Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award
Taking a look back in a light-hearted debate
Are books that were popular a hundred years ago still relevant today? That’s the question we ask every year at the Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award, where three distinguished panelists make a strong case for their books. The audience chooses the winner. Learning from yesterday’s literature has never been this fun.
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Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1918
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 6:30 PM Abbey Room, Boston Public Library

We are hosting the Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1918 to weigh the enduring literary merits of bestsellers published in 1918. Contenders for the prize are Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons, Willa Cather's My Antonia, and William Strunk Jr.'s The Elements of Style. The books will be championed by John D. Spooner, Alex Beam and Shirley Leung respectively. Author Stona Fitch will moderate the lighthearted debate, after which the audience will vote on a winner.

Join us! Although seats will be available on a first come, first serve basis on the night of the event, we would appreciate if you could register for planning purposes:

Stona Fitch

Debate Moderator:

Stona Fitch (aka Rory Flynn)

is an award-winning novelist who has garnered international acclaim. His novel, Senseless, was adapted into a feature film of the same name. He authors a Boston-based crime series (Third Rail, Dark Horse) under the pseudonym Rory Flynn. Mr. Fitch is also the co-founder of the Concord Free Press, the world’s first generosity-based publisher. A graduate of Princeton, he lives in Concord, Massachusetts. The Associates honored him as a Literary Light in 2010.

Speaking for the Candidates:

 John D. Spooner

John D. Spooner

is the only investment advisor/novelist in America. He has written two novels and eight nonfiction books, including No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Letters to My Grandchildren, a Boston Globe #1 bestseller, and #2 on Amazon’s bestselling business books list. His articles have appeared in magazines such as Town and Country, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, Esquire, Time, and The Boston Globe. A Managing Director of Investments for Morgan Stanley, Mr. Spooner has also been a Director of The Atlantic Monthly, WBUR, and David Godine Publishers, and a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He has shared his philosophy of investing on Wall Street Week, CNBC, Fox News, National Public Radio and Bloomberg National Radio. A graduate of Harvard, Mr. Spooner has served on the Board of the Harvard Alumni Association and was co-founder of The Curious George Foundation. He now serves on the Boards of The Boys and Girls Clubs, Huntington Theatre, and as a trustee of The Harvard Lampoon. The Associates honored him as a Literary Light in 1993. Mr. Spooner will be defending Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons.

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 Shirley Leaung

Shirley Leung

is the The Boston Globe’s interim Editorial Page Editor. She has also been a Globe columnist writing on everything from the intersection of business and politics to gender issues in the workplace; and the Globe’s business editor, where she oversaw award-winning coverage of the 2008 financial crisis. She is a WGBH contributor to “Boston Public Radio” and “Greater Boston,” as well as a regular guest on New England Cable News. Ms. Leung has been a three-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary, and in 2018, Boston Magazine named her to its list of the “100 Most Influential People in Boston.” A graduate of Princeton University, Ms. Leung started her career at her hometown paper, The Baltimore Sun, and later worked at the Wall Street Journal as a staff reporter. Ms. Leung will be defending William Strunk Jr.'s The Elements of Style.

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Alex Beam

Alex Beam

is a longtime Boston Globe columnist. He has published two novels about Russia, and four works of nonfiction, including his most recent title, The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship. Two of his book Gracefully Insane (about McLean Hospital) and A Great Idea at the Time were selected as New York Times Notable Books. Mr. Beam contributes to Architecture Boston magazine and is a guest commentator for the WGBH radio show “Boston Public Radio" Notable journalistic accomplishments include the Globe's first and only Hate Mail podcast, and the first-in-the-world squash blog, for Vanity Fair. (The sport, not the vegetable.) Before joining the Globe, Mr. Beam worked for Business Week magazine in Los Angeles, Moscow and Boston. Mr. Beam has won Best of Boston citations, a Massachusetts Book Award, the John Hancock Award for Excellence in Financial Writing, and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford. Mr. Beam will be defending Willa Cather’s My Antonia.

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Previous Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award


The Associates of the Boston Public Library Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award is now in its twentieth year.

To read about the previous events click below.