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David Handler will appear for an author talk for the first time at the Essex Library on  Saturday, September 16th at 4 p.m.!

We are honored to host Edgar and American Mystery Award-winning author David Handler, who will discuss his latest book, The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes. The novel was published recently by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. The book is a madcap mystery about an eccentric family of influential artists, and how Hollywood’s obsession with the spotlight can sometimes turn deadly—full of delicious LA folklore and 90s nostalgia. This is the ninth entry in the Hoagy and Lulu mystery series that Harlan Coben calls “One of my all-time favorite series! …David Handler is so good at writing one smart, funny page-turner after another that he makes it look easy.” Handler has also written eleven novels in the bestselling Berger & Mitry series. He lives in a 230-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the event with thanks to R. J. Julia for their help.

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Mike Urban author pic

Mike Urban

Thursday, August 10 at 7 p.m.
Ask any seafood lover and they’ll tell you that there is nothing like New England fish and shellfish, especially the lobsters. Moreover, the seafood from New England makes up the basis for one of the region’s authentic cuisines. Think of chowder, lobster rolls, and fried clams. Still need to get your summer seafood fix? Join us to hear local author Mike Urban talk about the best clam shacks and lobster shacks on New England’s coast from Connecticut to the Canadian border. His illustrated talk will be followed by a book signing. Copies of his books will be available for purchase at the event. This event is free and open to the public.

Mike Urban is an award-winning food and travel writer and a regular contributor to Yankee Magazine. He is the author of four books: Lobster Shacks, Clam Shacks, The New England Seafood Markets Cookbook, and The New England Diner Cookbook. He lives in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. He and his wife have four grown children.

Lobster Shacks cover copy

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Monday, March 6th at 5 p.m.

From Delmonico’s to Sylvia’s to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out in America as told through ten legendary restaurants. Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ‘s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Paul Freedman, the Chester D Tripp Professor of History at Yale University will give an illustrated talk at the Essex Library on Monday, March 6th at 5 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald’s. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history. Read the review of the book by Tejal Rao in The New York Times here.

Professor Freedman specializes in medieval social history, the history of Catalonia, comparative studies of the peasantry, trade in luxury products, and the history of cuisine. Freedman earned his BA at the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MLS from the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in History at Berkeley in 1978. His doctoral work focused on medieval Catalonia and how the bishop and canons interacted with the powerful and weak elements of lay society in Vic, north of Barcelona. Freedman taught for eighteen years at Vanderbilt University before joining the Yale faculty in 1997.

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Saturday, February 4th at 1:30 p.m.

When Paris Sizzled vividly portrays the City of Light during the fabulous 1920s, les Annees folles, when Parisians emerged from the horrors of war to find that a new world greeted them one that reverberated with the hard metallic clang of the assembly line, the roar of automobiles, and the beat of jazz. Mary McAuliffe traces a decade that saw seismic change on almost every front, from art and architecture to music, literature, fashion, entertainment, transportation, and, most notably, behavior. The epicenter of all this creativity, as well as of the era s good times, was Montparnasse, where impoverished artists and writers found colleagues and cafes, and tourists discovered the Paris of their dreams. Major figures on the Paris scene such as Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Proust continued to hold sway, while others now came to prominence including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker, as well as Andre Citroen, Le Corbusier, Man Ray, Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and the irrepressible Kiki of Montparnasse. Paris of the 1920s unquestionably sizzled. Yet rather than being a decade of unmitigated bliss, les Annees folles also saw an undercurrent of despair as well as the rise of ruthless organizations of the extreme right, aimed at annihilating whatever threatened tradition and order a struggle that would escalate in the years ahead.

We’ll welcome When Paris Sizzled author Mary McAuliffe to the Essex Library on Saturday, February 4th at 1:30 p.m. She’ll describe the unique time in Paris when the famously creative and creatively famous were at their peak of activity. If you enjoyed Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, you’ll want to hear all the tales from this fabulous time. This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase & signing.

Friday, January 20th at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects 67 Main St. Centerbrook
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2016 marked the centennial anniversary of the Yale School of Architecture. In recognition of this occasion, Jimmy Stamp, co-author with former YSOA Dean Robert A.M. Stern of the book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale (Yale Press, 2016) will trace the development of the School’s pedagogy alongside a critical overview of the succession of buildings designed to house Yale’s architecture program. Stamp will draw parallels between historic moments in Yale’s history and things that have happened more recently.

Jimmy Stamp is a writer at Robert . M. Stern Architects whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Smithsonian, and the Journal of Architecture Education.

This program is free and open to the public.

robertwyssThursday, January 19, 2017 at 7 p.m.

David Brower (1912–2000) was a central figure in the modern environmental movement. His leadership, vision, and elegant conception of the wilderness forever changed how we approach nature. In many ways, he was a twentieth-century Thoreau. Brower transformed the Sierra Club into a national force that challenged and stopped federally sponsored projects that would have dammed the Grand Canyon and destroyed hundreds of millions of acres of our nation’s wilderness. To admirers, he was tireless, passionate, visionary, and unyielding. To opponents and even some supporters, he was contentious and polarizing.

As a young man growing up in Berkeley, California, Brower proved himself a fearless climber of the Sierra Nevada’s dangerous peaks. After serving in the Tenth Mountain Division during World War II, he became executive director of the Sierra Club. This uncompromising biography explores Brower’s role as steward of the modern environmental movement. His passionate advocacy destroyed lifelong friendships and, at times, threatened his goals. Yet his achievements remain some of the most important triumphs of the conservation movement. What emerges from this unique portrait is a rich and robust profile of a leader who took up the work of John Muir and, along with Rachel Carson, made environmentalism the cause of our time.

Robert Wyss is associate professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut and a journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Yankee, and the Providence Journal. He is the author of Covering the Environment: How Journalists Work the Green Beat (2007).

This program is free and open to the public.

3 More Quick-Read Titles

December 23, 2015

You can read any of these in an evening, or less. They’ll stick in your memory for a long time though.

Suggested by Librarian Ann Thompson:

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The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A beautifully-written novella about the pleasure of reading with Bennett’s inimitable manner of sending up both royalty and commoners but especially commoners around royalty.

The End Of The Alphabet by C. S. Richardson
What would you do if you had only a month to live and you were deeply, hopelessly, in love with your spouse? Sorry, cue the tissue box.

Three Men In A Boat: to say nothing of the dog by Jerome K. Jerome
A classic of English humor unscathed by time.

It’s a short work week at the paying job, for most of us, so we thought we’d throw out suggestions for some great quick reads because we know you’re busy too. Essex Library Staff were challenged to come up with 3 books that can be enjoyed when you don’t have time for a longer novel.

Librarian Emily Boucher’s suggestions:

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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff:
It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.

We Were Liars: E Lockhart:
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf:
A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

Authors As Secret Santas

December 17, 2014

At the risk of appearing to endorse Penguin Books UK, we want to pass along a very amusing video they made of a secret santa event they held amongst some of their authors. It is widely held that books make the best gifts!

Wednesday, March 19th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Given short shrift or overlooked by many historians, the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865 was a crucial turning point in the War Between the States. In his well written and highly documented book, James B. Conroy describes in fascinating detail what happened when leaders from both sides came together to try to end the hostilities. Click here to reserve a copy of this book.