Books That Talk Back with Brunonia Barry
Jul 8 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Brunonia Barry has her voice back and will be our special guest on July 8!

Log in to the next session of Books That Talk Back (BTTB)–our online series hosted by Stephanie Buck and Diane Stern, (2019 Salem Literary Festival co-chairs), featuring live conversations with thoughtful readers about books that changed their lives. The discussion may feature books from any genre or era, books that altered the reader’s perspective and experience of the world, books that talk back.

By sharing the books that “speak to us,” we can continue to share in a community of readers that has flourished at the Salem Athenaeum for over two centuries with times of both success and adversity. We hope you will join us for BTTB on July 8. This event will be held on Zoom. Please sign up using the “Register” link below to receive login information.

Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international bestselling author of The Lace Reader, The Map of True Places, and The Fifth Petal, which was chosen #1 of Strand Magazine’s Top 25 Books of 2017 and a Massachusetts Book Awards Must Read. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages and has been an Amazon Best of the Month and a People Magazine Pick. A cable series based on The Lace Reader and The Fifth Petal is currently in development with NBC/Universal. Barry was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Invitational Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Brunonia served as chairperson of the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee, as Executive Director of the Salem Literary Festival, and as a member of Grub Street’s Development Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband, Gary Ward, and their dog, Angel and is currently putting the finishing touches on her newest novel: The Island of Mother and Daughters.


Book Group
Jul 11 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m.

View the reading list.

Monday Evening Conversations
Jul 13 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The Monday Evening Conversations Group meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM. All members and other interested parties are invited.

It may be of interest to know that the The Social Library, predecessor of the Salem Athenæum, was founded by a similar discussion group, called the Monday Evening Club. Edward Augustus Holyoke, Rev. Thomas Barnard, Rev. Thomas Gilchrist, Benjamin Lynde, Nathaniel Ropes and others were among the Monday Evening Club founders, who gathered to discuss current events and topics of mutual interest.

Topics for discussion are wide open, but must be amenable to good conversation. Examples include:

  • The long ranging effects of the Civil War
  • The courage to be vulnerable
  • European architecture
  • The importance/non importance of art
  • Why have friends

Meetings will start with something to help frame the discussion for the evening, such as a:

  • brief talk
  • podcast
  • video
  • reading of prose or poetry
  • music

We look forward to talking with you!

Writing Group: The Monday Group
Jul 13 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The Monday Group offers support and feedback for adult writers under 40 at the beginnings of their careers. Those interested should contact leader Blake Campbell (blakecampbell1919@gmail.com) to assess whether this group is right for you.

Writers’ Open Studio
Jul 14 @ 8:40 am – 11:30 am

Weekly Writing Studios at the Salem Athenaeum.

The building will be open from 8:40-11:30 every Tuesday (unless announced otherwise). Feel free to come by and write in a quiet peaceful setting.

Come for as long as you’d like–for 20 minutes or all three hours.

La Tertulia
Jul 14 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

La Tertulia is a group of members interested in keeping their Spanish speaking skills in practice.

Meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday
from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Writers’ Open Studio
Jul 21 @ 8:40 am – 11:30 am

Weekly Writing Studios at the Salem Athenaeum.

The building will be open from 8:40-11:30 every Tuesday (unless announced otherwise). Feel free to come by and write in a quiet peaceful setting.

Come for as long as you’d like–for 20 minutes or all three hours.

Salem Writers’ Group
Jul 21 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

All are welcome to bring work-in-progress to share with the group for feedback. The group is facilitated by J.D. Scrimgeour, Professor of English, Salem State University.

Deborah Plummer: Achieving Racial Equity…One Friend at a Time
Jul 22 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Cross-racial friendships that foster inter-group contact remain one of the most effective methods of improving race relations. They are successive approximations toward the goal of the beloved community, bringing us closer to a shared American experience, moving us from separate and unequal to together and equal. Cross-racial friends have the power to reduce bias and change cultural beliefs not just for the individual dyad; they hold the potential for positive change for their families and their circle of friends. Over time, these friendships have profound effects on healing divisions among different racial groups and fostering racial equity. Yet, most Americans do not have friends of a different race. This presentation will examine the factors for why that it is so.



Deborah L. Plummer, PhD, is a psychologist, university professor, author, and speaker on topics central to racial equality, inclusion, and mutual respect. Her groundbreaking and timely book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross Racial Friendships (Beacon Press) examines race relations through the lens of friendships, exploring how cross-racial friendships work and fail within American society. She is also the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman and Littlefield) and author of Advancing Inclusion: A Guide for Effective Diversity Council and Employee Resource Group Membership (Half Dozen Publications), and award-winning Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendships (Pilgrim Press).

She has written for Diversity Executive, Boston Globe Magazine, and Medium and has authored several book chapters and published numerous journal articles for the professional academic community. Her essay “The Girl from the Ghetto” is published in the anthology All of the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World, Essays on Equality, Justice and Freedom (NBTT Press).

As a scholar-practitioner, Debbie has designed several assessment tools: Antiracist Style Indicator (ASI), Racial Identity Self-Assessment Inventory (RISAI) and the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES). Her work has been featured in several media outlets and she has served for many years as an expert commentator for several news outlets.

Debbie has held past roles as an academic medical center vice chancellor, hospital system chief diversity officer, staff psychologist, tenured psychology professor, and founding director of a graduate degree program in diversity management. She has been named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 15 Chief Diversity Officers to Know.

Debbie currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Michael Bussey where she serves on the boards of Nana’sTribe Foundation, Books@Work, and Positive Education Program (PEP). She considers her second home to be the Greater Boston area where she cherishes her work with Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit, international educational and professional development organization, and is a proud board member of GrubStreet, a leading narrative arts center located in Boston. In her next life, she plans to come back as a master chef (think Ina Garten) or a singer, dancer and entertainer (think Beyonce).


Memoir Writers Group
Jul 23 @ 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Meets monthly on fourth Thursdays.

This group is for people who are writing, or wish to write, memoirs. It will not be a class, but rather an opportunity for participants to share and discuss each other’s work, and to offer guidance, advice, and companionship through the memoir-writing process.