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

Who's in town

An Afternoon with Diane McCormick
Feb
2
4:00 PM16:00

An Afternoon with Diane McCormick

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This February, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Diane McCormick as she presents her new book, Well-Behaved Taverns Seldom Make History: Pennsylvania Pubs Where Rabble-Rousers and Rum Runners Stirred Up Revolutions. McCormick will be in conversation with Harrisburg's own, Sara Bozich Surra.

Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public!

About the Book:

Take a pub crawl through 12 Pennsylvania taverns with rebellious pasts, where the stakes were high and the rum was flowing. Meet the scalawags and insurrectionists of the American Revolution, Whiskey Rebellion, the boozy Fries Rebellion, the tumultuous Canal Era, the Underground Railroad, the Battle of Gettysburg (and the making of the movie!), the Molly Maguires, and Prohibition.

Diane McCormick uncovers the quirks and historical marvels that you won’t find on the back of the menu.

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An Evening with Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan
Feb
9
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan

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The Midtown Scholar is pleased to welcome Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan to discuss her new book, Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic, followed by a book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

The riveting story of control over the mobility of poor migrants, and how their movements shaped current perceptions of class and status in the United States  

Vagrants. Vagabonds. Hoboes. Identified by myriad names, the homeless and geographically mobile have been with us since the earliest periods of recorded history. In the early days of the United States, these poor migrants – consisting of everyone from work-seekers to runaway slaves – populated the roads and streets of major cities and towns. These individuals were a part of a social class whose geographical movements broke settlement laws, penal codes, and welfare policies. This book documents their travels and experiences across the Atlantic world, excavating their life stories from the records of criminal justice systems and relief organizations.  

Vagrants and Vagabonds examines the subsistence activities of the mobile poor, from migration to wage labor to petty theft, and how local and state municipal authorities criminalized these activities, prompting extensive punishment. Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan examines the intertwined legal constructions, experiences, and responses to these so-called “vagrants,” arguing that we can glean important insights about poverty and class in this period by paying careful attention to mobility. This book charts why and how the itinerant poor were subject to imprisonment and forced migration, and considers the relationship between race and the right to movement and residence in the antebellum US.  Ultimately, Vagrants and Vagabonds argues that poor migrants, the laws designed to curtail their movements, and the people charged with managing them, were central to shaping everything from the role of the state to contemporary conceptions of community to class and labor status, the spread of disease, and punishment in the early American republic. 

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Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is Instructor in the Department of History at Rutgers University.

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An Afternoon with Deborah and James Fallows
Feb
10
4:00 PM16:00

An Afternoon with Deborah and James Fallows

The Midtown Scholar warmly welcomes Deborah and James Fallows to our stage to discuss their best selling book, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. A book signing will follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

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About the Book

A vivid, surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America, town by town and generally out of view of the national media. A realistically positive and provocative view of the country between its coasts. 

For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign. 

The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems—from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge—but itis also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics. At times of dysfunction on a national level, reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level. The Fallowses describe America in the middle of one of these creative waves. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better. Our Towns is the story of their journey—and an account of a country busy remaking itself.

About the Authors

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JAMES FALLOWS has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than thirty-five years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. His work has also appeared in many other magazines and as public-radio commentaries since the 1980s. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award. For two years he was President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter.

DEBORAH FALLOWS is a linguist and writer who holds a PhD in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media, and Georgetown University. She and her husband have two sons and four grandchildren.

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An Evening with Robbie Tolan
Feb
12
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Robbie Tolan

The harrowing true story of Robbie Tolan, a young black man who was shot in the chest by a white police officer . . . in his own driveway.

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This February, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Robbie Tolan as he presents his new book, No Justice: One White Police Officer, One Black Family, and How One Bullet Ripped Us Apart. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

No Justice is the harrowing story of Robbie Tolan, who early on one New Year's Eve morning, found himself being rushed to the hospital. A white police officer had shot him in the chest after mistakenly accusing him of stealing his own car...while in his own driveway.

In a journey that took nearly a decade, Tolan and his family saw his case go before the United States Supreme Court in a groundbreaking decision, while Tolan struggled with how to put his life back together. Holding him together through this journey was the strength of his mother and father, his faith in God, and an impenetrable belief that he deserved justice like any other American who'd been wronged.

No Justice is the story about what happened after the cameras and social media protests went away. Robbie Tolan was left with the physical and mental devastation from having his body violated by someone who was supposed to serve and protect him. His story reminds us that police brutality is not a theoretical talking point in a larger nationwide argument. This story is about Robbie Tolan courageously picking up the pieces of his life, even as he fights for justice for all.

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About the Author:

Robbie Tolan has spent the past decade fighting for the rights of black victims seeking justice when dealing with police officers and the judicial system. His law-making case, Tolan v. Cotton, has set the precedent in the way judges are allowed to grant police officers qualified immunity. Since its ruling in 2014, Tolan's case has been cited in and helped thousands of cases involving police brutality. Tolan's foundation, Project 1231, is dedicated to making sure that victims of police brutality get the support they need. He currently lives in Houston.

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An Evening with Ross Gay
Feb
16
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Ross Gay

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The Midtown Scholar is thrilled to welcome Ross Gay to discuss his new book of essay, The Book of Delights, followed by a book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

“Ross Gay’s eye lands upon wonder at every turn, bolstering my belief in the countless small miracles that surround us.” —Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate

The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.


Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights is a genre-defying book of essays—some as short as a paragraph; some as long as five pages—that record the small joys that occurred in one year, from birthday to birthday, and that we often overlook in our busy lives. His is a meditation on delight that takes a clear-eyed view of the complexities, even the terrors, in his life, including living in America as a black man; the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture; the loss of those he loves. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: the way Botan Rice Candy wrappers melt in your mouth, the volunteer crossing guard with a pronounced tremor whom he imagines as a kind of boat-woman escorting pedestrians across the River Styx, a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, pickup basketball games, the silent nod of acknowledgment between black people. And more than any other subject, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world—his garden, the flowers in the sidewalk, the birds, the bees, the mushrooms, the trees.

This is not a book of how-to or inspiration, though it could be read that way. Fans of Roxane Gay, Maggie Nelson, and Kiese Laymon will revel in Gay’s voice, and his insights. The Book of Delights is about our connection to the world, to each other, and the rewards that come from a life closely observed. Gay’s pieces serve as a powerful and necessary reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight. 

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Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call It Ballin’ and founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a nonprofit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.

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An Afternoon with Pam Jenoff
Feb
17
4:00 PM16:00

An Afternoon with Pam Jenoff

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The Midtown Scholar is excited to welcome Pam Jenoff to discuss her book, The Lost Girls of Paris, followed by a book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.

1946, Manhattan


One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

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Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant's Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

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An Evening with Daniel Stone
Mar
9
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Daniel Stone

The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes—and thousands more—to the American plate.

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In conjunction with the Millworks, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Daniel Stone to Harrisburg as he discussed his new book, The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

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About the Author:

Daniel Stone is a staff writer for National Geographic and a former White House correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. A native of Los Angeles, he holds degrees from UC Davis and Johns Hopkins University.

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An Evening with Richard Rothstein
Mar
27
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Richard Rothstein

The Midtown Scholar is thrilled to welcome Richard Rothstein to our stage to discuss his book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. A book signing will follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book

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One of Publishers Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2017
Longlisted for the National Book Award

This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation―that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation―the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments―that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.

As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post–World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

About the Author

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He lives in California, where he is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley.

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An Evening with Robert Crease
Apr
4
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Robert Crease

A fascinating look at key thinkers throughout history who have shaped public perception of science and the role of authority.

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This April, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome philosopher and science historian Robert Crease to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

When does a scientific discovery become accepted fact? Why have scientific facts become easy to deny? And what can we do about it? In The Workshop and the World, philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease answers these questions by describing the origins of our scientific infrastructure―the “workshop”―and the role of ten of the world’s greatest thinkers in shaping it. At a time when the Catholic Church assumed total authority, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, and René Descartes were the first to articulate the worldly authority of science, while writers such as Mary Shelley and Auguste Comte told cautionary tales of divorcing science from the humanities. The provocative leaders and thinkers Kemal Atatürk and Hannah Arendt addressed the relationship between the scientific community and the public in in times of deep distrust.

As today’s politicians and government officials increasingly accuse scientists of dishonesty, conspiracy, and even hoaxes, engaged citizens can’t help but wonder how we got to this level of distrust and how we can emerge from it. This book tells dramatic stories of individuals who confronted fierce opposition―and sometimes risked their lives―in describing the proper authority of science, and it examines how ignorance and misuse of science constitute the preeminent threat to human life and culture. An essential, timely exploration of what it means to practice science for the common good as well as the danger of political action divorced from science, The Workshop and the World helps us understand both the origins of our current moment of great anti-science rhetoric and what we can do to help keep the modern world from falling apart.

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About the Author:

Robert P. Crease is the chairman of the philosophy department at Stony Brook University and the author of several books on science, including The Quantum Moment and The Great Equations. He lives in New York City.

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An Evening with Nicole Weisensee Egan
May
2
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Nicole Weisensee Egan

The definitive account of Bill Cosby's transition from revered father figure to convicted criminal, told by a veteran crime reporter and senior writer for People magazine.


Sponsored by:


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In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Nicole Weinsensee Egan to Harrisburg as she discusses her new book, Chasing Cosby. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.

About the Book:

Bill Cosby's decades-long career as a sweater-wearing, wholesome TV dad came to a swift and stunning end on April 26, 2018, when he was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. The mounting allegations against Bill Cosby--more than 60 women have come forward to accuse him of similar crimes--and his ultimate conviction were a shock to Americans, who wanted to cleave to their image of Cosby as a pudding-pop hero. 

Award-winning journalist and former People magazine senior writer Nicki Weisensee Egan was the first reporter to dig into the story when Constand went to the police in 2005. Other news organizations looked away, but Egan doggedly investigated the case, developing ties with entrenched sources and discovering incriminating details that would ultimately come to influence the prosecution.

In her debut book, Chasing Cosby, Egan shares her firsthand account of Cosby's 13-year run from justice. She tells us how Cosby planned and executed his crimes, and how Hollywood alliances and law enforcement knew what Cosby was doing but did nothing to stop him. A veteran crime reporter, Egan also explores the cultural and social issues that influenced the case, delving into the psychological calculations of a serial predator and into the psyche of a nation that fervently wanted to put their faith in the innocence of "American's Dad."

Rich in character and rife with dramatic revelations about popular culture, media power, and our criminal system, Egan's account will inform and fascinate readers with its candid telling of humanity's most enduring tale: the rise and fall of a cultural icon.

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About the Author:

Nicole Weisensee Egan has been the lead investigative journalist reporting on the Cosby case since 2005, first for the Philadelphia Daily News and then as a Senior Writer for PEOPLE magazine. She covered the trial for The Daily Beast and is currently in development with ITV for a limited documentary series about her reporting. Egan continues to report and write, and she also teaches magazine writing at Temple University. She lives in Royersford, PA.

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Dec
16
4:30 PM16:30

LGBT Book Club

This month, the LGBT Center's book club will be reading Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank by Andrea Weiss! 

"Paris Was a Woman is an illustrated collective portrait of the unique community of women who became known as the 'women of the Left Bank'. Authors Colette, Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein, poets H.D. and Natalie Clifford Barney, painters Romaine Brooks and Marie Laurencin, editors Bryher, Alice Toklas, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, photographers Berenice Abbott and Gisele Freund, booksellers Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, and journalist Janet Flanner all figured in this legendary milieu.

A wealth of photographs, paintings, drawings, and literary fragments, many previously unpublished, combine with Andrea Weiss's lively and revealing text to give an unparalleled insight into this extraordinary network of women for whom Paris was neither mistress nor muse, but a different kind of woman."

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American Overdose: An Evening with Chris McGreal
Nov
17
5:00 PM17:00

American Overdose: An Evening with Chris McGreal

The Midtown Scholar is pleased to welcome award-winning Guardian journalist Chris McGreal to Harrisburg to discuss his new book, American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts, a detailed account of the history of the American opioid epidemic. McGreal will be in conversation with WITF's Brett Sholtis. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion. 

About the Book:

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A comprehensive portrait of a uniquely American epidemic–devastating in its findings and damning in its conclusions.

The opioid epidemic has been called “one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine.” But calling it a mistake is a generous rewriting of history. Driven by greed, incompetence, and indifference, it was an utterly avoidable tragedy.

Chris McGreal reveals this in his deeply reported account, covering everyone from the law enforcement who struggled to get prosecutors to go after the doctors they called “drug dealers in white coats;” to miners who grew addicted to opioids while trying to ease the pain of their strenuous job; to physicians and scientists who tried to warn of an epidemic; to a teenage girl dragged into the heroin trade.

American Overdose also presents new evidence of Big Pharma’s domination of the healthcare system as it flooded the country with opioids. It exposes how the Food and Drug Administration and Congress were coopted into the drive to push painkillers–resulting ultimately in the rise and resurgence of heroin cartels in the American heartland.

McGreal tells the story, in terms both broad and intimate, of a population hit by a catastrophe they never saw coming. It was years in the making; and its ruinous consequences will stretch years into the future.

About the Author:

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Chris McGreal is a reporter for the Guardian and former journalist at the BBC. He was the Guardian’s correspondent in Johannesburg, Jerusalem and Washington DC, and now writes from across the United States. He has won several awards including for his reporting of the genocide in Rwanda, coverage of Israel/Palestine, and for writing on the impact of economic recession in modern America. He received the James Cameron prize for “work as a journalist that has combined moral vision and professional integrity”. He was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism for reporting that “penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth”. He is a former merchant seaman.

About the Interviewer: 

Brett Sholtis is WITF's Transforming Health Reporter. He covers health care and community health issues throughout the region.
In his life before journalism, Brett served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Kosovo and worked in the motorcycle industry in Southern California. Originally from Cambria County, he's proud to report news for his home state.

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Nov
17
10:00 AM10:00

Drag Storytime at the Scholar!

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The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is thrilled to present Drag Storytime, hosted by Miss Anita! This free and open to the public event will feature themes of diversity, love, and acceptance. Arts & crafts with Miss Anita will begin at 10am, and storytime will begin at 10:30am with local performers reading and acting out various stories.

The first Drag Storytime will feature Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrations by local author, Lauren Castillo.  

About the Performers:

Your host Miss Anita has been preforming for 17 years in the local illusion scene and is a huge advocate for encouraging children to read and create. 

Estevan Valentine, is the current reigning Mr. Central Pennsylvania Pride. He is a theater major and loves to share his love of the power of stories with everyone.

Betty Whitecastle, is a performer who is known for her amazing wit and incredible singing voice. She has been performing and running her own cabaret style shows for several years. 

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