Off the Shelf is your destination for all things BOOKS. If you’re interested in reading recommendations, author interviews or the literary world's secrets, Brooklyn Public Library's bibliophile staff is at your service.

First Draft: A Podcast About Storytellers

Posted in Off the Shelf by Lauren R on Feb 19, 2019

How do today's authors come up with their book ideas? How did they become authors to begin with? In 2014, writer Sarah Enni set out to answer these questions and more on her podcast, First Draft. Her weekly show is a deep-dive into storytellers' careers and childhoods, their major influences and their future projects. Now in its fifth year, First Draft has featured more than 170 interviews, including ones with New York Times best-selling writers and winners of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Caldecott Award and the Michael L. Printz Award. Read on to learn all...

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Washington.  Lincoln. Jefferson.  Both Roosevelts. Nixon.  Reagan. Clinton. Obama. These presidents loom large in our imaginations: easily identifiable figures whose influence defines the Presidency and the evolution of our country. The library stacks are filled with biographies that investigate the deeds and personalities of these men, but what about the other presidents? Those not easily identified whose places in history are often overlooked? For Presidents' Day, we highlight those commanders-in-chief who may have fallen under your radar. An Honest President :...

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Epic Friendships of Literature

Posted in Off the Shelf by Mark Daly on Feb 12, 2019

February is a fine month for romantics, but who needs a valentine when you've got great friends? Try one of the following epic tales for a reminder that BFFs are always worth celebrating. Valentines for Galentines The Color Purple by Alice Walker because friendship is unstoppable. As Walker shows us in this searing novel, when the downtrodden Celie transcends the brutality of her married life by seeking a loving bond with the itinerant singer Shug Avery. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante because female friendship can have a lifelong power, as it does in this multi-book saga of...

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With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, love is in the air for many readers—and romance can be in your to-be-read pile too! As a lifelong reader, I’ve fallen head over heels for many literary couples and below you’ll find a few of my favorites—some old and new—for whatever mood you’re in! Just don’t blame me when you ditch your Valentine’s Day plans in favor of reading! Historical An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole The American Civil War is maybe not the sexiest backdrop people can think of for a romance novel, but Cole gives us hope in some of our country's darkest times with...

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Thousands gather in the Central Library's Lobby for Kwame Anthony Appiah's keynote speech during the 2019 Night of Philosophy.   The Night of Philosophy and Ideas is a 12-hour, all-night marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, and readings. On Saturday, February 2, 2019, the third annual event was held at Central Library. One of our own librarians, Nomi Naeem, held a lecture at 5:30am. Today he shares his thoughts on the international event that has now spread to nine other U.S. cities and what brings thousands of New Yorkers to stay up all night and talk...

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Mohsin Hamid, author of several novels including, Moth Smoke,  How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Exit West, a 2017 BPL Literary Prize nominee, reflected on books that layed a major role in his own writing.  No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe -- This classic novel is the story of an idealistic young Nigerian man who goes to the West to study and then returns to Nigera to work. I read it in high school in Pakistan, after years of living in California, and it spoke to me powerfully.  Beloved by Toni Morrison -- I had the good...

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Book Club Spotlight: Red Hook Library

Posted in Off the Shelf by Michelle Montalbano on Jan 4, 2019

Record Shop is home to records and books—as well as the Red Hook Library monthly book club.  Off The Shelf highlights book discussion groups happening at our libraries across Brooklyn. All of our book discussion groups are free and everyone is welcome to participate. Red Hook Book Club partners with local business, Record Shop, to host meetings in their space.  Picture a small-town record shop. Crates upon crates of vinyl, organized into categories like "Protest Music" and "High Rollers." There's a handmade sign, almost certainly drawn by one of the young kids...

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