The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and the Friends of the Library are planning a special event for the 25th anniversary of the Random Review program.

On Sept. 13 at noon at the library, 645 N.W. Monroe Ave., a group of local notables will read from some of the most striking books that have been featured in the Random Review program.

“It dawned on me that it had been 25 years and we knew we had to do something,” said Debra Goldenberg, a Friends of the Library member who has helped coordinate the Random Review program for more than a decade. “At 20 years all we had was a cake.”

Among the readers will be award-winning author and long-time Oregon State University professor Tracy Daugherty, current OSU creative writing professor Elena Passarello and Ashlee Chavez, the new Corvallis-Benton County library director.

Books, authors and readers for the event are:

• “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Reader: Mary Austin-Seymour

• “Seabiscuit” by Lauren Hillenbrand. Reader: Gary Whitehouse

• “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Reader: Emma Nichols.

• “Wait Till Next Year” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Reader: Elena Passarello.

• “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown. Reader: Rick Wallace

• “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. Reader: Fay Stetz-Waters

• “Riverwalking” by Kathleen Dean Moore. Reader: Ashlee Chavez

• “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. Reader: Tracy Daugherty

Readers have five-minute slots to read from the books, with the second half of the two-hour event devoted to refreshments and socializing. The Friends of the Library has invited all 200 previous reviewers to participate, although organizers do not expect all of the individuals to attend.

The regular Random Review season begins Oct. 11, with former Oregon State University political science professor Bill Lunch reviewing “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” by Colin Woodard. See information box for the full list.

Connie Georgiou, another veteran of the program, said “there were a lot of great books nominated. It was really tough for the committee to narrow to nine titles. This is the best batch of books I can remember.”

Georgiou also spoke enthusiastically about the three “unusual” novels on the program, “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles, “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead — a Pulitzer Prize winner — and “Moonglow,” the latest from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon.

The format for the monthly programs remains the same. A guest reviewer will speak about the book, with time at the end reserved for questions. 

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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