On the Same Page 2017

The Jones Library is holding its 5th On the Same Page community reading program, featuring the nonfiction title The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. The entire Amherst community is invited to read the book and participate in the related programs. A variety of programs are being offered to enrich the reading experience of this award-winning title and to encourage dialog about the themes the novel presents, particularly global warming and environmental issues.

On the Same Page - Amherst is pleased to partner with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment as we bring programs and discussions to the Amherst community during this community-wide read.

The Sixth Extinction


The Sixth Extinction was the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, a finalist for the PEN Literary Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize, and a New York Times bestseller. The Sixth Extinction was included on many "Best Books" list of 2014 and 2015, including The Economist Magazine Books of the Year, New York Magazine Best Books of the Year,  Washington Post Best Books of the Year, Time Magazine Top 10 Books of the Year,  Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, NPR Best Book of the Year, Library Journal Best Books of the Year, New Yorker Best Books of the Year, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year,

In a very readable style, The Sixth Extinction explores the five mass extinctions that have occurred over the past half-billion years, when the diversity of life on earth has been severely reduced.  Scientists are now tracking the next mass extinction, of which human beings and their actions may be the direct cause.  Kolbert explains how humans have altered life on the planet and how these actions may become our legacy.

Obtaining a Copy


Copies of The Sixth Extinction can be signed out from the Jones Library and branches in early January, requested and checked out from the C/W Mars library catalog, or purchased at Amherst Books in downtown Amherst.

Schedule of Events


  • The public is welcome at all events - it is not necessary to have read the book to attend the programs, although it is encouraged.
  • All events are free and open to the public.
  • General admission seating is offered for the author appearance by Elizabeth Kolbert on February 28, at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium.

Tuesday, January 31 at 7 p.m. - Woodbury Room


Climate Change and the Connecticut River: What Unexpected Events We Should Begin to Expect -  Dr. Richard Palmer explores what we can expect to occur with respect stream-flows in the Connecticut River basin as we move into the 21st century. The talk will begin with a brief introduction to why our climate is changing and evidence for that change. The impact of these changes on stream-flows in the Connecticut River and the related impact on hydro-power and the river’s ecosystems will also be discussed.
Richard Palmer is Department Head and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts; and Northeast Climate Science Center, Director and Principal Investigator.

Thursday, February 2 at 7 p.m. - Hitchcock Center for the Environment


From Hurricane to Climate Change: Film Screening and Panel Discussion - This short film documents how the Monadnock region of New Hampshire is addressing the challenges of an increasingly unstable climate. Today the threats we face are different. Human activities that release carbon into the atmosphere are causing temperatures to rise and episodes of extreme precipitation to increase. The film highlights a range of regional responses designed to adapt to this new norm and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Integrating the voices of experts and ordinary citizens, the film offers a model of response for this looming environmental challenge for communities across New England and beyond.
Follow this link to register for this free event.
About the panel:
Doug Challenger, Film Director and Editor, Professor of Sociology, Franklin Pierce University;  Dwayne Breger, Director of Clean Energy Extension, UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment;  Christine Hatch, Extension Assistant Professor of Hydrogeology & Climate Change, UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment;  Chris Mason, Energy and Sustainability Office, City of Northampton;  Michael Sen, English Department, UMass

Tuesday, February 7 at 7 p.m. - Woodbury Room


The Human Footprint on the Earth's Environment - Dr. Raymond Bradley explores the impact of humanity on our environment, especially over the last few decades.  Exploitation of natural resources and unregulated disposal of waste products into the “global commons”—our oceans and atmosphere—poses serious challenges for the future.  We must adopt solutions that lead to a more sustainable future, while raising the standard of living of those who are impoverished and increasingly vulnerable to environmental instability.  This requires foresight and leadership at an international level, qualities that are sadly lacking in most of the political leaders of today.
Ray Bradley is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Thursday, February 16 at 7 p.m. - Hitchcock Center for the Environment


Book Discussion of The Sixth Extinction - Join us for an in-depth discussion of our selected title, hosted by the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, led by a Jones Library librarian and an environmental educator from the Hitchcock Center.  All are welcome.

Saturday, February 25 at 2:30 p.m. - Woodbury Room


Book Discussion of The Sixth Extinction - Join us for an in-depth discussion of our selected title, led by a Jones Library librarian and an environmental educator from the Hitchcock Center.  All are welcome.


Tuesday, February 28 at 6:00 pm - Amherst Regional Middle School Library

Friends' Reception - Please join the Friends of the Jones Libraries and author Elizabeth Kolbert at this special reception. All are welcome.
Sponsored by the Friends, this event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, February 28 at 7:00 pm - Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium


General admission seating - doors will open at 6:30 pm.
On the Same Page... with Elizabeth Kolbert - Join us for this author appearance at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium, with an introduction by Julie Johnson, Executive Director of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Elizabeth Kolbert will speak about the book and the environmental themes she explores in her writing, as well as answer questions from the audience.
Books will be available for purchase and signing.
On the Same Page Amherst
The Sixth Extinction
Elizabeth Kolbert

About the Author


Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Previously, she worked at the New York Times, where she wrote the Metro Matters column; from 1988 to 1991, she was the paper’s Albany bureau chief, and, from 1992 to 1997, she was a political and media reporter, and also a contributor to the Times Magazine, where she wrote on subjects ranging from the use of focus groups in elections to the New York water supply.

Her New Yorker pieces have included political profiles, book reviews, Comment essays, and extensive writing on climate change. Her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest, the 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, and the 2006 National Academies Communication Award.

Kolbert received a Lannan Literary Fellowship in 2006 and a Heinz Award in 2010, and won the 2010 National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. She is the editor of “The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009” and the author of  “The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit”; “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” and “The Sixth Extinction,” for which she won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

Elizabeth Kolbert and her family live in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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