Babcock announces four 2012 CLSC selections on Bryant Day


Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education, holds up a galley copy of Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz, one of four Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selections she announced at the Bryant Day celebration Saturday. Photo by Eve Edelheit.

Aaron Krumheuer | Staff Writer

On Bryant Day, members of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle gathered to ring the bells of Miller Bell Tower.

Bryant Day was the last hurrah of the Class of 2011 and the first of the 2012 reading season, whose vertical theme is “Character.”

At the service, Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education, announced four of the upcoming CLSC book selections, the most that has been chosen this early in years.

“They need to start reading now,” Babcock said. “I’m really thrilled about these.”

The theme of Week Three, which starts July 8, 2012, is “Inspire. Commit. Act.,” and there are two books by two married authors.

One is Caleb’s Crossing by Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, a historical novel in the voice of a young Puritan woman. It is about her friendship with a Native American man, named Caleb, who was the first Native American to graduate Harvard College in 1665.

“It has a lot to say about women of that time who sometimes weren’t in power to act, even when inspired and committed,” Babcock said.

The other is Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz, Brooks’ husband. It is the story of the militant abolitionist’s life and his raid on Harpers Ferry. Horwitz’s book will not be published until October, but Babcock has had a chance to read the galley proof.

“Of course it is very controversial; some people thought that John Brown was mad, and other people thought John Brown is a hero,” she said. “This raises the question of how one is inspired to commit drastic action.”

Week Four’s theme is “Water Matters,” which will be presented in partnership with National Geographic Society. The reading selection is View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World by conservation scientist Carl Safina.

View from Lazy Point is the chronicle of a year along Safina’s home on the Long Island coast, with an eye on the ecology of the ocean and the changing of the seasons. The character in this story is nature itself, Babcock said.

For Week Nine, whose theme is “The Presidents Club,” the book selection is The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Gibbs is executive editor of Time magazine and has been a CLSC author before, and Duffy is Time’s Washington bureau chief.

The book is not yet published but will be out in June 2012 through Simon & Schuster.

Both Gibbs and Duffy are seasoned veterans of covering the presidential beat, and The Presidents Club takes a look at the relationships, in history and in blood, within the White House.