The Spring 2018 Literature Lectures

2018 Past Literature Lectures

An Insider’s View on Independent Publishing with Bellevue Literary Press

A Conversation with Publisher Erika Goldman and Author Diane DeSanders

Monday, June 25th 

The program starts at 6:30 P.M. 
Q&A, Book-Signing, and Reception to Follow

 Bellevue Literary Press is devoted to publishing literary fiction and nonfiction at the intersection of the arts and sciences. Publisher Erika Goldman will discuss Bellevue Literary Press, its history, its philosophy, its digital development and the realities of being an independent publisher in 2018. She will be joined in conversation by author – Diane DeSanders who will describe her path to publishing her first book, Hap and Hazard and the End of the World, an intimate, finely crafted novel about the innocence and vulnerability of childhood and the dangers posed by adults who cannot cope with life’s complexities.

Bellevue Literary Press, housed in historic Bellevue Hospital, is the first and only nonprofit press publishing at the arts-sciences nexus. Since 2007, they have been publishing prize-winning books – including the  2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction –  that address the “big questions” of the human condition while promoting literature and the humanities to the science and medical communities and science literacy to a general readership.

Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer’s True Story

 Rosemary Novellino-Mearns  


The lecture starts at 6:30 P.M.  –  Book-signing and Reception to follow

 In her multi-media presentation, Rosemary Novellino-Mearns, will outline the gripping story of how Radio City Music Hall, the Art Deco masterpiece and one of New York City’s most iconic tourist attraction and cultural landmarks, was nearly demolished in 1978; and how she, a ballet dancer at Radio City at that time, led the efforts to save it. In her warmly received book, Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer’s True Story, she details how in only 4 months, this historic landmark was preserved. 

Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War II 

With Richard Goldstein and other guests.

Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 6:30pm.

In partnership with the Gracie Mansion Book Club, the General Society is pleased to present: Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War II by Richard Goldstein.  To attend this event, please click here to register  A reception will follow.  Free Admission. Advance Registration is required.

Author and journalist Richard Goldstein’s engaging account of the extraordinary economic, social, and cultural shifts across New York’s five boroughs in the early 1940’s. World War II serves as the backdrop of broad upheaval and overdue attention paid to inequality and exclusion in many interconnected professions and ways of life. Just as newly -arriving migrants, battle-bound men and women, and Fascism-fleeing refugees together cement New York’s place as global crossroads, so the City’s artistic yield responds in the pioneering ways spawned by this dynamic social context. A new national policy for domestic security known as “Civil Defense” brought Mayor La Guardia to Gracie Mansion as its first official residence. And the General Society’s very midtown location bridging Times Square and Grand Central Terminal plays a key role in Goldstein’s lively narrative.

2017 Literature Lectures

Hook’s Tale

With Author, John Leonard Pielmeier

Thursday, July 20th at The General Society Library

The Program starts at 6:30 p.m.

Book Signing and Reception to follow, Free Admission

Hook’s Tale is the rollicking debut novel from award-winning playwright and screenwriter John Pielmeier, which reimagines the childhood of the much-maligned Captain Hook: his quest for buried treasure, his friendship with Peter Pan, and the story behind the swashbuckling world of Neverland.

Final Literature Lecture of 2016/17 Season

On Thursday, June 8th at 6.30pm – John Freeman Gill and The Gargoyle Hunters

John Freeman Gill will discuss his new book, The Gargoyle Hunters. Hilarious and poignant, The Gargoyle Hunters is a love letter to a vanishing city, and a deeply emotional story of fathers and sons. Intimately portraying New York’s elbow-jostling relationship with time, the novel solves the mystery of a brazen and seemingly impossible architectural heist—the theft of an entire historic Manhattan building—that stunned the city and made the front page of The New York Times in 1974.

Admission to this event is free. Advance Registration is required. The event will be followed by a book-signing and reception.

This event is presented in partnership with the Historic Districts Council.

Past Literature Lectures

CITY OF SEDITION: The History of New York During the Civil War With Author John Strausbaugh

In a talk, based on his enthralling new book, City of Sedition: The History of New York During the Civil War, author John Strausbaugh will detail the hugely conflicted role that New York City played in the Civil War. Mr. Strausbaugh will bring to life what it was like to live in New York City during this highly divisive and violent period. He describes how it was highly unlikely Abraham Lincoln would have made it to the White House without support from New York City. Yet, as he outlines in his book, the majority of New Yorkers never voted for him and were openly hostile to him and his politics.
Many of the recent Literature Lectures from the past 2016 /17 Fall and Spring season can be viewed on our YouTube Channel)

The Red Bandanna with author Tom Rinaldi
A very special program took place on December 13th, 2016 – The Red Bandanna with Emmy-award winning ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi. Please click here to watch the video of this memorable evening.

The New York Times Best Seller, The Red Bandanna by Emmy-award winning ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi tells the inspirational and moving story of Welles Remy Crowther—from the upbringing that shaped him to his courageous and selfless actions during the terror of 9/11.  It was a wonderful evening in tribute to the inspirational story of Welles Crowther. The author, Tom Rinaldi, was introduced by David Spampinato, Fordham University Journalism Student and WFUV Contributor.

Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover with Paul Buckley and Elda Rotor

On Tuesday September 27th, at 6.30pm, a special program celebrated the 70th Anniversary of Penguin Classics with Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover with Senior Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Paul Buckley and Elda Rotor, Vice President and Publisher of Penguin Classics. During this special program, Mr. Buckley and Ms. Rotor provided a visual overview of the innovative covers that have put Penguin Classics at the forefront of the book design world. They discussed how since the launch of Penguin Classics in 1946, innovative cover design has been one of its defining aspects. Today, Penguin Classics remains at the leading edge of the book-design world. In Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, Mr Buckley and Ms. Rotor provided a curated tour of Penguin Classics’ recent art design history, beginning with the now-iconic redesign of the signature Penguin Classics black-spine series in 2003 and moving through award-winning series like the Penguin Classics Graphic Deluxe Editions, Penguin Drop Caps, and Penguin Horror, to new series such as Penguin Galaxy and the Penguin Orange Collection.

Past Literature Lectures 2015/16

Please scroll down to see our Literature Lectures from the past 2015/2016 season – many of these lectures can be viewed on our YouTube Channel


Our first literature lecture featured on November 24th, Literary scholar and cultural historian Shelley Fisher Fishkin will discuss her acclaimed new book Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee. Published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act, Writing America is a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theaters to internment camps.


Against the backdrop of the General Society’s Lock Collection, Geoff Manaugh and Robert Krulwich discussed on Tuesday, April 5th, Mr. Manaugh’s newly published book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City. In the book, Geoff Manaugh takes us on a tour of our built environment—from the micro (think of a single cylinder lock) to the macro (an entire grid of city streets, sewers, and subway tunnels), and everything in between—as seen from the perspective of those who wish to infiltrate it for criminal ends, and those tasked with stopping them.

Terry Ballard on Friday, May 13th presented a program based on his book “Fifty Specialty Libraries of New York City: From Botany to Magic.” This celebration of some of the City’s cultural treasures will feature a host of specialty libraries that have grown up around the rich intellectual and cultural life of New York. Some of the wide range of libraries included are genealogical libraries; foreign language libraries; a library about dogs, a library devoted to fiction; a library on the work of Carl Jung; as well as libraries that cover the paranormal, botanical subjects and magical arts.

Tuesday, June 28th at 6.30pm —The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, Followed by book-signing and reception

How much do you really know about NYC’s history? Introducing a special program celebrating the launch of The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, the official companion book to the No. 1 travel podcast that offers an unconventional exploration of Manhattan’s historic neighborhoods, secret spots and colorful characters. The Bowery Boys  – Greg Young and Tom Meyers – will be here to discuss among other things,”Top Ten Hidden Secrets” of New York.

The General Society Library
20 WEST 44th Street (BETWEEN 5TH AND 6th AVENUES), New York City

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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