Princeton Garden Theatre, a nonprofit community arthouse theater located at 160 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, presents a screening of Beethoven in Beijing on Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Dispatched by President Nixon in 1973 to help open the bamboo curtain separating Chinese and American people, the iconic Philadelphia Orchestra now turns to its past as a cultural ambassador to strengthen its future at home. Mixing archival images and audio with present-day observational footage, and enlivened with animation, Beethoven in Beijing dramatizes how the revival of classical music in China is energizing the world of music.  more

The Historical Society of Princeton introduces their next historical fiction book group on Monday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. with Libertie: A Novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge.

Named by the New York Times Book Review as the Best Historical Fiction of 2021, Libertie is “a coming of age story, tracing the travails of a free-born Black girl raised in Deconstructionist-Era Brooklyn. Libertie Sampson defies her doctor mother’s stifling dreams that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, instead following her fiancée to his home country of Haiti — where Libertie escapes American-style racism but not the misogyny that leaves her subordinate to all men.” more

Photo Credit: Julia Child in her kitchen as photographed ©Lynn Gilbert, 1978, Cambridge, Mass. (wikipedia.org)

On Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m., Hopewell Theater presents never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge food cinematography that traces Julia Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to becoming the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose — and her fame — at the age of 50 and took America along for the whole delicious journey.  more

Princeton University’s Public Lecture Series will continue March 16 from 5 to 6:15 p.m. at McCosh 50 with Marc M. Howard of Georgetown University, one of the country’s leading voices and advocates for criminal justice and prison reform. He is a professor of government and law, and the founding director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University. He is also the founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice, a nonprofit organization that launched in 2020.  more

Poet James Longenbach. Photo Credit: Adam Fenster.

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies (FIS) presents a lecture by James Logenbach on W.B. Yeats and his poem, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” on Friday, January 28, the 83rd anniversary of Yeats’ death, at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom webinar. 

Princeton University professor and Co-Chair of the Fund for Irish Studies Paul Muldoon will provide a welcome and introduction. The lecture is free and open to the public. Register online at https://arts.princeton.edu/events/fund-for-irish-studies-poet-james-longenbach/. 

Logenbach will give an account of William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) poem, discussing how it assumed its shape, and, more importantly, the influence of that shape on subsequent long poems written throughout the 20th century. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.  more

Treat your bookshelf and home library to a book subscription box from Book of the Month (www.bookofthemonth.com), the original book subscription service.

This convenient subscription is perfect for bibliophiles who would like to support the publishing industry and rely less on ordering from Amazon and other big-box retailers. The other great thing about Book of the Month (BOTM), is that it provides a curated list of wave-making titles in a variety of genres and sub-genres. From new fiction to thrillers, romance, “quick reads,” history, family sagas, mysteries, and more, readers are sure to find a monthly title that appeals to them and will be shipped in the form of a hardcover, directly to their front door. more

Join Princeton Public Library (PPL) for a virtual Crowdcast event on Thursday, January 6 from 8 to 9 p.m. with writers Karen J. Greenberg and Julian E. Zelizer. On the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, Greenberg and Zelizer will discuss the “subtle tools” that were forged under George W. Bush in the name of security and their impact on how the Trump administration was able to weaponize disinformation, xenophobia, and distrust of law. more

A book authored by local historian Harold James has been named to the Financial Times’ Best Books of 2021: Politics List. 

The War of Words: A Glossary of Globalization, published by Yale University Press, reveals the origins of key buzzwords and concepts used in contemporary political debate such as “neoliberalism,” “geopolitics,” and “globalization,” while highlighting communication challenges associated with their misuse.  more

Labyrinth Books in Princeton will host a hybrid, livestream event with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon on Wednesday, December 1 at 6 p.m. Muldoon will introduce his 14th collection of poetry, entitled Howdie-Skelp: Poems. He will be joined by fellow poet Michael Dickman.  more

Princeton Public Library invites book lovers to connect and enjoy community at the Beyond Words 2021 events. The virtual talks for November and December will conversations with journalist and novelist Omar El  Akkad on November 12 at 7 p.m. and novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz on December 3 at 7 p.m. The cost to attend is $60 per participant, per event.

El Akkad is the author of the recently-released What Strange Paradise, which has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for excellence in Canadian fiction. He is also the author of the award-winning 2017 novel American War. He will be joined in conversation by Professor Deborah Amos, the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, an NPR international correspondent, and recipient of a 2021-22 Berlin Prize Fellowship. more

As part of the Hopewell Theater’s ongoing series, Films That Made Music, the central New Jersey theater presents Moby Doc on Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m. 

With his first electronic single, “Go,” in 1991, Moby helped to define the music of an era. The mega-success of his 1999 album Play brought him into the stratosphere of fame when it became the best-selling electronic album of all time.  more

On August 16, from 7 to 8 p.m., Princeton Public Library presents a virtual Poets at the Library featuring readers Catherine Doty and John David Muth. Each reader will share their work for 20 minutes followed by an open mic session. Poets who sign-up in advance may share one poem during open mic. To sign-up via crowdcast to attend this virtual event, or to reserve a spot during open mic, visit https://princetonlibrary.libnet.info/event/5414024.

Doty is a poet, cartoonist, and educator from Paterson. She is the author of Wonderama and Momentum, volumes of poems from CavanKerry Press and Just Kidding, a collection of cartoons from Avocet Press. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as an Academy of American Poets Prize and fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. more

Princeton Public Library (PPL) presents an evening of historical fiction featuring two bestselling authors discussing their latest novels, one set in Poland during WWII and the other in prewar Italy. This is a virtual event hosted by the platform Crowdcast. The authors will be speaking from 8 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 8.

To register, visit https://princetonlibrary.libnet.info/event/5300423. This program is free to attend and is best suited for teens and adults. more

Noah Webster

It was on this day in 1828 that Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language was published. Webster put together the dictionary because he wanted Americans to have a national identity that wasn’t based on the language and ideas of England. And the problem wasn’t just that Americans were looking to England for their language; it was that they could barely communicate with each other because regional dialects were so vastly different. more

1920: The Year That Made the Decade Roar

One hundred years later, there is a continued fascination with “The Roaring Twenties,” the only decade in American history with a widely applied nickname. How did a surge of innovation and cultural milestones emerge out of the ashes of WWI? Eric Burns, author of 1920: The Year That Made the Decade Roar, will look back at that critical (and often misunderstood) time, highlighting events that set the tone for the century that followed.  more

The Friends of the Princeton Public Library will host a virtual fundraiser on Saturday, January 30 at 11 a.m. via Zoom. “Restoring Civility and Bringing Social Justice to American Life: A Virtual Brunch and Talk” features four lifelong advocates for social justice as they share their vision for a more just, egalitarian, and united America. more

The Shakespeare Book Club unites Bard-ophiles and Shakespeare novices via fun, social, thought-provoking, and informative exploration of his plays. This fall, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has announced that the Shakespeare Book Club can now be experienced in-person at its Kean Theatre Factory or through Zoom for participants who wish to engage remotely. more

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has admired all the creative energy some people have been able to muster while they are staying at home these days. Having an outlet for imagination and play is a great strategy for keeping your energy up and creative juices flowing. more

American Girl (AG) has announced that it will share its most popular book series for free online at https://www.americangirl.com/explore/articles/onlinelibrary. Each week, AG will release a new set of books that highlight the brand’s many historical fiction and advice offerings.  more

This May’s Historical Fiction Book Group session presented by the Historical Society of Princeton is Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing. The novel is one of several best-selling works by New England-based writer Brooks. more

Hosted by Anna Borges, a mental health journalist formerly at Buzzfeed, senior editor at Self Magazine, and author of The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care, We Are YA can help keep teens company in these days of social distancing.  more

By Taylor Smith

Produced in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library (NYPL) at 476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street) presents an evening of performances and conversations centered around Toni Morrison, the American icon, writer, and intellectual, on Wednesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. more

By Stuart Mitchner

This Book Scene began with lunch at cookbook legends Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer’s newly opened Canal House Station restaurant in Milford, N.J.

At the time, all I knew about the Canal House series was what I heard from my wife on the drive up. According to an August 12 article in Food and Wine, the “meticulous restoration” of the Milford station took about two years, with the result evoking “the warmth of a dear friend’s home…. Even the entrance, past the small garden and through a back door, contributes to the familiar sensibility the brand new restaurant has already managed to create.”

I understood “familiar sensibility” as a way of describing the quality that has made the Canal House books so popular, an idea that accords with the Cambridge English Dictionary definition of sensibility as “an understanding of or ability to decide about what is good or valuable, especially in connection with social activities.”

Poetry Up Front

I found the “familiar sensibility” in evidence as soon as I opened my wife’s prized copy of Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel $45) to a photograph and a poem that would seem to have more to do with what is “good and valuable” than with cooking. The first image you see after turning the title and dedication pages is a blurry vision of blue sky and cloud mass photographed through the window of a plane en route to Istanbul; taking up the facing page is C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaca,” which begins, “When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,/pray that the road is long,/full of adventure, full of knowledge” and ends “Wise as you have become, with so much experience,/you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.”

As someone whose heart has never soared at the sight of a cookbook, I was more impressed by the association of cooking with a “beautiful voyage” than with any of the celebrity testimonials on the endpapers, except perhaps the tribute to “this kitchen bible” from actress Jamie Lee Curtis, a Canal House devotee who, like me, is not a “foodie” and admits to “no discernible culinary talent.” In fairness to Jamie Lee, the resemblance is strictly superficial; she cooks every day for “lots of people” and I’m a back-up cook, occasional sous chef, grater of cheese, composer of salads, and cleaner-upper. more

Film still from Cider House Rules

By Taylor Smith

Autumn can often induce feelings of nostalgia. As the weather turns cooler and a hint of the coming winter is detectable in the late evening air, you might be tempted to curl up with your favorite blanket and settle in for a fall movie marathon. Here are a few films that are guaranteed to send you on a journey and make for a memorable evening (or two). more

By Taylor Smith

 American poet Walt Whitman has been honored with a new United States stamp.

The stamp is intended for domestic first-class mail weighing up to 3 ounces, and is priced at 85 cents. USPS Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with artwork by Sam Weber, who previously illustrated the Flannery O’Connor stamp in 2015 and the Henry David Thoreau stamp in 2017. more

By Taylor Smith 

In The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years, authors B. Janet Hibbs (psychologist and marriage therapist) and Anthony Rostain (psychiatry and pediatrics/Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania) write that today’s students “experience the very real burdens of constant striving on behalf of uncertain futures, amidst swiftly changing political and economic landscapes. They’re also stressed by the 24/7 availability of the internet, by social media pressures, and the resulting metrics of constant comparisons, whether social or academic.”  more

Ellis Island Arrivals, Ellis Island mural detail, 1937. Photo courtesy of The Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration, Washington, DC.

By Stuart Mitchner

Mural painters love walls. In place of a symbolic denial of freedom, a barrier between two countries, they see an immense panorama of possibility, a space free but necessarily and beautifully finite. When muralist Edward Laning (1906-1981) looked at the 100-foot-long wall of the Aliens Dining Hall at Ellis Island, he was pondering his assigned subject, “The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America.” He was happy to have the work. It was 1934, he was broke and months behind in his rent for a top-floor loft with skylights on East 17th Street. As he recalls in “Memoirs of a WPA Painter” in American Heritage (October 1970), doing justice to his subject meant “learning how railroads were built and saw mills were operated and coal was mined and steel was manufactured.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

My only problem with a ceremonial institution like last month’s celebrating black history is in the way “history” implicitly detracts from the ongoing immediacy of the African American experience. “Lives” in my title can be read both as a reference to the lives of people and to the force that lives in the present, which happens when we listen to Charlie Parker or Billie Holiday, read James Baldwin or Frederick Douglass, admire a painting by Jacob Lawrence or a photograph by Gordon Parks, or go online to watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s stirring speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

The good news is that millions of people have been reading Obama’s memoir, Becoming (Crown $32.50), and David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon and Schuster $37.50).

Blight’s landmark biography begins with President Barack Obama’s September 24, 2016 dedication speech at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in which he delivered “a clear-eyed view” of the “tragic and triumphant” experience of “black Americans in the United States.” After referring to “the infinite depths of Shakespeare and scripture” in black history, Obama paid tribute to “the fight for our freedom … a lifetime of struggle and progress and enlightenment … etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty leonine gaze.” more

By Taylor Smith 

Each year, thousands of new movies are produced and released, and only a few are nominated for Academy Awards. Many of these chosen films actually began as books, plays, and short stories. Here is a collection of seven written works that have gone on to become beloved Oscar-winning films.  more