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    At this point, it's safe to call Werner Herzog a cinema legend. Born in Munich, the director, screenwriter, and producer has directed sixty-seven films. He has won four awards at the Cannes Film Festival and been nominated for one Academy Award. This week on the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Werner Herzog discussing ancient Greece, his grandfather, and Wrestlemania, a conversation co-presented by The Onassis Cultural Center, New York.

    His early film Signs of Life holds one key to Herzog's past. The filmmaker connects it with his grandfather, an archaeologist:

    "Most of it was done on the island of Kos, which had a great significance for me because my grandfather, with whom I had a very deep connection, worked there as an archaeologist in the early twentieth century for eight years. I always felt much closer related to my grandfather than my own father... I've always felt very close, in a way, to my grandfather and his impeccable sense of location. He had an incredible sense of finding places for centuries on the island of Kos. There were searches for the Asclepieia and he found it. Almost all the other monuments of ancient Greece like, let's say, Mycenae or Knossos on the island of Crete, you knew were it was because the columns were sticking out of the ground."

    Years later, the ancients still fascinate Herzog, though he was not particularly interested in studying the classics as a student. Instead, he preferred the education of an autodidact:

    "I didn't like school. I was very much self-taught. I never trusted school. I never trusted instructors. I never trusted teachers, but something remained there, and only after school when I was long done with it, I started to like it, and I started to read. Of course, my reading in ancient Greek or in Latin is limited. My knowledge of ancient Greek drama is very, very limited. My knowledge of Greek philosophy: quite limited. Of course we had to read Plato in its original in school, but somehow it never touched my soul. It was other things. It was other things that moved me and that keep my mind engaged until this very day."

    While some might be apt to dismiss studying these ancient civilizations, Herzog sees reverberations of ancient Greek culture in contemporary popular entertainment. He noted an unexpected correlation:

    "I think like Herb Golder, who is here with us, who has worked with me, who believes that in Wrestlemania there are crude forms of mythology and drama going on, and they're not in the fights. The fights are interrupted by commercials, but when the owner of this whole enterprise shows up in the ring and his wife  allegedly, his wife in black sunglasses and in a wheelchair  is wheeled in and she has become blinded because of grief, because he, her husband, has four blond babes with breast installations like this on his arm and scolds her and says, 'You're stupid. You don't have any boobs like this.' And the son steps up and confronts his father but not in defense of the mother. The son steps up because he wants more of the money, of the pie of the money. And I'm convinced and Herb Golder is convinced that ancient Greek drama had some crude proto-forms a little bit like that."

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    There are only constant three things in life that have the ability to never get old, and cause everyone to gush indescribable joy: baseball, foreign cinema, and anything inside the genus of comic books/graphic novels/manga. Here, we'll help you reach nirvana by giving you a nudge in the right direction.

    Me? I'm a total sucker for anything labeled "coming-of-age". Maybe it's a character flaw. Maybe it's something with my genetic coding. Maybe it's nothing at all. But yeah, you give me some sort of book, film, manga, whatever, dealing with a youth's journey into early adulthood, it'll be very interesting material to me, which is why I had no trouble delving into Taiwanese director Giddens Ko's You Are the Apple of My Eye.

    Giddens Ko via Wikimedia Commons

    The film is based off of Ko's semi-autobiographical novel titled The Girl We Chased Together in Those Years (which sadly for us non-Taiwanese folk has not been translated into English as far as I can tell). However, one has to admit, if you can create an entertaining film off of a novel sort of based on your own life, you must have had a very fascinating life. Congratulations! So yes, Ko was not only the movie's director, but he also penned the source material as well. The story tells the tale of high school student Ko Ching-teng, who is a bit of a truant at his school. After one too many incidents, the principal punishes him by placing his seat by the top student in his grade, class genius as well as class heartthrob Shen Chia-yi, so she can keep a stern watch on him. Though their relationship with one another is contentious at first, they in time become friends, and soon after fall for one another. However, as with any good coming of age tale, the circumstances surrounding everyday life and growing up get in the twosome's way, and they have to decide whether they'll trek life's path together, or apart. 

    The film was a huge deal overseas. In its first weekend, it grossed 20 million New Taiwanese dollars. When all was said and done, it brought in a whopping 420 million New Taiwanese dollars. It also cleaned up well at the box office in both China and Singapore. Additionally, You Are the Apple of My Eye got a lot of award recognition in Asia. In particular, it won the inaugural award for Best Film of Taiwan and China at Hong Kong's version of the Oscars, known as the Hong Kong Film Awards, at the ceremony's 31st edition in 2011. The film boasts strong acting from its leads, and touching moments that should move you and take you back in time to when you felt that "coming of age" groove. I personally enjoyed Ko's work here a lot. His latest project was released in 2014, titled Cafe. Waiting. Love. Ko both wrote and produced that film. It's another romantic comedy, also with a bit of an emphasis on coming of age. Make a point to check it out when it's released on DVD here in the States.

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  • 06/30/15--13:35: Revolutionary Reading
    Sewing the American Flag

    In 2013, I created "Celebrate America", a reading  list intended to introduce young children to American history.  As we get set to celebrate Independence Day again, I decided to follow up with a list intended for older kids and young adults. I hope some of these titles will encourage readers to look beyond the fireworks and delve deeper into the story of how our country came to be.

    First on the list would have to be Esther Forbes 1944 Newbery winner, Johnny Tremain. After a devastating hand injury ends Johnny's dream of becoming a silversmith, he takes a job as dispatch rider for The Committee on Public Safety and becomes involved with Boston revolutionaries like John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Johnny goes from being devastated about his future to playing an important role in the birth of a new nation.

    In My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James and Lincoln Collier, a family is torn apart when one member of the Meeker family fights for Loyalists, and another fights fights for the Rebels. Young Tim Meeker is torn between wanting to be just like his brother, fighting with the colonists, and wanting to please his father, who is loyal to the crown. This book demonstrates not only the brutality of war, but also the toll the Civil War had on individual families. Other Collier brothers books that deal with this historical period are Jump Ship to Freedom and War Comes to Willy Freeman.

    The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is a National Book Award winner that defies exact classification. Young Octavian and his mother live in a large house with a group of male guardians known as the Novanglian College of Lucidity  that conduct experiments he neither understands nor questions. "It is ever the lot of children to accept their citcumstances as universal. and their perculiarities as general." But, eventually it is revealed that he and his mother are being held captive as part of an experiment to determine the mental acuity of Africans. As revolutionary unrest swells in the Boston streets outside as well as the compound, Octavian  learns the true horrors of slavery. Octavian's fate is left uncertain at the end of book one. His story continues in The Kingdom on The Waves.

    In Chains, by  Laurie Halse Anderson a young girl, Isabel and her sister Ruth are sold as slaves to a wealthy New York City couple. Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots and convinces Ruth to spy on her owners, who are on the side of the Loyalists. Isabel is reluctant at first, but a horrific event convinces her she must pursue freedom at any cost. The story contines in Forge.

     1775 : A Good Year For Revolution is an ambitious work of nonfiction that argues that the year prior to the one we now celebrate is actually the one that is the watershed year in our history. Author Kevin Phillips focuses on the great battles of 1775 as well as on the increasingly aggressive and bellicose ultimatums that Congress presented to King George.  Another unconventional but important topic is Women Heroes of the American Revolution : 20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance and Rescue, which is a collection of biographical profiles of women who may not be well known, but who served as spies, nurses, writers, and more in service to our country.

    Happy reading, and happy Fourth!

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  • 07/01/15--09:06: 美国, 美国 (Part Three)

    移民到美國, 無論是初來步到或已落地生根, 每人背後都有一段故事. 七月四日是美國國慶. 在這歡樂的日子, 讓我們細細回味過去的甘苦, 以敞開心扉面对美好的將來.

    美利坚刀锋 : 首度揭开无人机与世界尽头的战争



    20 世纪末以来,美国接连打了三场战争:阿富汗、伊拉克以及无人机秘密战争,而第三场至今仍未被官方承认。大举出兵阿富汗与伊拉克令美国深陷财政、民众反战危机,一个最现实的挑战摆在了白宫面前:如何以最小代价维系美国全球霸主地位?答案是无人机——遥控者可在千里之外精准截杀目标,可谓低成本、零伤亡!

    末日巨塔 : 基地组织与 "9。11" 之路





     特雷 · 特里巴











    還我自由 : 一位唐人街外賣郎的獄中告白




    漂在纽约 : 美国华人新移民生存状况实录












    美国和中国最初的相遇 : 航海时代奇异的中美关系史

    Dolin, Eric Jay



    北美華埠 : 昔日的風雲與當今的風華



    ·         旅美華人譚婉英基於對中國城的愛戀,將親身造訪美、加中國城的經歷,以中英對照的方式寫下北美華埠的歷史、冷暖經歷,並用一張張親手捕捉的照片,帶領讀者探訪中國城的美麗風華。

    宣德金牌啟示錄 : 明代開拓美洲




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     A Hasidic rebel…a new understanding of travel…the rise, fall, and rise of Washington Heights…New York City as seen on the streets and underground…a real life Gatsby…mid-century Caribbean glamour…Lower East Side squatters…the music and mythology of Billie Holiday… the KIND thing…New Yorker cartoonists…gentrification in the 21st century…a new paradigm for sustainable cooking…love and loss from Iran to America…

    If any of these topics have piqued your interest, come in out of the summer heat and join us at aAuthor @ the Library program at the Mid-Manhattan Library in July! Listen to scholars and other experts discuss their recent nonfiction books on a wide variety of subjects and ask them questions. Author talks take place at 6:30 p.m. on the 6th floor of the library unless otherwise noted. No reservations are required. Seating is first come, first served. You can also request the authors' books using the links to the catalog included below.


    All Who Go Do Not Return


    Thursday, July 2:

    All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir with Shulem Deen, the former blogger known as "Hasidic Rebel," and the founding editor of Unpious. 

    This illustrated talk is a moving and revealing exploration of Hasidic life, and one man's struggles with faith, family, and community.


    Reclaiming Travel


    Monday, July 6:

    Reclaiming Travel with Joshua Ellison , Executive Editor of Restless Books and the founding editor of Habitus, a journal of international Jewish literature. 

    This illustrated lecture is a meditation on the meaning of travel from ancient times to the twenty-first century. The authors seek to understand why we travel and what has come to be missing from our contemporary understanding of travel. 

    Crossing Broadway


    Tuesday, July 7:

    Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City  with Robert W. Snyder, Associate Professor of Journalism and American Studies at Rutgers University–Newark.

    This illustrated lecture chronicles the rise, fall, and rise of Washington Heights, a neighborhood populated with immigrants from around the world. It tells how disparate groups overcame their mutual suspicions to rehabilitate housing, build new schools, restore parks, and work with the police to bring safety to streets racked by crime and fear.

    NY Through the Lens


    Wednesday, July 8:

    NY Through the Lens with Vivienne Gucwa, a fine art travel photographer and writer based in New York City.

    This illustrated lecture showcases the author’s images of New York street photography and serves as a beautiful travel guide to the city.


    Beneath the Streets


    Thursday, July 9:

    Beneath the Streets: The Hidden Relics of New York City's Subway System with Matt Litwack, American photographer and graffiti artist.

    Only a handful of transit workers, daring explorers, and graffiti writers have experienced the full scope of the New York subway system. Beneath the Streets opens up this subterranean maze to all with photographs captured from throughout the tunnels and byways of the subway.

    The Liar's Ball


    Monday, July 13:

    The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons with Vicky Ward, a New York-based investigative journalist, columnist, and television commentator.

    This illustrated lecture goes inside the world of the real Great Gatsby of New York real estate, Harry Macklowe, one of the most notorious wheelers and dealers of the real estate world, and tells  the story of the gamblers and thieves who populate his world. 




    Tuesday, July 14:

    Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour  with Hermes Mallea, an architect and a partner in M(Group), a design firm based in New York.

    This illustrated lecture is a nostalgic celebration of the glamour of warm-weather destinations in the Caribbean and Florida, from the great estates of ambitious patrons to the most exclusive resorts of the mid-twentieth century.


    Kill City


    Wednesday, July 15:

    Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000 with Ash Thayer, a photographer and multimedia visual artist.

    This illustrated lecture features extensive photography of the legendary squatting community in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.


    Billie Holiday


    Thursday, July 16:

    Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth, with John Szwed, Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and critically acclaimed jazz writer.

    This illustrated lecture explores Billie Holiday's music, her performance style, and the self she created and put into print, on record and on stage. It considers how her life inflected her art, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy.

    Do the KING Thing


    Monday, July 20

    Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately, with Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Healthy Snacks and the KIND Movement, in conversation with Alexander Kaufman, an associate business editor at Huffington Post.

    This  conversation about KIND’s journey from start-up to today, and the many mistakes made along the way will visit Daniel Lubetzky’s journey creating not-only-for-profit businesses that balance commercial success with social purpose, and will offer an unfiltered look at the experiences that sparked his interest in social entrepreneurship. 

    Hand Drawn Jokes


    Tuesday, July 21:

    Hand Drawn Jokes for Smart Attractive Peoplewith Matthew Diffee, an award-winning New Yorker cartoonist, in an illustrated conversation with two other iconic New Yorker cartoonists, Marisa Acocella, and George Booth.

    This illustrated lecture and conversation showcases the first solo collection of a star cartoonist at The New Yorker, Matthew Diffee, heralded as "the de facto leader of a young generation of cartoonists" by the Wall Street Journal, and editor of the acclaimed volumes of The Rejection Collection.

    The Edge Becomes the Center


    Wednesday, July 22:

    The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-first Century with DW Gibson, author of Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy.

    This illustrated lecture offers a groundbreaking oral history that features the stories of New Yorkers effecting and affected by gentrification.



    The Kitchen Ecosystem


    Monday, July 27:

    The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals with Eugenia Bone, nationally known food writer and author of five books, including Mycophilia.

    This illustrated lecture presents a new paradigm for cooking sustainably (minimal waste, kitchen efficiency, low carbon footprint) and includes recipes to support the author's approach in making the most of locally-sourced, fresh ingredients by utilizing small batch preservation techniques.

    The Rose Hotel


    Wednesday, July 29:

    The Rose Hotel: A Memoir of Secrets, Loss, and Love From Iran to America with Dr. Rahimeh Andalibian, an Iran-born author and a systemic psychologist, specializing in trauma and practicing New York City.

    In this illustrated lecture the author tells her family's story: their struggle to survive the 1979 revolution, their move to California, and their attempts to acculturate in the face of teenage rebellion, murder, addiction, and new traditions.

    If you'd like to read any of the books presented at our past author talks, you can find book lists from our January 2013 - July 2015 Author @ the Library programs in the BiblioCommons catalog.


    The Author @ the Library posts include mainly nonfiction authors discussing their recent works at the Mid-Manhattan Library. Don't miss the many other interesting classesfilms, readings and talks on our program calendar. We begin the month with a 50th anniversary screening and discussion of the Jerry Lewis film "The Family Jewels." In addition to the Author @ the Library talks, we also have an illustrated lecture on Jewish folklore on July 23 and lectures on meditation and naturopthic medicine this month. You can also enjoy short story readings at Story Time for Grown-ups, and share your favorite books with other readers at Open Book Night. Did I mention that all of our programs and classes are free? We hope to see you soon at the library!

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    The New York chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries has a mentoring and new librarians meeting twice a year. It is a great chance to meet other new librarians, more experienced librarians and network. People who are interested in becoming mentees or mentors can attend, as well as current mentees and mentors. I have been mentoring through this program for three years, and it has been in operation for four years. This was a successful meeting in which I was able to meet new people and discuss job-seeking skills and mentoring.

    Transferrable Skills

    The theme this year was transferrable skills.We first introduced ourselves in the larger group, then spoke in smaller groups. Our group focused on finding transferrable skills to answer tough interview queries. We also mentioned possible questions that interviewers can ask during interviews in order to uncover applicants' skill sets. We discussed how skills we learned in one job helped us in another job. We talked about whether we were currently seeking to change positions, and if so, why and what types of positions we were looking for.

    New members joined the group as we were speaking, and we briefed them on the topic. They introduced themselves and discussed their situations.


    The mentoring coordinator explained the mentoring program. She asked the mentors and mentees to discuss their experiences with the program. I love being a mentor, and I continue to communicate with a mentor that I met over ten years ago while volunteering for the Free Library of Philadelphia. Although she is now retired, we still have great conversations. She gives me a much different perspective on my work situation than I would otherwise have. One of the mentees stated that she loves the emotional support that she gains from her mentor.

    I love these semi-annual meetings. I always learn much from my mentees and from my colleagues at ACRL/NY, some of whom are also mentors. Many are very experienced librarians, and I benefit from discussing issues in the library field with them. 

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    H&R Block will present a recruitment on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm, for Tax preparer (10 Seasonal openings) at the Bronx Workforce 1 Career Center, 400 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458.

    Time Warner Cable Pre-Screening Event will be held on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 10 am - 5 pm, for Field Technician (7 openings) at Lower Manhattan Workforce 1 Career Center, 75 Varick Street, New York , NY 10013.

    Enrollment Now Open! SAGEWorks Boot Camp.  This two-week long, intensive training course will provide participants with essential skills to lead them toward job placement.  The first session starts on Monday - Friday, from  August 10 to August 21,  9:30 am - 2 pm.  Participants must attend every day at the SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue,  New York, NY 10001.  SAGEWorks  assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge  job search skills in a LGBT - friendly environment.

    Safewatch Security Group, Inc.  will present a recruitment on Wednesday, July 8,  2015, 10 am - 2 pm, for Security Guard (5 openings) at Staten Island  Workforce 1 Career Center, 120 Stuyvesant Place, Staten Island, NY 10301.

    Adecco Staffing  will present a recruitment on Friday, July 10, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm,  for Store Operator ( 20 openings) at the Bronx Workforce 1 Career Center, 400 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458.

    New York Life Insurance Company will present a recruitment on Friday,  July 10, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm,  for Financial Services Professional ( 5 openings) at Flushing  Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay  Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York  City.         

    affiche le pour

    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community-based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View the NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company,  startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. Search  jobs by category on this site.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development or call 718-302-2057 ext. 202. 

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently, BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel. This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Class runs for eight weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer. CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Training runs Mondays through Fridays for six weeks and includes test prep and taking the HHA certification exam. Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition. For more information for the above two training programs, email:, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future. For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of July 5  become available.

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    CMP (Chinatown Manpower Project)  presents  a recruitment event, Career Overview and Opportunities with Time Warner Cable,  on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 10 am - 12 pm, at CMP, 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10013,  Room 305.

    Recruiting Bilingual English/ Mandarin and English/Korean Speakers

    • Meet HR recruiters
    • Learn about career paths at Time Warner Cable
    • Get an overview of the online application and tips for succeeding on the job
    • Gain insight into the Application Process

    Salary: Earn up to $16/hour

    Work Location: Flushing, Queens

    Employee Benefits include: Medical, Dental, Vision, 401 K, Tuition Reimbursement, TWC's service discounts


    • Field Technician
    • Customer Service Representative
    • Retail Sales Specialist
    • Retail Sales Greeter
    • Retail Sales Representative
    • Retail Sales Lead

    Free admission

    Space is limited

    To RSVP:  Contact Jennifer Chan at 646-292-9666 or email with your name and phone number.

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    Fifteen-year-old Joy is trying to transcend her troubled past. Memories of a mother that she desperately wishes would stop being an alcoholic or go away flood her brain. She did not protect her daughter from the men who assaulted her.

    Joy is overwhelmed with gratitude for the support that Aunt Nicole, Uncle Rob, and twins, Trent and Tara, provide. They are always there for her. They provide kind words, their presence, and psychotropic meds. Justin is unbelievably patient and understanding.

    If there is one thing that Joy wishes fervently for, it is normalcy. She does not want to be different. She does not want to be limited by her fears, many of which she does not comprehend. Joy is embarrassed and ashamed of her difficulties.

    Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry, 2014

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    Detail from William Elmes's satirical print, "A Kick Up in a Great House"; here, the Queen mounts a bucking John Bull, a symbol of the common British person. 

    This post is a continuation of Part 1 of a two-part re-presentation of an NYPL exhibit on the adultery trial of England's Queen Caroline, mounted twenty years ago by then-Pforzheimer Collection Curator Stephen Wagner. The exhibit was taken down after only two days due to a major leak.

    Sex, Lies and Poetry: Romantic Reactions

    News of the trial soon spread as far as Italy, where it drew the attention of the young expatriate poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his friend and rival Lord Byron. Members of the English community in Italy, Byron and Shelley among them, relied on Galignani's Messenger, a weekly English-language newspaper published in Paris, for the latest gossip about Caroline. In the summer of 1820, shortly after receiving a copy, Shelley set out his own opinions on the affair in a letter to a friend in England, the comic novelist Thomas Love Peacock (transcript of the excerpt below). Typically, he sided neither with king nor queen, but viewed the institution of royalty itself as an "absurdity."


    Excerpt from Shelley's letter to T. L. Peacock, 12 Jul 1822. 
    Plaster bust of P. B. Shelley, sculpted from memory after Shelley's death by by Marianne Hunt, wife of Leigh Hunt. 

    Shelley had already taken note of "some excellent remarks" on the royal scandal in the Examiner, a liberal weekly published in London by his friend, the poet and journalist, Leigh Hunt. But in their personal correspondence, he also received Hunt's private opinions about the trial, which was just getting under way (here is a transcript of the excerpt below):

    Leigh Hunt's letter to P. B. Shelley, 23 August 1820. 


    Engraved portrait of Lord Byron, after George Saunders.

    Lord Byron, holed up in Ravenna with an Italian countess, also followed the Queen's trial with keen interest. He had known both parties to the scandal during his celebrity years in England, and although he did not believe Caroline to be entirely innocent of the main charge—her indiscreet involvement with her former servant—he nevertheless supported her cause.

    The proceedings lasted from August until mid-November of 1820 when, largely because of rising public indignation, they were discontinued. Byron had already received news of the Government's defeat when he penned some occasional verses in early December. The satirical poem, written from the King's point of view, is not reticent about the possible consequences for the regime: 

    "... the truth's so disclosed / ... That if my good army don't thwack hard / I'll be damned—if I shan't be deposed."

    Excerpt from Byron's holograph verses, "Pall Mall lay all sparkling," 7 December 1820. 


    Whether from discretion or indifference, Byron apparently never sought to have the lines published. Most likely he felt them too casual a production to commit to print. 

    The Pforzheimer copy of Oedipus Tyrannus; or, Swellfoot the Tyrant. Only six other copies are known to survive. 

    Shelley's literary response to the events in England was less judicious than Byron's. Oedipus Tyrannus; or, Swellfoot the Tyrant, a two-act barnyard burlesque in which all the leading political figures of the day were satirized, was rushed into print in London and caught the censor's eye the moment it appeared. (Google Books version of the 1876 facsimile.)

    Shelley's friend Horace Smith arranged for the anonymous publication of Oedipus Tyrannus, in which George IV assumes the title role, his queen and ministers figured among the thinly disguised cast of characters, and the English people—Burke's "Swinish Multitude"—appeared as the chorus.

    In one scene (included in a fragment of the original manuscript held by the Pforzheimer Collection), "John Bull" invites the Queen to "mount" him.  She "leaps nimbly upon his back" and calls for help from her "loyal pigs" to hunt down her enemies. The scene could possibly have been inspired by William Eames's satirical print, "A Kick Up in the Great House" (detail shown at the head of this post), which was published a month before Shelley wrote Swellfoot

    The readily identifiable dramatis personae, along with Shelley's exhortation to "Choose reform or civil-war," all but guaranteed the swift suppression of the work. Of the 200 copies printed, only seven—those already sold—seem to have escaped the flames after the Society for the Suppression of Vice demanded that the entire edition be burnt. 

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    Brie Carter is one of those kids who never makes friends because her family is constantly uprooted by her father's business. Her sister, Kate, no longer lives with them, but she is a reassuring presence in Brie's life.

    Brie is ambivalent about finding herself in Lost Springs. It is a town from a fairy tale. Their rental house is fabulous, and the countryside is breathtaking.

    She is quickly taken by the handsome, hard-working, intriguing Logan, and Amy and she giggle as if they have known each other for years. 

    The conflict is this—Brie's father is building a hotel while Logan's dad rails against the project because it will displace wild mustangs.

    Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart, 2015

    I loved the talk of the beautiful countryside and the horses, though the girl's ease with riding seems unrealistic due to her lack of experience.

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  • 07/06/15--08:30: Historic Central Park Maps
  • Martel's New York Central Park
    Martel's New York Central Park, 1864. Image ID: 55031

    I recently completed a project in which I had the pleasure of cataloging a large number of NYPL’s historic maps of Central Park. Several of these maps were produced while the park was still under construction depicting the progress of the hundreds of workers who helped transform a rural section of the island of Manhattan that once included swamps, stony ridges and stable working class communities (such as Seneca Village) into Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s rus in urbe masterpiece. The collection includes a diverse range of cartographic material including well-known topographic surveys depicting the landscape before the park’s construction as well as numerous maps published after its completion with indexes that list amenities and places of interest.

     printed for the Department of Public Parks
    Detail from Map of the Central Park: printed for the Department of Public Parks, 1873

    Although the majority of the maps in the collection are in a sense “tourist maps,” designed to be used by the general public, a small number were created with a more specific audience in mind. Map of the Central Park: Printed for the Department of Public Parks is a recent acquisition and is a great example of a map in which the intended user was not a day-tripper but the scores of landscapers, gardeners and laborers responsible for the monumental task of irrigating, pruning and seasonal care of the park’s various types of vegetation. Part of what makes this color map so unique is its size, 49 x 182 cm (approximately 1½ feet tall and 6 feet wide) and its large 1:2,400 scale. The grand scale and format enabled map maker Otto Sibeth, the department’s “chief draughtsman” (who is recorded as earning $100 per month in 1878!) to add plenty of detail to this beautiful rendering of one of the city’s most cherished landmarks.

     printed for the Department of Public Parks
    Detail from Map of the Central Park: printed for the Department of Public Parks, 1873

    Like most Central Park maps, Sibeth’s shows the roads, bridle paths, bridges, trails and trees but his map also includes something unique—a lightly rendered 100 square foot grid underlay by which readers can use a 42 page detailed index, Central Park, the plant list of 1873, prepared by Robert Demcker landscape architect, to determine “the position of one or more specimens of 642 species and varieties of hardy trees and shrubs;... also of 361 perennial and alpine plants in the open ground and of 551 in the nursery and exotic collection” all of which were planted in the park’s original 864 acres. Sibeth’s map does not include a date of production, however most map librarians estimate it was created between the years of 1871 and 1874 due to the fact that it depicts the vacant sites of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, NYPL’s copy has not yet been photographed by our Digital Imaging Unit and at this moment cannot be viewed in the Digital Collection, however you can view a similar version of the map online at the Museum of the City of New York website.

     printed for the Department of Public Parks
    Detail from Map of the Central Park: printed for the Department of Public Parks, 1873

    Sibeth’s map also depicts a “temporary menagerie” along 5th Avenue in front of the Arsenal at East 64th St. even though Olmsted and Vaux’s original design, also know as the “Greensward Plan,” did not include a site for a zoo. In Roy Rosenzweig's and Elizabeth Blackmar’s The Park and the People, a comprehensive account of the social and political wrangling that led to the park's creation and subsequent use, the authors describe how soon after the park’s opening New Yorkers of all stripes quickly started donating what Olmsted characterized as “pets of children who had died” or had left town. While it is unclear if his observations were accurate or simply a bit of sardonic wit, what is clear is that by 1865 more than 250 animals had been bequeathed to the park’s board of commissioners including alligators, white mice, turkeys, a pelican, a domestic goat, a humped camel, bald eagles, foxes, yellow crested cockatoos, black bears and three ringtail monkeys. (See the board’s 1865 Annual Report for a complete list.) A makeshift zoo was hastily constructed at the old Arsenal Building, however several “concerned citizens” (among which I assume were more than a few 5th Ave. homeowners who lived downwind of the zoo) objected to having the menagerie at this location and pushed the city to build a permanent location in which to house the growing assortment of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and wild birds at another location within the park.

    Detail from Proposed location of Zoological Collections
    Detail from Proposed location of Zoological Collections,1885

    Proposed location of Zoological Collections, an unsigned and undated manuscript map in the Map Division’s Central Park collection, may possibly be an example of such a plan. The hand colored map is 127 x 96 cm and depicts a zoo in the area where the Central Park Tennis Center now stands, bounded by the 97th St. transverse, 8th Avenue, 91st St. and the reservoir. The map includes renderings of sites that would house a wide variety of animals including elephants, sea lions, prairie dogs, deer, ostriches, buffalos, bisons, antelope, giraffes, pigeons (!?!), owls and “carnivora.” All of the animal houses encircle a large structure labeled “Refreshment Building” where presumably zoo patrons could consume a small snack or drink while contemplating the wonders of the natural world. The Dictionary catalog of the Map Division lists [1885?] as the publication date for this manuscript map which seems probable given that the commissioners were most likely considering several design schemes during the years preceding 1887 when Governor David B. Hill vetoed a bill passed by the New York State legislature that would have provided funds to the Board of Commissioners of Central Park for the explicit purpose of relocating the zoo to another site within the park.

    Detail from [Plan of the part of Central Park showing the location of Croton Aqueduct water pipes and transverse road no.4]
    Detail from Plan of the part of Central Park showing the location of Croton Aqueduct water pipes..., 1870

    “Proposed location of Zoological Gardens,” which is really more of a plan than a map, not only shows potential locations of the zoo’s wildlife it also includes schematic drawings of the subsurface water pipes that would make up the zoo’s general plumbing. Which leads to another mysterious manuscript map in NYPL’s Central Park collection not intended for general use and of which the name of the mapmaker, publication date and title is not known. The Dictionary Catalog of the Map Division's bibliographic entry lists a publication date of [1870?] and the librarians who were the first to catalog this map in the early 1900s gave it the prosaic title [Plan of the part of Central Park showing the location of Croton Aqueduct water pipes and transverse road no. 4] for that is exactly what it portrays. The 79 x 150 cm map is in pen and ink on cloth mounted on muslin and depicts the area of the park bounded by 93rd St., 8th Ave., 97th St. and 5th Ave. It shows the location of several of the three foot wide “Croton pipes” water mains that feed the reservoir through the North Gate House as well as the smaller vitrified clay and cement water pipes with diameters ranging from four inches to one foot that supplied water from the reservoir to the rest of the city and helped irrigate the lawns and gardens of Central Park. Completed in 1862, the 106 acre, one billion gallon distributing reservoir served the people of New York for more than 130 years before it was decommissioned in 1993.

    View of Central Park
    View of Central Park, 1875. Image ID: 55084

    For a complete list of all of the historic (and not so historic) Central Park sheet maps available for viewing at the Map Division search NYPL’s online catalog using the keyword search term “Central Park map”, a few of my favorites that may also be viewed online in the Digital Collection include:

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    Molly Picon
    Molly Picon. Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: TH-43802

    Use these resources to find Yiddish music online and in libraries and archives: search for sheet music, audio recordings, catalogs, and print anthologies.

    Yiddish Sheet Music Online

    Name Description Search terms Access
    Brown University 700 pieces of digitized Yiddish sheet music Author, title, keyword. Free access and download
    HathiTrust 98 digitized books with or about Yiddish songs Author, title, keyword, subject. Free access and download (where copyright allows)
    Internet Archive 11K+ digitized Yiddish books, audio and video from the Yiddish Book Center; also materials from YIVO and other libraries Author, title or keyword. Use Yiddish, English and transliterated terms such as “Yidishe lider” and “Yiddish songs” for best results. Free access and download
    Library of Congress 950 pieces of digitized Yiddish sheet music Author, title, keyword. Free access and download
    Tara Publications Yiddish and Jewish sheet music, books and ebooks for sale Search the category “Yiddish” - arrangement is alphabetical by title Downloads and print books for sale
    Hay-gelebt. Music by Henech Kon. Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 435143

    Audio Recordings Online

    Name Description How to use Access
    Judaica Sound Archives, Florida Atlantic University Hundreds of albums and individual tracks of Yiddish and other Jewish music. Search or browse by artist, title or genre. Free streaming access for many items, others are excerpted or require an authorized “listening station.”
    Milken Archive of Jewish Music American Jewish music archive and publisher Search for articles and artists by name and subject Some free content; digital and physical recordings for sale
    National Jukebox Collection, Library of Congress 60 commercial Yiddish song recordings. Sort by author, title, location, and more. Free streaming access
    Stonehill Jewish Song Collection Ben Stonehill’s field recordings of Holocaust survivors with texts and notes, edited by Dr. Miriam Isaacs. Browse by song title or theme. Free streaming access
    Yiddish Song of the Week (An-Sky Institute, Center for Traditional Music and Dance) Field recordings with texts and notes by researchers, edited by Dr. Itzik Gottesman (ongoing). Search by keyword or artist. Free streaming access
    Bill Arents Collection
    Bill Arents Collection, New York Public Library. Image ID: 1519225

    Libraries and Archives: Shared Catalogs

    Library and Archival Collections Search tips:

    1. Use the subject heading “Songs, Yiddish”
    2. Search in Yiddish (using the Hebrew alphabet) as well as transliteration (try UYIP for more information about Yiddish word processing)
    3. Vary your spelling—most publications use non-standard orthography
    4. Delve into archival finding aids to uncover deeper content; song titles and lyricists/composers may not be immediately apparent
    Name Description How to search
    American Jewish Archives Judaica library and archives Search by author, title, subject in catalog; also search finding aids for archival collections.
    Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive, UPenn 4,000+ Yiddish and Hebrew recordings Search by author, title, keyword or the first line of the song.
    Hebrew Union College Books, sheet music, manuscripts, recordings Search by author, title, subject in catalog; also search finding aids for archival collections.
    Jewish Theological Seminary Major Judaica library and music collection with printed music and sound recordings Search by author, title, subject in catalog; also search finding aids for archival collections
    National Library of Israel Books, sheet music, manuscripts, recordings Search by author, title, subject in catalog; also search finding aids for archival collections.
    New York Public Library 800+ pieces of Yiddish sheet music, plus manuscripts, song collections and recordings Search by author and title in English, Yiddish or transliteration. Browse call numbers *PVO and **P (Sheet Music) - limit language to Yiddish
    YIVO Library,Sound Archive and Music Archive Books, printed music, manuscripts, and sound recordings Search by author, title, subject in catalog; also search finding aids for archival collections.
    NYPL 1916
    NYPL in 1916. Irma and Paul Milstein Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 1557923

    Popular Yiddish Song Collections (Print)

    Available at the reference desk in the Dorot Jewish Division.

    Author(s) Title Description
    Heskes, Irene Yiddish American popular songs, 1895 to 1950: a catalog based on the Lawrence Marwick roster of copyright entries Catalog of Yiddish sheet music in the Library of Congress.
    Mlotek, Eleanor and Joseph Mir Trogn a Gezang! Songs of Generations. Pearls of Yiddish Song. New York: Workmen’s Circle Anthologies of Yiddish songs. Arranged thematically. Texts in Yiddish, transliteration and English translation. Combined index is online: A-K and L-Z
    Mlotek, Eleanor and Gottlieb, Malke Yontevdike teg: liderbukh far di yidishe yontoyvim New York: Jewish Education Press, 1972 Anthology of Yiddish songs organized by Jewish holidays. With Yiddish, transliteration and English translation.
    Mlotek, Eleanor and Gottlieb, Malke Mir zaynen do = We are here : songs of the Holocaust New York: Arbeter-ring bildungs-komitet, 1983 Anthology of Yiddish songs of the Holocaust. With Yiddish, transliteration and English translation.
    Mlotek, Zalmen (music editor), Warembud, Norman (selector); The New York times great songs of the Yiddish theater. (foreword by Molly Picon) New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., c1975. A classic selection of Yiddish theater songs, arranged for voice, piano, and guitar. Lyrics are transliterated.
    Vinkovetsky, A. et al. Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1983. In Yiddish, Hebrew and English. Arranged thematically. Includes volumes for Mordecai Gebirtig, Mark Warshawsky and Itzik Manger.

    Need additional help? Contact us at or view the full Yiddish Research Bibliography.

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  • 07/06/15--09:50: Essential David Lynch Reads
  • Director David Lynch's aesthetic is so ipso facto that an adjectival form of his name floats around in the idiom of certain culture hounds for those rare occasions when something must be described that's wholly bizarre, gorgeous, sickening, and wonderful. So when Lynch and Showtime's dispute resulted in Lynch walking away from the upcoming Twin Peaks revival, it seemed impossible that the show would return to television. Since then, the filmmaker has once more agreed to direct the program, and we couldn't be more intrigued.

    But what makes Lynch fascinating is not simply his oeuvre. He has, after all, inspired donuts. He's founded his own foundation for Transcendental Meditation. He's a man who doesn't believe a house should include a kitchen. So as we await the new season of Twin Peaks, we're digging into the best takes on David Lynch.

    Twin peaks

    To access articles held in our subscription databases, first authenticate with your library card number through the NYPL website, then click on the permalink in the article title.

    "The Lost Boys" by Mikal Gilmore
    Rolling Stone March 6, 1997 (via EBSCOhost)
    Mikal Gilmore's 1997 Rolling Stone cover story positions David Lynch at the precipice between a fall from grace and a comeback, but the portrait that emerges is hardly that of a middle-of-the-road director. Gilmore interrogates the extremes, turning over what makes Lynch's work the tops or anathema to different viewers and the ways that swings between mystery and disclosure have been encouraged or critically reviled. For the Lynch novice, this article is an excellent primer.

    "The Quirky Allure of Twin Peaks" by John Leonard
    New York Magazine May 7, 1990
    You probably wouldn't expect an article about Twin Peaks to namecheck Barbara Ehrenreich, but that's exactly what John Leonard does in his musing on the television show. He also assumes a collage-work form, part Twin Peaks quotes, part profile, part criticism, and part think piece. Eventually Leonard concludes, "Wittgenstein had a philosophy, and Pynchon has some politics. Lynch is merely moody, more of a Warhol. Though beautiful to look at, there isn't much of anything inside his soft labyrinth except an unimportant secret."

    "David Lynch Has a Great Idea for a Movie" by Claire Hoffman
    New York Times Magazine February 24, 2013 (via ProQuest Research Library)
    While Lynch's films are characterized by an unsettling quality, the director is also devoted to Transcendental Meditation. Claire Hoffman's profile asks if these two impulses are contradictory, to which Lynch replies, "Mother Nature is very, very happy when people stop suffering and move things forward in a beautiful way," adding, "That makes me feel good. I'm just the messenger. I'm just telling them what Maharishi told me."

    "Picturing America" by Greil Marcus
    Threepenny Review Fall 2006
    Precisely what is so alluring about David Lynch's work is what frustrates others. I'm talking about what each of his works means. In this excerpt from Greil Marcus's The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, the critic advances his theory on how a trailer park might stand for a country in Twin Peaks. Drawing on a handful of cultural references from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" to The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Marcus casts Twin Peaks as a contemplation on an American people with "used up" eyes.

    "Wild at Art" by John O'Mahony
    The Guardian January 12, 2002 (via ProQuest Research Library)
    Although Lynch's aesthetic is instantly recognizable, John O'Mahony captures the diversity of the director's work, including Lynch's visual art. O'Mahony accretes details such as the preserved uterus Lynch keeps on his desk and the way that young Lynch began incorporating dead insects into his paintings, impressing upon the reader that the brushstrokes of this artist are always tinged with a touch of everyday macabre.

    "David Lynch Keeps His Head" by David Foster Wallace
    Premiere September 1996
    Perhaps the most celebrated work on Lynch to date, David Foster Wallace's essay is remembered by many as the one in which the term Lynchian was coined. DFW, a huge fan of the director, visits the set of Lost Highway, where he never speaks with Lynch and explains that Lynchian "refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.”

    "Fields of Dreams: Dennis Lim on David Lynch" by Dennis Lim
    Artforum January 2015 (via ProQuest Research Library)
    Written at the time of Lynch's first U.S. museum retrospective "The Unified Field," Lim's essay follows the throughlines between Lynch's visual art and films, noting the instances at which the two diverge and complicate readings of the other. Fans may be surprised to learn that many of the paintings are text-heavy, unlike his films which often eschew dialogue in favor of bizarre snatches of melodramatic gesture and gloomy soundscapes.

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Photographer Sally Mann's books include Immediate Family, What Remains, and Proud Flesh. Primarily working in black and white portraiture, Mann imbues her work with luminosity and a sensual macabre. Her memoir Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs is newly published, and this week on the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Sally Mann discussing ethical photography and stories.

    Born in Virginia, Mann actually was introduced to one of her great influences, Faulkner, while attending school in the northeast:

    "Literature was really important to me. I went to a school called Putney up in Vermont, and I was just an ignorant Appalachian cracker when I got there. I mean, I was wearing my boyfriend's football jacket, his football sweater. I just was hopeless. And I get there, and I had what I call an awakening, and a lot of it was due to someone handing me well it was either The Sound and Fury or The Light in August. And that's where it all started with me. It all started with Faulkner."

    When asked how she began the work of narrating her life, Mann described it as a process of collection and arrangement, almost like sourcing and threading beads for a necklace:

    "How did I start? I started basically by stringing this whole concatenation of stories together that I told for years. You know when you go to a dinner party you always have like one or two stories you always tell? Well I realized that those dozen, half dozen stories that I told for years were sort of turning into my life. When you string them all together you really have something."

    Mann's memoir is as much a work of text as it is a work of images. Over a career spanning more than three decades, Mann has developed perspective on the relationship between photographer and subject, which she shared at Books at Noon:

    "Portraiture: that's where you really need the splinter of ice because it's so so easy to take advantage of a photographic subject, and I think that it's a deeply ethically complex situation when you're photographing someone because you as the photographer hold all the cards. You always do. And your subject is completely vulnerable to you, and without that little sliver of ice, you can't take the tough pictures. In my case, I take the tough pictures... a series of pictures I did with [husband] Larry. We were exploring the nature of his physical disability as a result of the disease, and those pictures were tough to take. He's a much braver man than I am a photographer, and he was perfectly willing to have me take the pictures, but I had to say to myself, 'Okay, I'm going to take the pictures. It's painful for both of us, but I'm going to take the pictures.'"

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    July 7 would have been the 98th birthday of Robert Heinlein, the consummate science-fiction author best known for 1961 classic, Stranger in a Strange Land. In that story, a human man raised on Mars comes to Earth for the first time and sees the planet with completely new eyes.

    To add another layer of fresh experiences, Heinlein coined several new words in the book, including “grok” (“understand,” in his imagined Martian dialect).

    In Heinlein’s honor, we asked our NYPL librarians: What are some other books that speak to displacement—of being a stranger in a strange land?

    Model of planets in orbit around Trylon and Perisphere, 1935-1945. Image ID: 1684349

    Sci-Fi and Planetary Exploration


    Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and the sequel Children of God tell the tale of a 21st-century Jesuit-led scientific mission to a far off planet with signs of intelligent life. Results are disastrous as innocent misunderstanding creates destructive change to a world and its two peoples and transforms the one scientist/priest who returns home a stranger in his own land. These haunt me. —Danita Nichols, Inwood






    Sheri Tepper’s Grass is another book in this genre that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters are human, and they use the same language that we do today, but they live on a planet that is not the Earth so that their “horses” are not horses; their “grass” is not grass. The reader is the stranger in a strange land. Tepper is a master of the written word so the story unfolds at her pace. No spoiler alert is necessary, but read it if you dare! —Virginia Bartow, Special Collections





    Lilith's Brood

    Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood is a great companion piece to Stranger in a Strange Land, in which humans hope to re-populate a war-devastated earth with the help of mysterious aliens. —Judd Karlman, City Island








    My favorite series in this genre is C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. It is about two cultures, a group of human “colonists,” and the Atevi who live on the planet that they “colonized.” Some have commented that the Atevi were the inspiration for the Na’vi in Avatar. The chance encounter with a third species, the Kyo, brings them together in an uneasy alliance. The premise, told primarily from the perspective of the stranger in a strange land, is about the assumptions that we make and the understanding that might result from persistent attempts to communicate and interact. —Virginia Bartow, Special Collections 






    The recent science-fiction novel (and soon to be a movie), The Martian by Andy Weir, is a nice companion to Heinlein’s classic. In the book, an astronaut becomes stranded on Mars and has to work with NASA, using science to survive. —Judd Karlman, City Island







    Lord of the Flies

    The first two books that come to mind are The Martian by Andy Weir and the classic Lord of the Flies by William Golding—two titles I enjoyed very much. —Jhenelle Robinson, Pelham Parkway–Van Nest





    Immigration Stories


    “I lost my arm on my last trip home. My left arm. And I lost about a year of my life and much of the comfort and security I had not valued until it was gone.” Butler’s Kindred tells the harrowing story of Dana Franklin, a young African-American woman writer who is transported from 1970s Los Angeles to a slave community in antebellum Maryland. (P.S. Additional copies of this high-demand classic for the circulating collection are on order).  —Miriam Tuliao, Selection Team




    Interpreter of Maladies

    Jhumpa Lahiri is a master at capturing the stranger in a strange land experience.  All of her books deal with the alienation and isolation new immigrants’ experiences—specifically Indians in American culture. Her first book of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, is one of my favorites. —Susan Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street






    Second-Class Citizen

    Buchi Emechita’s Second-Class Citizen is a wonderful example of the hardships many immigrants face in moving to new countries. Adah, the book’s main character, feels compelled to move to Britain because of the promise of freedom that it represents to her young mind stuck in Nigeria. Once there, she realizes that any power or agency she thought she might have because she was in the “West” is nonexistant, and she’ll have to learn many hard truths to become a part of this new society.  —Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange




    Sea of Poppies

    I am midway through Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire). This sprawling and immersive tale of 19th-century India and Asia, in which every character flees or is taken from his or her home through indenture, crime, tragedy, poverty, adventure, and more. These characters, each caught up in the machinations of the East India Company and its opium trade with China, seek the safety of new homes and new friends, far from the country, caste, and customs in which they grew up. —Jessica Pigza, Rare Books





    Orphan Train

    Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train follows the stories of two women, connected by similar pasts. Vivian Daly, an Irish immigrant, first finds herself in New York City before being shuttled to the Midwest on an orphan train. Decades later, foster child Molly Ayer moves from home to home, never settling in. When the two women cross paths, their experiences help them forge an unusual friendship. —Alexandria Abenshon, Countee Cullen




    Travelogues to Real Places

    Sex Lives of Cannibals

    The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost doesn’t have much to do with sex lives or cannibals (unless you count the chapter on the life of dogs on the island of Tarawa) but it was an interesting anecdote about life on a tiny independent island in the Pacific. It is a really fun travelogue which humorously dispels the myths of paradise in the south Pacific. —Carmen Nigro, Milstein Division of United States History







    Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell. A lyrical and heartfelt historical fiction narrative of Willhemina (“Will”) Silver, who grew up half-wild on her father’s farm in Africa. Now she’s being shipped off to an English boarding school, far away from the land she loves, the people she loves, and the freedoms she's used to. The author pulls imagery and experience from her own childhood memories to create a story of longing and loneliness and a character who ultimately finds a way to be herself, even far from home. —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park





    I’d suggest the graphic novels of Lucy Knisley. Her travelogues: Displacement, about a cruise taken with her parents, and An Age of License, about a tour of Europe and Scandinavia, both fit the bill of being a stranger in a strange land. In addition, her memoir: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, shows that she can grok a recipe. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market






    The Lazarus Project

    The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon is the story of an American writer in Eastern Europe chasing the story of an immigrant’s death over a century ago. Hemon had me hooked with this parallel story of an event in the past and the writer who was researching it. It’s the story of immigration in America, now and then; of post-Soviet Eastern Europe; and of the classic quest for the meaning of love, life, and home. —Carmen Nigro, Milstein Division of United States History




    Stay tuned for Part 2, which features fantasy books, true stories of displacement, and more.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your picks! Leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend.

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    Continued from The Early Proposed Railways for New York City, Part 1.

    In 1870 Alfred Elt Beach put up $350,000 of his own money to enable his Beach Pneumatic Transit Company to push their pneumatic tube underground railway beyond just a proposal. The company actually built 312 feet of tunnel under Broadway from Warren Street to Murray Street. During its first two weeks of operation, the Beach Pneumatic Transit sold over 11,000 rides and provided 400,000 rides during its first year of operation. However, it took 3 years to get permission to extend the line and by that time public and financial support had waned, resulting in the close of this project in 1873. According to Joseph Brennan the tunnel was used for a while as a shooting gallery, but even that did not pay, and for years the tunnel was neglected and the entrance was closed by an iron grating. Probably by the end of 1878 the vent, which by than became the only entrance to the tunnel from the basement of 260 Broadway, was walled up. No further use of the tunnel is documented before it was destroyed in 1912 during the construction of the Lexington Avenue Rapid Transit Railroad. The project was described in a booklet: Illustrated Description of the Broadway Pneumatic Underground Railway, with a Full Description of the Atmospheric Machinery, and the Great Tunneling Machine (1870). Some of the illustrations from this booklet are shown below, but please also see more of them in our Digital Collections.

    New post office & proposed Broadway underground railway. Image ID: 1113643
    View looking from within the tunnel into the station. Image ID: 1113649
    Interior of the pneumatic passenger-car. Image ID: 1113644

    In June 25 1870, Appletons' Journal of Literature, Science and Artpublished an article "Proposed Railway Systems for New York." The anonymous author opened the text with these words: "There is in New York no more absorbing subject than the question of how to get up and down town safely and rapidly. As almost the entire business and laboring portion of the population has to be transferred in the morning from the upper part of the island, or the suburbs beyond, to the lower part, and in the evening must be sent back again to their domiciles, the present means of travel are not only inadequate in extent, but are far too slow and cumbersome. (...)" Then he proceeded to the description of the most advanced project.

    Appletons Journal of Literature, Science and Art (1870) stated that: The Elevated Railway is so far advanced as to have one track erected from the Battery to Thirtieth Street [...] In an experimental trip on this road it was found that the cars ran with great steadiness and smoothness, with little noise, and with uniform speed; while the transit seemed perfectly secure.
    Proposed Arcade Railway. Under Broadway, view near Wall Street as it appeared in Appletons Journal of Literature, Science and Art (1870) where it was stated that: Of all the plans proposed to supply our citizens with swift and easy transit, the Arcade Railway is the most audacious, involves the most expense, and has been the most actively discussed. (...) It proposes the construction of another street below the level of Broadway. The plan was developed in 1867 by a civil engineer B.B. Nowlan and survived for more than 10 years as an active plan although it lacked specificity on the mode of power that it was to use. The project was also described by its inventor in Transit in New York City: New York Arcade Railway (1868?)


    Dr. Rufus Henry Gilbert received a charter for his plan but could not attract enough investors and the financial panic of 1873 ended his plan which was : to place along the street, at distances from fifty to one hundred feet, compound Gothic iron arches, which shall span the street from curb to curb, at such an elevation as shall not interfere with the ordinary uses of the street. On these arches, a double line of atmospheric tubes, eight or nine feet in diameter, are to be secured. (...) Through the tubes, supported as described, cars, carrying passengers, are to be propelled by atmospheric power. There is also provision in the same set of arches for two or more sets of tubes for the transportation of mails and packages. The stations will be situated at distances of about one mile apart along the line, and will be provided with pneumatic elevators to raise passengers to and from the place of transit with perfect safety, thus obviating the necessity of going up and down stairs for transit. [Proposed City Railroad, Scientific American, April 13, 1872]. See also: Richard P. Morgans Report on Gothic Arch Elevated City Railway (1869).
    This is a perspective view of the proposed Gilbert elevated railway for quick transit from 1872. Although this elevated construction is somewhat similar to that noted above this proposal was to utilize regular trains. The source of this drawing is unknown.

    The first fully-developed elevated railway in New York City was the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway which was built by Charles T. Harvey and ran on Greenwich Street from July 1, 1868 to 1870. Still, protests both in the New York State Senate and in court continued. Under the provisions of the Rapid transit act of 1875, while some were celebrating and others were protesting, it was later extended north and operated as the Ninth Avenue Line until 1940. There were also other elevated lines in Manhattan: the Second Avenue Line (1875-1942), the Third Avenue Line (1878-1955), and the Sixth Avenue Line (1878?-1938). The NYPL has several maps that show the locations of these lines. See also a post by Artis Q. Wright of the NYPL's Map Division discussing several older NYC rapid transit maps (1845-1921).

    The great Blizzard of 1888 with snowfalls of 20–60 inches made many think that underground transit system was the only reliable solution to New York's transportation problems. The Ninth Avenue elevated railway derailment (1905) which claimed 13 deaths and was the worst accident on the New York Cityelevated railways, added to the push for underground transportation in the city.

    The first underground line opened on October 27, 1904 and the New York City subway system eventually grew to include 232 miles of routes and 468 stations. It still grows but, needless to say, the methods of construction used today differ in striking ways from those employed a hundred years ago. Also, not all proposed or discussed lines have been built. See this interesting map of Abandoned Stations and Unbuilt Lines.

    In addition to numerous materials on New York City subway system that the New York Public Library preserves and makes available to the public, the Science, Industry and Business Library has hosted two exhibits devoted to this subject.

    At the opening of the The Future Beneath Us exhibit John Ganly, Assistant Director for SIBL Collections, said: “New York City’s transit and vast infrastructure are key focuses in the collections at SIBL. Our ability to document the past allows for a unique perspective into the future.”

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  • 07/07/15--11:43: If You Like Mo Willems...
  • We love Mo Willems for so many reasons: 1.) He is silly 2.) His books are character driven 3.) He uses art to make his characters expressive, 4.) His books beg the reader to participate in the storytelling, and 5.) He focuses on issues we grapple with (still!) as adults.

    If you also love Mo Willems for these five reasons, here’s five more character driven picture books you may enjoy.

    Scaredy Squirrel


    Scaredy Squirrelby Melanie Watt

    Some fears are worse in our heads than in real life.




    I Want My Hat Back Cover



    I Want My Hat Backby Jon Klassen

    A clever whodunit that will have the audience screaming at a bear who nearly gives up the chase.




    Grumpy Bird Cover


    Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

    A bluebird wakes up on the wrong side of the nest.




    Olivia Cover



    Oliviaby Ian Falconer

    A willful pig with more than her fair share of energy.




    Dinosaur vs Bedtime Cover


    Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea

    This little dinosaur can vanquish almost any challenger…

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    Our former pre-professional, Farrah Lopez, pays tribute to American Negro Theatre alum Ruby Dee as we celebrate its 75th anniversary

    Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in the stage production Purlie Victorious. Image ID: ps_the_2709

    The inimitable Ruby Dee, a Grammy and Emmy winner as well as an Academy Award nominee (American Gangster), began her acting career right here at the American Negro Theatre. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Harlem, New York, Dee joined the theater as an apprentice in 1941, working with the illustrious Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Hilda Simms while still a student at Hunter College.

    Enamored by the theater but without a black screen idol to look up to, Dee set out to break barriers and soon landed on Broadway in 1943 alongside Canada Lee in Harry Rigsby and Dorothy Heyward’s South Pacific.  While she continued to blaze her own trail in Hollywood and beyond, becoming an icon when she starred in the film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in 1961, it is her work as an activist that still resonates today. In addition to emceeing the March on Washington in 1963, Dee became a passionate civil rights figure with husband and fellow American Negro Theatre actor, Ossie Davis. 

    Though Ohio was her first home, Dee’s powerful connection with Harlem and the American Negro Theatre would remain with her until her passing on June 11, 2014. The actress described Harlem as an integral part of her identity in an NPR interview: “I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It’s in me so deep.” 

    Learn more about our new exhibition, The 75th Anniversary of the American Negro Theatre. 

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  • 07/07/15--12:08: Rock 'n' Read: No Joy
  • No Joy band
    Photo of No Joy courtesy of Windish Agency


    "It took me three tours to complete Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, which is a heavy book to lug around across the world."

    Super Sad True Love Story

    Montreal shoegazers No Joy have an emotional sound characterized by distortion and ethereal dream pop. Given how tonally and lyrically moody they are, guitarist Laura Lloyd's literary predilection is predictably unpredictable—a hodgepodge of high brow and delightfully tacky. Check out what inspires her, and what induces carsickness on tour, and rock 'n' read forever!

    What role did libraries play in your youth?

    I was always at the library, mainly because my parents are very thrifty and when you can borrow instead of buy, they would. My mom was also a French literature teacher, so I suspect she was always sourcing material when dragging me along.

    What was your favorite book growing up? How do you feel about this book today?

    I think the first books I read that taught me as a kid that reading could be enjoyable was Mordecai Richler’s Jacob Two-Two series. Then I grew up and realized I also liked his books for adults.

    Self-help Lorrie Moore

    Has any one book in particular had a lasting effect on you?

    I am constantly thinking about Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story. It’s set in the future but so many scenarios ring true to today that I’m always thinking that it's less of his imagination and more of the natural development of the world, common sense. Even in the five years since I’ve read it, I’ve noticed things change the way they’re depicted in the book… we’re quickly becoming a cash-free society, we are attached to our smartphones, etc.

    What is a classic that you've never gotten around to reading but would like to one day?

    I am reading it now! Bonfire of the Vanities. I’ve wanted to read it since I was a kid watching my dad read it. I loved the red and gold cover.

    What genre do you prefer? Are there any you can't get into?

    I definitely am always more attracted to modern American literature, probably cause I can relate very easily and love the whole “my life is so f***ed ha ha” underlying message everything I’ve read has. I also have loved Haruki Murakami’s books. He’s able to create such a lush and romantic world in his novels that seems so different from anything I’ve experienced, yet he makes it familiar. As for genre I can’t get into: fantasy. Just can’t.

    1Q84 Murakami

    What are you currently reading? If nothing at the moment, what was the last book you read?

    Presently: Bonfire of The Vanities, but before that I read Self-Help, a collection of short stories by Lorrie Moore.

    Are you looking forward to any books to be released soon?

    Yes! Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

    While on tour, are you able to get much reading done?

    I try to between bouts of carsickness, that said it took me three tours to complete Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, which is a heavy book to lug around across the world.

    "When a book resonates with me I spend years thinking about it, and I think that has an influence on a lot of things in my life."

    Do you have any tour memories involving books or libraries?

    I'm Special Ryan O'Connell

    I’ve been lucky to meet writer Ryan O’Connell through touring and we became friends. He recently wrote a hilarious book called I’m Special which is about being gay with cerebral palsy. I read it in two days time. I even make a cameo in the book!

    Do you do any other writing aside from songwriting?

    Copywriting, for work.

    Have any specific authors, books, and/or poems influenced your songwriting in any way?

    I wouldn’t say directly, but when a book resonates with me I spend years thinking about it, and I think that has an influence on a lot of things in my life.

    Do you have any favorite memoirs by musicians?

    I just read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and really loved it. It was not what I expected.

    Behind the Bell

    Do you prefer physical books, e-books, or no strong opinion either way?

    I definitely prefer physical books. I feel like they act as souvenirs of memories, just looking at the spine you remember everything inside. E-books are so convenient for touring though, which is something I recently discovered reading Behind the Bell, the Dustin Diamond tell-all about his time on Saved by The Bell.

    Do you have a library card? If so, which library system are you a member of?

    I do have a Montreal library card, but I can’t say I use it much as now I prefer to own the books I read.

    NYPL currently circulates two excellent No Joy albums. Place a hold!

    No Joy Ghost Blonde
    Ghost Blonde - 2010
    Wait to Pleasure No Joy
    Wait to Pleasure - 2013


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