Arts & Entertainment

New Book Chat Series to Bring Livingston Community Together This Winter


LIVINGSTON, NJ – Collins Elementary School Kindergarten teacher and Livingston Education Foundation (LEF) representative Greer Gelman addressed Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting attendees on Monday to announce the first-ever Livingston Community Book Club session, coming to Livingston High School (LHS) at the start of the new year.

The session features LHS Class of ‘80 alum-turned No. 1 New York Times best-selling author Harlan Coben, who will read from his new novel Don’t Let Go, which was released in September. A discussion with Livingston residents who attend will follow. 

Coben’s whodunnit thriller may strike some familiar notes with Livingston residents. 

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“Many of the events in this book are influenced by places throughout Livingston that you’ll recognize—the most prominent being the Nike Missile Base at Riker Hill Art Park, a long-standing Livingston landmark,” said Gelman.

The LEF has joined forces with an LBOE subcommittee co-led by Buddy August and Samantha Messer to bring to fruition ideas that the two teams can work together on to support Livingston Public Schools (LPS). One of the most important ways LPS can offer that collective support is by providing avenues for keeping the connection between alumni and the town alive, according to Gelman.

“We were trying to figure out the best way to relaunch the LEF and get people excited about it again and Greer came up with the idea of inviting Harlan Coben here and having a ‘one town, one book’ evening,” said Messer as she thanked Gelman for her contribution to revitalizing the LEF.

Four days following the announcement of the event through the schools, more than 120 people had already signed up to attend the event, but spaces are still available. Anyone interested in attending on Monday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at LHS, should RSVP to Gelman at to reserve a space.

Making good on its promise to shift tacks from exploring the topic of implementing random drug testing at LHS to offering a series of educational programs on drug-and-alcohol abuse and teenage development for parents and students, Superintendent of Schools Christina Steffner mentioned additional upcoming “book chat” events focused on these topics.

Dr. Jess P. Shatkin, author of Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe, will be in town on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to present highlights from his study of how the brains of 12-to-26 year olds function. Co-sponsored by the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC) whose mission it is to prevent the illegal use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the home, school and community, and the Project Graduation Group, a January book chat for parents that includes the administrative team will precede the February presentation.

Steffner concluded by stating that the district will continue to offer these types of supports for parents to help them better understand their teenagers.

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