Sale for thousands of used, gently read books for readers of all ages. The sale opens to the public on Friday, January 27 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and ends on Monday, January 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library System, 2751 Brunswick Pike in Lawrenceville. Cash or checks only.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

One minute in the life of the world is going by! Paint it as it is!

—Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)

Paint it, live it, or dream it, sculpt it, or mold it, whether the world going by is Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Tudor England, the rocky landscape of Cézanne’s Provence or the grottoes of Courbet’s Franche-Comté. Put Cézanne’s hypothetical minute between covers, and there’s room for the Night Kitchen visions of Maurice Sendak, and the pottery of Old Edgefield’s enslaved artisan David Drake. more

In advance of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” by Samuel Barber, the Princeton Public Library and the Orchestra present a behind-the-scenes discussion taking place on Thursday, January 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. more

On Tuesday, November 29 at 7 p.m., Princeton Public Library and Labyrinth Books welcome author A.M. Homes to the Library’s Community Room for a discussion of her new novel, The Unfolding. Homes is the former recipient of the Women’s Prize for her book May We Be Forgiven. She is the author of 13 books and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. Homes will be joined in discussion by Princeton University professor Laura F. Edwards. Edwards is a legal historian whose research focuses on the 19th-century United States.  more

On Tuesday, November 1 at 7 p.m., Labyrinth Live at the Library welcomes Joyce Carol Oates for a discussion of her new book, The Babysitter: A Novel. This event will be held in person at the Princeton Public Library, but will also be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUlZf13JzTY.

Princeton University Professor Maria DiBattista will direct the conversation with Oates. DiBattista has written extensively on modern literature, popular and pulp fiction, and film.  more

Join the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) on Wednesday, October 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for “Art of People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos.” From collecting art to tasting wine, the ART OF series aims to introduce attendees to the endless creativity and innovation in the community. Created by locals, for locals, these all-inclusive experiences require no supplies or commitment. Just bring your friends and the ACP will do the rest. more

Join author Clifford Zink on Saturday, October 8 at 10 a.m. for a walking tour outside Princeton University’s storied and majestic eating clubs. Learn about the architecture, origins, and development of the 16 Classical and Gothic-style clubhouses, which date from 1895 to 1928. There will be an opportunity to visit inside one of the eating clubs; masks will be required during this portion of the tour. Copies of Zink’s 2017 book, The Princeton Eating Clubs, will be available for sale at a discounted price at the tour.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Her love of beauty and order is everywhere visible in what she planted for our delight.” The words honoring landscape architect Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) are engraved on a bench adjacent to the Princeton University chapel.

Reviewing the 2009 edition of Beatrix Farrand: Garden Artist, Landscape Architect (The Monacelli Press $60), The New York Times Sunday Book Review alerted “English majors” to the fact that the book “does double duty as a companion” to the novels of Farrand’s aunt Edith Wharton, whose friend Henry James knew young Beatrix as “Trix.” An updated edition of Judith B. Tankard’s monograph has been released on the occasion of Farrand’s 150th birthday.

Early Farrand

Farrand was still Beatrix Jones when she sent a letter to the editor of the September 6, 1893 issue of Garden and Forest, observing how “the White Pine makes an excellent background for the Red Oak (Q. rubra), which in spring emphasizes the gray tree bearing its ‘candles,’ as the country children call the new white growth, while in the autumn the Pine retires to its place as foil for the Oak, which is first gorgeous in red and fades into brown as it prepares for winter.” Also mentioned, the “Hemlock and White Ash” are “striking together in spring or fall, and at the turn of the leaf the Scarlet Maple seems ablaze near a group of the White and Black Spruces.” Beatrix ends the paragraph with a flourish that must have impressed Aunt Edith and Mr. James: “the stately Yellow and Paper Birches are noticed in damp places, and the Pitch Pine, clinging like a limpet to an impossibly steep rock, looks like a tree on a Japanese fan.”

At 21, “Trix” clearly not only showed signs of her aunt’s literary abilities, she had the eye of a painter, and would one day envision the owner of a garden as “the leader of an orchestra” who must know “which instruments to encourage and which to restrain.” With the last analogy in mind, you could compare the Princeton campus to a symphony created and conducted by Farrand during her years (1912-1943) as the University’s landscape architect.

Her melodious handiwork included the graduate college, McCosh and Blair walks, Holder courtyard, and Prospect Gardens. An architectural tour of the campus conducted in Princeton University and Neighboring Institutions (The Campus Guide $12.55) finds the rules Farrand established for Princeton’s landscape design “as defining an element of the Princeton style as Collegiate Gothic.” Even after her relationship with the University ended, “succeeding landscape architects and gardeners followed the design and planting principles she laid down.” more

Frank Bruni

On Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. join the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown for The Beauty of Dusk: An Evening with Frank Bruni. Tickets are $60 per person.

Bruni has been a prominent journalist form more than three decades, including more than 25 years at The New York Times, the last 10 of them as a nationally renowned op-ed columnist who appeared frequently as a television commentator. He was also a White House correspondent for the Times, its Rome bureau chief, and for five years, its chief restaurant critic. more

The beloved Princeton Children’s Book Festival returns on Saturday, October 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Princeton Public Library and Hinds Plaza. This largely outdoor, in-person event brings together some of the most popular children’s book authors and illustrators, giving families the opportunity to meet their children’s favorite storybook creators. Book sales for the event will be available from jaZams in downtown Princeton. Authors and illustrators will be available to sign personalized copies and describe some of the details and inspirations behind their books. more

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s a stretch, but you could say that Princeton University paid for my son’s birth while I was helping Alexander Leitch deliver the first Princeton Companion to Princeton University Press. In that sense, the Companion godfathered my son. And since Robert K. Durkee’s The New Princeton Companion reports that the Press was founded in 1905 with a loan from Charles Scribner II (Class of 1885), you could also say that Scribners — the publisher of Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway — godfathered (or godparented) the Press.

In 1911 Scribner gave land, an endowment, and a Collegiate Gothic building modeled on Antwerp, Belgium’s Plantin-Moretus Museum. A drawing of the courtyard entrance is featured on the cover of A Century in Books: Princeton University Press 1905-2005, which highlights 100 of the then-nearly 8,000 books it had published, from Albert Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity (1922) to George Kennan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Russia Leaves the War (1956) and Robert Shiller’s Irrational Exuberance (2000).

A Centenary Echo

In 1922, at a time when the author of Moby Dick was still on the road to rediscovery, the Press published a limited first edition of Herman Melville’s John Marr and Other Poems, which receives a centenary echo in Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times (Princeton $32) by Cornell professor of history and American studies Aaron Sachs. According to a press release, “Mumford helped spearhead Melville’s revival in the aftermath of World War I and the 1918–1919 flu pandemic, when American culture needed a forebear with a suitably dark vision. As Mumford’s career took off and he wrote books responding to the machine age, urban decay, world war, and environmental degradation, it was looking back to Melville’s confrontation with crises such as industrialization, slavery, and the Civil War that helped Mumford to see his own era clearly.” In a starred review, Kirkus calls the book “an incisive homage to the continuing relevance of two towering writers.” more

On Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 p.m., Princeton Public Library and the Historical Society of Princeton welcome bestselling author Jennifer Weiner to the Updike Farmstead at 354 Quaker Road in Princeton. Tickets are $30 and include a copy of The Summer Place, plus sparkling beverages, sorbet, and other sweets. Purchase tickets here: https://bit.ly/3Pj61Vz. This event is presented with support by Labyrinth Books.  more

Summer is the perfect time to address that pile of books lingering on your bedside table. These recommended titles from New York Public Library are being made into feature films set to arrive in theaters this summer. Our suggestion — read the literary form before you see it on the big screen. It’s a wonderful way to put your imagination to the test and see how your own interpretation matches up to Hollywood’s. more

Bonding with Art, Books, and Children

By Stuart Mitchner

After a visit to the Princeton Public Library in search of art therapy books for children, I came home with an armload, including one seemingly intended for serious, thinking adults, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong’s heavily illustrated tome, Art as Therapy (Phaidon 2013, paperback 2016). In fact, some reviewers treated both book and audience disparagingly. Elle called it a “cultural cure for what ails you” while Vanity Fair on Art gave it credit for massaging “the mind in all the right places.” Taking it to task in the New York Times (“Patronizing the Arts”), Parul Sehgal chided the authors for dreaming of the day “when museums can be redesigned as gyms for the psyche.” Sehgal also included an illustration from the book, a museum floor plan arranged according to therapeutic needs. Above the cafe and shop are five floors, the first a Gallery of Suffering, followed in ascending order by galleries of Compassion, Fear, Love, and Self-Knowledge. As Sehgal noted, de Botton had been accused of condescending to his readers, regarding them as “ants,” or more to my point, as children, as if this weighty book were little more than a child’s guide to art therapy on steroids.

 more