2024 Nonfiction Author Series


Next year’s Nonfiction Author Series will feature four best-selling authors (two of whom have won the Pulitzer Prize) and be held at the Hilton Naples (with breakfast entrees – both hot and cold – included).

The author line-up reflects a diverse and engaging group of writers who will dazzle you with their stories.  From a dying woman who traipsed across the United States on a horse, to the moving accounts of college football players who participated in the last major invasion of Japan in World War II, to the remarkable plight of the American Bald Eagle in our country’s history, and, finally, to the heart-throbbing voyage of four young fishermen who vanished in a storm off the coast of Eastern Long Island.

Tickets will be available initially only for the entire series of four events – $350 for Members for all four events, and $395 for Non-Members for all four events (and for those who are interested, a Friends membership is $40). 

We will make a determination at a later date whether to sell tickets for individual presentations. 

Seating is limited, and so it would be good to purchase your tickets sooner rather than later.

The author presentations will begin shortly after 9:15 am on the dates referenced below.  The author’s book will be available for sale and autograph at the end of the sessions.

Elizabeth Letts

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Ride of Her Life, a national best-seller, tells the remarkable story of Annie Wilkins, a 63-year-old woman in rural Maine, who decided in 1954 that she wanted to see California before she died.  The problem:  Annie had just lost her small farm, had little money, and, according to her doctor, had only two years to live.  The solution:  Annie bought a small horse (aptly named Tarzan) from a local stable and decided to ride that horse to the land of milk and honey accompanied by her small dog.  Annie then spent the next year pushing through blizzards, fording rivers, climbing mountains, and trapsing along the shoulders of highways while cars and trucks whipped by at terrifying speeds.  Her daring adventure captured the imagination of the nation.  Stories appeared in newspapers, television and radio stations publicized her itinerary, and people throughout the country welcomed her with gifts and hospitality.  And so Annie’s journey became not just a testament to one woman’s singled-minded determination; that journey also highlighted the willingness of strangers to embrace a woman who had the courage to follow her dreams.  Kirkus Reviews called The Ride of Her Life “[a] heartwarming and nostalgic book.”  BookPage said (in a starred review) that the book “is a feel-good story in every way.”  And Booklist complimented Letts on her vivid portrayal “of an audacious woman whose optimism, courage, and good humor are to be marveled at and admired.”

Elizabeth Letts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Eight-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, and The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis, which won the 2017 PEN Award for Nonfiction Research.

Photo Credit:  Ted Catanzaro

Buzz Bissinger

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Mosquito Bowl:  A Game of Life and Death in World War II, a New York Times bestseller, revolves around the 65 college football players – many of whom would later go on to play in the NFL – who found themselves in two different Marines regiments in Guadalcanal in 1944 as they trained for the invasion of Okinawa.  Amidst the demands of that training, the soldiers clashed over which regiment had the better team of football players.  To resolve the debate, they organized a football game on the dirt and coral of Guadalcanal – a contest that became immortalized as “The Mosquito Bowl.”  This book recounts the story of that game and those Marines – their backgrounds, their aspirations, and their ultimate fates when the Marines finally invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  John Grisham said The Mosquito Bowl presents a “colorful and profound” tale and is “destined to become a classic.”  The Washington Post called the book “gripping.”  And in a starred review, Library Journal praised the book’s “heartbreaking narrative of what many young men went through in the last days of World War II.”

Buzz Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of three previous books, including Three Nights in August: Strategy, Hearbreak, and Joy in the Mind of a Manager (a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year), and Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (a New York Times bestseller).  He is currently a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a sports columnist for The Daily Beast.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack E. Davis will discuss his latest book, "The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America's Bird," in the Collier Friends of the Library's Nonfiction Author Series on Feb. 26, 2024, at the Hilton Naples.

Jack E. Davis

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Bald Eagle:  The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird traces America’s tempestuous love affair with a bird that has been revered and persecuted since the days of our Founding Fathers.  Native Indians honored the bald eagle, but in time America’s settlers ravaged the bird with hunting bounties and later with DDT pesticides because of the dangers it allegedly posed – from the promiscuous killing of livestock to false rumors that it snatched babies from mothers’ arms.  The Bald Eagle reviews that history with compelling stories along with insights into the bird’s skills as a voracious hunter and a caring parent.  The New York Times said that The Bald Eagle is a “rollicking, poetic, wise new book….”  Kirkus Reviews agreed, saying (in a starred review) that the books offers a “consistently lively, captivating narrative….”  That same assessment inspired the Tampa Bay Times to compliment the author as “a meticulous historian and researcher as well as a master storyteller – an irresistible  combination.”

Jack E. Davis is the author or editor of numerous books, including The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, which won the Pulitzer Prize in History and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.  He is a Professor of History at the University of Florida, where he holds the Rothman Family Endowed Chair in the Humanities.

Photo Credit: Debbie Burns

Amanda M. Fairbanks

Monday, March 18, 2024

The Lost Boys of Montauk:  The True Story of the Wind Blown, the Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind focuses on the offshore voyage taken by four men from Montauk Harbor in March 1984 on Wind Blown, a commercial fishing boat.  It should have been a routine trip, but a week after its departure the boat encountered a severe nor’easter.  The boat disappeared, and the bodies of its crew were never recovered.  Although decades have passed since that tragic loss, the story of the Wind Blown and its crew has remained vivid in the memories of the local populace.  This book explores that impact and shines a special light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons.  Vanity Fair said the book provides “a sweeping, and often devastating, portrait of a community on the brink of transformation….”  The Wall Street Journal agreed, saying that the book is “riveting.”  And in a CBS Television Saturday Morning segment, reporter Anthony Mason explained that the book “traces the evolution of Eastern Long Island from a land of blue-collar fishing villages to what it’s become today,” with “the heart of the [author’s] story being four commercial fishermen from vastly different backgrounds.”

Amanda M. Fairbanks is a journalist who has worked at The New York Times, the HuffPost, and The East Hampton Star, where she wrote investigative stories, features, and profiles.  Her writing has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Newsweek, The Atlantic, and The San Francisco Chronicle.  A graduate of Smith College, she has two master’s degrees from Columbia University’s Garduate School of Journalism.

Location Details

We are pleased to announce that the 2024 Nonfiction Author Series will be held in person at the Hilton Naples.

5111 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, FL 34103

Event Schedule

Breakfast at 8:30 am, featuring choices of hot and cold entrees, including eggs with bacon and sausage, cereals, yogurts, fruits, a variety of breads, juice, and coffee.

Lecture to begin shortly after 9:15 am

Book signing to follow.


$350 – Friends member

$395 – Not a Friends member

Contact Information

Email: Marlene Haywood at mhaywood@collier-friends.org.

Call:  239-262-8135

Nonfiction Author Series Gallery

Lew Paper, Chairman of the Nonfiction Author Series, Patricia DeGroot, Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Board Members, Cindy Ruddy, VP, Dan Kozlowski and Saul Curtis
Author Buzz Bissinger, Janet Del Prete and John Aliberti
Jack Davis
Amanda M. Fairbanks
Elizabeth Letts

A special thank you to our 2024 Sponsors.

Platinum Level

BAM Books A Million Logo
Bigham Jewelers 2021 Nonfiction Author Series Sponsors | Friends of the Library of Collier County
Stock Development 2021 Nonfiction Author Series Sponsors | Friends of the Library of Collier County

The Club at Olde Cypress

Gold Level

John R. Wood Properties

Gulf Coast International Properties

Silver Level

The Capital Grille Logo

Wynn’s Market