By Brian Abbott
At the April 12 lecture with bestselling author Anthony Doerr, the 2017 to 2018 Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series lineup was announced. It’s always a good idea (though not necessary) to have read at least one book by an author before attending their lecture, so why not get a head start on your reading for next season’s authors?
Here’s who’s coming and the featured books on the Onondaga County Public Libraries preview page at onlib.org/lecture-series-season-preview.
“The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, 2016.
Whitehead comes to Syracuse Sept. 12, 2017, and his book, “The Underground Railroad,” is particularly relevant to our area. This National Book Award-winning book chronicles the adventures of a young slave as she escapes North on a journey to freedom, encountering “different worlds at each stage of her journey” while she tries to elude recapture.
“Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution,” by Nathaniel Philbrick, Viking, 2016.
Like Erik Larson (“Thunderstruck”) and David McCullough (“1776”), Philbrick writes eminently readable narratives that breathe life into the dry histories that most of us only got a cursory overview of in class. Here, the bestselling author of the “Mayflower” and “In the Heart of the Sea” (about the inspiration behind Moby Dick), turns his attentions to “the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold.” One became the greatest hero of the American Revolution (and our nation’s first president), the other became its most famous traitor. Hear more from Philbrick on Oct. 24, 2017.
“Swing Time,” by Zaide Smith, Penguin, 2016.
Smith arrives Nov. 14, 2017, and her bestselling fifth novel, “Swing Time,” explores the experiences, both personal and global, of two black girls who grew up together in a low income section of London and share a love of dance.
“Fates & Furies,” by Lauren Groff, Penguin, 2015.
“Every relationship has two perspectives,” and “Fates & Furies” presents the story of a “marriage over the course of 24 years.” Lancelot and Mathilde’s marriage is the envy of their social circle, but there’s more to the story of a marriage than its surface. The story is told from his point of view, then hers. The story lays bare the lengths some people will go through to maintain a relationship. Bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, Groff speaks on March 12, 2018.
“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by JD Vance, HarperCollins, 2016.
Vance’s memoir is a “probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class” and “growing up in a poor Rust Belt town.” Vance subsequently opened up dialogues on poverty and white working class perspectives through numerous appearances on TV. Hear him speak on April 16, 2018.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple, Hachette, 2012.
In Semple’s second novel, Bee’s agoraphobic mother Bernadette (to be played by Cate Blanchett in an upcoming movie adaptation) disappears. 15-year-old Bee sets out to find her by compiling e-mails, documents, and correspondence that reveal a “misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.” Semple closes out the 2017-2018 Gifford Lecture series on May 29, 2018.
These books and more by these authors are available through the DeWitt Community Library’s catalog in either print or ebook format. Books may be reserved by phone at 315-446-3578 or by visiting the library’s website dewlib.org. Call the Friends of the Central Library (FOCL) office at 315-435-1832, for more information or to get tickets to see these amazing authors.