Thursday, July 14, 2011

Memoirs & Coffee Book Group to Meet

The next meeting of Bernardsville Library’s book discussion group, Memoirs and Coffee, will be held on Tuesday, July 26 at 10:30 am in the library’s Community Room. Pat Kennedy-Grant, Readers’ Services Coordinator for the library, will lead the discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot. [The author will not be present.]

Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, whose cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in 20th century medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today though Henrietta Lacks has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells, as they are known, were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. It took Skloot over a decade to uncover this riveting story which became an instant best-seller.

Skloot has written for The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW. She and her father, Floyd Skloot, are co-editors of The Best American Science Writing 2011.

There is no charge and no sign-up is needed to join the discussion. Call the library at 766-0118 for more information.

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