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Summer Reads for City Wanderers

Brendan Crain, Project Manager, NYC Culture Pass
June 29, 2022

With the summer solstice now behind us, the days are going to start getting shorter, bit by bit. But don’t despair—there are still plenty of brightly lit evenings ahead! Taking a long, meandering walk is one of the great pleasures of living in a big city, and the extra daylight means this is one of the prime times of year for aimless urban ambling. If you need a bit of inspiration to get off that couch, we’ve got you covered with this list of books that explore the art of walking in the city. Bon voyage! Twenty Minutes in Manhattan - One-time Village Voice architecture critic,...

The Brooklyn Nobody Knows About by William Helmreich (Book Jacket)

I first became interested in gardening in middle school. My friends and I found ourselves at a farmers market one day after school and we immediately noticed the rows of plants in black plastic pots. Right away I was fascinated by all of the tiny green sprouts and I couldn’t believe how many different varieties of plants they had that I was used to seeing in recipes. I went home with a basil plant and a mint plant that day and I did my best to keep them alive and thriving in little pots on my window sill through the summer. While I enjoyed caring for these two plants, I didn't think that...


The summer solstice is upon us once again. I’ve always loved the solstice. Who doesn’t love the start of summer and all it entails: ice cream cones, flip-flops, the smell of sunscreen on the beach? But this year, the solstice feels even more fitting to the timeline in which we are existing. The longest day of the year? That is exactly what the past few pandemic years have felt like: one weird, nebulous, chaotic and LONG year spanning multiple years. In the year of our lives, 2020 to present has been its longest day. Linear time no longer feels true to experience, so even a day where the...

Klara_and_the_Sun Kazuo_Ishiguro Book Jacket Image

Happy Birthday, BPL!

Kimberly Behan, Children's Senior Librarian
June 17, 2022

If there is one thing I love it’s a birthday—especially mine (September 2; send books!) and that of my most loved ones. Something about turning a year older and celebrating the day you were born is just so special to me. So it’s with extreme excitement that, my first summer as a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library (BPL being a loved one for me), I get to celebrate the Library’s 125th birthday (BPL, you look great. You don’t look a day over 21.). All summer long, BPL will have programming for all ages to commemorate this epic birthday bash, and to get you into the spirit of...


How did we luck into such deeply funny, sweet and dramatic queer-pirating adventure as Our Flag Means Death (OFMD)? Pirate movies and shows are known, by and large, for being neither sweet nor queer (not a lot of matey¹-cuddling in Black Sails, alas). And yet, for all of the de rigueur tropes–leather-clad pirates, pitched battles, swordfights, swashbuckling, treasure-hunting–OFMD sails past the commonplace gritty sea tale and glides into a rainbow sunset of love and friendship, where men have a chance at gentleness and women are people too.   The show follows...

Books with a Hook by Djaz's OFMD post

You’ve put in all the work, crossed that grand stage, moved your tassel from right to left, and had the big celebration with family and friends. Perhaps a great many of you already know your next steps: offers from colleges or potential employers, maybe a new city or country to explore, maybe staying home for an extended break before the “real world” begins? Wherever you may find yourself, Brooklyn Public Library provides resources and guidance on what’s next through our Business & Career Center (B&CC). Your library card is the key to accessing sites like Brainfuse JobNow or Career...


I recently went to see Hadestown on Broadway. If you’re unfamiliar with the musical, it is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. The story goes like this: Eurydice is trapped in the Underworld as a result of a deal she made with Hades. Orpheus travels there to rescue her, and they are told that they can walk out of Hell, but if he looks back at Eurydice as they walk out, she has to return to the Underworld permanently. Just as they’re about to escape, Orpheus is plagued by doubt and turns to make sure that Eurydice is still following him. She gets pulled back into Hell as he laments...


Elisheba Haqq is a writing professor at Rutgers University, a registered nurse, and the author of Mamaji, a memoir about the loss of her mother, growing up as part of an immigrant family in Minnesota, and persevering through an abusive childhood. In this interview, she discusses her writing career, explains her research process, and recommends a few of her favorite books. Off the Shelf (Ots): Mamaji is an extremely personal memoir about the loss of your mother, as well as the horrific emotional, physical and financial abuse that you and your older siblings endured. I felt like I was reading...

Elisheba Haqq

Books have a unique power to transport us to faraway places both real and imagined—but they can also bring us fresh perspectives on places that are right down the street! In New York City, we’re surrounded by an incredibly diverse collection of collections: museums of all sorts and sizes, filled with everything from modern art and detailed dioramas to abstract sculpture and period furniture. Whatever you find fascinating, there’s likely an exhibit on it tucked away somewhere in the five boroughs. This year, to celebrate International Museum Day, we’ve rounded up eight of our favorite books...


The Telescope Lending Library launched on a clear night in November 2021, with an outdoor viewing event attended by an enthusiastic mixture of public, library staff and members of the Amateur Astronomy Association (AAA) of New York. Absent from this experience, however, was the eleventh-grade astronomy lover whose plan to lend telescopes as freely as books—evolved over months of proposals and Zoom conferences—was finally coming to fruition.  Yui H.’s passion for astronomy began with a different plan, formed at age nine while living in Singapore, after several screenings of...


The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month in April 1996. The goal of National Poetry Month is to remind all that in a world awash in text, poetry matters. Every April since, poetry readers and nonreaders alike can’t help but notice poetry cropping up amongst the blooms of spring—poems suddenly adorning sandwich boards and subway cars, Instagram feeds, drivetime radio and especially in local library displays. This year, Off the Shelf invited four lovers of poetry to contribute a post for a Poem in Your Pocket series to gift our readers a new poem for every day of the week....

Book jacket for The Wild Fox of Yemen by Threa Almontaser

In 2003, the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition launched to support and grow Brooklyn's entrepreneurial spirit and small businesses. Since then, PowerUP! has nurtured 9,000+ individuals with 1,200+ business plans and awarded more than $500,000 to Brooklyn entrepreneurs. Some of our most notable success stories are the Bogota Latin Bistro, Greenlight Bookstore and Island Pops. Although the pandemic brought many challenges to Brooklyn neighborhoods, and to our city as a whole, PowerUP! continues to be an exciting presence and program supporting local business startups. ...

Business Library Popup Market 2017 smiling woman shows Mel's Butter Blends

The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month in April 1996. The goal of National Poetry Month is to remind all that in a world awash in text, poetry matters. Every April since, poetry readers and nonreaders alike can’t help but notice poetry cropping up amongst the blooms of spring—poems suddenly adorning sandwich boards and subway cars, Instagram feeds, drivetime radio and especially in local library displays. This year, Off the Shelf invited four lovers of poetry to contribute a post for a Poem in Your Pocket series to gift our readers a new poem for every day of the week....

If they come for us (jacket image) by Fatimah Asghar

The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month in April 1996. The goal of National Poetry Month is to remind all that in a world awash in text, poetry matters. Every April since, poetry readers and nonreaders alike can’t help but notice poetry cropping up amongst the blooms of spring—poems suddenly adorning sandwich boards and subway cars, Instagram feeds, drivetime radio and especially in local library displays. This year, Off the Shelf invited four lovers of poetry to contribute a post for a Poem in Your Pocket series to gift our readers a new poem for every day of the week....


The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month in April 1996. The goal of National Poetry Month is to remind all that in a world awash in text, poetry matters. Every April since, poetry readers and nonreaders alike can’t help but notice poetry cropping up amongst the blooms of spring—poems suddenly adorning sandwich boards and subway cars, Instagram feeds, drivetime radio and especially in local library displays. This year, Off the Shelf invited four lovers of poetry to contribute a post for a Poem in Your Pocket series to gift our readers a new poem for every day of the week....


In honor of our March 13 concert with the Orchestra of St. Lukes, "Earthworks", we have put together a list of books and more to get you thinking about the intersection between music, nature, and climate change.  Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska by John Luther Adams is a meditative memoir about the composer’s time in Alaska, in which he reflects on friendship, music and art, framed by a landscape facing a climate crisis.  But you don’t have to travel so far when thinking about the natural world. It can be easy to overlook the vibrancy of urban...


Macon Library, located at 361 Lewis Avenue, is one of the best-preserved Carnegie branches in Brooklyn. Opened in 1907, the two-story, Classical Revival-style building retains its original fireplaces, oak paneling, alcoves and wooden benches, along with the warm charm that has welcomed the Bedford-Stuyvesant community for more than one hundred years. With Bedford-Stuyvesant being rich with African American history, BPL staff. local residents and community leaders made the preservation of that history a priority with the Dionne Mack-Harvin Center, Macon Library's African American...


The past several years have been tough for all of us, whether we found ourselves dealing with the pandemic directly, watched the devastation it caused around the world, or felt its impacts on work, school and our social lives. Every time we have taken a few steps forward, it has frequently felt like several steps back and it’s been hard, I think, for us all to catch our collective breath before there’s something new to worry about. As we inch towards the promise of spring and renewal, here are some books that deal with carving out space to heal, grieve and take care of our minds and bodies...


The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is a thesaurus of controlled vocabularies used in subject indexing of bibliographic records by libraries, archives and museums. Subject headings are assigned to items in a library catalog to facilitate users’ search and discovery of resources relating to similar subject matter. In Brooklyn Public Library’s catalog, subject headings are listed as tags under the details tab in the bibliographic record. Users can click the subject heading tags and explore related resources in the library’s collection. Subject headings facilitate access and...


Historically, I have not been a bathtub person. I was in fact anti-bath for many years. Apparently, it only takes a global pandemic to make me a bathtub devotée. As with many in the world, these past two years have confined me to my apartment much, much more than I would like. So last winter, desperate to discover a new space in the one-bedroom I share with my now-husband and dog—after first exhausting all other options (e.g. our windowless sub-basement, the bit of floor in front of our radiator), I turned to the once-dismissed fixture taking up half of our bathroom. And oh, how much I was...


Ah, Groundhog Day. I grew up in Pennsylvania, not far from the home of the notorious Punxsutawney Phil and his yearly weather prediction on February 2. This is a ritual that derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog can see its shadow on February 2, it will retreat back into its burrow and spring won’t arrive for six more weeks. This was a relatively small, obscure rural tradition until the 1993 Bill Murrary movie Groundhog Day, which brought prominence to the event (and party that happens in Phil’s hometown). The film also forever tied the idea of Groundhog Day to...


On January 28, 1962, a groundbreaking fashion show was held at the Purple Manor jazz club in East Harlem. The show, titled Naturally ’62: The Original African Coiffure and Fashion Extravaganza Designed to Restore Our Racial Pride and Standards, was organized by the African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), a group of Black creatives, co-founded by legendary photographer Kwame Brathwaite and his brother, activist Elombe Brath. The show featured Black models, referred to as...


Christmas was last week, but that doesn't mean it's over. Just ask any die-hard Hallmark Channel viewer—they've been enjoying holiday flicks since before Daylight Saving Time, and will probably watch more for weeks to come. There's a definite lure to the comfort these movies depict: fireplaces galore, cups of tea and cocoa, fair isle sweaters, hats and scarves (barely worn but ever-present), and true love realized through the magic of Christmas. And guess what? All of that holly-jolly splendor is even better when it takes place in a good book.  Grab a candy cane and check out...


"I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're gonna hear about it!" So began our introduction to the Festivus, a winter holiday invented by Frank Costanza (Seinfeld, 1989-1998) as an alternative to Christmas. It involves a metal pole intead of a tree, The Airing of Grievances—where you tell everyone gathered why they've pissed you off—and the very exciting Feats of Strength (which is exactly what it sounds like). Since that episode aired, Festivus has become an actual holiday celebrated by many, and I'm not sure if it's a nod to the popularity of Seinfeld or to the fact...


We’re coming down the stretch of National Novel Writing Month, best known as NaNoWriMo, in which experienced and first-time writers alike come together with the goal of converting as many ideas as possible from thought to paper before November ends. Whether you managed to get down 400 words or 40,000, congratulations!   With Thanksgiving coming near, you might have a mostly-finished story on your hands, or if you’ve been unproductive like me (thank you, writer’s block), maybe a...


Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month started out as a week-long celebration as of 1986, during former President Reagan's administration. Since 1995, November has been designated as the month to celebrate and honor the cultures, achievements and contributions of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Below are ten books of varying genres you can read to finish out this month, and all year round. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer: "An inspired weaving of indigenous knowledge, plant science,...


"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence… With so many seeking to erase transgender people—sometimes in the most brutal ways possible—it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice." –TDoR founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith “November 20 marks Trans Day of Remembrance, an annual memorial for our murdered kin. The day gives us space to grieve the siblings—overwhelmingly Black trans women and femmes—who were pushed out of this world too soon. Our rebellious mourning recommits...


We’re halfway through my second favorite time of year: I’m not talking about preparing for Thanksgiving or Christmas or even No-Shave November. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, or as it is affectionately abbreviated to, NaNoWriMo. Every year, amateur and professional writers alike start November with one goal in mind: write 50,000 in one month. Where does this magic number come from? It is largely accepted that 50,000 words is the minimum required length for most adult novels. To give you a sense of context, here are a few novels that are around the 50,000 word mark: The...


Every year the American Library Association Games & Gaming Round Table runs International Games Week, an opportunity to celebrate gaming in libraries. Taking place this year from November 7th-13th, libraries can register gaming events they hold during the week to highlight just how much fun and educational gaming takes place inside our spaces. And we do a lot of gaming: from traditional games like chess and bingo to the latest video games, not a week goes by in which BPL staff are not running a gaming session of some sort. Next week we are running more than 20...

Library Staff Holding Board Game Carcassone

Curious about what it was like to grow up a little girl in Brooklyn with an affinity for the macabre, a non-censoring mother and carte blanche use of her library card? Well, let me tell you: her to-be-read pile was filled with copies of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, volumes of Truly Tasteless Jokes, Judy Blume’s Wifey  and countless YA thrillers and horrors. And in the 80s, the YA horror masters were Joan Lowery Nixon, Christopher Pike (Fall into Darkness), Richard Peck (Are You in the House Alone?), and the QUEEN—Lois Duncan (1934 – 2016). Why is Duncan the uncontested...


By Sally Z., a BPL Librarians of Tomorrow (Lot) Intern Stories of true crime have always interested me. Whether it be a part of the daily news sequence or front page on the newspaper, the capitating thrill sequence of mystery and murder seem to capture a variety of audience. When looking at a “BREAKING NEWS” headline, emotions are being rushed in: concern, anger, fear, interest, etc. The unwelcoming setting of a crime scene with black and yellow barricade tape labeled in all bold and capitalized letters “CAUTION”. And endless searches for crucial evidence and conversations with first...


Now that we've entered music awards season, we realize we're still thinking about Charlie Watts and the greater legacy of the Rolling Stones to music history. Librarians Shea Betts and Elizabeth Willse came together to share some memories as well as a booklist of key works dealing with the musical legacy of Charlie Watts and the Rolling Stones. Elizabeth: I remember being three or four years old and dancing in the living room to the celebratory chords of “Start Me Up.” Dad had been a fan from the band’s early days...


Add to the list of things the pandemic has taken from us: the joys of playing mas on the Parkway on Labor Day. For the second year in a row, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) has canceled most in-person celebrations associated with the West Indian Day Parade that has run along Eastern Parkway for the better part of 50 years, including the parade itself. And while you can't keep a masquerader down—as a Crown Heights resident, I can hear reveling in the streets already—it's not the same as lining...


As we wallow in the dog days of summer, the city's political high season is around the corner. This fall, voters will elect a new Mayor and choose almost all of the City Council, as well as other state and local offices. Given the propensity of politicians to promise and boast and cajole us to win our vote, New Yorkers are understandably eager to see beyond the hype. Taking a step back from the specifics of campaigns and candidates, the books below all aim to give a glimpse into how New York City politics really works.  The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert...


The first time I created a list of Picnic Reads, sharing a blanket with friends and family for a day of eating, drinking, fun and frivolity wasn’t that popular.  However, things have changed, and if you're going to hang out with your loved ones, an open space outdoors makes the best sense. I compiled the first list with books centered around food, summer and vacations in mind. Some of those books, alas, are no longer in our collection—something I consider a tragedy! Five years ago, I could not have conceived of a world in which future generations of library users would be deprived...


This Saturday, August 14th Brooklyn Public Library presents SPF21: Small Press Flea, in collaboration with BOMB Magazine. More than 20 different publishers will join us this year!  Small presses are publishers who release a limited number of new titles per year. They often focus on niche subjects and bring local voices to a larger audience. While small presses represent only 20% of the publishing market, they potentially outpace their larger counterparts in creative and thought-provoking content. Ted Dodson, Director of Circulation at BOMB, thinks of small press publishing in...

SPF2021: Small Press Flea Square

The east coast is experiencing its last blast of heat this month before slipping into the cooler climate of the fall. For many people, post-Independence Day begins the countdown to Halloween while many others skip straight to Christmas. If you're looking forward to pine trees and twinkling lights decorating your home once again, then take some time to read a few of the Christmas books on this list that will appeal to any reader—from sweet romances and classic stories to fantastical twists on holiday favorites.  Many people believe that Christmas did not exist in the way we...


Read My Lipstick

Lneal
July 27, 2021

The time has come to paint that pout again. Secretly glowing in gloss beneath a mask, my ruby rouged lips—a guilty pleasure for the last few months—have been waiting for the moment when I can proudly parade this pucker once more. Primping was out of place for a while, while we collectively embraced a pandemic makeunder, but when what we thought was a day in our pajamas here, no shower there, and a few weeks of turning off the camera on this thing called Zoom turned into sixteen months, undone became the consensus. But now that we’re scaling back the austerity of survival mode...

The A to Z of Lipstick by David Foote Book Jacket Image

Soul food has become one of most prevalent and popular cuisines in the United States. As with Soul music, when a sensory experience feels so familiar, or so American it seems to have soul, we're really talking about its roots in the African diaspora. In the African American community, the art of cooking arises from a longing to feed others, gather family and friends, and keep traditions alive. Food is not solely a way of showing love, but it's also a means to pass traditions down from one family to another and an experience that transcends geographic or cultural boundaries, so I pulled...


It’s official: the dog days of summer are here. Now’s the time to grab a beach blanket, find a shady tree, sit in front of a fan...you get the idea. Wherever you end up, be sure to chill out with a good book—and don’t forget the sunscreen! Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman  Set in Hollywood in the not-too-distant future, Kleeman’s dystopian thriller features movie stars, wildfires, and privatized, synthetic water. Out in August, this book is already getting serious buzz.  Appleseed by Matt Bell  Packing your bags for a long summer vacation? At nearly 500 pages...


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