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Curiosity Forum & Book Talk: Mah Jongg – The Art & History of the Game (11/13/14)

Location: Battenkill Books Start: 11/13/2014 7:00 pm The premiere event – first event on the book tour!  Show-and-Tell Author Gregg Swain invites attendees to bring in their own Mah Jongg

Curiosity Forum & Book Talk: Mah Jongg – The Art & History of the Game (11/13/14)

Location: Battenkill Books
11/13/2014 7:00 pm
The premiere event – first event on the book tour! 

Author Gregg Swain invites attendees to bring in their own Mah Jongg sets from home. She can often provide information on what the tiles are made of, their age, and where they were produced. Swain will also bring in several of her own sets to share.
Read a review of the new book in The New York Times, here.  

“Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game” is the first book to fully capture the story of the exotic and exciting game of Mah Jongg, offering an intimate look at the history of the game as well as the visual beauty of the tiles. 

Visit Swain’s website here.  
When authors Ann Israel and Gregg Swain began playing Mah Jongg, they were unaware of the vintage collections that existed not only in the United States but also as far ranging as Africa to New Zealand. Slowly, they started to collect their own sets of Mah Jongg and as their collections grew, so did their appreciation of the history of, and interest in the game. 

Finding few references, Israel and Swain set out to create a book that chronicles the early beginnings of the game and documents Mah Jongg sets from the most basic, made simply of paper, to the most outrageous and opulent sets that have ever existed. Recognized and respected scholars and game experts have collaborated with Israel and Swain, contributing important chapters on the game’s history and its pieces as well as technical information on the tiles. Lastly, great collectors from around the globe have shared their incredible sets and memories for the first time in one book for everyone to enjoy. 

With hundreds of beautiful new images by renowned photographer, Michel Arnaud, and including historical documentation and ephemera, “Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game” fills the void between the past and today’s game, providing vision, inspiration and resources. Anyone who has ever been intrigued by a Mah Jongg tile will find in these pages visually stunning photographs that will entice them into becoming an enthusiast of the timeless game of Mah Jongg. 
Book List

ISBN-13: 9784805313237
Availability: Coming Soon – Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tuttle Publishing, 11/2014

The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War (10/24/14) – 7 pm


Battenkill Books,15 East Main Street, Cambridge, New York 12816 – 518-677-2521


Start: 10/24/2014 7:00 pm

Join us for a Curiosity Forum event: an author talk with Vernon Benjamin on his new HudsonFC9781590200797book, The History of the Hudson Rivery Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War

From The New York Times online:


Mr. Benjamin’s “History of the Hudson River Valley From Wilderness to the Civil War” (Overlook Press) is a model for how to enliven geography, anthropology and biography and weave them into a microcosmic account of America, from the “Paleo Prelude” to “Custer’s First Stand.”

He amplifies the profiles of familiar characters like Benedict Arnold and introduces new ones (“Sebal Luddington, a mere girl who surpassed Paul Revere in her perilous midnight ride”), illuminates the dependency of New York’s economy on African-American workers, and reveals the secessionist tilt of tiny Pine Bush in Orange County and its possible link to John Wilkes Booth, whose penultimate performance was in Albany.

Coupled with the Erie Canal, the Hudson was the avenue of commerce that exported the material harvest of the industrial revolution and helped bind the nation by spreading the culture and politics of America’s pre-eminent city.

-Sam Roberts, www.nytimes.com, August 8, 2014


Sailing down the river that would later bear his captain’s name, explorer Robert Juet described the Hudson River Valley in 1609 as a “drowned land” submerged by a “great lake of water.” Over the next two centuries, this drowned landscape would be the site of a truly historic flowering of art, literature, architecture, innovation, and revolutionary fervor–drawing comparisons to another fertile cultural haven built around a might mighty river in Western Europe.

As historian Vernon Benjamin chronicles, the Hudson River Valley has been a place of contradictions since its first settlement by Europeans. Discovered by an Englishman who claimed it for the Dutch, the region soon became home to the most vibrant trading outpost for the New World colonies–the Island of Manhattan–even as the rest of the valley retained the native beauty that would inspire artists from James Fenimore Cooper to Thomas Cole. Because of its unique geography and proximity to Canada, the Hudson Valley became the major theater for the battle between empires in the French and Indian War. When the colonists united in rebellion against the British several decades later, conflict came to the region once again, with decisive military engagements from Saratoga to West Point to the occupied New York Harbor. In the aftermath, New York emerged as the capital of a new nation, and wealth from the city flowed north to the burgeoning Valley, leading to a renaissance of culture and commerce that is still evident today.

Richly illustrated and scrupulously researched, Vernon Benjamin’s magisterial new history will be the definitive text for years to come.

Vernon Benjamin has lectured on the history of the Hudson Valley at Marist College and Bard College since 2003. He holds a Masters in Literature from Long Island University and a Bachelors in Sociology from Siena College. A former editor of the New Saugerties Times, he has written extensively on the Hudson Valley for various publications and has appeared on C-SPAN. He lives in Saugerties, New York.

The Curiosity Forum is a partnership of Battenkill Books, Hubbard Hall, and Leslie Parke Studio. In addition, this event in co-sponsored by the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA).



Book List

The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War (Hardcover)

By Vernon Benjamin


ISBN-13: 9781590200797
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Overlook Press, 6/2014

Author Event/Curiosity Forum: Jon Katz with new book, Saving Simon (10/07/2014) at Battenkill Books

10/07/2014 7:00 pm


Battenkill Books, 15 East Main Street, Cambridge, NY 12816


Please join us for the official book launch of Jon Katz’s new book Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion. In this heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir, “New York Times” bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people. 
In the spring of 2011, Jon Katz received a phone call that would challenge every idea he ever had about mercy and compassion. An animal control officer had found a neglected donkey on a farm in upstate New York, and she hoped that Jon and his wife, Maria, would be willing to adopt him. Jon wasn’t planning to add another animal to his home on Bedlam Farm, certainly not a very sick donkey. But the moment he saw the wrenching sight of Simon, he felt a powerful connection. Simon touched something very deep inside of him. Jon and Maria decided to take him in. 

Simon’s recovery was far from easy. Weak and malnourished, he needed near constant care, but Jon was determined to help him heal. As Simon’s health improved, Jon would feed him by hand, read to him, take him on walks, even confide in him like an old and trusted friend. Then, miraculously, as if in reciprocation, Simon began to reveal to Jon the true meaning of compassion, the ways in which it can transform our lives and inspire us to take great risks. 

This radically different perspective on kindness and empathy led Jon to a troubled border collie from Ireland in need of a home, a blind pony who had lived outside in a pasture for fifteen years, and a new farm for him and Maria. In the great tradition of heroes–from Don Quixote to Shrek–who faced the world in the company of their donkeys, Jon came to understand compassion and mercy in a new light, learning to open up “not just to [Simon], not just to animals, but to the human experience. To love, to risk, to friendship.” 
With grace, warmth, and keen emotional insight, “Saving Simon” plumbs the depths of bonds we form with our animals, and the rewards of “living a more compassionate, considered, and meaningful life.” 

Praise for Jon Katz 

“With wisdom and grace, Katz unlocks the canine soul and the complicated wonders that lie within and offers powerful insights to anyone who has ever struggled with, and loved, a troubled animal.”–John Grogan, author of “Marley & Me” 

“Katz’s world–of animals and humans and their combined generosity of spirit–is a place you’re glad you’ve been.”–”The Boston Globe” 

“From Toto to Marley, our canine friends are a sure bet in the literary biz. But no one seems to speak their language like Jon Katz.”–”San Antonio Express-News” 

“Katz proves himself a Thoreau for modern times as he ponders the relationships between man and animals, humanity and nature.”–”Fort Worth Star-Telegram” 

“I toss a lifetime award of three liver snaps to Jon Katz.”–Maureen Corrigan, National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” 

To order a signed copy of Jon’s new book, see below.

And for a complete list of Jon’s signed book available for purchase, click here.  

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