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Posts by Jenny Baum

In Defense of the Romance Novel

These days, readers no longer need to parade their Fabio-graced romance novels in front of all the other passengers on their train or bus. Instead, they can read them discreetly on their e-readers, but why the concern? I once saw a woman on a bus in Chicago, years ago, with a cannily embroidered book jacket cover that 

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Ghosts in the Library: Reading After Life

Researching ghosts at the library is nothing new. Finding media tie-in books about ghostly television shows is a more recent pursuit. Both can be accomplished at NYPL. On occasion, ghostbusters have even been known to roam the stacks of NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

In Mary Roach’s book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, she discusses several séance experiments in the early 1900s 

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November Reader's Den: "Kitchen Confidential" Discussion Wrap-Up

Welcome to the wrap-up of our discussion of Kitchen Confidential. We hope that we have inspired you to be adventurous in the kitchen this Thanksgiving holiday [if you happen to be reading this blog from a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving now, then we hope that it has inspired you to be adventurous in the kitchen in general], or at least inspired you to find some tasty reading.

Since Kitchen Confidential is a memoir, many of the scenes in it help us to understand why Anthony Bourdain is so 

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November Reader’s Den: About the Author of "Kitchen Confidential"

Welcome back to this month’s Reader’s Den, co-led by Jenny Baum and Ursula Murphy, about Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

Anthony Bourdain is a polarizing figure and, as such, elicits strong responses, as strong as a few politicians I can think of. Cable channels like the Food channel, the newer Cooking channel and the Travel 

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Halloween Reads II: The Re-Ordering

Last year I blogged about Halloween movies that were inspired by books. This year, as I ponder what costume I would like to wear, in a season that promises to be rife with Lady Gagas and “The Situation”s, I thought I’d mention a few books that could be (very loosely) interpreted to inspire your own costume selections.

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Atomic Age

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”  —Jonas Salk

"If you can do something but decide not to, it’s the same thing as saying you can't" —attributed to Richard Feynman

Jonas Salk, born in New York, created a polio 

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Reader’s Den: "Amberville" Wrap Up

Thank you for participating in this month’s Reader’s Den! If you enjoyed Amberville, try:

Christopher Moore A Dirty Job Jasper Fforde (“Nursery Crimes” series) The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear Robert Rankin The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and The Toyminator ... Read More ›

"Amberville": Discussion Questions

Tim Davys writes:

Amberville might have a bit of Chelsea in London, Lanceheim maybe slightly Berlin. If I say Tourquai has a touch of New York and Yok a bit of Rome, I’m not lying. But I’m not telling the whole truth either. The landscape you have in mind most certainly forms the plot. But I’m not sure if that’s important for the reading experience; it’s more of an author’s tool. Every reader then forms their own opinions.”

Compare and contrast the use of setting 

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"Amberville": About the Author (Reader's Den)

“I loved Emma Rabbit. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your beloved.

Love had come stealthily. Love had waited, lain in wait and attacked when I least expected it.

I’d been defenseless.

The first days I didn’t dare say anything. We attended to our roles as usual. She asked how the night had been, I answered that it had been good. She asked if I wanted to have the window open or closed. I answered closed.

But I answered with a joy that I couldn’t rein in. Love made me strong and exhilarated. It didn’t take 

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Reader's Den: Amberville by Tim Davys

Welcome to the June 2010 edition of the Reader's Den!

A while ago, babble.com created a list of the 26 Most Disturbing Kids Movies of all time. Watership Down made the list, and if you’ve never read the book by Richard Adams, get yourself a copy, it’s a great book. At any rate, it 

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Foodstuffs and Fiction

It always bugs me when characters in novels don’t consume any food or drink. Not that the whole novel has to be about that, mind you, but the occasional mention can do so much to create setting.

I recently read that Honoré de Balzac died at age 51 from caffeine overconsumption. I assumed that this must be overstating the case because I 

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Reading Haiti

“When you write, you give your version of reality.” —Maryse Condé

Many, many people have been motivated by the catastrophe in Haiti to donate, including one librarian who donated $10,000 of his personal savings and whose fundraising efforts were picked up by several blogs. Librarians can contribute in a different way, as well, by highlighting the wealth of literature that Haiti and the 

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Victoria’s Sensations

Wilkie Collins’s Armadale is one of the Sensation Novels of the Victorian era, full of the kind of 19th-century drama that, especially at the time, had readers on the edges of their seats. Some of the shocking plot developments that made this novel so much of the time were: the character of Lydia Gwilt, a red-headed villainess addicted to laudanum who poisons her husband (and has an unbecoming surname, besides), the “ripped from the headlines” approach that Collins uses to reference newspaper scandals, and the shiny new technologies of the penny post and the 

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The Reader's Den: "The Post-Birthday World" Discussion Wrap Up

If you enjoyed reading The Post-Birthday World, you may also like:

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

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The Reader's Den: "The Post-Birthday World" Discussion Questions

I hope everyone has been enjoying The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. Here are some discussion questions to contemplate while running holiday errands!

Shriver uses gray and white in each chapter heading to represent and distinguish between the dual lives of Irina. That is, chapter one has a gray background and 

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Reader's Den: "The Post-Birthday World" Week Two

Welcome to week two of this month’s Reader’s Den! In The Post-Birthday World, the Irinas in both parallel stories are children's book illustrators. In discussing the theme of her latest children's book, Irina lays out the premise of the novel.

"The idea is you don't have only one destiny. Younger and younger, kids are pressed to decide what they want to do with their lives, as if everything ... Read More ›

Reader's Den: "The Post-Birthday World"

Welcome back to the Reader's Den! This month's online book discussion will be The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin (winner of the 2005 Orange Prize for fiction, awarded 

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Halloween Reads

Halloween is fast approaching, as is the opening of the new film, The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden in early November. Of course, many great books have been made into movies, and sure, there's the Twilight series and Cirque du Freak, both book 

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A Year Without

In his recent movie review of the documentary film No Impact Man, available in book form from NYPL here and in blog form here, A.O. Scott writes, "The year of doing something crazy to learn a lesson or prove a point is by now less a gimmick than a full-fledged publishing genre. Activities that would, in the 

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Weird Science

Here’s a small sampling of nonfiction science books that are sufficiently strange that even readers who usually shy away from such titles may enjoy, and that readers who usually enjoy such titles may have missed. While none of them will bring back Pluto’s official status as a planet, they all have something interesting to say about medicine, science or technology.

Wendy Moore’s

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