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.

New York Picks One Book to Rule Them All

Posted in Off the Shelf by BKLYN Library Staff on Apr 5, 2019

  Finalists Announced for One Book, One New York 2019   Voting is now open for the program that gets everyone to read the same book at the same time: One Book, One New York. You’ve got one month to choose your favorite among the list of this year’s finalists for the citywide book club; the winning book is announced on May 3rd. In consideration of the difficult choice ahead, BKLYN Library staff renounce their customary hushed tones below and declare which of the nominated books should be chosen:   Just Kids by Patti...

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Six Books Heralding the Boys Of Summer

Posted in Off the Shelf by David Diakow on Apr 4, 2019

Spring is here (according to the calendar, if not always the thermometer) and with it also the return of baseball season. Of all the major professional sports, baseball probably has the greatest sense of history surrounding it, going all the way back to the 19th-century when the game was played with what now seem like absurdly small gloves and catchers didn’t even wear masks. Through the years the game has changed in many ways and there can seem to be a world of difference between the days of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson and the highly analytical game of today....

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The Soundtracks of Our Lives Do you remember where you were when you first heard Stevie Nicks taking her love and taking it down? Or when you realized that the littlest Jackson was all grown up and in Control of her own career? Or when Bill Murray sang “More Than This” in Lost in Translation and you knew you’d heard the song before but couldn’t remember where? If so, then this year’s batch of inductees in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame will definitely spark joy. On Friday, March 29, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Def Leppard, The Cure, Radiohead and The Zombies will recognized...

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Spring's here! Get growing!

Posted in Off the Shelf by Margaret Day on Mar 26, 2019

As the days get longer and the crocuses and daffodils emerge from their slumber signaling the decline of winter, a realization takes hold: it's time to plan your garden!   It's spring time and while we city dwellers may not have oodles of space for growing, plants still play an important role in softening the harshness of our concrete jungle and connecting us to the natural world. Here are a few titles to help inspire your dream windowsill/patio/backyard/rooftop garden.   And once inspiration takes hold, stop by Brooklyn Public Library's new Seed Library, located in...

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Reading for March: Women in the World Claiming Power

Posted in Off the Shelf by Jane Palmer on Mar 22, 2019

Throughout history women have found ways to achieve power even when that power was not granted directly, often finding notoriety, fame, or historic precedence by navigating and negotiating from the limited options available. Women also claimed power through individual resistance, thereby redefining power in roles traditionally and narrowly viewed as the collective actions of men. Including the voices and perspectives of women writers has unquestionably expanded definition of power and Brooklyn Public Library has a wealth of books which explore the dynamics of this experience among women....

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Meet "For Brooklyn"

Posted in Off the Shelf by Brooklyn Public Library on Mar 15, 2019

We are thrilled to share Brooklyn Public Library’s new campaign “For Brooklyn” with you. We just launched the campaign in March, with lots more planned to celebrate and support the library. The “For Brooklyn” campaign seeks to reintroduce the Library to all of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. Brooklyn Public Library’s branches can morph and change in magical ways, depending on the people who visit. There are millions of books and eBooks, and free wifi and computer access in all 59 branches. The Library has offered storytime for over a hundred years, and now has storytime in nine...

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Don't Sleep on These Perfect Books for World Sleep Day

Posted in Off the Shelf by Erik Bobilin on Mar 15, 2019

As someone concerned about his fraught relationship with sleep, I know a considerable bit about the optimal conditions it seems to require--considerably more it seems than I am able to actually implement. In practice I favor a ‘whatever it takes’ approach in which 30 Rock has autoplayed me to sleep more times than I care to count, more effectively than the sheep I care not to count and in full knowledge that it is precisely that type of bad sleep hygiene that Arianna Huffington, et al suggest is keeping me from a sustainably healthy relationship with sleep. No blue light--create for yourself...

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Why Adults Should Read YA and Where to Start

Posted in Off the Shelf by Jane Ekhtman, Librarian of Tomorrow Intern on Mar 11, 2019

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Rumor has it, John Green’s 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars reached the bestseller list not by trending within its teen readership, but by its secretly popularity with adults. It’s worth pointing out that it’s usually teens who are embarrassed by adults adopting their media interests. So, why is it when it comes to books it seems it’s often adults who feel ashamed to be caught reading a book published specifically for teens? Why should the nationwide obsession with youth culture not extend to its literature? Or more pointedly, why should anyone be...

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February 23 kicked off a new event series at Central Library, Cool Work x Interesting People (CWxIP). Co-curated by award-winning cartoonist and head publisher at Diskette Press, Carta Monir, and myself, CWxIP features six indie cartoonists leading unique monthly workshops, culminating on June 15, 2019. The series title derives from the Carta-helmed podcast, We Should Be Friends, self-described as a “podcast about cool work by interesting people.” It is in the same spirit that Carta and I organized a lineup of creators who are actively critiquing their own community, as well as forming...

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Super Short, Never Sweet

Posted in Off the Shelf by Lauren R on Mar 1, 2019

As a library worker, I can't think of a better way to celebrate Women's History Month than checking out books written by and about women. One month is of course not long enough to cover an entire history, and you might think it's not long enough to read entire novels, but that's where you're wrong—each of these six books is super short (under 200 pages!) and deliciously unputdownable.  Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton The insanely interesting story of one of the first published women writers, a duchess named Margaret Cavendish. Dutton’s writing is lovely—the food...

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Truth over fiction: Oscar picks for Best Documentary

Posted in Off the Shelf by Angie Miraflor on Feb 22, 2019

Okay, I admit, I’m a total documentary nerd. But I have great reason to be one. What is more interesting than real life? Real people facing challenges, forming relationships, defying death, and sharing stories that don’t need magic, fiction, or fantasy. In the spirit of this Sunday’s Oscar Awards, here are some of the nominees for long and short form documentaries I found compelling. Imagine climbing a 3000 foot solid granite wall without any ropes? This is exactly what Alex Honnold did in 2017, being the first person to free solo climb El Capitan. And he did it in less than 4 hours....

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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. (Photo Credit: Gregg Richards) 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...

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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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