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  • 04/11/16--13:55: Instant Shakespeare
  •  TH-50303
    William Shakespeare: Portraits. Image ID: TH-50303

    In keeping with its motto of “Shakespeare for Everyone,” the Instant Shakespeare Company will be organizing readings throughout library branches this spring.

    “My view is that Shakespeare has been taken over by academics,” said Paul Sugarman, founding artistic director of the Instant Shakespeare Company. Through staging unrehearsed, on-your-feet readings, Sugarman seeks to make Shakespeare simple and accessible.

    Sugarman’s approach is in keeping with Renaissance oral tradition. “We have to understand that it was a much more oral society as opposed to our visual age," said Sugarman. "It’s more difficult to hear Shakespeare reading it to yourself than to hear it aloud. The language, particularly in the comedies, is so playful.”

    Now in its 17th season, the company initially found actor/readers through auditions but today spreads the word through its Facebook page. “We have a lot of actors with varying degrees of expertise, some are Actors’ Equity members and some are people who really like Shakespeare and just volunteer,” said Sugarman.

    Instant Shakespeare uses original First Folio texts. A folio is a large book containing printed sheets that are folded in half only once, creating two double-sided leaves, or four pages. In 1623, just seven years after Shakespeare's death, John Heminge and Henry Condell, his friends and colleagues in the King's Men, the acting troupe to which Shakespeare belonged most of his career, collected almost all of his plays in a folio edition.

    “The folios give clues about punctuation and capitalization and about which words to emphasize,” said Sugarman. “It also suggests more of the people’s kind of accent such as a Norse, English, Scottish accent as opposed to very proper English accents.”

    Sugarman noted that although many people think of the language in Shakespeare’s plays as ‘old’ English, it is really the beginning of the modern language we know today. He added that many people who have felt intimidated by the language comment on how much fun it is after an Instant Shakespeare Company reading. “Kids are much more alert to the playfulness of the language and go with it because they are not familiar with the words but they figure it out from the context,” he said.

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  • 04/12/16--05:00: Why We Love Beverly Cleary
  • Beverly Cleary Birthday

    Beverly Cleary turns 100 today, and to celebrate we asked some of our library staff to tell us why they love her. We picked a few of our favorite answers to share with you. (We also made a list of our favorite Beverly Cleary books.)

    And finally, our Director of Media Relations, Angela Montefinise, shared this childhood photo of herself dressed up as Ramona the Pest, on her way to an event at Queens Library's Bellerose Branch circa 1987!

    Angela Montefinise
    Angela Montefinise as Ramona

    Why do you love Beverly Cleary? Do you have an amazing memory to share, or a favorite lesson you learned? Tell us in the comments below! And don't forget to check out our list of our top five favorite books by her.

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Robert A. Caro is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his books The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate and The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, the latter of which was written at the New York Public Library's Allen Room. Recently, he visited the Library to speak with Frank Rich, editor-at-large for New York Magazine and a longtime contributor to the New York Times who won an Emmy for his work on the HBO series Veep. This week for the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Caro and Rich discussing The Iliad, research, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Robert Caro and Frank Rich
    Robert Caro and Frank Rich

    Caro visited the Library for the Spring 2016 Lecture-Luncheon, a biannual lecture series for Friends of The New York Public Library. He described the role the Library played and how he discovered the research resources available to him:

    "I read an article in New York Magazine about the Frederick Lewis Allen Room, which had spaces for twelve writers, and it said the only requirement was that you had a contractand I remember the phrase, 'it didn't matter how small'from a publisher. So I applied, and I got into the Allen Room and basically wrote the last four years of the book there."

    Caro took inspiration from The Iliad while writing The Power Broker. He knew that he needed to show how the figure at the center of the story, Robert Moses, was able to exert immense power, even if his name was unfamiliar to readers:

    "I had this very small contract from a publisher who really wasn't interested in the book and he would keep saying to him, like when I would ask for the other half of my advance, 'You know, no one's going to read a book on Robert Moses. You have to be prepared for a very small printing.' And I'm thinking, 'Well, I really want people to read this book because it's something that people should understand.' Here we all believe in a democracy that power comes from being elected, from the ballot box. But here I was finding out that a man who was never elected to anything and he had more power than anyone who was elected, more power than any mayor. More power than any governor. More power than any mayor and governor combined, and he held this power for forty-eight years, almost half a century, and with it, he shaped our city. I had to write an introduction to this book that made people understand why they needed to read about Robert Moses. I worked over and over unsuccessfully how to do that. I remembered reading The Iliad in college, and you know, those of you who remember, he lists the nations who came to attack Troy and he lists the ships that came, the names of the ships and the names of the heroes, and they're long lists, and they have this incredible power. And I said, 'I wonder if I could do it with lists.'"

    The subject of his other Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Lyndon B. Johnson, is more well-known to the American public. Caro spoke of Johnson as a man of immense political power able to actualize legislation:

    "With Johnson, I don't think of it in terms of liking him or disliking him. It's more I'm in awe of him because I'm interested in power. I'm interested in how you get things done. With Johnson, you're constantly saying, 'Wow! Look how he's doing this. I didn't know you could this.' When he passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964... no filibuster had ever been broken on civil rights, no civil rights bill, no strong civil rights bill, meaningful civil rights bill had ever passed. And you say, 'This is impossible that he's going to get sixty-seven votes. Look at all these votes. There are twenty-two southern senators, and he's got twenty republican midwestern conversatives who don't want civil rights. There's no way in the world he's going to get sixty-seven votes.' And you watch him doing it, and you can hear on the telephone tapes how he does it with each senator, and you say, 'This is political power. This is getting something done as no one else really has been able to do.'"

    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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     U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will present 2016 Hiring Our Heroes - New York, NY on April 21, 2016 at 69th  Regiment Lexington Avenue Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue & 26th Street, New York, NY 10010.

    hiring our heroes

    A Free Hiring Fair for Veterans, Transitioning  Service Members, and Military Spouses.


    Employers must register for FREE at

    Job Seekers register for FREE at  You can upload resumes to be viewed by employers ahead of the event.

    Event Schedule

    8:30 AM - Employment Workshop
    9:00 AM - Brunch and Learn
    10:30 AM–1:30 PM - Hiring Fair

    Hiring Our Heroes Employment Workshop

    Hiring Our Heroes Employment Workshop is led by HR and workforce professionals and covers a variety of topics including resume building, networking, and interview tips, taking into account the job seeker's military background and lifestyle.  Hiring Our Heroes digital tools are also integrated into the workshop curriculum.  Immediately following the workshop, volunteer career coaches will help you develop an elevator pitch, participate in a mock interview, and create a more effective resume.

    Best Practices in Veteran Recruitment Brunch and Learn

    Employers are invited to attend a Brunch & Learn sponsored by USAA prior to the hiring fair.  Our trainers will provide insight on how to brand your company as military friendly, how to find the right veteran talent, and how to keep them engaged in your work force.  Brunch will be served—free for employers, recruiters and HR professionals.

    Hiring Our Heroes Employers List

    Hiring Our Heroes local partners include: Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, NYC Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs, New York National Guard, Team Red, White and Blue, Workforce 1 Industrial & Transportation Career Center, NYS Department of Labor.

    For registration questions, please email or call 202-617-6806.

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    At Jefferson Market Library, we are looking for eight contestants for an all-day fashion design extravaganza...

    Image ID: 5231288

    Twelve Hour Fashion Show!
    Friday, June 3, 2016

    Contestants will arrive at 9 AM to design their looks, inspired by Greenwich Village, to display at a fashion show at 8 PM, open to friends, family, and the general public!

    The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges.

    $1,000 PRIZE for the winning look!

    To apply for a spot, applicants must submit a resume and at least two photographs of completed designs to: by Friday, May 13.

    Applicants must be:

    • Proficient in sewing on machines, and by hand—sewing machines will be provided
    • Experienced working with a variety of materials and fabrics, and must use fabrics provided by the library to create their designs
    • Able to bring their own  sewing kit (pins, thread, needles, scissors, chalk, etc) patterns and pattern paper to the challenge 
    • 18+

    This program is funded through The New York Public Library's Innovation Project, which is made possible by a generous grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

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    Four of our branches (Aguilar, Fort Washington, Inwood, and Morrisania) have been selected from hundreds of libraries in the city as finalists for the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. Nearly 19,000 nominations were submitted this year, and our library system could not have been successful without the support of our patrons.

    The prize, a $20,000 grant, will help these library branches expand the programs that improve lives and combat inequality in their community. Our libraries are putting these funds right back into our system to serve the patrons who make it so worthwhile to do the work that we do.

    We hope that you will join us in thanking the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation for funding this generous initiative. The prizes, given out by a panel of judges, will be announced in June.

    Here are a few of the reasons why people nominated their NYPL branches:

    Aguilar Library – East Harlem (Manhattan)
    Afrah, a college graduate and lifelong neighborhood resident wrote: “Throughout high school and college, having a limited income and not being able to afford books, this branch helped me overcome that setback. Statistics show that I could have been a high school dropout, chances are my life could be much worse....if it were not for my thirst of knowledge and my passion for reading, it really is hard to say what my life could have been.”

    Fort Washington Library – Washington Heights (Manhattan)
    A recent retiree and neighborhood resident stated: “As a recent retiree the library is my source of helping my mind [stay] sharp and alert. My weekly visit is something I look forward to. There are no book stores in this area of Manhattan. Access to periodicals and newly released books is a refreshing welcome.”

    Inwood Library – Inwood (Manhattan)
    Sophie, a library volunteer and parent, stated: “The Inwood Library is always involved in the community, making its programs known, catering to both English, Spanish speakers, and beyond! When I approached the library about starting a new francophone toddler reading hour, the branch manager welcome me, partnered me with a tenured volunteer, and a library staff member has been working diligently to build the francophone children's section!”

    Morrisania Library – South Bronx (Bronx)
    A parent and community group member stated: “This library has a great computer class. I was completely computer illiterate and this library has taught me to have confidence in my new found skills. I also like the bilingual class and parent child classes. I think this library deserves the money in every way possible.”

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    In colonial New York, as now, certain New Yorkers amassed extreme concentrations of wealth. Unlike today, these extremes of wealth often derive from colossal accumulations of landed property, in the form of manors. Resembling European feudal estates, these massive tracts of land were often tilled by tenant farmers who paid rent to work the land. Many also had proto-industrial operations, like mills. Manorial wealth also rested on slavery.

    The Philipsburg Manor was one of the many important manors just north of Manhattan Island. At its height, the Philipse land spanned from Spuyten Duyvil in the south, to the Croton River in upper Westchester to the north, and from the Hudson on the west to the Bronx River on the east. It encompassed some 52,000 acres, covering much of what is today the Bronx and Westchester County. As part of the ongoing Early American Manuscripts Project, NYPL has recently digitized the estate record of Adolphus Philipse, begun after his death in 1749. It is record of the property and capital holdings of the member of the Philipse family in control of the “upper mills,” north of Yonkers. The record throws into sharp relief the vast wealth to be made through manors, as well as the material realities of slavery that were embedded in that system.

    A number of enslaved people are included in the “Inventory of all and singular the goods, Rights chattels & credits of the Estate of Mr. Adolph Philipse.” “1 negro man John” was valued at £75, while “1 negro: woman Sarah” was listed without an assessment.

    AP 1
    Page from Adolph Philipse estate record. Image ID: 5439733
    AP 2
    Page from Adolph Philipse estate record. Image ID: 5439734

    The presence of slavery in Philipse’s world comes through in other ways. Listed among a number of items in a chest were “2 Cats of nine tails.” These whips were commonly in the military and in slavery.

    Page from Adolph Philipse estate record. Image ID: 5439743

    Slavery looms largest in the list of property on the manor itself. As of February 12, 1749, twenty-three “Negros” were on the manor, and listed and sorted in the estate record according to their gender, age, and ability to work. Strikingly and tellingly, a list of cattle directly follows the names of the enslaved laborers.

    A few pages later, the record notes the property “In the Negro House,” which amount to “2 old rip saws,” “1 old broken Iron pott,” and “some Rubbish.” The description of this property would be stark in almost any context, but especially when it is sandwiched between sixty or so pages of the trappings of wealth accumulated by Philipse.

    Page from Adolph Philipse estate record. Image ID: 5439756

    Manor families were among the largest slaveholders in the colony, but it was far from unusual for New Yorkers to own slaves. While the loyalist Philipse family lost their land during the American Revolution, slaveholding survived in New York for a time. The first detailed numbers we have come from the first federal census of 1790. According to that census, fifteen percent of the residents of Yonkers—the center of the old Philipsburg Manor—were enslaved. Across Westchester more broadly, six percent of the population was enslaved and fourteen percent of families owned at least one slave.

    In much of the current five boroughs and large chunks of Long Island, slavery was an even bigger presence. Kings County (Brooklyn), where almost 33% of the population was enslaved, was the most heavily enslaved place in New York. In 1790, the percentage of Brooklyn's population that was enslaved was in line with state average for Maryland, and higher than North Carolina. Yet even in Brooklyn, not a single person owned more than twenty slaves. By way of comparison, at least one person in every county in Maryland—including the city of Baltimore—owned upwards of twenty people. Generally, slavery in the New York City hinterlands functioned quite differently than it did in the South. Northern slaveholders tended to own fewer enslaved people, and the concentrations of slavery were usually less dense as a result.

    County % of Families that owned slaves (1790) % of population enslaved (1790)
    ALBANY 11.97 4.9
    CLINTON 1.6 0.99
    COLUMBIA 12.35 5.94
    DUTCHESS 9.97 4.12
    KINGS 60.99 32.58
    MONTGOMERY 6.11 2.04
    NEW YORK COUNTY 18.47 7.17
    ONTARIO 1.96 0.93
    ORANGE 14.36 5.2
    QUEENS 30.42 14.41
    RICHMOND 42.05 19.73
    SUFFOLK 17.35 6.68
    ULSTER 20.17 9.92
    WASHINGTON 0.96 0.33
    WESTCHESTER 14.22 5.91
    New York STATE AVG. 14.21 6.23
    Maryland STATE AVG. 36.72 32.23

    More striking is the large proportion of families in the New York hinterlands that were invested and involved with slavery. 36% of all families in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island owned at least one slave, which is higher than the proportion of families that owned slaves statewide in North and South Carolina, and more or less equal to Maryland’s statewide rate. Those rates held true in parts of Manhattan, Westchester, and to a lesser extent Suffolk, but slaveholding was patchier in those counties.

    All of which is to say that Philipse’s slaveholding was unusual only in degree. Despite slavery’s obvious importance to early New York, New Yorkers have only slowly come to terms with it. The fact remains, though, that in large chunks of the New York City area—if not in the heart of downtown Manhattan itself—the proportion of people who were directly implicated in slavery was comparable to places that historians consider to be “slave states” or “slave societies.” As the Philipse estate record attests, that reality contributed to the major disparities in the distribution of material resources and wealth that characterized early New York, a story that has modern echoes.

    About the Early American 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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    As a personal financial counselor for the Library’s Money Matters program, Steve Poppel encounters people from all walks of life. As a former historian, he’s is driven by a curiosity about people and their histories, which helps him advise each individual who walks through his door on how to take charge of their financial future. In this week’s Library Story, learn more about how Steve empowers people by giving them the knowledge to find their own way.

    Library Stories is a video series from The New York Public Library that shows what the Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities through moving personal interviews.

    Like, share, and watch more Library Stories on Facebook or YouTube.

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    The Presidential Primary Election is on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

    Language interpreters and other positions are available if you are interested in working the polls.

    At the moment, Mahattan needs approximately 100 more Chinese interpreters, Brooklyn needs 75 Chinese interpreters, and Queens needs 75 Korean interpreters.

    As always, both interpreters and poll workers are able to apply online at

    You can earn respect, earn money, earn your Poll Worker Badge!

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    From the beautiful Rose Family Seder Books to preparing a seder plate, the Library has something for everyone.

    Learn about the holiday of Passover through the magnificent artwork now on display in the Rose Family Seder Books, generously donated by the Rose Family to the Dorot Jewish Division. Stop by the McGraw Rotunda on the third floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to view the recently completed fourth volume in this series of unique books featuring over sixty years of Passover-themed artwork.

    "Echad mi yodea," Barbara Wolff, 2012
    "Echad mi yodea," Barbara Wolff, 2012

    An interactive monitor accompanies the display, allowing viewers to explore the fourth volume’s pages for the first time. These stunning volumes will be on display from April 15–May 8, 2016.

    In Jewish tradition, a seder (ritual meal) is held on the eve of Passover (this year, Friday, April 22).

    The traditional book of the seder is the haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”), which Encyclopedia Judaica calls “a set form of benedictions, prayers, midrashic comments and psalms recited at the seder ritual on the eve of Passover.”

    Hundreds of Haggadot

    Hamburg Haggadah (1731)
    Hamburg Haggadah (1731). Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 1244021

    From old favorites to stunning rare editions, NYPL’s outstanding haggadah collection includes hundreds of titles representing diverse geographic and linguistic traditions and time periods: Aramaic (Jerusalem, 1986), Amharic (Jerusalem, 1984), Danish (Berlin, 1922), Dutch (Amsterdam, 1941),  English (London, 1787, online), French (Bordeaux, fascimile 1813), German (New York, 1857), Hungarian (Budapest?, 1942), Judeo-Arabic (Tunisia, 1938), Judeo-Italian (Venice,1609), Ladino (Amsterdam, 1695), Marathi (Bombay, 1891), Polish (Kraków, 2002), Portuguese (São Paulo, 1950), Russian (New York, 1979), Samaritan Aramaic (Tel Aviv, 1958?), Spanish (Buenos Aires, 1943), Swedish (1983, Stockholm), and Yiddish (Offenbach, 1795). For more, look at one of our haggadah bibliographies.

    Among the most visually fascinating are a facsimile of the Birds Head Haggada, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi illuminated haggadah (S. German, c. 1300), which used bird heads in place of human heads in its illustrations, explored in Professor Mark Epstein’s book; and the stunningly beautiful Szyk Haggadah by Polish-born Arthur Szyk, an artist known for his virtuosic works and provocative satires.

    Szyk Haggadah
    The Szyk Haggadah

    Familiar classics include the once-ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah; the Survivors’ Haggadah, created in the aftermath of World War II; the secular Yiddish and English Workmen’s Circle Haggadah, and the Sephardic Passover Haggadah by Rabbi Marc D. Angel with special commentaries and songs. In keeping with the haggadah’s emphasis on liberation, the Library’s collection also includes haggadot associated with vegetarianism (Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb), feminism (The Women’s Haggadah), lesbianism (A New Haggadah: A Jewish Lesbian Seder) and social justice (The Shalom Seders), not to mention the timely topical haggadot available online such as the #Black Lives Matter Haggadah compiled by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

    46 ways to better Passover meals
    46 ways to better Passover meals. Cookbook by Planters Hi Hat Peanut Oil. Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 4063339

    Passover Cooking

    With about 100 cookbooks for Passover alone, in 6 languages, you can find something for everyone here. The Dorot Jewish Division’s cookbook collection, built in large part by the late Roberta Saltzman, includes about 2,700 Jewish cookbooks, many of them community publications from far-flung locales. Some food companies even published their own Passover cookbooks, such as Borden’s Farm Products (1948, pictured below), Planter’s Peanut Oil (1940s, 46 Ways to Better Passover Meals, see illustration) and Rokeach’s Savory Passover Recipes.

    Passover cook book
    Passover cook book, courtesy of Borden’s Farm Products, 1948. Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 4050239

    Do you need Passover cooking for special diets? You can get vegetarian, healthy, gluten-free, non-gebrochts, free of wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and fish, no cholesterol or even no potato Passover cookbooks, find recipes for kids, explore regional cooking (Yemenite, Hawaiian, international) or simply find matzah recipes).

     the matzo family

    Speaking of matzah, don’t forget to check out Manischewitz: The Matzo Family: The Making of an American Jewish Icon, by Laura Manischewitz Alpern, a fascinating history of America’s best-known matzah and Passover products company. Manischewitz also sponsored Bay tate-mames tish (Around the Family Table), a Yiddish radio melodrama by Nahum Stutchkoff, whose archives reside in NYPL. Read or listen to episodes, including on the wonderful Yiddish Radio Project website. The programs were accompanied by Stutchkoff’s highly creative commercials for matzah, including his famous Manischewitz Matzo jingle, with music by Sholom Secunda, where the matzah is “always fresh and always crunchy and snaps on your teeth.” Find more Passover-themed music in our catalog.

    Visit us

    Stop by today to view the Rose Family Seder Books (though May 8), and visit our reading room. Need books? Request in advance to save time: request offsite items through our catalog, and for onsite items call us at 212-930-0601 or email

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    Whether you are a middle school student making your first game for the Games For Change Student Challenge, a high school student competing in the National STEM Video Game Challenge, or an adult interested in participating in an upcoming Ludum Dare event: below are some great books on game design to help you get started.

    All titles are available from the New York Public Library or as a free download licensed under Creative Commons. If you have additional suggestions of books not listed below, please feel free to add them in the comments. The idea is that this will be an organic, evolving list of game-making resources available through the public library.

    Want to play and discuss games with other students, librarians, teachers and game enthusiasts? Join us for one of the upcoming NYPLarcade events at Jefferson Market Library this spring.


    Secret Coders

    Adventures in Minecraft
    by Martin O’Hanlon & David Whale

    Help Your Kids With Computer Coding: A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Guide, From Binary Code to Building Games
    by Carol Vorderman, Jon Woodcock, Sean McManus, Craig Steele, Claire Quigley, Daniel McCafferty

    Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
    by Scott Rogers

    Secret Coders
    by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes (J GN FIC YANG)

    Teach Your Kids to Code: A Parent-Friendly Guide to Python Programming
    by Bryson Payne (J 005.13 P)

    Video Games: Design and Code Your Own Adventure
    by Kathy Ceceri (J 794.8 C)



    Careers for Tech Girls in Video Game Development
    by Laura La Bella (YA 794.8 L)

    Game Art: Art From 40 Video Games and Interviews With Their Creators
    by Matt Sainsbury (YA 794.8)

    Learn to Program With Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming With Games , Art, Science, and Math
    by Majed Marji (YA 794.815 M)

    Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game That Changed Everything
    by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson (YA 794.8 G)
    Print | E-book

    Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun
    by Joshua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen (YA 790 U)


     	Rise of the videogame zinesters

    Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
    by Jesse Schell (794.8153 S)

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
    by Tom Bissell (794.8 B)
    Print | E-book | Digital Audio

    Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
    by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (155.2 C)
    Print | E-book

    Game Design Reader
    by Kate Sailen & Eric Zimmerman (794.8153 G)

    Game Usability: Advice From the Experts for Advancing the Player Experience
    by Katherine Isbister and Noah Schaffer (794.8152 I)

    Hamlet on the Holodeck
    by Janet H. Murray (809 M)

    Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture
    by Johan Huizinga (901 H)
    Print | E-book

    How to do Things With Video Games
    by Ian Bogost (793.932 B)
    Print | E-book

    Reality is Broken
    by Jane McGonigal (306.487 M)
    Print | E-book | Audio

    Rise of the Videogame Zinesters
    by Anna Anthropy (794.8 A)

    Rules of Play
    by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (794.8152 S)

    Unbored Games
    by Joshaua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen (790.1 G)

    Free Books Available Online

    The Design of Everyday Things

    The Design of Everyday Things
    by Donald A. Norman

    by Dan Pinchbeck

    Silent Hill: The Terror Engine
    by Bernard Perron

    Tempest: Geometries of Play
    by Judd E. Ruggill and Ken S. McAllister

    Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution
    by Steven Poole | NYPL ebook

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    Kids of all ages are obsessed with Hamilton, the smash-hit musical inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father.

    So, for the very youngest fans: picture books about the founding figures from the worlds of hip-hop and the American Revolution… all of whom were in the room where it happens


    Big George by Anne Rockwell
    A biography of Washington that starts with his boyhood, painting him as a real person rather than a larger-than-life political figure.

    Jay-Z: Hip-Hop Icon by Jessica Gunderson
    Critics praised the “unique insider feel” of this picture book, which tells the story of the rapper through the window of a one-on-one interview.

    Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman
    Kalman pulls out countless details to create a moving, human, surprisingly nontraditional portrait of the third president. She includes both the beautiful and the ugly parts of his legacy—and gives kids credit for understanding that people can be complex and flawed and still incredibly great.

    When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hopby Laban Carrick Hill
    Go all the way back to Clive Campbell with this picture book about the origins of the genre, with huge, beautiful illustrations to back it up.

    The Worst of Friends by Suzanne Tripp Jurman
    The love/hate relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—“as different as pickles and ice cream”—is detailed in this book about a complicated friendship in complicated times.  

    Wu-Tang Clan by Janice Rockworth
    Delve into the history of the most well-known hip-hop group in the world.

    Have trouble reading standard print? Many NYPL titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!


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    Welcome to The Librarian is In, the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.


    Doug Reside from NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts joins Gwen and Frank to talk about the Bard and the Great White Way. He even raps a teeny tiny bit from Hamilton.


    What We're Reading Now

    Slate's Culture Gabfest on bro culture and the new Richard Linklater movie, Everybody Wants Some!!

    The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

    The Bunker Diaryby Kevin Brooks

    Tinkers by Paul Harding

    Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Frank's cool German words:

    Revisiting the poetry of LangstonHughes and MargaretAtwood

    Hughes’ Collected Poems and “Let America Be America Again

    Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
    Let it be the pioneer on the plain
    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
    Let it be that great strong land of love
    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    In the Night Kitchenby Maurice Sendak

    night kitchen


    ​Hot Topix

    Our top 5 Beverly Cleary books

    Hillary Clinton and why you shouldn't tell a woman to smile. Come on, people.


    Guest Star

    Doug Reside, the Lewis and Dorothy Cullman Curator for the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the Library for the Performing Arts

    Lots of musicals and plays: Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Winter's Tale, Parade, The Last Five Years... check them out on

    TheNYT article about the 1 Train sounding like "A Place for Us" (can you hear it?)

    NYPL's observance of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and Artists for LPA Share Shakespeare: “A More Personal Connection”

    King Charles III on Broadway

    The #Hamiltome



    Word of the Week

    Doug: Terpsichorean

    Frank: Susurration 


    Thanks for listening! Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Could we convince you to do it now?

    Find us online @NYPLRecommends, the Bibliofile blog, and Or email us at!

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    "In the crowded, contested spaces of New York City, privilege is defined by where one sits: a seat in a classroom at a selective school, a courtside seat at a Knicks game, a table at a fashionable restaurant. So it goes as well in the Information Age, I think, as I tour the soon-to-be completed home of the New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL for short). I'm looking at a row of library carrels that should soon be some of the most sought after tables in town."

    Andrea Moed, “Dinner at the home page restaurant,”Design Is: Words, Things, People, Buildings, And Places At Metropolis, edited by Akiko Busch.

    As SIBL prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of its opening on May 2, 1996, one sure way to illustrate the depth and diversity of its rich research collections is the following selective list of book publications whose authors credit SIBL resources—bibliographic and human—in their acknowledgements.

    As the book titles suggest, the writers who hunkered down in the the library's "sought after" carrels have explored a vast range of subjects in business, finance and investment, regulation, industry, technology, and science. And as the source notes demonstrate, among SIBL's strengths are its deep retrospective back runs of government information including patents and trademarks, census and trade data, and legislative, judicial, and executive reports, both domestic and international.

    Mining Google Books and Amazon is necessarily restrictive given that these online services offer only limited access to the full text of in-copyright books. Therefore, the list below is far from complete, even when supplemented with titles found in databases such as Project Muse and Oxford Scholarship Online. Additions to this work in progress—a dynamically expanding bibliography—are welcome!


    • Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape / Francesca Russello Ammon




    • No Women Jump Out! Gender Exclusion, Labour Organization And Political Leadership In Antigua 1917-1970 / Christolyn A. Williams
    • Report From The Interior / Paul Auster
    • Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, And Taste In America's World War I Memorials / Jennifer Wingate












    • Arguing A.I.: The Battle For Twenty-First-Century Science / Sam Williams




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    Still Image
    Sujet Libre. Image ID: 1220758

    In a recent New York Times article, author John Colapinto was featured and a discussion ensued about the lost art of the "male-centric literary sex novel."  The discussion of the change in how sex is presented in literary novels, particularly by male authors, has taken place several times over the last few years. This type of novel, which at one point was ubiquitous in the publishing world, has fallen out of favor. Mr. Colapinto had a hard time selling his latest, Undone, because publishing houses felt it was too risqué, despite being well written. The landscape of the writing world has changed and while sex isn't  bad for sales (see the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon), when it comes to literary fiction, the story is a bit different.

    The word "literary" is used to describe writing that is considered to be more about style and the presentation of certain ideas or the ethos of the writer. This also means that it is not unusual for literary novels to tackle more controversial subject matters (Huffington Post). Often times these types of novels are held to a higher standard. While sex has gone in and out of fashion as a viable subject of interest in such novels, it became a common theme for some of the more popular classic male authors. Yet in recent times it is rare to find writers, especially male, who want to tackle the issue. In her essay on the topic for the New York TimesKatie Roiphe discussed why the change may have occurred. "This generation of writers is suspicious of what Michael Chabon, in Wonder Boys, calls "the artificial hopefulness of sex." "They are good guys, sensitive guys, and if their writing is denuded of a certain carnality, if it lacks a sense of possibility, of expansiveness, of the bewildering, transporting effects of physical love, it is because of a certain cultural shutting down, a deep, almost puritanical disapproval of their literary forebears and the shenanigans they lived through." (New York Times)

    So who are these authors that once upon a time were unafraid to discuss the male sexual psyche? Below is a list of those from the aforementioned articles along with some of their well-known titillating novels.

    Appointment in Samarra
    Tropic of Capricorn
    Rabbit Novels

    Classic Authors

    House of Holes

    Contemporary Authors

    Other Resources


    • Literature Criticism Online - Search a range of modern and historical views on authors and their works across regions, eras and genres through a combined or individual search of a set of 10 literary series from Gale.
    • Literature Resource Center - Features information on literary figures from all time periods in such genres as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, and journalism.


    Think anyone is missing from this list? Feel free to comment below with some of your favorites!

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    Esther Johnston

    One hundred years ago this coming May Day, a woman from a small town in Indiana named Esther Johnston began her first day of work at the Seward Park Library on the Lower East Side—her term at Seward lasted from 1916-1921. She eventually became the head of The New York Public Library's Circulation Department until her retirement in 1951. Yet, despite her triumphs in the upper echelons of library administration, the Lower East Side must have taken a strong hold on her. In September of 1966 she wrote an article for the Bulletin of the New York Public Library entitled "A Square Mile of New York" which recounted her experiences as a librarian on the old East Side.

    In 1966 it had been a full fifty years since Ms. Johnston had begun work at the Seward Park Library. While some things had obviously changed for the better, change is a very complicated animal. Johnston states,

    "[I could] scarcely make it through the rubble of once-familiar streets and find the buildings that were landmarks. East Broadway, the street I knew best, has been breached as by enemy bombing."
    NYCHA Promotional
    A 1964 Promotional From the New York City Housing Authority. Image ID: 5184531

    It was a time of big ideas and big projects in government. Slum clearance ordinances and new housing for lower and middle income residents had been erected throughout the Lower East Side replacing the dilapidated conditions of the old tenements. The dreams of Lillian Wald, Charney Vladeck, and LaGuardia were coming to fruition. Johnston recalls that the three cultural powerhouses of the old East Side on East Broadway still survived—The Educational Alliance, the Forward building, and, of course, the Seward Park Library. Though the Forward building has been converted into condominiums, this proud architectural triumvirate still stands tall (though dwarfed by Coops), not as a reminder of a bygone era but as a part of the architecture of a community that still manages to thrive despite the ceaseless change integral to the East Side.

    Johnston recalls the Seward Park Library of a hundred years ago as a place where children of many different backgrounds rushed to borrow easy books and fairy tales (particularly Andrew Lang's Fairy Book Series), while adults journeyed upstairs to the third floor to borrow from collections of many different languages. In 2016 this remains as true as ever—whether after school, on a Saturday, or during New York's sweltering months of summer, the branch is teeming with children who read everything from Geronimo Stilton to Dork Diaries to Edgar Allan Poe to Doraemon in Chinese. Graphic Novel serials of the Monkey King (a tale originally written by the Chinese Classical author Sun Wukong) can barely stay on the shelf long enough to shed the presence of the last borrower. Finding a seat can often be a trying task! It is only by the grace of our Out of School Time afterschool program that we aren't even more crowded.

    On her first day, Johnston was greeted by a Miss Ernestine Rose, a women truly dedicated to her patrons and instrumental in procuring a collection which reflected its majority immigrant Eastern European Jewish constituency. Rose would eventually bring her talents to the 135th Street Branch, renamed in 1951 after Countee Cullen. The May Day crowds in 1916 were such as she could barely make it to the branch's entrance! From this point on, this small-town woman would take various routes to work through the busy thoroughfares of the Lower East Side, navigating her way through the crowded slew of streets whose English names (Essex, Rivington, Norflok &c.) still pepper the area, specters of past generations, names which became bywords for sordid conditions and slum housing. Johnston recalls Irish families on Oliver Street, gypsy families (according to Johnston...) on Pitt Street, Armenians and Syrians who enjoyed their coffee in Chatham Square—As a Los Angeles native, I thought Lala Land was the only place to get a decent Armenian coffee!

    May Day, New York City
    The Notorious May Day Hubbub. Image ID: 805738

    The Second Avenue Elevated which Johnston used to ride home after an exhausting, (over)stimulating day at work was taken down in 1942. But the principles of the library that Johnston cites haven't changed all that much:

    "Children growing up in New York [were to be] assured a hospitable welcome to the world of books. A child from a bare tenement could have as broad a range as the ones from bookish homes, limited only by poverty of imagination and unclean hands."

    Sure—the Seward Park Library doesn't really check for clean hands any longer but the importance of access to information is still paramount to our mission. At Seward and its neighboring Chatham Square Library, merely a stone's throw away at 33 East Broadway, books circulate faster than can be kept up with, and computer terminals are constantly filled with users doing school projects, filling out e-government forms, or messing around with Minecraft. Some patrons simply enjoy our free internet on their own devices. In an era where 27% of New Yorkers still lack a household internet connection, access remains an important service. Not to mention our plethora of databases which ensure that access to information is as rich as it is available.

    Johnston mentions that the fairy tales the children read,

    "[...] enthralled these children of sweatshop workers and union members as they bathed in the golden light of imagination. Their heroes and villains were not union leaders and capitalists, not labor commissioners and racketeers, but kings and queens, princes and Cinderellas, wise fairy godmothers and wicked stepmothers whose punishment was always meted out to fit the crime."

    Our children's staff is still blessed with the understanding it takes to serve a children's room of jostling, pushing, and snatching of popular titles, even if the old murals on our walls of Sir Galahad, Venice, and Robin Hood which inspired the children of the East Side a hundred years ago have been painted over, replaced with Chinese hanging scrolls which exhort the values of literacy.

    And the story hours! Johnston recalls a weekly story hour where children reeking of rubber, garlic and dill were packed into the basement floor to hear the folklore of many countries. These days our busy story hours are even more frequent, multiple times a week, every session in our children's reading room filled to capacity. Children are serenaded by stories and songs in English and Mandarin, and the tunes of the otherworldly Raymond Scott's "Portofino II" and Cab Calloway's unparalleled "Everybody Eats"

    After school the library continues to flood with youth of all ages just as it did in 1916. Johnston recalls having to shush teens on the reference floor, their unquenchable need for chatter and attention notwithstanding. Boy, do things never change—though these days we have much more for teens to do. Whether it's jewelry crafts, anime club, films, homework help, or any number of things you may be able to think of, young adult patrons are at no loss for what to do at the library. Maybe one day we'll bring back a more inclusive iteration of the Young Men's Debating Club, which, according to Johnston, used to completely fill the basement. Marx, Tolstoy, and Veblen were popular authors for debate in those days. Today, would we be more likely to discuss Žižek, Yanagihara, and Coates? Perhaps the effects of social media? Affordable housing?

    Orchard Street, 1976
    Orchard Street, 1976. Image ID: colmer_206_2645

    Johnston continues her essay with a passage on the difficulties of keeping up with the foreign language readership, particularly Yiddish. While some things have changed, many haven't. The older gentlemen on our reference floor tend to read the Chinese Sing Tao Daily, World Journal, or China Press rather than the Yiddish Forward or the Jewish Day. Our Yiddish collection has shrunk from 2,287 titles in 1960 (which had shrunk from a whopping 7,560 in 1940) to a mere small shelf, while our large Chinese collection continues to grow at an incredible rate to meet the demands of our patrons. On sign-up days our English classes have long lines of language learners which extend out the door of the library! Johnston even recalls adult English language learners picking up some of the children's Easy Books to learn the language—a practice which continues to this day.

    What would the Lower East Side be without the Settlement Houses? The Educational Alliance, Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement, all three get a mention in Johnston's little memoir of the old days—The Seward Park Library still works closely with these organizations to promote the ideals of literacy. Johnston remembers the spectacular quality of the plays Henry Street Settlement's Neighborhood Playhouse on Grand Street. And back in Johnston's day, visionary Lillian Wald (who was responsible for establishing Seward Park, the first municipal park in the U.S.) whose beaming personality and benevolence drew community organizers from all over the East Side to her dinner table, was an active force for cleaning up the slums and advocating for affordable housing with all mod cons.

    Reference Floor, Seward Park Library
    The Seward Park Library's Reference Floor, closed in 1966, is merry and full once again in 2016. Image ID: 100923

    In her final passages of the essay, Johnston says that "the old East Side has all but vanished", citing changes from pushcarts to markets (the Essex Street Market was built in 1940 during the LaGuardia administration to replace the pushcart system), from tenements to Cooperatives, as well as changes in demographics. What shocks me most is the fact that in 1966 the third floor reference room was closed to the public! Johnston says,

    "A younger flabbier generation has not the stamina to climb two long flights of stairs nor quite the insatiable appetite for study."

    The ancient House of Sages was still there in 1966 as it still stands today in 2016 (I pass by it every Friday on my way to read to my favorite class of first graders at PS 134 Henrietta Hzold), but the old men with earlocks reading in Hebrew and Russian as well as bewigged women on park benches had already began to wane in '66. She cites undreamed of affluence of professionals such as doctors and dentists living in the cooperatives of East Broadway alongside rubble and ruin soon to be developed. Above all, the East Side of 1966 was,

    "[...] tentative and in transition [...]. Most of the dark old tenements with dingy kitchens and hall toilets have given way to apartments with modern bathrooms and kitchens and sun in the living-rooms. The children are rosy-cheeked and healthy. In time shrubs and trees may screen the rawness of new brick. The apartments have undreamed of conveniences, laundries, carpentry shops and social rooms, but let us admit that they are dully like most other developments and projects. It takes time and roots for neighborhoods to form new personalities and develop strong characters."

    As a transplant from Los Angeles who doesn't know any better, I can't rightfully comment on the changes Johnston speaks of. Yet, when I walk the streets of Johnston's East Side they still teem with peddlers of all sorts, though this activity is farther west than it used to be, perhaps. In the past hundred years, synagogues have been replaced by Buddhist temples, Orchard Street has become a street for art galleries and fancy boutiques rather than discount garments, though a few shops do remain.

    If we take Esther Johnston's memories as a standard, it's the library that has stayed the same more than anything. Our rooms are filled with patrons looking for entertainment, a place to work, or just to get away from the ruckus of noise and the pressures of constant push and pull of everyday life—is this really all that different from 1916? Here you may enjoy programs as diverse as morning tea and biscuits twice a week, Microsoft Office classes, Friday afternoon karaoke, or an evening film. We have computer and resume help, art exhibits. Your children, even more frequently than the children of a hundred years ago, may count on story times, arts and crafts, a good book, and even more amenities that weren't available in the library of yore. In a time where its harder to find a quiet place to read and work, where literally every shop is playing music to make us spend spend spend, where advertisements (or even our smartphones) are telling us what to buy, wear, eat and shop, the library offers opportunity itself—we are simply available to the public, and its a public we respond to and believe in. Indeed, libraries' faith in a Democratic public stands firmly against some of the more prevalent cynicism we see in America today.

    Back in Johnston's day, artistic luminaries like author Anzia Yezierska, stage designer Boris Aronson, and playwright Bella Spewack frequented the Seward Park Branch. This was a generation that furnished a truly heroic age of American culture, from Hester Street to Hollywood. Who's next?

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    On this day in 1828, the first edition of Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language was published, marking the start of a long history of people flipping through its pages to find out what on earth that word means. To celebrate, we're challenging you to show off your knowledge of obscure definitions with this fun quiz. Are you a word wizard or could you do with a bit more dictionary time?


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    Reflection on our own beliefs and motives, decisions and reactions,  helps us grow. Here are a few titles from the arenas of Human and Social Behavior that provide insight into our psyches. 


    Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy (2015)

    Learn how to be your best self in the moments that terrify you the most.







    The Power of Habit

    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2015)

    An exploration of how habits work and how we can use this information to our advantage.







    The Road to Character

    The Road to Character by David Brooks (2015)

    Brooks challenges us to reexamine the balance between the American emphasis on external success measures, such as wealth, and internal success measures, such as kindness and relationships.







    Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (2014)

    McKeown offers the reader strict criteria to determine what is essential and reclaim control over how we spend our precious time.






    The Art of Thinking Clearly

    The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli (2013)

    99 of the most common errors of judgment and how to avoid them.







    Drunk Tank Pink

    Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter (2012)

    How our environment shapes our thoughts and actions without us even being aware of it.







    Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011)

    Kahneman contends that there are two systems that drive our thoughts: one fast and intuitive, and another slow and deliberate.







    Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (2009)

    Pink asserts that to be happy and satisfied humans need to direct their own lives and to learn and create new things.






    How We Decide

    How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (2009)

    Using the latest research in the field of neuroscience, Lehrer shows that our best decisions are a blend of feeling and emotion and the exact mix depends on the situation at hand.







    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (2007)

    A fascinating collection of profiles of decision makers, some brilliant and others inept, and what makes the difference.






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

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  • 04/15/16--07:06: Predicting the Future
  • Many books from Science to Science Fiction foretell the future and serve as cautionary tales that demand we think about our actions and the way we live today.  Here are a few of those thought-provoking titles. 

    The Sixth Extinction

    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Historyby Elizabeth Kolbert

    Combining science and historical context, Kolbert documents the wake humans are leaving in their path.






    This Changes Everything

    This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

    Klein argues that the climate crisis demands a radical change in the “free market” economic system and global politics.






    In 100 Years

    In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future edited by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

    10 prominent economists offer their thoughts on the twenty-second century.







    Physics of the Future

    Physics of the Future: How Scientists Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

    Kaku a theoretical physicist discusses developments in technology, medicine, travel and more that are poised to happen over the next 100 years and the effect they will have on the world economy.





    The Extreme Future

    The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the Next 5, 10, and 20 Years by James Canton

    Canton predicts future trends in business, technology, environment, terrorism, population and medicine.







    1984 by George Orwell

    Set in an imaginary future where there are thought police. This book keeps getting closer and closer to reality.







    Fahrenheit 451

    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    Citizens choose trivia over books and ideas and give control of their minds and lives to a totalitarian state.






    Brave New World

    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Huxley’s masterful dystopian tale remains relevant and thought-provoking to this day.








    2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

    What if computers become self-aware and take control over humans?







    A Stranger in a Strange Land

    A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

    A human being, raised on Mars, returns to Earth and struggles to understand human nature.







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

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    During the month-long celebration of Shakespeare, we wanted to pay homage to the Bard’s most loathsome characters: his villains, schemers, whiners, and all-around bad actors.

    So, we asked our lit experts here to name their least favorite Shakespearean characters and explain why. Here’s what they said:

    James Earl Jones as Othello and Christopher Plummer as Iago in  a 1981 performance. Image ID: swope_5538904

    Easy! Iago, the quintessential villain of Othello. The best manipulative, obsessive, jealous frenemy you can ever ask for. —Jhenelle Robinson, Morrisania

    And my off-the-top-of-my-head reply was going to be, “Easy! Othello! The obsessive, pathologically jealous protagonist of the play that bears his name. How can he be so easily manipulated and so blind to Desdemona’s unshakably deep devotion to him?”

    As runner-up: Falstaff (Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor). I just never have found him all that funny. Certainly not three plays’ worth. —Kathie Coblentz, Special Collections

    The New York Shakespeare Festival production of the play "Titus Andronicus" at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park in 1981. Image ID: swope_628887

    Of all the villainous cretins in his plays (of which there are many), Shakespeare really thought the least of men who use their power in small-minded ways. Which leads me to conclude that while Richard III is a total creep, you can’t help but like him, because he’s got a certain charisma. (Especially when he’s played by Kevin Spacey!) Ditto with Iago. So I’d have to go with Saturninus, Tamora, Tamora’s two sons, and Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus. I can’t decide on just one because they’re all complicit together. They’re just a thoroughly evil family, orchestrating the rape and dismemberment of poor Lavinia, the execution of Titus’s sons, and the downfall of Titus himself. —Anne Barreca, Battery Park City

    Got to go with Hero from Much Ado About Nothing. Unpopular choice? Maybe, but she was just so passive and so yielding I was just like, come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, Hero. —Joe Pascullo, Grand Central

    For me, it’s always been Hamlet. Know what, dude? We get it—your life is hard. Your dad is dead. Your mom just married your uncle, who probably murdered your father, and you’re feeling totes emo. But horrible stuff happens to everybody, and sometimes you just have to suck it up. So do us all a favor: Stop whining about your existential crisis, stop treating Ophelia like trash, and move on already. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    A 1960 production of "Measure for Measure" in Central Park. Image ID: 5099280

    Angelo from Measure for Measure. He’s a lascivious and power-hungry creep who hypocritically enforces some seriously messed-up laws in Vienna when the Duke is away. Here’s the short list of his offences: blackmailing a nun, conspiring to take said nun’s virginity, sentencing an innocent man to death, and breaking off an engagement because the bride-to-be doesn’t have a dowry. —Nancy Aravecz, Jerfferson Market

    Angelo is monstrous, but Lin-Manuel Miranda told us that Frosh in that play was his least favorite character. I have always hated Osric, the political enabler, and I’m sure that his next move is into Fortinbras’ cabinet. Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Exhibitions

    Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Demetrius may be a callous monster, but Helena is his enabler. Somehow she manages to be an aggressive sexual harasser and a mouse with no backbone simultaneously.  She’s clingy, whiny, and annoying—and she intentionally sabotages her best friend’s chance at happiness to impress a guy who repeatedly verbally abuses her. Woman, have some self-respect. —Althea Georges, Mosholu

    A 1967 production of "The Merchant of Venice" in Stamford, CT. Image ID: 5099355

    How about Antonio, that drama queen from The Merchant of VeniceRight from the opening, you want to smack him upside the head and tell him to get to the stinking point already instead of moping and making you play 20 questions. He’s an anti-Semitic bully as well, as evidenced by his and Shylock’s loan negotiations. I would have let Shylock take his pound and a hundred more from Antonio. Whiny little punk. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

    I was going to say, ANTONIO! What a jerk! All of the drama in all of The Merchant of Veniceis all his fault, that arrogant, lily-livered miscreant. It’s always been a struggle to read this play because of the anti-Semitism, but the fact that Antonio, a legitimate cheat to a criminal level, gets away with cheating Shylock, who has a completely valid complaint against Antonio, is too infuriating. —Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange

    Elen Terry as Lady Macbeth, ca. 1860-1920. Image ID: 99837

    Lady Macbeth. How delightful to watch her scheme only to have all of her machinations thrown back at her. As she slowly unravels she repeats one of the best lines ever with OCD fervor. But, alas, that damn spot will not out.  —Arielle Landau, Digital Experience

    He’s not always understood as a villain, but for me, it’s Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew. I read the play in high school, long before learning about feminism and sexual politics. Even then, something chafed about Petruchio’s dedication to “taming” headstrong Katharina. He plays psychological games with Katharina, denies her food and clothing, and ultimately convinces her that all wives should defer to their husbands. Petruchio: Shakespeare’s consummate bro. (Did they wear fedoras in 1590?) —Erica Parker, Mid-Manhattan

    Have trouble reading standard print? Many NYPL titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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