June 23, 2020 @ 6:00 pm
Voting is a prized American right and a topic of debate from the earliest days of the country. Yet in the 2016 presidential election, about 40 percent of Americans—and half of the country’s young adults—didn’t vote. Why do so many Americans choose not to vote, and what can we do about it?
The problem, Erin Geiger Smith contends, is a lack of understanding about our electoral system and a need to make voting more accessible. Thank You for Voting is her eye-opening look at the voting process, starting with the Framers’ perspective, through the Equal Protection amendment and the Voting Rights Act, to the present and simple actions individuals can take to increase civic participation in local, state, and national elections.
Geiger Smith expands our knowledge about our democracy—including women’s long fight to win the vote, attempts to suppress newly enfranchised voters’ impact, state prohibitions against felons voting, charges of voter fraud and voter suppression, and other vital issues. In a conversational tone, she explains topics that can confuse even the most informed voters: polling, news literacy, gerrymandering and the Electoral College. She also explores how age, race, and socioeconomic factors influence turnout.
April 12 @ 6:00 pm
A tour through the original thirteen colonies in search of historical sites and their stories in America’s founding. Obscure, well-known, off-the-beaten path, and on busy city streets, here are taverns, meeting houses, battlefields, forts, monuments, homes which all combine to define our country–the places where daring people forged a revolution. There is always something new to be found in America’s past that also brings greater clarity to our present and the future we choose to make as a nation. Author-artist Adam Van Doren traveled from Maine to Georgia in that spirit. There are thirty-seven landmarks included, with fifteen additional locations noted in brief.
April 26 @ 6:00 pm
Mark Goldsmith enjoyed a 35-year career in the cosmetic business, managing household name brands during Madison Avenue’s Mad Men heyday. Looking for new challenges in retirement, Goldsmith took his wife’s suggestion to volunteer for the Principal for a Day program, specifically asking to be sent to the toughest New York City school available–which turned out to be Horizon Academy at the city’s infamous Rikers Island jail. Goldsmith instantly connected with the men of Rikers, leveraging the skills he’d honed in decades of corporate experience and his strong desire to help. This passion ultimately led to the creation of his not-for-profit organization Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), which has helped thousands of young men pursue their goals for their education, employment, and emotional well-being to create a new life for themselves beyond the criminal justice system.
May 3 @ 6:00 pm
World renowned, revered actor Aaron Julian is awakened at two a.m. by his agent who informs him that he has been accused of sexual harassment. Young actresses will break the story on prime-time TV that morning—with their lawyer, the attorney who led the charge in the priests’ sexual abuse cases.
Aaron and his celebrity pop-singer wife, Veda, vehemently deny the charges, and hire powerful defense lawyer Raquel Rematti. But when the plaintiffs’ lawyer is murdered in Central Park, the stakes skyrocket and the conspiracies spiral out of control.
Despite revelation after revelation, Aaron continues to proclaim his innocence. And in his defense, Rematti uses every tool in the legal system to produce courtroom drama that is unparalleled.
May 17 @ 6:00 pm
Victoria Shorr’s remarkable gift for depicting the inner lives of complex characters shines in two powerful explorations of family, ambition, class, and status.
In “Great Uncle Edward,” a family gathers for dinner. At ninety-three, Great Uncle Edward commands the table in his three-piece suit; Cousin Russell attended both Harvard and Yale but is now reduced to selling off the family books; sisters Betty and Molly are caught between ghosts of a storied past and creeping destitution. These lives are signposts along the downward spiral of an old aristocracy. “Cleveland Auto Wrecking” introduces Sam White, an immigrant from eastern Europe. He cannot read but has a gift for math and an instinct for the value of junk. We follow his clan through the Depression to the postwar boom in the West, where their fortunes soar, creating new tests of loyalty.
Taken together, these two novellas might be the reverse images of the American dream in the twentieth century. They ask to what degree, in the face of such powerful forces as love, death, and social constraints, do any of us have control over our own lives.
June 7 @ 6:00 pm
When a close relative falls ill, Hannah Larson and her young son, Nicky, join him for the summer at Ashton Hall, a historic manor house outside Cambridge, England. A frustrated academic whose ambitions have been subsumed by the challenges of raising her beloved child, Hannah longs to escape her life in New York City, where her marriage has been upended by a recently discovered and devastating betrayal.
Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky finds the skeletal remains of a woman walled into a forgotten part of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers, Nicky close by her side. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers showing what the woman’s household spent on everything from music to medicine; lists of books checked out of the library; and the troubling personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to recreate the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the multilayered secrets of her own life begin to unravel, Hannah comes to realize that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own, and she confronts what mothers throughout history have had to do to secure their independence and protect their children.
June 14 @ 6:00 pm
In Aurora, Illinois, Aubrey Wheeler is just trying to get by after her semi-criminal ex-husband split, leaving behind his unruly teenage son.
Then the lights go out—not just in Aurora but across the globe. A solar storm has knocked out power almost everywhere. Suddenly, all problems are local, very local, and Aubrey must assume the mantle of fierce protector of her suburban neighborhood.
Across the country lives Aubrey’s estranged brother, Thom. A fantastically wealthy, neurotically over-prepared Silicon Valley CEO, he plans to ride out the crisis in a gilded desert bunker he built for maximum comfort and security.
But the complicated history between the siblings is far from over, and what feels like the end of the world is just the beginning of several long-overdue reckonings—which not everyone will survive…
Aurora is suspenseful storytelling—both large scale and small—at its finest.
June 21 @ 6:00 pm
In an era of “hot takes” and easy generalizations, this collection reclaims the absurdities and paradoxes of life as it is actually lived from the American fantasy of “niceness”. In Macy’s world, human desires and fatal blind spots slam headlong into convenient, social-media-driven narratives that would sort us into neat boxes of insider or outsider; good or bad; with us or against us.
Time and again, whether at home or in the age-old role of Americans abroad, Macy’s women see their good intentions turn awry. A woman who tries to do a good deed for an underprivileged child sees it go horribly wrong. A wife, attempting to be a good host to a friend’s strange ex-boyfriend, finds herself in a compromised situation. And, in the title story, a newlywed fancies herself a Euro-sophisticate until an accident reminds her just how truly foreign she really is.
June 28 @ 6:00 pm
The Honorable Alice D. McKerrity is no stranger to violence. From the bench at Manhattan Supreme, she has seen the most hardened killers pass through her courtroom. But there’s something about this trial—a defendant charged with the murder of a pregnant woman—that affects her as no other case ever has. Her chaotic, stressful home life only adds to her mounting feelings of panic and fear. She’s also harboring a secret that if exposed could have far-reaching ramifications both personally and professionally. And now, unbeknownst to Alice, her daughter has begun a search for her biological father.
As the trial progresses, Alice’s life starts to unravel. Nightmares she suffered as a girl return with a vengeance. Phantom sightings torment her. Is she being paranoid? Or are the specters real? Almost at the breaking point, she begins to doubt her own sanity. Then she makes a shocking discovery that sends her on a collision course with her past and a terror-filled night in the woods in Upstate New York. Confronted with the unspeakable, she must face a decades-buried truth as she fights for her survival against a cunning adversary that forces her to question everything she ever believed about herself . . . and tests her limits as a woman, a judge, and a mother.
August 9 @ 6:00 pm
When did “parenting” become a verb? Why is it so hard to parent, and so rife with the possibility of failure?
In Long Days, Short Years, Andrew Bomback—physician, writer, and father of three young children—looks at why it can be so much fun to be a parent but, at the same time, so frustrating and difficult to parent. It’s not a “how to” book (although Bomback has read plenty of these) but a “how come” book, investigating the emergence of an immersive, all-in approach to raising children that has made parenting a competitive (and often not very enjoyable) sport.
Drawing on parenting books, mommy blogs, and historical accounts of parental duties as well as novels, films, podcasts, television shows, and his own experiences as a parent, Bomback charts the cultural history of parenting as a skill to be mastered, from the laid-back Dr. Spock’s 1950s childcare bible—in some years outsold only by the actual Bible—to the more rigid training schedules of Babywise. Along the way, he considers the high costs of commercialized parenting (from the babymoon on), the pressure on mothers to have it all (and do it all), scripted parenting as laid out in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, parenting during a pandemic, and much more.