If you were invited to a reception at the home of Norman Paul Auburn during his term as president of the University of Akron, you could expect to be served finger sandwiches of egg, chicken and ham salad, pastries, petits fours, nuts and mints, and tea and punch. You also might have to walk half a mile in the rain, because there was no valet parking. In “In the President’s House: Memories of the Akron Auburns,” son Mark Auburn recalls his life in the Georgian colonial on Mayfield Road.

Norman Auburn was named president of the university in 1951; Mark had been born in 1945. He had an older sister and brother and a younger brother who was affected by cerebral palsy. Mark Auburn provides, in intricate detail, life in the president’s house, from the floor plan to food — especially food. There are 35 pages of meal selections, snacks, favorite restaurants and what the family ate when Dad wasn’t home, and a long, mesmerizing description of the making of a pizza at a State Road pizzeria.

The Auburns welcomed famous guests at their home, like "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson, who played the piano till midnight. They went swimming at Memorial Hall when the place was locked, because Dad had the keys. Oh, and if you were wondering about boxers or briefs? Mark Auburn tells all.

“In the President’s Home” (228 pages, softcover) costs $24.95 from the University of Akron Press. Mark Auburn graduated from Western Reserve Academy, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and served as senior vice president and provost at the University of Akron, retiring in 2006.

More altered species

The controversy of genetically modified organisms is played for dark humor in “For a Few GASPs More,” final book in a trilogy by Jay Amo of Hartville.

In Book One, 2015’s “Rainforest House,” a Portage County civil engineer and his family vacation in Costa Rica, where they meet up with a former neighbor, Devin Deer, who is creating plant-human hybrids called Genetically Altered Species or GASPs. In Book Two, “The Sequel Without a Name,” Devin’s wife Diane has been looking for him, and so has the FBI; they want to know where he’s been these last few years, though it’s believed he’s dead.

Now, in “GASPs,” Devin and Diane are reunited in Cancun and applying for political asylum in Cuba, because the agricultural giant for which he used to work is using his strain of super-wheat, which they claimed would solve the world’s hunger problem and grow in the most inhospitable climates, surviving drought or flood. What they don’t know about the wheat’s DNA could be catastrophic, and it’s urgent that Devin find his missing wedding ring.

The action moves from Cuba to Chicago to Cleveland, and the plant-human hybrids that enlivened “Sequel” return. The book is in great need of a copy editor.

“For a Few GASPs More” (190 pages, softcover) costs $19.99 from the author’s web site jayamo.net. Jay Amo is a pseudonym; the author is a civil engineer.

Events

Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (Newport branch, 3730 Market St., Youngstown): The library observes Black History Month with young-adult writer Nic Stone, author of “Dear Martin” and “Odd One Out,” 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (Campbell branch, 280 Sixth St.): Nic Stone talks about her novels, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.): Neuroscientist Judith Grisel discusses “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction,” 7 p.m. Monday. There may still be places available in the live simulcast to hear Lisa Damour, Cleveland psychologist and author of “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety of Girls,” 7 p.m. Tuesday. Register at hudsonlibrary.org or call 330-653-6658.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Mayfield branch, 500 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Village): Mark Dawidziak continues his series “TV Shows That Changed the World,” 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Register at 440-473-0350.

Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Kyle Swenson talks about “Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America,” featured in the Jan. 27 column, 7 p.m. Wednesday; Cleveland native Mark Hodermarsky launches “Born to Lead: Americana Music Trailblazers,” 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (North Royalton branch, 5071 Wallings Road): Laura DeMarco signs her pictorial history “Cleveland Then and Now,” 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Register at 440-237-3800.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Middleburg Heights branch, 16699 Bagley Road): Mark Dawidziak continues “TV Shows That Changed the World, 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Register at 440-234-3600.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-Snow branch, 2121 Snow Road): Reservations are a must to see bestselling thriller writer Lisa Gardner, whose newest book in the Detective D.D. Warren series is “Never Tell,” 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Register at 216-661-4240.

Tavern 1888 (106 E. Main St., Ravenna): Nancy Christie, author of “Rut-Busting Book for Writers,” presents “Jump Start Your Creativity” at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by “Making Money with Words,” as part of the inaugural Main Street Ravenna Winter Writing Festival, at Reed Memorial Library and other venues beginning at 11 a.m. See mainstreetravenna.org for information.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.