Midtown Scholar Bookstore-Cafe
Award-winning Independent Booksellers | Since 2001

Who's in town

An Evening with Matthew Frederick: How to Fix Harrisburg
Apr
21
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Matthew Frederick: How to Fix Harrisburg

717uifzo9wL.jpg

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome urban designer and former Harrisburg resident Matthew Frederick as he presents his new book, 101 Things I Learned in Urban Design School. This new title in the bestselling 101 Things I Learned® series provides unique, accessible lessons on urban design for students, professionals, and even general readers who wish to better understand the design of cities and towns.

In this presentation, Frederick will show how the urban designer’s unique understanding of space can reshape how we see Harrisburg and envision its future. Frederick will focus on a few early lessons in his own schooling that profoundly impacted his understanding of cities. His search for a deeper understanding of the urban problem led him all the way back to the Copernican Revolution, when a monumental shift in perception and consciousness came to place urbanism outside our preferred mental models. This eventually led to the blighting of our cities; today it hampers and distorts our efforts to repair them. Indeed, America’s “successful” cities are beset by runaway rents, over-scaled buildings, the displacement of low-income residents, and a loss of authenticity. The truly successful cities of the 21st century will pursue a different course. They will eschew today’s top-down, developer-centric fixations and will re-engage the organic, bottom-up processes that once built and sustained them. A successful Harrisburg of the future will be built by and for everyone, not by a privileged few.

Join us afterward for a sale and signing of Matthew Frederick’s new book, 101 Things I Learned in Urban Design School, and the rest of the 101 Things I Learned series.

Frederick 2018-09-18.jpg

About the Author:

MATTHEW FREDERICK, a former Harrisburg resident, is an architect, urban designer, author of the bestselling 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, and the creator of the 101 Things I Learned book series. He previously served as HACC professor of architecture and as architecture columnist for the Patriot-News. His latest book, 101 Things I Learned in Urban Design School, will be released by Penguin Random House on April 3.

View Event →
Independent Bookstore Day
Apr
28
8:00 AM08:00

Independent Bookstore Day

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore! As a proud participant in this one-day national event, we’ll have family fun activities, book giveaways, special sales, and a special conversation with two award-winning debut novelists, Meghan Kenny and Jane Delury. 

Why Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at the Scholar?

Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism.  They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more details!

23621189_1300775713356869_717975249579235228_n.jpg
View Event →
An Afternoon with Meghan Kenny and Jane Delury
Apr
28
4:00 PM16:00

An Afternoon with Meghan Kenny and Jane Delury

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome award-winning debut novelists Meghan Kenny and Jane Delury to Harrisburg on Independent Bookstore Day! Kenny will read from her novel, The Driest Season, and Delury will read from her novel, The Balcony. Following the reading, Kenny and Delury will be in conversation with Alex Brubaker to discuss the the craft of writing fiction, contemporary novels, and the creative process. 

This event is free and open to the public. 

About The Driest Season: 

As her Wisconsin community endures a long season of drought and feels the shockwaves of World War II, fifteen-year-old Cielle endures a more personal calamity: the unexpected death of her father. On a balmy summer afternoon, she finds him hanging in the barn―the start of a dark secret that threatens her family’s livelihood. A war rages elsewhere, while in the deceptive calm of the American heartland, Cielle’s family contends with a new reality and fights not to be undone.

A stunning debut, The Driest Season creates a moving portrait of Cielle’s struggle to make sense of her father’s time on earth, and of her own. With wisdom and grit, Kenny has fashioned a deeply affecting story of a young woman discovering loss, heartache, and―finally―hope.

About The Balcony:

What if our homes could tell the stories of others who lived there before us? Set in a small village near Paris, The Balcony follows the inhabitants of a single estate-including a manor and a servants' cottage-over the course of several generations, from the Belle Époque to the present day, introducing us to a fascinating cast of characters. A young American au pair develops a crush on her brilliant employer. An ex-courtesan shocks the servants, a Jewish couple in hiding from the Gestapo attract the curiosity of the neighbors, and a housewife begins an affair while renovating her downstairs. Rich and poor, young and old, powerful and persecuted, all of these people are seeking something: meaning, love, a new beginning, or merely survival.

Throughout, cross-generational connections and troubled legacies haunt the same spaces, so that the rose garden, the forest pond, and the balcony off the manor's third floor bedroom become silent witnesses to a century of human drama. 

In her debut, Jane Delury writes with masterful economy and profound wisdom about growing up, growing old, marriage, infidelity, motherhood - in other words, about life - weaving a gorgeous tapestry of relationships, life-altering choices, and fleeting moments across the frame of the twentieth century. A sumptuous narrative of place that burrows deep into individual lives to reveal hidden regrets, resentments, and desires, The Balcony is brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.

About the Authors: 

Meghan Kenny is the author of Love Is No Small Thing: Stories. Her short story "The Driest Season"―the basis for her debut novel―won the Iowa Review Award and was a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Jane Delury's fiction has appeared in Narrative, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, The Yale Review, and Glimmer Train. She has received a PEN/O. Henry Prize, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Story Award, a VCCA fellowship, and grants from the Maryland State Arts Council. She holds an MA in literary studies from the University of Grenoble, France, and an MA in fiction from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She teaches in the University of Baltimore's MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program.

View Event →
An Evening with Allen Guelzo
May
5
6:00 PM18:00

An Evening with Allen Guelzo

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to partner with the National Civil War Museum to welcome award-winning historian Allen Guelzo to Harrisburg! Dr. Guelzo will present his new book on the Civil War, Reconstruction: A Concise History with WITF's Scott LaMar. This event is free and open to the public. 

About the Book:

The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in American history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Conflict shifted from the battlefield to the Capitol as Congress warred with President Andrew Johnson over just what to do with the South. Johnson's plan of Presidential Reconstruction, which was sympathetic to the former Confederacy and allowed repressive measures such as the "black codes," would ultimately lead to his impeachment and the institution of Radical Reconstruction. 

While Reconstruction saw the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, expanding the rights and suffrage of African Americans, it largely failed to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. It also struggled to manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern free-labor economy. However, these failures cannot obscure a number of accomplishments with long-term consequences for American life, among them the Civil Rights Act, the election of the first African American representatives to Congress, and the avoidance of renewed civil war. Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the civil rights movement.

In this concise history, award-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo delves into the constitutional, political, and social issues behind Reconstruction to provide a lucid and original account of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on the American social fabric.

About the Author:

Allen C. Guelzo is Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. Three-time winner of the Lincoln Prize, he is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which won the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History.

View Event →
An Evening with Maya Rao
May
17
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Maya Rao

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Maya Rao as she presents her new narrative nonfiction book, Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks and the Making of an Oil Frontier. Audience Q&A and book signing to take place after the talk.

This event is free and open to the public.

GreatAmericanOutopost.jpg

About the Book:

The story of a twenty-first century American frontier–where the free market reigns supreme as profiteers rush to develop a massive new oilfield.

The word was that you could earn $17,000 a month in the Bakken Oilfield of North Dakota. So they flooded in: the profiteers, deadbeats, ex-cons, dreamers, and doers. And so too did Maya Rao, a journalist who embedded herself in the surreal new American frontier.

With an eye for the dark, humorous, and absurd, Rao set out in steel-toed boots to chronicle the largest oil boom since the 1968 discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Businessmen turned up to restart their careers after bankruptcy or fraud allegations from the financial crisis. An ex-con found his niche as a YouTube celebrity exposing the underside of oilfield life. A high-rolling Englishman blew investors’ money on $400 shots of cognac as authorities started to catch on that his housing developments were part of a worldwide Ponzi scheme.

Part Barbara Ehrenreich, part Upton Sinclair, this is an on-the-ground narrative of capitalism and industrialization as a rural, insular community transformed into a colony of outsiders hustling for profit-a sobering exploration of twenty-first century America that reads like a frontier novel.

About the Author: 

Rao, Maya (cr Xavier Dussaq).jpg

MAYA RAO is a staff writer in the Washington D.C. bureau of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Awl, Philadelphia Inquirer, Longreads, and more.

View Event →
An Evening with Madeline Miller
May
23
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Madeline Miller

Miller_Circe_sm.jpg

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome New York Times Bestselling author Madeline Miller to Harrisburg as she presents her new novel, Circe. This event is free and open to the public. 

“An epic spanning thousands of years that’s also a keep-you-up-all-night page turner.” – Ann Patchett

About the Book:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

About the Author:

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and attended Brown University where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She lives in Narbeth, PA with her husband and two children. The Song of Achilles was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction and has been translated into twenty-five languages.

MadelineMiller_creditNinaSubin-sm.jpg
View Event →

Uneasy Peace: A Conversation with Patrick Sharkey
Apr
12
7:00 PM19:00

Uneasy Peace: A Conversation with Patrick Sharkey

Why have American cities experienced an astonishing drop in violent crime in the past two decades? How does Harrisburg fit into this narrative? And ultimately -- how do we prevent another crime wave? 

Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at New York University Patrick Sharkey will be in conversation with award-winning journalist and reporter for Penn Live Christine Vendel and The Burg's Lizzy Hardison to discuss Sharkey's new book, Uneasy Peace: : The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence. 

UneasyPeace_978-0-393-60960-8.jpg

About the Book:

An eye-opening account of the transformation of cities and an urgent call to action to prevent another crime wave.

Over the past two decades, American cities have experienced an astonishing drop in violent crime, dramatically changing urban life. In many cases, places once characterized by decay and abandonment are now thriving, the fear of death by gunshot wound replaced by concern about skyrocketing rents.

In 2014, most U.S. cities were safer than they had ever been in the history of recorded statistics on crime. Patrick Sharkey reveals the striking consequences: improved school test scores, since children are better able to learn when not traumatized by nearby violence; better chances that poor children will rise into the middle class; and a striking increase in the life expectancy of African American men.

Sharkey also delineates the combination of forces, some positive and some negative, that brought about safer streets, from aggressive policing and mass incarceration to the intensive efforts made by local organizations to confront violence in their own communities.

From New York’s Harlem neighborhood to South Los Angeles, Sharkey draws on original data and textured accounts of neighborhoods across the country to document the most successful proven strategies for combatting violent crime and to lay out innovative and necessary approaches to the problem of violence. At a time when crime is rising again and powerful political forces seek to disinvest in cities, the insights in this book are indispensable.

Sharkey, Patrick (c) Sunny Thapa.jpg

About the Author:

Patrick Sharkey is professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at New York University. He is also scientific director of Crime Lab New York, an independent organization dedicated to applying and evaluating new methods for addressing crime, violence, and poverty.

View Event →
An Evening with Sands Hall
Apr
10
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Sands Hall

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Sands Hall to Harrisburg as she presents her new memoir, Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology. 

This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to take place after the talk. 

9781619021785.jpg

About the Book:

In Flunk. Start., Sands Hall chronicles her slow yet willing absorption into the Church of Scientology. Her time in the Church, the late 1970s, includes the secretive illness and death of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and the ascension of David Miscavige. Hall compellingly reveals what drew her into the religion—what she found intriguing and useful—and how she came to confront its darker sides.

As a young woman from a literary family striving to discover her own way as an artist, Hall ricochets between the worlds of Shakespeare, avant-garde theater, and soap opera, until her brilliant elder brother, playwright Oakley Hall III, falls from a bridge and suffers permanent brain damage. In the secluded canyons of Hollywood, she finds herself increasingly drawn toward the certainty that Scientology appears to offer.

In this candid and nuanced memoir, Hall recounts her spiritual and artistic journey with a visceral affection for language, delighting in the way words can create a shared world. However, as Hall begins to grasp how purposefully Hubbard has created the unique language of Scientology—in the process isolating and indoctrinating its practitioners—she confronts how language can also be used as a tool of authoritarianism.

Hall is a captivating guide, and Flunk. Start. explores how she has found meaning and purpose within that decade that for so long she thought of as lost; how she has faced the “flunk” represented by those years, and has embraced a way to “start” anew.

About the Author: 

Hall, Sands © Brett Hall.jpg

SANDS HALL is the author of the novel, Catching Heaven, a Willa Award Finalist for Best Contemporary Fiction, and a Random House Reader’s Circle selection; and of a book of writing essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer’s Craft. She teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the Community of Writers, Squaw Valley, and is a Teaching Professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Hall lives in Nevada City.

View Event →
Critical Reflections in Black History: From Fugitive Slave Law to the Great Uprising in Urban America
Apr
7
6:00 PM18:00

Critical Reflections in Black History: From Fugitive Slave Law to the Great Uprising in Urban America

How did fugitive slaves impact the politics of the critical decade leading up to the Civil War? What can we learn from the race riots during the Civil Rights Movement in Urban America? And how do both critical moments in African American History shape our society today?

In conjunction with Cambridge University Press, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome renowned scholars Richard Blackett and Peter Levy to Harrisburg. Blackett and Levy will present their new books, followed by a moderated discussion with Elizabethtown College Professor Michael Long.

51UJCQVI5fL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

In The Captives Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery, one of the field's most distinguished historians, Richard Blackett, explores the impact fugitive slaves had on the politics of the critical decade leading up to the Civil War. Through the close reading of diverse sources ranging from government documents to personal accounts, Blackett traces the decisions of slaves to escape, the actions of those who assisted them, the many ways black communities responded to the capture of fugitive slaves, and how local laws either buttressed or undermined enforcement of the federal law.

9781108434034.jpg

In The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s, Peter Levy examines the over 750 urban revolts over the arc of the entire decade from 1963 to 1972 in York, Cambridge, and Baltimore. He challenges both conservative and liberal interpretations, emphasizing that these riots must be placed within historical context to be properly understood. Levy presents a cautionary tale by challenging us to consider if the conditions that produced this 'Great Uprising' are still predominant in American culture today.

About the Authors: 

richard-blackett.jpg

Richard J. M. Blackett is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. He is past President of the Association of Caribbean Historians, Associated Editor and Acting Editor of the Journal of American History, and editor of the Indiana Magazine of History. He is the author of several books, including Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (2002), Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (2000), and Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery (2013).

8C5A1084 peter Levy (2).jpg

Peter Levy teaches history at York College, where he has taught courses on Recent America, the Civil Rights Movement, Women in the U.S., Environmental History, and Race & Justice.  He has written over a dozen books, including The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s, Civil War on Race Street: The Civil War on Race Street in Cambridge, Maryland and The New Left and Labor.  

View Event →
An Evening with Analicia Sotelo
Mar
26
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Analicia Sotelo

Virgin_Cover_300dpi_RGB.jpg
Sotelo_profile_cred_Brooke_Lightfoot.jpg

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome poet Analicia Sotelo to Harrisburg as she presents her debut collection, Virgin. Winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Sotelo's poems are a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.

This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book: 

Selected by Ross Gay as winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.

In Virgin, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity—of naiveté, of careless abandon—before sharply exploring the intelligence and fortitude of women, how “far & wide, / how dark & deep / this frigid female mind can go.” A schoolgirl hopelessly in love. A daughter abandoned by her father. A seeming innocent in a cherry-red cardigan, lurking at the margins of a Texas barbeque. A contemporary Ariadne with her monstrous Theseus. A writer with a penchant for metaphor and a character who thwarts her own best efforts. “A Mexican American fascinator.”

At every step, Sotelo’s poems seduce with history, folklore, and sensory detail—grilled meat, golden habañeros, and burnt sugar—before delivering clear-eyed and eviscerating insights into power, deceit, relationships, and ourselves. Here is what it means to love someone without truly understanding them. Here is what it means to be cruel. And here is what it means to become an artist, of words and of the self.

Blistering and gorgeous, Virgin is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from one of our most promising young poets. 

About the Author: 

Analicia Sotelo is the author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, selected by Ross Gay, to be published by Milkweed Editions in February 2018. She is also the author of the chapbook Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González for the 2016 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship 30 and Under and her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Her poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Iowa Review, and The Antioch Review. She is the 2016 DISQUIET International Literary Prize winner in poetry and is the recipient of scholarships from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Image Text Ithaca Symposium. She holds a BA in English literature from Trinity University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston. She works for Writers in the Schools in Houston.

View Event →