SR! 2012 Season News

Saratoga Reads Announces Next Round of Community Events

Saratoga Reads and its community partners will offer a number of events in the coming weeks designed to promote reading, discussion, socializing, and the exchange of ideas. The activities range from discussions on medical ethics and journalism to brunch and a Vermont road trip.

The events are related to this year’s Saratoga Reads book of choice, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The widely acclaimed nonfiction work tells the story of an African American woman who sought treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. During treatment, and without her consent, samples of her cancer tissue were taken for medical and scientific experimentation. For 60 years, cells reproduced from those samples have been used worldwide in medical research, while many of Henrietta’s family members have lived in poverty, unable to afford health care.

The events will begin with a “Books and Brunch” benefit on Sunday, March 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Sperry’s Restaurant on Caroline St., downtown Saratoga Springs. The event will feature a raffle and drink specials for adults, as well as a special raffle and menu for kids. A percentage of the proceeds will go to support Saratoga Reads and its public programming, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation

Following the brunch, participants are encouraged to stroll over to the nearby public library, where the Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library will present a discussion titled “What’s Race Got to do With It? Medical Ethics, Race-Based Treatment, and the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks.” The discussion will be led by Dr. Bruce White, director of Alden March Bioethics Institute, Albany Medical College, and Professor Oscar Williams, Department of Africana Studies, University at Albany. The event will take place 2-4 p.m. in the Dutcher Community Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library.

On March 29, Saratoga Reads will offer a bus tour to attend a presentation by Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, at Norwich University in Vermont. The trip will start with a visit to the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vt., followed by a catered lunch. The next stop will be Morse Farm in Montpelier for a maple sugar tasting and a farm tour. The group will then make the short run to Norwich University for dinner, followed at 7 p.m. by the Rebecca Skloot presentation and book signing. The cost for the daylong trip is $75. Reservation deadline has been extended to March 17. For more information visit

“We are disappointed that we are not able to bring Rebecca Skloot to Saratoga, but we are thrilled to have arranged for a bus to take Saratogians to her!” said Tabitha Orthwein, chair of the Saratoga Reads board.

The Saratoga Reads events for the month will wrap up on Saturday, March 31, with a presentation by Danny Hakim, Albany Bureau Chief for the New York Times, at 2 p.m. in Emerson Auditorium of Palamountain Hall, Skidmore College. Hakim, who will give a behind-the-scenes look at his work as a reporter, frequently writes on investments and financial matters, including the New York State budget. He was part of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for its coverage of the sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Special “Capstone” Event, April 26

Saratoga Reads invites area residents to mark their calendars for Thursday, April 26, when the community reading program will hold its capstone event of the year—a discussion with David “Sonny’ Lacks, a son of Henrietta Lacks, who will describe what it was like, decades after the fact, to find out that his mother’s cells were being used for research worldwide. The discussion, moderated by Joe Donahue of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Bernhard Theater at Skidmore College.

“We are thrilled to be concluding our celebration of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with the visit of Sonny Lacks and one of Henrietta’s grandchildren to Saratoga Springs,” said Orthwein. “Thanks to our sponsors and to the support of the community at our fundraising events, we have been able to offer an extraordinary range of events that are free and open to the public.”