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    This is the first post in a series that will examine strands of Thomas Jefferson’s life and world, from 1791-1803, through entries in his manuscript account book.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot. And he also received an astounding amount of correspondence. Unquestionably, Jefferson is among the most well documented men of his generation. The editors of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University collected some 70,000 documents from his early years through the end of his presidency in 1809. To date, they have produced forty-one volumes, and still have yet to publish the material from 1803-1809. A separate project at Monticello, tackling the papers from Jefferson’s retirement years, has produced fourteen of an anticipated twenty-three volumes.

    Amid all of this Jefferson-mania, The New York Public Library has just digitized Jefferson’s manuscript account book from 1791 to 1803. The volume is basically a day-by-day running record of Jefferson’s transactions. I’ve already written before about the value of these kinds of organizational sources for understanding daily life in early America generally. It is especially important to understand Jefferson on this quotidian level precisely because historians know so much about Jefferson’s abstract political and philosophical views. The account book offers a glimpse of how Jefferson interacted with his world on a daily basis.

    Note of Robert Hemings’s manumission.

    Moments and events that loom large in historians’ understanding of Jefferson appear in the account book like anything else, as a few lines of text next to a date. On December 24, 1794, Jefferson scrawled that he “executed a deed of emancipation for Bob. by the name of Robert Hemings. he has been valued at L60.” Next to February 26, 1796, Jefferson wrote that he “gave James Hemings on his emancipation” thirty dollars to cover his expenses to travel to Philadelphia. Robert and James Hemings were, of course, the half brothers of Jefferson’s wife, and the older siblings of Jefferson’s longtime mistress, Sally Hemings.

    Harvard historian, Annette Gordon-Reed knows more about Jefferson and the Hemings family than anyone. Her book on the subject, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Gordon-Reed combed through piles of Jefferson’s writings and the records of Monticello to understand Jefferson’s complicated relationship with the Hemings family and the institution of slavery. But even for such a seasoned Jefferson scholar, references to Hemingses in the account book put the Jefferson-Hemings relationship in a new light. When asked to write about an item from the NYPL collection for Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100, Gordon-Reed picked Jefferson’s account book. “It was fascinating—and moving,” she wrote, to find Robert and James Hemings “listed under their family name” in Jefferson’s handwritten index to the account book.


    Thomas Jefferson account book 1791-1803, accounts February 1796

    "gave James Hemings on his emancipation...30.D(ollars.)"
    Hemings 2
    Note of James Hemings’ manumission

    Robert and James Hemings’s manumissions were monumental moments in the history of the most famous enslaved family in American history. And they are critical pieces of evidence for understanding Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings shaped Jefferson as a slaveowner. Powerful traces of this story are preserved alongside the mundane details of Jefferson’s life in this account book. Surely many other significant stories are as well.

    Further Reading:

    Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008). Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950- ). J. Jefferson Looney, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004- ). James a Bear, Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).

    About the Early Manuscripts Project

    With support from the The Polonsky Foundation, The New York Public Library is currently digitizing upwards of 50,000 pages of historic early American manuscript material. The Early American Manuscripts Project will allow students, researchers, and the general public to revisit major political events of the era from new perspectives and to explore currents of everyday social, cultural, and economic life in the colonial, revolutionary, and early national periods. The project will present on-line for the first time high quality facsimiles of key documents from America’s Founding, including the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Drawing on the full breadth of the Library’s manuscript collections, it will also make widely available less well-known manuscript sources, including business papers of Atlantic merchants, diaries of people ranging from elite New York women to Christian Indian preachers, and organizational records of voluntary associations and philanthropic organizations. Over the next two years, this trove of manuscript sources, previously available only at the Library, will be made freely available through

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    The Fugees, short for refugees, is a soccer team that revolutionized immigrants' lives in Clarkston, Georgia. Boys from Iraq, Afghanistan, African countries and other nations played soccer barefoot on a field near some apartment complexes. Although they played in the same space, the kids self-segregated according to national origins and languages spoken. They would pass the ball only to boys who were similar to themselves.

    Enter Luma Mufleh, originally from Jordan. At first, the boys were surprised that an adult woman would show any interest in their game. However, they allowed her to join in, and they soon became accustomed to her. Luma created teams according to the boys' ages: the Under Thirteens, the Under Fifteens, and the Under Seventeens. She searched for good practice fields and equipment for them.

    Luma set new ground rules for the game which did not please all parents or players. First, they would play as a team and not favor their own kind. They would show up to all of the practices on time, including the early morning weekend meet-ups. They would attend mandatory tutoring and wear their hair short. Luma ran them to exhaustion when she detected any hint of disagreement with her. Luma was strict, and not all of the boys wanted to abide by her conditions. However, she treated those who stayed with her like family, eating meals with them and the like.

    Outcasts United: the Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town by Warren St. John, 2012

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    Hutch Harris of The Thermals
    Hutch Harris, pondering which book to read next. Photo: Jaclyn Campanaro

    “I like writing that is dark, usually with a cynical attitude. I think my lyrics reflect that.”

    Hutch Harris is the lead guitarist and vocalist of Portland, Oregon–based band The Thermals. Many songwriters aim to tell a story with each song, but few are as adept as Harris in doing so. His songs paint vivid pictures and pose challenging questions, not unlike our favorite books and prose. Aside from being such a skilled wordsmith, Harris has called at least two majorly bookish cities home (New York and Portland). He is just the guy you want to turn to for a book recommendation! Don't get psyched on no culture icons, and rock 'n' read forever! 

    What role did libraries play in your youth?

    Vonnegut Galapagos

    I was born in New York City. My family lived there until I was eight. My parents took me to The New York Public Library all the time. Reading was (and still is) very important to my parents, and they taught me to read at an early age.

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

    My favorite books growing up were The Chronicles of Narnia. I still love them, from what I remember. I was totally immersed in that world when I read those books. I couldn't watch the movies; I had too strong of a connection to the books.

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

    I loved Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos. It says a lot of interesting things about evolution and the human brain. It definitely had a big impact on my songwriting. 

    Jimmie Walker Dyn-O-Mite

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

    Anything by Hemingway, who has been on my list for a long time. I've just never gotten around to reading any of his books.

    What genre do you prefer?

    I like biographies, and some older science fiction. My favorite books I've read in the past few years have all been non-fiction.

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

    I'm currently reading Dyn-o-mite, comedian Jimmie Walker's autobiography. I really enjoy reading stories about people who have succeeded in entertainment. They're usually very inspiring to me. 

    So You've Been Publicly Shamed

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

    I'm looking forward to reading Jon Ronson's latest, So You've Been Publicly Shamed. I've read and loved every other book he's written.

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

    I have to admit that I read a lot less on tour now that I have a smart phone. This is sad but I'm sure common. I used to read a lot more on long flights and drives.

    “I really enjoy reading stories about people who have succeeded in entertainment. They're usually very inspiring to me.”

    The Dirt

    Do you do any other writing aside from songwriting? 

    Occasionally I will write essays, usually on music, for websites. I have always written all the press material for every record I've done. Lately I've been writing jokes.

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

    Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Sara Teasdale, Graham Greene have all influenced my songwriting. I like writing that is dark, usually with a cynical attitude. I think my lyrics reflect that.

    Do you have any favorite memoirs by musicians?

    Hard rock musicians write the best memoirs. They have the best stories! I really like The Dirt by Mötley Crüe and also Slash's autobiography. One of my favorite memoirs is Richard Pryor's Pryor Convictions.

    Pryor Convictions

    Have any liner notes stayed with you over the years?

    The liner notes from Nirvana's Incesticide are very memorable. It's a meandering two-page rant from Kurt Cobain. All of our records come with the lyrics. It's very important to me that they do.

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

    I prefer physical books. I don't like e-books at all. I stare at screens enough already.

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

    Yes, I have a Portland [Multnomah County] Public Library card. Portland libraries are great!

    Thanks, Hutch! Perhaps we will read your memoir one day!
    Check out just how cynical The Thermals can be! These albums are currently available at NYPL:

    Now We Can See
    Now We Can See
    Personal Life
    Personal Life
    Desperate Ground
    Desperate Ground

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  • 07/28/15--08:28: Which Brontë Wrote It?
  • Just imagine sitting at the Brontë dinner table! Charlotte says, "My heart is yours, but the last piece of pie is mine." Emily? She says, "I have not broken your heart—you have broken the fast, and in breaking it, you have broken mine." In honor of two of our favorite writers, who happen to share a last name, we're challenging you to answer: which Brontë wrote it?

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  • 07/28/15--08:32: New-to-Us Dr. Seuss Books
  • ’Tis the season for unexpected new releases!

    Not to be outdone by Harper Lee, Dr. Seuss is releasing a new book on July 28. (Yes, Theodore Geisel passed away in 1991; What Pet Should I Get was discovered in a box in 2013.)

    But, to our surprise, we realized we didn’t need a new release to discover some new-to-us titles in the Seussian oeuvre! Geisel was incredibly prolific, and we have more than 200 items authored by Dr. Seuss in our catalog.

    Here are eight of his lesser-known works. They may not have a place in the canon beside The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, but we think they’re pretty neat, Sam I Am.

    If I Ran the Circus
    Scrambled Eggs
    Horton and the Kwuggerbug

    Are there any Dr. Seuss titles you love that are off the beaten track? Let us know in the comments!

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Vivian Gornick is one of the most prolific writers in American letters, with eleven books published since 1973. Twenty-eight years ago, she published an unforgettable account of her relationship with her mother called Fierce Attachments, and most recently she's published a memoir The Odd Woman in the City detailing her life as a woman of intelligent discontent. In this week's episode of the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Vivian Gornick discussing voice, adherence to fact, and lucid sentences.

    As a memoirist, Gornick is confronted with the question of what happens when a life is committed to the page. Obviously, the work of memoir is not simple replication, but she emphasized the importance of drawing from reality:

    "I never said it's okay to make anything up. I said it's okay to compose. When you sit down to write a memoir, you're not writing a transcript or a police blotter. You're not writing a therapeutic confession. You're not doing any of those things. You are composing a piece of experience. There's no doubt that the narrator is the writer herself. That is no doubt. The rest of it is I certainly do believe that everything should originate in reality. Everything should have happened one way or another. But the idea that one transcribes literally what I said, what she said, what he said is really — that's an ignorant reader."

    Again delineating between the work of the memoirist and other writers, Gornick noted that voice must be honed differently for writers in these disciplines:

    "Every writer under the sun has to find the right tone of voice, not too far, not too close, somehow hitting the right note, not too mythological, certainly not analytical. It's really hard, and you're very gratified when you do find the right tone of voice, and you have to trust it finally and go with it. I've written a lot about this because I'm a nonfiction writer. So every writer under the sun, poets, novelist, everybody needs to find the right tone of voice. The problem for someone like me is I don't have a fictional voice, either as a poet or as a novelist. They find the fictional voice and that gets them through. This kind of writer has only herself, so I have to pull from myself some particular part of myself that will dominate the tone of voice. And that has to be done by understanding better and better and better exactly what the story is that you're telling."

    Although Gornick's voice is singular, she, like any other writer, has been influenced by other authors. She singled out Natalia Ginsberg as a writer whose clarity and economy she admires:

    "There is a writer actually who has been a great model for me, and that's Natalia Ginsberg. She is an Italian writer who spent her life trying to write a lucid sentence, and she is a writer who began thinking that she was an extravagant Italian writer who was going to write in the D'Anunzio style, great operatic extravagance. And she, after a long apprenticeship of her own, that she put all of this on paper and it's been very moving and useful to me how she discovered how she was a minimalist essentially. And once you discover that, you're in a panic because if you discover that you are on the minimalist side, you need to learn how to use words. You can't waste them. You don't write a sentence that you aren't paying super, super attention to. And I found I loved that."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    Little Nemo sheet music image
    Image from published sheet music of Little Nemo. Image ID: g99c836_001

    A guest post By Brian D. Valencia

    In one of two overblown patriotic spectacles, the Act 2 finale of Little Nemo in Slumberland explodes with a burst of fizzy stage pyrotechnics as the company sings a hymn to the Liberty Bell. It has already sung paeans to Fourth of July fireworks and the “heroes of ’76,” and conducted a dubious lesson on the history of the holiday. (“Now where was the Declaration of Independence signed?” Answer: “At the bottom!”) These flag-waving festivities, thrilling as they surely were for the show’s original audiences, quite literally have nothing to do with the action of the musical, which presumably takes place over one or two days and nights… during which it is also, apparently, May Day and Valentine’s Day. Are these incongruities the result of lazy dramaturgy? Can they be chalked up to the usual attention deficit of the pre-“integrated” musical? Or might they be forgiven altogether, since it’s all just a dream, anyway?

    Already at the turn of the twentieth century, the “serious” drama of Europe was ardently exploring the theatrical potential of dreams. By the 1880s, the self-proclaimed symbolists began mining the dramatic potential of the subconscious mind, overturning the melodramatic playwriting models that had dominated Western stages throughout the 1800s, and departing substantially even from the new vogue for realist and naturalist plays and performance styles. The American musical theater remained almost entirely untouched by these developments. But fewer than eight years after the original publication of Sigmund Freud’s influential psychological study The Interpretation of Dreams and fewer than seven years after August Strindberg wrote A Dream Play, Little Nemo in Slumberland—a theatrical work of dreams of a whole other order—opened on Broadway at the opulent New Amsterdam Theatre on October 20, 1908, after a three-week tryout in Philadelphia. According to the New York Times, the city had “seen nothing bigger or better in extravaganza than ‘Little Nemo.’” It had also never seen a theatrical production more expensive.

    NY Herald, October 15, 1905

    Little Nemo (presumably named after Jules Verne’s submarine captain in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) officially began life in the funny pages of the New York Herald on October 15, 1905. There, in a weekly full-page comic strip, cartoonist Winsor McCay drew the wacky, often disturbing sleepy-time adventures of a seemingly ordinary little boy with an extraordinary nighttime imagination. Following incredible romps with fantastical creatures through dazzling, dizzying perspective landscapes, the final panel of each week’s installment always showed Nemo waking suddenly to the call of his parents—usually having fallen out of bed at the violent climax of the bizarre dream.

    Almost immediately plans were made to adapt McCay’s comic strip for the stage. No lesser figure than Broadway impresario, producer, and playwright David Belasco set about translating the wild impossibilities of Nemo’s episodic capers to a satisfying evening of theater, but neither he nor three other playwrights making early attempts could lick a script. In 1907, however, Marc Klaw and Abe L. Erlanger—arguably the most powerful American producers of the day, sitting at the head of the notorious Theatrical Syndicate touring monopoly—acquired the rights for Little Nemo in Slumberland. Before they had even named a creative team, they announced their “operatic spectacle” would take the form of “a series of monstrous tableaux,” constructed with an unprecedented budget of $100,000 (approximately $2.5 million in today’s dollars). The Viennese operetta The Merry Widow, which preceded Little Nemo at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 1907, was a very expensive production for its time, but it had still cost less than $35,000 (about $870,000 today). Klaw and Erlanger boasted publicly that they would not only recoup their initial investment, but that they would see it returned fivefold. They never did.

    The impulse to produce such a lavish affair was no doubt at least partly inspired by recent great successes of musical fantasy on the Broadway stage. Following L. Frank Baum’s (and Paul Tietjens’s and others’) musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (1902/3) and Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough’s Babes in Toyland(1903), the moment seemed ripe for sweeping, family-friendly (cash-raking) musical fantasy. Given the lasting popularity of his whimsical Babes in Toyland score especially, the prolific Victor Herbert was the obvious choice for Nemo’s composer; at the time, he was still riding high on his back-to-back successes of Mlle. Modiste (1905) and The Red Mill (1906). But these weren’t set in fairyland. Herbert and MacDonough had previously attempted what many saw as a follow-up to Babes in Toyland in the fantastical operetta Wonderland (also 1905), but the critics made clear that technical problems and onerous length had killed the wonder by the time the show reached Broadway. Maybe Irish-born Victor Herbert saw Little Nemo in Slumberland as an opportunity at a musical mulligan?

    For Nemo’s librettist, Abe Erlanger originally proposed George Hobart, a fellow member of the prestigious New York theater fraternity the Lambs Club, with whom Herbert had previously written a number of annual clubrevues. Hobart, too, seemed like an obvious choice: he had contributed lyrics to a Mother Goose for Klaw and Erlanger in 1903, but a disagreement over the booking of another Herbert–Hobart piece led to Hobart’s firing. Henry Blossom, with whom Herbert had written both Mlle. Modiste and The Red Mill, was tapped to replace Hobart, but Blossom, also a Lamb, refused the project out of loyalty to a fellow club member. Thus, before pen had even hit paper, the showwas on the cusp of collapse—that is, until a producing partner suggested that Herbert collaborate with Harry B. Smith (author of, reputedly, more than 300 musical librettos), and Herbert’s librettist on his first popular success in the theater, The Wizard of the Nile (1895). Accordingly, Herbert and Smith began writing Little Nemo in Slumberland in earnest in the spring of 1908.

    More or less simultaneously, Klaw and Erlanger took up the task of casting 20 or so principal and more than 150 ensemble roles. At the head of the company was to be “Master” Gabriel Weigel, a little person, reportedly “32-past” in years but only 2’9” in height. (The New York Times was quick to assure potential audiences that he bore “none of the grotesque unpleasantness of the average dwarf.”) Master Gabriel had become a minor celebrity two years earlier by playing the title role in Buster Brown, interestingly another Broadway property adapted from a comic strip (though in this case a non-musical). So convincingly did he play a child that the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children visited the New Amsterdam Theatre days after Little Nemo’s opening to investigate reported violations of the state’s child labor laws; society members relented only after they saw Master Gabriel shaving off a full beard backstage as he dressed for a performance.

    In another bit of trick casting, actress Florence Tempest, called by the Des Moines Daily News“America’s most lovable impersonator of boy parts,” was hired to play the featured role of the Candy Kid, the androgynous but ostensibly male role of Nemo’s guide from the waking world to Slumberland.

    The real stars of Little Nemo in Slumberland, though, were to be a trio of comedians, in parts mostly superfluous to Nemo’s story. Joseph Cawthorn, a favorite “Dutch” comedian (who burlesqued German linguistic and cultural mannerisms), was cast to play Dr. Pill, the quack doctor of Slumberland’s royal court. Billy B. Van, the famous blackface minstrel, would play Nemo’s nemesis Flip, the cigar-smoking grump from McCay’s cartoons, in greenface. And Harry Kelly, a specialist in “eccentric” parts, was set to play the Dancing Missionary, a kind of early-twentieth-century homeopath, bent on convincing his potential converts that all worries disappear in the face of positive thinking. Though Little Nemo was officially billed as a “musical comedy,” these were character types straight off the variety stage. Likely in the spirit of providing “something for everyone,” Klaw and Erlanger’s extravaganza quickly became a strange and bloated mixture of theatrical styles, including the minstrel show, pantomime, operetta, farce-comedy, vaudeville, revue, and ballet, and the working-class buffoonery of Cawthorn, Van, and Kelly (prefiguring the delicious nonsense of the Marx Brothers) proved to be one of Little Nemo’s strongest box-office assets.

    As the musical’s central conceit began taking shape—the mortal boy Nemo has been summoned by the Little Princess of Slumberland to be her own personal playmate—F. Richard Anderson began designing and overseeing the construction of the more than 1,000 costumes it called for. McCay’s drawings inspired ten elaborate scenic designs carried out by John Young and Ernest Albert, including such visual wonders as a “weather factory,” complete with projections (“vitagraph” displays) and fake explosions; an amusement park filled with practical carnival games set amid an island of cannibals; and the “Palace of Patriotism” (for the Act 2 finale, mentioned above) featuring a glockenspiel made of mini-Liberty Bells and a tableau vivant of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Musical director Max Hirschfeld assembled the orchestra of no fewer than 23 players—rehearsed personally by Mr. Herbert, advertisements proclaimed—and staging director Herbert Gresham began drilling the more than 200 singers, dancers, and comedians. (Incidentally, Little Nemo marked a return to dreamland at the New Amsterdam Theatre for the director and composer. The theater had opened in 1903, at the site on 42nd Street it still occupies today, with an inaugural production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Gresham, with Mendelssohn’s music arranged by Herbert.)

    Klaw and Erlanger provided Winsor McCay an office-studio in the theater so that he could remain close to the rehearsals while keeping up with his rigorous drawing schedule and vaudeville appearances. By this time McCay had himself become somewhat of a vaudeville sensation in a “quick-draw” act, treating live audiences to a firsthand glimpse of his virtuosity with a pen. On the opening night of Little Nemo, the cartoonist had to dash out of the New Amsterdam at the end of Act 1 so that he might not be late for his entrance in the vaudeville show at William Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre just across the street. When Nemo toured, so did McCay, shadowing the musical’s route on William Morris’s vaudeville circuit, in effect cross-promoting the Little Nemo stage show. Additionally, McCay drew attention to the musical in his newspapercomics on November 15, 1908, January 17, 1909, and (appropriately, given the setting of Act 1, Scene 4) Valentine’s Day, 1909.

    From the start, Little Nemoin Slumberland was an astounding critical success. Even McCay appears to have been surprised at how well things came together out of town in Philadelphia, writing in a telegram to the press, “Abraham Erlanger is a wizard . . . Wow!” The headline of the New York Times review affirmed the production “A Big Frolic / Glittering Spectacle with Plenty of Incidental Fun.” Though Little Nemo was undeniably wholesome entertainment, it was more than children’s theater; “it will take a grown-up sense of humor to get all the fun out of it,” the Times advised, especially the ceaseless punning and crackpot disquisitions of Cawthorn, Van, and Kelly, who “squeezed the laugh-making organs until there is not a squeak left.”

    As might be expected, the reviewers lavished the bulk of their praise on the production’s awesome spectacle. The BostonHerald, in particular,effused: 

    The claims in advance have not exaggerated the facts. ‘Little Nemo’ is the greatest spectacle of the time. It recalls the tales of grandfather’s days when they used to fill the stage with girls and girls and more girls; when there were dazzling arrays of brightness; when Amazonian marches were in vogue, and when all sorts of grand transformation scenes kept the audiences amazed and bewildered.

    (The paper didn’t seem to mind much that “The foundation of the play is almost nothing . . . .”) Similarly, Boston's Transcript reported that Little Nemo’s delightswere at least as wondrous as the storied hits of a generation ago, but lauded how modern machinery made the production’s scenic marvels all the richer. As such, Little Nemo was dually embraced as a nostalgic throwback to the fondly recalled but creaky burlesques of the nineteenth century and a triumph of the enlightened present day, in its reliance both on the most up-to-date stage technologies and relentless topical humor (which today require lengthy explanations; I have provided the script more than 100 explanatory footnotes). “[T]he result,” the paper wrote, “justifies the time and money that have surely been expended to make ‘Little Nemo’ a wonder of stagecraft.”

    As for the music, the Transcript warned that the score contained “not many airs that will be whistled by the street boys”—and the Boston Herald counted the play’s music as its third principal attraction, after its scenery and jokes. At the beginning of the project, Victor Herbert was greatly excited by the subject matter, telling the Pittsburgh Gazette in June 1908, presumably in the thick of composing:

    The idea appeals to me tremendously. It gives opportunities for fanciful incidents and for “color.” It’s all in Dreamland, you know, and that gives great scope for effects, the writing of which appeals to me immensely. Besides, there is an excellent story—the love between Nemo and the Princess—and there are chances for humor, too. I can only say that I will approach my part of the task with enthusiasm and I hope to furnish an interesting musical setting.

    After the fact, however, Herbert lamented the absence of a serious adult romance, an opportunity to infuse substantive emotion into his writing. Without one, he feared his score was merely a string of novelty tunes and production numbers that sounded all too much alike. The New York Times offered Herbert’s music faint praise, calling it “pleasant,” “though . . . it serves its purpose well.” But it was not without lasting legacy of sorts; a six-year-old Richard Rodgers was taken to see Little Nemo, and he remembered fondly “Give Us a Fleet” and “Will You Be My Valentine?” No doubt these served as grist for the mill for a theater composer who went on to write quite a few patriotic tunes, and more than a few playful courtship songs.

    Little Nemo in Slumberland played 123 or 111 performances (counts differ) in New York before embarking on an extended tour through the Northeast, the Midwest, and the South. McCay took his son Bobby, thought to be the real-life model for the Nemo character, on the tour’s first leg, dressing him up like the little protagonist and installing him on a prop throne in theater lobbies as an additional marketing gimmick.

    The original capital outlay for Little Nemo was only about $86,000, a small fraction shy of the outrageous sum the producers originally announced. But the show cost $20,000 a week to run, which required sold-out houses at the New Amsterdam’s top ticket price of $1.50 (about $40 in today’s money) in order to just break even. Though it was running a deficit, the show could not afford to close—in a situation that, theater scholar Mark Cosdon has pointed out, neatly parallels the more recent financial woes of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011). The spectacle was also terrifically expensive to tour, employing a custom 17-car train, the Little Nemo Special, to transport the enormous company and all its scenery from stop to stop. On top of this, Herbert, a serious musician, insisted on an uncustomary, unsustainably high minimum number of orchestra players in large cities, even when ticket sales waned, depleting coffers even further.

    When the celebrated production finally shuttered to a deep financial loss in 1910, Winsor McCay perceived the entire outing as a failure and took the disappointment personally. Perhaps seeking a clean break with the American stage, he petitioned his editors at the New York Herald for leave to take his vaudeville act to Europe, a proposal they ultimately rejected. These events coincide with a cynical shift in tone in his Little Nemo comics, and likely encouraged him to redirect his energies toward flipbook animation and, later, to animated films. His first such film was, in fact, Little Nemo(1911), followed quickly by How a Mosquito Operates (1912) and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), sometimes looked to as the earliest examples of animated cartoons. The last Nemo strip McCay drew for a long time was published by William Randolph Hearst’s New York American on July 26, 1914. (McCay continued the boy’s adventuresfor a short stint in the mid-1920s).

    Though Nemo has largely faded from the American memory (and, as Cosdon has observed, the very name Nemo has been irrevocably poached by a little Pixar clownfish), occasionally still he surfaces. An animated feature styled Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, released in the U.S. and Japan in 1989, precipitated a video game for the original Nintendo NES home-gaming console called Little Nemo: The Dream-Master (representing an iconic moment in my own childhood video-gaming)—both of which retain some small cultural currency today. An opera for young people also called Little Nemo in Slumberland,bearing no relation to the 1908 stage show, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy and music by Daron Hagen, premiered at the Sarasota Opera in 2012. And just last December, German art book publisher Taschen issued a complete, two-volume large-format set of all of McCay’s original drawings in full color (ISBN 978-3836545112). This Taschen release may be the best point of access we have for understanding the energy of Herbert and Smith’s weird theatrical enterprise.

    But for the intrepid reader, the accompanying libretto, transcribed and annotated painstakingly from a surviving typescript presents the original vision for the 1908 musical extravaganza that—despite its budgetary blunders—was an undisputed jewel of its age’s stages. On its own, the text is nothing short of perplexing. Its structural incoherence and lack of dramatic thrust make it a wonder to the contemporary reader that the musical ever could have been as popular and as well-received as it was. It is extraordinary in its refusal to tether the action to a central spine, forgetting what should be central plot points as soon as it establishes them. (A New York review acknowledged that “The ‘book’ of the second and third acts does not keep the promise of the libretto of the first.” That Nemo is needed to recover King Morpheus’s missing elixir of youth, for example, is never again mentioned after the first scene. Perhaps Smith sought absolution for such narrative hiccups by providing Flip the ham-handed realization at the start of Act 2 “Holy smoke! I’ve lost the plot! The plot! Where is it?”) The structure’s an unmitigated mess, yet there’s an undeniable, if totally mystifying, energy or sublimity about it all.

    Mark N. Grant has described early musical books as “Infantile Dada,” and—if the politics of dada are removed from the discussion—that might not be too bold a characterization of Harry B. Smith’s work on Little Nemo. (The scenes set on the cannibal island, in particular, bear an uncanny resemblance to Raymond Roussel’s Impressions of Africa, a pre-surrealist dada-esque exercise dramatized for the avant-garde Paris stage in 1912.) When Little Nemo is strange, it is very strange: the beer-drinking male cat named Gladys; the dance of the marionette baby dolls in their cribs; the chorus of anthropomorphic typewriters and typewriter desks; the cannibal king’s magical “bamboozle bush” that can breathe life into inanimate objects; the song about teaching a Teddy bear to dance; the sudden decision to host a full-fledged Olympic Games in the middle of a savage wilderness; Captain Grouch’s self-destruct “electric kazazas” button; the announcement, then immediate cancelation, of a Zouave military march. Certain oddities, like the woman-hating hypnotist pirate cook, would be more at home in a Strindberg play (compare her with the vampire cook of Strindberg’s TheGhost Sonata, which premiered in Stockholm the same year) than in the typical Broadway musical-comedy fare of 1908. A reader today might seriously wonder if Smith had any plan in mind as he set to work, or if he merely let his imagination drift from one crazy idea to the next, committing each to the page with the same nondiscriminating gusto. The surrealists would adopt a similar technique decades later (indeed, deliberate experimenting and overambitious showmanship can sometimes be but a short step apart), but, in the wake of World War I, the surrealists’ was a different world. They were also not trying to yield returns on a $100,000 investment.

    Little Nemo’s narrative scatteredness pushes patience to the brink, but the consequent brain-scramble is somehow more charming than annoying. The untiring parade of nonsense atop nonsense creates a kind of self-sustaining dramaturgical engine fueled by its own spontaneity. (The Boston Herald articulated this sense: “the surprises in scene or situation follow one another like flashes of light.”) One result is that Little Nemo feels more like a thematic musical revue than a narrative musical play. Smith was actually just finishing his work on the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 when he turned to Nemo. Given the disjointedness of the libretto, the score can hardly be faulted for failing to jell into a single, cohesive theatrical dessert. While it is probably true that Herbert’s 30-some sugary tunes bear the indelible stamp of an earlier time and folksier theatrical sensibility, the sheer diversity they demonstrate despite a common palette of mostly bright major keys is itself testament to Herbert’s musical and dramatic ingenuity. (A 1909 recording of the Victor Herbert Orchestra playing a medley from Little Nemoprovides a tantalizing auditory scrap of the pep and punch of the score’s original orchestral rendering.) 

    If the musical arrives at a happy end, it does not earn it. Like the sumptuous, expensive court spectacles of seventeenth-century Europe, Little Nemo in Slumberland ends only because a quota of fun has been had, the night is over, and it is time to sleep—or, rather, it is time to put the theatrical dreams to bed, so that the appreciative spectators might retire to their own. Only after a six-part “Dream Ballet” finale, though, perhaps the first on the American musical stage, predating the end-of-act dream ballet in Rodgers and Hammerstein’sOklahoma! by almost 35 years.  Could the memory of Nemo have helped Rodgers to help Laurey, in that musical, to make up her mind?”

    In its ceaseless efforts to please, Little Nemo in Slumberland is a celebration of many things: unbridled American imagination, unbridled American capitalism, unbridled American imperialism . . . As for the last, perhaps Herbert sensed something a little too prescient in Smith’s lyric

    I wish there’d be a war.
    I love the cannon’s roar.
    It must be like the Fourth—I bet it is.

    and decided to leave that song untouched; no music for “When Nemo is the Captain of the Regiment” survives. In less than a decade’s time, Nemo’s wish would come true, and if he had been an actual boy, his adventures then in far-off lands would surely have borne no resemblance to the “Happy Land of Once-Upon-a-Time” cooked up for him by Klaw and Erlanger, by Smith and Herbert in the sweet innocence of the first decade of a new century. (Were Nemo to have survived the war, what a surrealist he surely would have grown to be!) But Little Nemo is also a celebration of childhood, a time when such serious, real-world thoughts should still be a long way off. It is a time to try many things, sometimes too many things, and not to fear underperforming or failing at them altogether. It is a time when $100,000 sounds like imaginary money, so why not spend it to the fullest? After all, the longer the fantasy, the dream, keeps going, the longer we can stave off the inevitability of growing—or waking—up.

    A Note on the Libretto

    The surviving typescript is surely a pre-Broadway working draft, as it is excessively long; a number of songs appear that are not listed in show programs and were not published in the 1908 piano-vocal score (though Herbert’s musical doodlings for some of these numbers are on file in the Library of Congress); the scene aboard Captain Grouch’s pirate ship is not listed in show programs; and the song “They Were Irish,” added on tour in Boston, is nowhere to be found. If everything Harry B. Smith calls for this libretto was not realized in production—material was certainly cut and reshuffled in rehearsals—at least most of it was, as it is scripted here.

    All explanatory and editorial footnotes are mine. Surely these only scratch the surface.

    Thanks to Lewis Bramlett’s New Amsterdam Theatre website for archival materials (including the production photos shared here), and to Jennifer L. Shaw for research and editorial assistance.

    Download the libretto as:

    Further Reading

    Additional information on the writing and production of Little Nemoin Slumberland can be found in:

    Canemaker, John. “Little Nemo on Broadway” (ch. 7) in Winsor McCay: His Life and Art (expanded ed.). New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005. 140–153.

    Gould, Neil. Victor Herbert: A Theatrical Life. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. 386–389.

    Waters, Edward N. Victor Herbert: A Life in Music. New York: Macmillin, 1955.321–326.

    Musical Links

    The songs in the accompanying libretto marked with a music note symbol can be heard in MIDI audio format on Colin M. Johnson’s excellent website Victorian and Edwardian Musical Shows. Visit his Little Nemo page at

    Most of the score has also been recorded (with a two-piano instrumentation) by the Michigan-based Comic Opera Guild. CDs and MP3s of Little Nemo are available for purchase from them at

    About the Editor/Writer

    Brian D. Valencia is Lecturer of Dramaturgy, Theory, and Criticism in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Miami and a doctor of fine arts candidate at the Yale School of Drama. As a composer, lyricist, musical director, dramaturg, and performer, Brian has collaborated on numerous theatrical works seen and heard in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Miami; New Haven, Connecticut; and Seoul, South Korea. His scholarly writing has appeared in Contemporary Theatre Review, Common-placeTheater magazine, The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, and a forthcoming volume by Palgrave academic press. He holds master of fine arts degrees from the Yale School of Drama and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Brian has taught at Yale, Florida International University, and Miami’s New World School of the Arts. He lives and works in South Florida.

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    For many children, libraries are among their first social places. A place where the furniture is their size, where they can be among their peers, and follow their curiosity. Here are a few children's books set in libraries. If you have a library kid, these titles will make them feel right at home. 

    The Boy and the Book Cover

    The Boy and the Bookby David Michael Slater

    A wordless story about a boy who learns to read and consequently, to treat the library books lovingly.



    Dinosaur vs. the Library

    Dinosaur vs. the Libraryby Bob Shea

    “Use your inside roar” little dinosaur.





    The Midnight Library

    The Midnight Libraryby Kazuno Kohara

    Come in after dark and meet the little librarian and her owl assistants.




    Bats in the Library Cover

    Bats at the Libraryby Brian Lies

    The Library after dark is a magical place full of books for bats like “Goodnight Sun.”



    But Exuse Me That is My Book

    But Excuse Me That is My Bookby Lauren Child

    Charlie tackles the concept of borrowing with his little sister Lola (who is small and very funny.)




    Coral Reefs

    Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

    The New York Public Library is transformed into a coral reef.





    Library Lion Cover

    Library Lionby Michelle Knudsen

    There are no rules against lions in the library.





    The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

    The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

    For Morris Lessmore, the world is black and white without books. (Also a wonderful short film.)


    Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

    Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

    Kyle's discovers his hero, the famous game designer Luigi Lemoncello, designed a new library and enters a contest to spend the night there.

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    The Martian is a runaway hit of the summer and today is the anniversary of the date NASA was established... two great excuses to ask our expert NYPL librarians to recommend their favorite books about interplanetary travel! (And we gave bonus points for stories specifically about Mars.)



    The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is not only my favorite book about Mars, but one of my favorite science-fiction books of all time! It’s always at the top of my list when recommending science-fiction books for teens or adults who aren’t sure if they like the genre, because it doesn’t require you to have a science background to understand it.  This book is a collection of stories that are plot-driven but woven together with emotions and psychology, of both human and Martian characters.  It’s an awesome, powerful book, and the stories will remain with you long after you’ve read it. —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge




    Red Mars

    Has to be said: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. There’s a lot of science in the science fiction, and it feels like a very plausible presentation of how the actual colonization of Mars could go. KSR is fantastic. —Kay Menick, Schomburg Center








    I loved Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, in which she examines the gross and uncomfortable aspects of astronauts in flight.  Doesn’t everyone want to know about barfing in space?  —Rebecca Dash Donsky, 67th Street






    Interstellar Travel


    Is it too obvious to say The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Laugh out loud funny and infinitely quotable. Find out the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but don’t be surprised when you don’t understand it. Rebecca Dash Donsky, 67th Street






    Cold Equations

    “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin from The Science Fiction Hall of Fame 1929-1964 (which also contains other fabulous stories). I used to be a huge sci-fi short story buff and would tear through anthologies. This is one of the few stories from those days that has stuck with me to the point that I still think about it 20 years later. Taking place completely on an interstellar journey, this story is not heavy on speculative science; it’s more about the bigger picture of our world as it is, bringing the reader in with a relatable premise and letting the rest unfold slowly, toward the inevitable, gutting resolution. —Jill Rothstein, Andrew Heiskell Library



    Since Jill mentions Tom Godwin, I would like to put in a plug for his The Survivors (also known as Space Prison). If you think the moon is a harsh mistress, imagine being cast away on a planet hundreds of light years from earth, with high gravity, thin air, extremes of climate, ferocious and voracious native fauna and a plethora of other constantly lurking lethal conditions. You're part of a group of "Rejects," a thousand men, women and children abandoned on the nightmare planet Ragnarok by a gang of cruel would-be overlords of the galaxy, with next to nothing in the way of supplies or equipment except an indomitable will to live, and eventually, though it takes generations of Darwinian survival of the fittest, to meet the return of the Gerns with a force that will shake their empire to its core. —Kathie Coblentz, Rare Materials


    I really enjoyed The Sparrow  by Mary Doria Russell. It’s an intense combination of topics I did NOT think I would enjoy: a sci-fi book whose central character is a Jesuit priest. He, along with several others, is sent to explore the Alpha Centuri world of Rakhat, from which ethereal music is reaching Earth. Many incredible encounters and disasters ensue, including a major crisis of faith. —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street






    Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series, starting with Trading in Danger, not only shows interplanetary travel but also interplanetary merchant and military alliances. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market







    Devil Belto

    My favorite books that depict interstellar travel have to be C.J. Cherryh’s “Company Wars” series. They feature interstellar commerce, colonization, encounters with alien life-forms, and the terrifying and mundane aspects of life in space, all wrapped up with interpersonal relationships, family ties, and the competition for respect and glory. —Virginia Bartow, Rare Materials






    Blindsightby Peter Watts is another odd science-fiction novel about a strange crew selected to venture to the edges of the solar system. Among the crew is a vampire and a linguist with a multiple personality disorder. It is another alien future. —Judd Karlman, City Island







    Graphic Novels

    Princess of Mars

    A Princess of Mars by Ian Edginton. This graphic novel adaptation of an enduring, century-old classic re-imagines the cosmic tale of a man transported to Mars where war, romance and a call to heroism await. Not to be missed! —Daniel Norton, Mid-Manhattan 







    I’ve recently been recommending the graphic novel series Concrete Park to anyone and everyone. The story revolves around outcasts from Earth who are sent to a prison planet to do slave labor. The prison planet, Scare City, becomes a hub of gang violence and action. Many of the excellent cast of characters are just trying to survive the gritty scene, but some of them are looking for redemption in this hellish place. I’m very excited to see where this series is going next. —Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange





    I’ll choose a recent children’s graphic novel: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.  What do you do if your best friend is pulled through a hole in space?  You go on a quest to rescue him, of course! —Sue Yee, Children’s Center







    Mars Evacuees

    Since Mars is the name of the game, we’re going to have to go with Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall. Hilarity, adventure, and giant robotic goldfish all play a part as Alice Dare and her friends have to figure a way out of their predicament on Mars, and possibly save Earth in the bargain! —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park





    Green Book

    I’ve loved The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh ever since my 5th-grade teacher read it aloud to us part by part. We never wanted her to stop and wait a day for the next chapter! Pattie and her family travel four years on an old spaceship to an unknown, hopefully habitable planet, after natural disaster forces migration from Earth. The group soon learns that they aren’t alone and survival is far from certain. —Charlie Radin, Inwood






    You can’t leave Earth to explore space without understanding what’s holding us down! Author and illustrator Jason Chin takes on the task in his beautifully illustrated picture book, Gravity. Along with the help of a super-cute space bear, Chin explains what Kepler and Newton had in mind. —Karen Ginman, Selection Team



    Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Think Space Camp meets Roald Dahl.  Boyce is very British, very wacky, and tons of fun.  It’s definitely a page-turner and, as the reader, you’re routing for those kids to make it back to Earth again until the very end. —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street






    Space Taxi

    The Space Taxi series by Wendy Mass. What could be cooler than having a father that drives a taxi cab?  Perhaps having a father that drives an intergalactic taxi cab and suddenly becoming his navigator ...—Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street






    Wrinkle in Time

    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was one of my first introductions to science fiction and it completely blew my mind as a young reader.  First published in 1963, we follow a young female protagonist named Meg on a journey through space and time while she tries to find out what’s happened to her missing scientist father and the mysterious object called the “tesseract.” —Leslie Bernstein, Mott Haven





    Young Adult

    Stitching Snow

    My recent favorite is Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis, a Snow White retelling in which Snow White is a computer hacker/cage fighter from a mining planet who finds herself entwined in an interplanetary mission around her solar system. —Lauren Bradley, George Bruce






    Ender's Game

    I would also add Orson Scott Card’s award-winningEnder’s Game, which won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award. —Dawn Collins Zimmerer, Wakefield








    In the Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Amy and her family escaped a failing Earth in the starship Godspeed and have been in cryogenic suspension and hurtling through space, traveling to colonize a new planet, for 250 years. Now someone on that ship has unsuspended Amy 50 years too early. The starship, staffed by succeeding generations of crew members, has suffered a plague and insurrections over the years, leaving essential information and functions either lost or disabled. Amy must team up with Elder, the ship’s tyrannical, old captain and his younger, future successor to figure out what is happening and how she can possibly save herself and the others on the ship. Told in alternating narratives, you get Amy’s story and the younger Elder’s as they come to grips with their new space traveling realities. The story is filled with sustained tension that keeps you guessing and has enough drama and romance to interest even the most casual sci-fi fan. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    Space Stories


    I know it’s not exactly a planet, but Robert Heinlein’s 1966 Nebula award-winning The Moon Is a Harsh Mistresshas been a favorite of mine for the last decade. It’s a sci-fi for people who don’t usually read sci-fi; I’m a big fan of cross-genre love, so I give this as a regular recommendation when people are looking for something a bit different. I’m sure we’d all enjoy a self-aware, all-knowing computer BFF to chat up and strategize with. Plus, a lunar society full of criminals sparking a revolt against authoritarian Earth and heading off a food shortage, and an electromagnetic catapult. Heinlein, you’re a master. Also, the movie was just announced so read it before the hold list explodes.—Jaqueline Woolcott, Ask NYPL




    Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks is filled with sentient starships and virtual hells. Like all of his Culture novels, it is larger than life space opera with beautiful ideas that are so big they can fill the void of space. —Judd Karlman, City Island






    Lilith's Brood

    Have to go back to Octavia Butler with this one, but then I am a fan. Love Lilith’s Brood! At the end of human civilization on earth, the Onkala, interplanetary DNA “borrowers,” save Lilith and a few other humans to create a new species, part human, part Onkala, part many other species found around the galaxies. Are the offspring human, better than, or less than? What has been saved and what has been lost? —Danita Nichols, Inwood





    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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  • 07/29/15--13:14: Book Club Inception Books
  • A cookies and cream flavored Oreo cookie, or Oreo flavored Oreo, prompted #oreoception, the name inspired by the feature film Inception. What about book club books about book clubs? Or books that mention what books the characters are reading? Is that #bookclubception, or just meta, or a mise en abyme? I'm not sure. The following are some books about book clubs, some even referencing the books the characters themselves are reading.

    Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik
    A motley group of women from different backgrounds continue to meet through the years and come to be known as AHEB, a name they like because of associations with Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.

    The Jane Austen Book Clubby Karen Joy Fowler
    The focus of this book club for these six Californians is clearly the works of Jane Austen, but the works resonate in their own lives.

    The Groupby Mary McCarthy
    This novel doesn't fit the theme of this post, but it is one of the chapters in Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons, and a great read in itself.

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    Written by a librarian and finished by her niece after her death, this book has an epistolary style and would make a great book club selection.

    Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    Not about book clubs, but a popular book club pick that has a self-referential list of books in the appendix (list of "Books Burned on the PCT").

    Goodreads list of Books About Books

    Take a look at the Book Discussion Groups at your neighborhood library!

    There are also recommendations for those who enjoyed the movie Inception. While Inception is not based on a book, many recommend Philip K. Dick, especially Ubik. Here's a list of other suggestions, including the animated film for adults, Paprika.

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    This week's post was written by intern Emily Imbarrato.

    This week we had C. Alexander London, Laurie Calkhoven, and Geoff Rodkey visit us at Imagination Academy. C. Alexander London kicked off this week by telling us about his many books, as well as his up and upcoming project, The Wild Ones. Some of his other books for children and teens include Dog Tags, Tides of War, and Proxy. He told us that when he was a child he hated to read but he loved to tell stories to his friends and this helped him decide to become a writer. He explained what a story needs: a plot, conflict, setting and characters. Then we did an exercise where we created our own characters.  The childrens’ characters included a hamster, a chocolate chip cookie, a superhero and a cat. Alexander told us that our characters should be very descriptive and that we should know our characters better than anyone else. The participants filled out a worksheet called “Getting to Know Your Character.” They figured out what their characters looked like, dreamed about, and kept secret.

    C. Alexander London reveals an unbelievable truth about himself.

    Laurie Calkhoven joined us on Wednesday for a fun-filled day of history. Laurie is the author of many non-fiction and historical fiction books, including the Boys of Wartime series, I Grew Up to Be President, and Heroes of Olympus. She told us that she got her idea for the first Boys of Wartime from a biography she wrote about George Washington. She learned that George Washington used spies for his tactics during the Revolutionary War, so she thought that would make a wonderful story, which it did. In the first Boys of Wartime book, Daniel at the Siege of Boston is about a twelve year old boy who works as a spy for George Washington after the Boston Tea Party. She told us that ideas can come from anywhere but you have to keep your eyes open. According to Laurie, we can get our ideas from other books, assignments, eavesdropping, dreams, people and places.  As a writing exercise, everybody picked a word and we were to use all of them to write a small story. Some of the words that we had to use were: ice cream, cherry, awesome, violent, and friendship. Laurie then had us write a story as a group, which rapidly developed into an epic battle over the life of a blue bulldog. It was truly an exciting day.

    The kids work on their small stories about awesome - but violent - cherry ice cream friendships.

    We ended this week with Geoff Rodkey, who is the man that has written many screenplays such as Daddy Day Care and RV. He has also written children’s books like The Tapper Twins and The Chronicles of Egg. This was a fun filled day of laughs and lessons. Geoff taught us that in order to write we have to be bored, but not boring. The more bored we are the more of our imagination we will use. He also taught us that writing is re-writing. “A good writer writers once but a great writer writes and writes some more,” is something that he told us. Geoff also told us that we have to be prepared to face rejection because “no matter how good you are, you’re going to fall flat on your face,” but we have to try and try again.

    Geoff Rodkey has a really awesome job!

    Can’t wait for our last week of Imagination Academy!

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    NYPL recently acquired three new databases from vendor Gale Cengage: National Geographic Virtual Library, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, and Indigenous Peoples: North America. You can use these resources on a library computer or wifi network, or anywhere else in the world with your library card number and PIN.

    A quick overview of the first two databases, before we look at Indigenous Peoples more closely: National Geographic Virtual Library offers full-color issues of National Geographic Magazine; National Geographic Kids; and National Geographic: People, Animals, and the World, from 1888 to the present. Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers includes over 500 publications from across the United States, providing digital access to documents that are often extremely rare and fragile in print form and supplementing other 19th century databases at NYPL, such as Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO), 19th Century British Newspapers, and 19th Century UK Periodicals.

    Photograph of Osage chief. NYPL Digital Collections ID 8070.98
    Photograph of Osage chief. NYPL Digital Collections, ID 807098.

    Indigenous Peoples is also a collection of digitized primary sources; or rather, it is a collection of collections—over 50, from institutions like the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and Princeton University. Documenting the history of North America’s Native American population (primarily in the United States), these collections include manuscript material related to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, newspaper articles from The Micmac News and The Indian’s Friend, and selected documents from the archives of important organizations like the Association of American Indian Affairs, the Society of American Indians, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. NYPL cardholders can access all of these special collections with the click of their mouse.

    One of the collections in Indigenous Peoples is the FBI Library’s file on the Osage murders. From 1921-1923, over two dozen residents of the Osage reservation in Oklahoma were killed by an unknown assailant. In response, the community requested the assistance of the young FBI, called the BOI (Bureau of Investigation) at the time and still one year shy of J. Edgar Hoover in the director’s seat. The motive for this brutal spree was a vast oil supply discovered on reservation lands in the late 19th century. Each Osage resident received a “headright,” or portion of the oil profits, which made them both exceedingly wealthy and targets for unscrupulous and violent con men. The FBI’s investigation revealed that white settler William K. Hale, who moved to the area during the Oklahoma Land Rush, concocted a plan to inherit these headrights: his nephew, Ernest Burkhart, married an Osage woman, Mollie Kyle. Hale then orchestrated the murder of Kyle’s extended family.

    Excerpt from a November 1925 FBI report
    Excerpt from a November 1925 FBI report, describing suspect Ernest Burkhart as someone who could be “easily broken down by the agents of the Bureau.”

    By the time the FBI unraveled these details, Burkhart’s family was set to inherit over $2 million in headright funds; his wife was also being slowly poisoned. Burkhart was arrested in early 1926 and confessed his role in the scheme. Hale and Burkhart were both convicted of murder, but justice was hardly served: of the two dozen murders for which they were responsible, Hale was convicted only for the murder of Henry Roan, and Burkhart for W.E. and Rita Smith. Both were eventually paroled, with Burkhart also receiving a gubernatorial pardon.

    Telegram from T.B. White, head field agent for the Osage case, to J. Edgar Hoover
    Telegram from T.B. White, head field agent for the Osage case, to J. Edgar Hoover, updating the director on the indictment of William Hale for murder.

    Through a combination of browsing and searching, you can access documentary evidence collected by the FBI and preserved in Indigenous Peoples. The files include letters, official reports, telegrams, and newspaper articles, many between head field agent T.B. White and J. Edgar Hoover (sometimes using the names One Hoover and Two White).

    Notes for a section of the FBI Library's Osage case files in Gale's Indigenous Peoples database
    Notes for a section of the FBI Library's Osage case files in Gale's Indigenous Peoples database.

    Searching electronic versions of archival collections can be a challenge. In Indigenous Peoples, each collection comes from a different institution, so the level of description, division of documents, and quality of scanning varies. For that reason, I find it’s best to decide how to search on a collection-by-collection basis. Indigenous Peoples seems to agree: they adjust the available filters and search boxes, depending on the collection, to fit the documents.

    The FBI Library’s Osage case files are grouped into larger sections, like boxes in a physical archive. Notes, a brief item listing similar to what you might see in a finding aid, are located below the image viewer and include helpful hyperlinks. Since filters don’t work too well with such large groups of disparate documents, searching is your best bet. Be sure to select the Allow variations box, as it gives you some leeway for spelling differences or faulty image-to-text transcription. The search tool also looks in the Notes and metadata for results. However, be wary when your documents have intricate handwriting, or when the quality of the scan is poor. (Many of these collections were digitized from microfilm, and their legibility sometimes suffers as a result.) These pages may not be fully searchable.

    Search results screen in Gale's Indigenous Peoples: North America
    Search results screen in Indigenous Peoples: North America. Hits are tracked on the right, and search terms are highlighted in green in the document viewer.

    If you want to search through more databases than just Indigenous Peoples, select Extend Your Search at the top of your screen to open Artemis Primary Sources (or get there directly from the Artemis link on NYPL’s Articles and Databases page). Artemis searches across 16 different Gale Cengage primary source databases — or, you can pick and choose which databases to include with Advanced Search. It’s especially helpful if you’re interested in historical periodicals, as most of the Artemis databases specialize in digitized newspapers, magazines, and news pamphlets.

    So, don't be shy — rip off the bow and wrapping paper, and start finding the treasures held within these brand new e-resources.

    Can't get enough e-resources? Explore all of our databases, or our master list of available electronic newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals. And if you experience any problems with one of our databases, please let us know.

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    Aerial view of the Statue of Liberty, 1912. Black Tom Island can be seen in the background on the right. Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. Image ID: 731895F

    On Sunday morning, July 30, 1916, at 2:08 a.m., one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history took place at Black Tom Island, New Jersey, a shipping facility located in New York Harbor. Under cover of darkness, German agents detonated more than 2 million pounds of ammunition that was awaiting shipment to England. The explosion—the equivalent of an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale—was felt and heard as far away as Philadelphia and southern Connecticut. Windows were shattered across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City, and to this day the torch of the Statue of Liberty remains closed to visitors due to the damage it sustained from flying shrapnel. Amazingly, though dozens of dock workers, fire fighters, and civilians were injured, fewer than 10 people lost their lives in the blast.

    Initially, the cause of the explosion was unclear. Almost before the fires were extinguished, however, multiple explanatory theories were put forth, with hypotheses ranging from the spontaneous combustion of unstable munitions to sparks from a passing freight train. Some initial evidence seemed to point to dock workers who, in an effort to ward off the clouds of mosquitoes that swarmed the waterfront, had carelessly lit smoke pots, sparking fires that subsequently ignited the ordnance. Most Americans, though, goaded by sensational stories in the press, soon began to subscribe to a more sinister line of speculation: that is, that German operatives or sympathizers had blown up the ammunition to prevent it from being shipped to, and used by, the Allies.

    New York Bay and Harbor: Upper Half, 1914. (Detail.) Office of Coast Survey. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    From the outset, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his government steadfastly denied any involvement in the matter. Nevertheless, the extensive media coverage of the Black Tom incident, coupled with other contemporary reports of espionage and sabotage activities on American soil, helped to further turn public opinion against Germany and her allies. Within a year, angered by a series of real or perceived violations of its sovereignty, the United States declared war on the German Empire.

    But this was not the end of the Black Tom Island story.

    After the war’s end, the German-American Mixed Claims Commission—the organization charged with assessing war reparations—launched an inquiry into the cause of the blast. Over the next decade and a half, investigators sifted through a mountain of less-than-conclusive evidence, finally ruling in 1939 that Germany had, indeed, supported the attack. By then, however, with another world war looming, the German government under Adolf Hitler was less than inclined to pay the United States $50 million in damages. Ultimately, another 14 years would pass until the two countries agreed that Germany would reconcile all of its outstanding war reparations claims, including those resulting from the Black Tom explosion. The final payment of the settlement was received in 1979, at last bringing the issue to an overdue, official close. Today, the events of July 1916 are commemorated by a memorial at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, which informs visitors that they are “walking on a site which saw one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history.”

    For contemporary accounts of the Black Tom Island explosion, New York City newspapers such as The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times serve as an excellent resource. For more recent treatments of the subject, see journalist Harold Blum’s, Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America, whichprovides a thorough account of covert German espionage and sabotage operations in the United States during World War I. Other noteworthy treatments of the topic include The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and an Epic Hunt for Justice (2006), by Chad Millman, and Jules Whitcover’s 1989 work, Sabotage at Black Tom: Imperial Germany's Secret War in America, 1914-1917.

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    Dick Cavett, Joan Kramer and David Heeley
    Dick Cavett, Joan Kramer and David Heeley

    On June 4, the Mid-Manhattan Library had the immense pleasure of hosting a program led by the great Dick Cavett of The Dick Cavett Show.

    The program was based on the newly published book In the Company of Legends written by Joan Kramer and David Heeley.

    During their careers in television production Kramer and Heeley met and befriended many Hollywood legends. Having booked numerous guests for The Dick Cavett Show Kramer and Heeley recollected with Cavett some of their most memorable conversations with luminaries of stage and television.

    The humorous, witty Dick Cavett hosted the very entertaining and enlightening evening.

    On his wildly successful The Dick Cavett Show, Cavett interviewed the most famous personalities of the time—Richard Burton, John Lennon, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Groucho Marx, Carol Burnett, Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock to name a very few.

    His show ran on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982. Cavett was famous for being able to attract guests who were not normally willing to appear on talk shows—such as Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, and Marlon Brando.

    This wasn’t the first time Cavett hosted a program at NYPL—he interviewed author George Saunders at a LIVE at the NYPL event on February 26, 2013. Watch the interview now.

    Cavett published just last year an autobiography titled Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks. The New York Public Library holds both print and ebook copies of his book, and it continues to be a very popular title.

    A BIG THANK YOU to Mr. Dick Cavett, Ms. Joan Kramer and Mr. David Heeley.

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    99 Days

    It’s the dog days of summer in New York City and the streets are filled with the smells and sounds of summer—no, not those piles of garbage festering in the hot sun, I’m talking street BBQs, salty sea air, the shrieks of happy children playing in gushing fire hydrants and the jingles of meandering ice cream trucks and let’s not forget love. Yes, love is in the air. Even if you don’t have romance in your life you can find it in the pages of a book. “But, Anne,” you ask, “Will I swoon? Will I get so many massive feels that my heart melts into a puddle?” No worries, I’ve got you covered. So put away that boring, required reading book and settle into a chair near that a/c/swimming pool/beach etc… and start living vicariously!

    *So I've rated the following books by the amount of swooning taking place and the amount of self-actualization that happens (on a scale from 1 to 10). P.S. Self-actualization is what happens when the girl (or guy) doing the swooning actually learns something about themselves and that complicated thing called life, while they're falling in and out of love. I know… boring… but believe me when I say it'll give you the warm fuzzy feels for days!


    99 Days by Kate Cotugno
    A year ago, Molly skipped town after her long time boyfriend, Patrick learned that she had cheated on him with his older brother Gabe. Now she's back and just has to get through the next 99 days until she leaves for college. Unfortuantley, both Patrick and Gabe are back too and each are looking to rekindle the relationships they each had with her - how will she ever choose between them? That Netflix documentary marathon she had planned is looking better and better. Swoon level: 7 , Self-Actualization level: 7


    The Wrath and the Dawn #1 by Renee Ahdieh
    Every night, Khalid, the handsome, young Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride and every morning at sunrise, that bride is executed bringing pain and suffering to her family and friends. Shahrzad, whose best friend was one of those girls, volunteers to be his latest bride but she's determined to discover the reason behind this murderous evil and to exact her revenge. She has a clever plan to stay alive. She'll use her wit and storytelling ability to keep Khalid interested through the dawn and the next one after that. But as her plan begins to work, the more she is around him and spending time with him and soon she begins to see that he is not quite who she thought he'd be nor are the reasons, for the deaths of all those girls, quite so simple. Swoon level: 15 (this one gets extra swoon points because OMG! SO GOOD! THE LEVEL OF SWOONING IS OFF-THE-CHARTS EPIC!), Self-Actualization level: 5


    The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West
    When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable … convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. A few days later she returns the favor by helping him make his cheating ex-girlfriend jealous. Problem is Gia is starting to want this temp gig to become full time. Swoon level: 7, Self-Actualization level: 8


    Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
    Still struggling, one year after her boyfriend Trent was killed in a car accident, Quinn is reaching out to the recipents of his organ donations in hopes that it will help her heal. Everyone gets back to her except for boy that recieved Trent's heart. Desperate for closure, Quinn goes outside the system to track him down. His name is Colton Thomas and he loves to surf and to hike. But because Quinn broke the rules to find him, Colton can never know her connection to his donor heart, but the first time they meet, sparks fly. and soon Quinn begins to fall for him. Who's heart does she love more? Trent's or Colton 's? Swoon level: 6 , Self-Actualization level: 8


    Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
    Sydney has always lived in the shadow of her charismatic, older brother Peyton. When he is convicted of drunk driving and sent to prison, Sydney decides to break free from her old life of being "Peyton's little sister". Her new life takes her to a new school and to a pizza parlor run by a warm-hearted, chaotic family who welcome her into their lives full of bluegrass concerts, crazy friends and caring for their mother who has MS. Its also where she meets Mac. Kind, gentle, protective Mac who is the first to really see her and who gives her the freedom to be herself. P.S. Author Sarah Dessen is the Queen of the self-actualization romance. Swoon level: 9 , Self-Actualization level: 10


    The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
    It's been a year since Paige's boyfriend accidently drowned and everyone is still treating her like she's a fragile mess. But now she's ready to get her life back - to start living like a normal high school student again and she has a plan. 1) Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her. 2) Join a club—any club and how hard can that be? But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team her perfect plan goes awry. Swoon level: 7, Self-Actualization level: 9


    City Love #1 by Susane Colsanti
    Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives. Sadie is the hopeless romantic, a native New Yorker who falls for a cute, older guy at her internship. Darcy, the free spirtited rich girl from California is determined to meet and hook-up with as many guys as possible just to prove she is over her cheating ex. Rosanna, is the no-nonsense working class girl from Chicago with a plan which goes out the window the moment she meets a rich boy who wants to show her the glamorous life. And this is just in the first two weeks! Swoon level: 7, Self-Actualization level: 6


    Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
    NYC girl Eva, who is still grieving the death of her father in a plane crash, bonds with Will, the cute parkour loving boy, who has experience with soul-numbing grief and loves to talk to her about poetry. When he suddenly moves cross-country to lives with his father, Eva concocts a road trip with her BFF Annie to visit him. As she travels America with smart, sensible Annie and her paranoid, no-nonsense cyber-safety expert Aunt, hopeless romantic Eva discovers the complicated truth about love. Swoon level: 5, Self-Actualization level: 10


    Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel
    Sarah has always come second to her beautiful, vivacious older sister Scarlett but this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally show the world who she is and who she can be. She meets gorgeous college boy Andrew who sees her as the girl she wants to be, a girl who's older and sophisticated …like Scarlett. She starts out by telling him one little lie which snowballs into even more but by then it's almost too late to tell the truth because the lies are starting to feel very real and so is their connection. Swoon level: 8, Self-Actualization level: 9


    The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
    Born of the sea, Elsye d'Abreau is the youngest of six sisters from Trinidad and Tobago and a beautiful singer - until a boating accident took it all away and now she can't even speak. She's moved to the rainy, Oregon Coast for a job and solitude, which she gets until she meets the notorious town hook-up artist, Christian Kane. He needs help to win a boat race and experienced sailor Elyse is the perfect person to assist him. He challenges her to get her life back and her voice. Elyse wants to face her past and she wants to trust Christian but trusting him means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . Swoon level: 9, Self-Actualization level: 8

    If you need EVEN MORE romance in your life, here are some of my past YA romance lists that might also float your romance-loving boat: Teen Road Trip Novels: Romance, Reunions and Roadside Attractions, Summer Romance a la Sarah Dessen, The British (and Irish) Boys of Summer: A Summer Reading List inspired by One Direction, Hot Boys, Hotter Accents: Going Overseas to Fall in Love , Summer is for Lovers, Guitars, Gigs, Girls (& Guys): Four Lists of Teen Books that Rock!, Fault in Our Stars Readalikes and my recent list, Paper Towns Readalikes.

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    SAGEWorks Workshop: Career Development Assessments on Tuesday, August 4 to Friday, August 7, 10 am - 6 pm, at The Sage Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10001.  This is a One-on-One Employment Assessment with SAGEWorks staff.  By appointment only.  SAGEWorks assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge job search skills in a LGBT-friendly environment.

    Ideal Properties Group will present a  recruitment on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm, for Real Estate Agent (10 openings), at the New York State Department of Labor - Workforce 1 Career Center, 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    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 MondayFriday, from August 10 to August 21, 9:30 a.m.2 p.m. 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 LGBTfriendly environment.

    Hunt's Point Library - 1st Annual College & Career Fair, Friday, August 7, 2015, 11 am - 4 pm, for all interested job seekers,  at Hunt's Point Library, 877 Southern Blvd.,  Bronx, NY 10459.

    Job Postings at New York City Workforce 1.

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York  City.         

    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 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 site will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of August 2 become available.

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    We're honoring the Platonic ideal by remembering the friendships of some of our favorite authors. Aristotle said, "What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies." But today we're asking, "What is a literary friend? A genius dwelling in two bodies."
    Amusements - American Jubilee - Performers - Chorus girls reading letterAmusements - American Jubilee - Performers - Chorus girls reading letter. Image ID: 1652623

    1. James Baldwin and Toni Morrison
      When Baldwin died in 1987, Morrison published a eulogy in the New York Times which began, "Jimmy, there is too much to think about you, and too much to feel. The difficulty is your life refuses summation&emdash;it always did&emdash;and invites contemplation instead. Like many of us left here I thought I knew you. Now I discover that in your company it is myself I know. That is the astonishing gift of your art and your friendship: You gave us ourselves to think about, to cherish. We are like Hall Montana watching 'with new wonder' his brother saints, knowing the song he sang is us, 'He is us.'" Baldwin put their friendship more simply: "I dig Toni, and I trust her." We agree!
    2. Harper Lee and Truman Capote
      Monroeville, Alabama might not seem like fertile soil for literary genius, but it's the hometown of both Harper Lee and Truman Capote. When Capote wrote In Cold Blood, Lee accompanied him on his reporting trip. When Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, she based the character Dill on Capote. And eventually, their friendship would be memorably dramatized by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener in the biopic Capote.
    3. Heny James and Edith Wharton
      Henry James and Edith Wharton would suffer some writerly rivalry in their friendship, but they also showed a lot of nickname game. James called Wharton Princesse Rapprochee and Firebird. Wharton called him Cherest Maitre. You can read their correspondence in Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters, 1900-1915.
    4. Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
      Randall Jarell introduced Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell in 1947. What resulted was three decades of friendship between two of the most important American poets of the 20th century. Lowell would tell Bishop, "I think I must write entirely for you." Today 459 of their letters can be read in Words in Air.
    5. Rivka Galchen and Karen Russell
      In 2014, we were lucky enough to host writer-buds Rivka Galchen and Karen Russell. Here's what happens when two of the most talented authors around hang out:
    6. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville
      On August 10, 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville met on a picnic hike. Melville soon became a frequent houseguest at the Hawthorne residence, where the two talked ontological heroics. Eventually, Melville would dedicate Moby Dick to his friend.
    7. Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara
      We all know about Ginsberg's relationship with Jack Kerouac, but Ginsberg moved in circles beyond the Beats. He dedicated the poem "My Sad Self" to O'Hara.
    8. Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace
      Following the death of David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen wrote an essay for the New Yorker on his friendship with Wallace, Robinson Crusoe, the novel, Masafuera, loneliness, and betrayal called "Farther Away." In perhaps the most difficult and unseemly-in-its-honesty passage, he writes, "He was sick, yes, and in a sense the story of my friendship with him is simply that I loved a person who was mentally ill. The depressed person then killed himself, in a way calculated to inflict maximum pain on those he loved most, and we who loved him were left feeling angry and betrayed. Betrayed not merely by the failure of our investment of love but by the way in which his suicide took the person away from us and made him into a very public legend. People who had never read his fiction, or had never even heard of him, read his Kenyon College commencement address in the Wall Street Journal and mourned the loss of a great and gentle soul. A literary establishment that had never so much as short-listed one of his books for a national prize now united to declare him a lost national treasure. Of course, he was a national treasure, and, being a writer, he didn’t “belong” to his readers any less than to me. But if you happened to know that his actual character was more complex and dubious than he was getting credit for, and if you also knew that he was more lovable—funnier, sillier, needier, more poignantly at war with his demons, more lost, more childishly transparent in his lies and inconsistencies—than the benignant and morally clairvoyant artist/saint that had been made of him, it was still hard not to feel wounded by the part of him that had chosen the adulation of strangers over the love of the people closest to him."
    9. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
      Why two is better than one: can you say Lyrical Ballads?
    10. Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert
      One of our favorite podcasts ever was the episode featuring Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert, talking shop and palling around.
      Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert
      Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett LIVE from the NYPL

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    Try This

    Whether your desire is to visit a faraway locale for a taste of the local delicacies, or just to shake up your weeknight cooking with some new, unfamiliar spices, there is so much inspiration to be found at the library.

    When learning about an unfamiliar place, why not start by trying the country's traditional cuisine or national dish? Have you ever eaten phở, biryani, currywurst, pepperpot, poutine? Have you visited the regions that celebrate these dishes, been to restaurants that serve them in major cities, or tried cooking them yourself at home? Better yet: does your grandma make them for you (and can I come over)?

    After reading some of these cookbooks, I know that even if I can't travel to these particular places any time soon, I can content myself with the kinds of recipes that can take me there.

    General Food and Travel

    The Food Traveler's Handbook: How to Find Cheap, Safe and Delicious Food Anywhere in the World by Jodi Ettenberg
    The author has celiac disease but she doesn't let that prevent her from making the most of her travels around the world. This guidebook will build up your confidence, help you locate the best foods while overcoming language and cultural barriers, and avoid foodborne illness too.

    An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen
    An almost-too-rational look at the economics of eating. The author provides insights on how to find the best tasting (which can also be the cheapest) food in an unfamiliar community. (Cowen and Ettenberg both suggest chatting up your cab driver.)

    Try This: Traveling the Globe Without Leaving the Table by Danyelle Freeman
    The author wrote this book "for anyone who's ever looked at a menu and had a question." She walks you through the basics of 14 varied cuisines, providing some history, culture, and trivia behind their flavors, and clues you in on appropriate table settings and manners too.

    Eating Out in Five Languages
    English, French, German, Italian and Spanish translations of food and drink terms. Useful phrases for those on special diets, and even tells you how to complain in the local tongue.

    Find guidebooks for eating around the world using this search query: (anywhere:(food) OR anywhere:(restaurants) ) anywhere:(guidebooks)

    Regional Cookbooks

    What faraway lands will your kitchen transport you to? The titles below are mainly books you will be able to check out and take home or access online. Yellow markers indicate e-books that are available to download. You can find even more in the noncirculating research materials in the catalog. Follow the subject headings "Cooking, (country)" or "COOKING / Regional & Ethnic / (cuisine)" and let your taste buds be your guide.

    Does your favorite regional cookbook need to be added to the map? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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    If the mention of social media,art,birding, presidential politics,houseplants and Sinatra are enough to get your attention, this month's programs at Mid-Manhattan Library are sure to interest you.

    Join us for Author @ the Library!

    History buffs and New York City enthusiasts won’t want to miss, Bronx Borough HistorianLloyd Ultan on the Bronx, Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young, radio personality Chuck D’Imperio, journalism professor Paul Moses, FIT professor Polly Guérin discuss the development of the General Society of Skilled Mechanics and Tradesmen, or author Elaine Freed Lindenblatt on her family's 50+ year-old-restaurant, the Red Apple Rest, located midway between NYC and the Catskill Mountains.

    Terms of Service
    Monday August 3, 2015
    Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection, with Jacob Silverman, a freelance journalist and book critic.

    This illustrated lecture explores the surprising conformity at the heart of the digital culture and what it means now that none of us can ever be alone. It is a call for social media users to take back ownership of their digital lives.

    Eye of the beholder  Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the reinvention of seeing
    Tuesday August 4, 2015
    Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing, with Laura J. Snyder, Fulbright scholar, professor at St. John’s University, and also the author of "The Philosophical Breakfast Club" and "Reforming Philosophy"

    This illustrated lecture tells the remarkable story of how an artist and a scientist in seventeenth-century Holland transformed the way we see the world.

    The Bronx
    Wednesday August 5, 2015
    Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City's Beautiful Borough, with Lloyd Ultan, Bronx Borough Historian, professor of history at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the author of ten books and Shelley Olson, former university professor.

    This illustrated lecture highlights the borough’s cultural prominence and provides the audience with the borough’s extraordinary destinations including self-guided walking tours of some of the most ethnically, architecturally, and historically diverse neighborhoods.

    Thursday August 6, 2015
    Broadway, with Michelle Young, the founder of "Untapped Cities," an online magazine about urban discovery, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

    This illustrated lecture features vintage photographs chronicling the history of the world-famous street, along with contemporary photographs and tells the story of New York as it grew from a Dutch colony into a world-class city.

    Unknown Museums
    Monday August 10, 2015
    Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures, with Chuck D’Imperio, a well-known radio personality from Upstate New York and the author of several books that explore the hidden facets of his home region.

    This informative and entertaining talk is a guide to the rich resources available at fifty small, often overlooked, regional museums. Each museum’s story is told in light of its cultural and historical relevance.

    Democratic Art
    Tuesday August 11, 2015
    Democratic Art: The New Deal's Influence on American Culture, with Sharon Ann Musher, Associate Professor of History and founding director of American Studies at Stockton University.

    This illustrated lecture outlines the successes, shortcomings, and lessons of the golden age of government funding for the arts and examines the role art can and should play in contemporary society.

    The Guardians
    Thursday August 13, 2015

    The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire, with Susan Pedersen, Professor and James P. Shenton Professor of the Core Curriculum at Columbia University.

    This illustrated lecture illuminates the role the League of Nations played in creating the modern world. Tracing the system from its creation in 1920 until its demise in 1939, it examines its workings from the realm of international diplomacy; the viewpoints of the League's experts and officials; and the arena of local struggles within the territories themselves.

    Skilled Crafts
    Monday August 17, 2015
    The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, with Polly Guérin, a former adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and also the author of "The Cooper Hewitt Dynasty."

    This illustrated lecture presents the distinguished history of The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, founded by the skilled craftsmen of New York in 1785, and describes how the organization's history is aligned with the city's physical and cultural development.

    Berfore the Oath
    Thursday August 20, 2015
    Before the Oath: How George W. Bush and Barack Obama Managed a Transfer of Power, with Martha Joynt Kumar, professor of political science at Towson University, author of "Managing the President’s Message" and co-author of "Portraying the President."

    This lecture with an expert on presidential transitions documents how two presidential teams—one outgoing, the other incoming—must forge trusting alliances in order to help the new president succeed in his or her first term.

    Field Guide
    Monday August 24, 2015
    Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City, with Leslie Day, New York City naturalist and author, Trudy Smoke, nature illustrator, and Beth Bergman, a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera and documenter of nature.

    This illustrated lecture identifies avian species commonly seen in New York City.

    Red Apple
    Wednesday August 26, 2015
    Stop at the Red Apple: The Restaurant on Route 17, with Elaine Freed Lindenblatt, a former publishing professional and currently a writer and editor.

    This illustrated lecture provides an account of the author's family's 50+-year restaurant, the Red Apple Rest, located midway between NYC and the Catskill Mountain vacation mecca, that served annually over a million customers.

    Unlikely Union
    Thursday August 27, 2015
    An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians, with Paul Moses, Professor of Journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY and former city editor of "Newsday.

    This illustrated lecture unfolds the dramatic story of how two of America’s largest ethnic groups learned to love and laugh with each other in the wake of decades of animosity.

    Monday August 31, 2015
    The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful, Easy-Care Plants that Everyone Can Grow, with Tovah Martin, horticulturalist, author, freelance writer, photo stylist and lecturer.

    This illustrated lecture highlights indoor plants that are tough, beautiful, reliable, and readily available. It includes tips on care, maintenance, ideas for combining houseplants in eye-catching indoor displays, and offers inspiration for incorporating houseplants into a variety of décors.

    Author @ the Library! is a series of monthly events where accomplished non-fiction authors discuss their work. You may meet the Author of interesting and engaging non-fiction reads, participate in a lively discussion and access books and materials on topics of interest. Come checkout a book, DVD or e-book on the topic.

    Author talks take place at 6:30 p.m. on the 6th floor of at Mid-Manhattan Library.

    Don't miss the many other interesting classes, films, readings and talks on our program calendar. Enjoy art lectures and artist conversations and virtual tours of New York and other places, discuss contemporary classics in our book discussion group, hear short story readings at Story Time for Grown-ups, and share your favorite books at Open Book Nights.
    All of our programs and classes are free and open to the public. We hope to see you soon at the library!

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    Sinedu, from Ethiopia, and Trang, from Vietnam, came to the prestigious promised land of Harvard University. They roomed together for two years. During that time, Sinedu described Trang as her best friend, but Trang grew tired of the arrangement and wanted to move out. Sinedu tired to control Trang, which pushed Trang into other social circles.

    Sinedu was at the top of her class in Ethiopia, but memorization was prized there over critical thinking skills. She was a small fish in a big sea at Harvard. A particularly private individual, Sinedu's only friend was Trang, and she had difficulty adjusting to American culture. The young woman kept many journals, and she received counseling from the University Health Services.

    Trang, from all appearances, was the antithesis of Sinedu. She was well-liked, outgoing, and cared much for her many friends and had close relationships with family members. The lady was excited about becoming a doctor, and everything in her life seemed to be going for her, except for her parents' divorce.

    One morning, Trang awoke to find her roommate, Sinedu, stabbing her. Sinedu's rage filled 45 stab wounds.

    Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder by Melanie Thernstrom, 1997

    I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Ethiopian culture.

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