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Posts from the General Research Division

2013: The Year of the Snake

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. In the Chinese zodiac, the snake is equivalent to the Taurus in Western tradition. February 10th, 2013 to January 30th, 2014 will mark the Year of the Snake.

In the Chinese zodiac calendar, the snake is the sixth animal and symbolizes grace and calmness — it is introspective, cunning, and modest, but also mysterious, deceptive, and possessive. Those born in 2013, 2001, 1989 

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English Nature Writers: Charles Waterton

Charles Waterton by Charles Willson Peale oil on canvas, 1824 ©National Portrait Gallery, London. Creative Commons BY-NC-NDMost recently discovered, just last week, is Charles Waterton (1782–1865). I've not read enough to evaluate him as a writer (of which all authors tremble in dread), but he certainly led an interesting life. Of a very ancient Catholic family including St. Thomas More and Margaret of Scotland among his ancestors, he became interested in nature in 1804 

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English Nature Writers: Richard Jefferies

"Why, we must have been blind all our lives; here were the most wonderful things possible going on under our very noses, but we saw them not." —Walther Besant.

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), though a novelist, is more known as a nature writer. His childhood was spent on a farm in Wiltshire (now a museum), during which he began his observation and awareness of nature and people within it. At the age of 9, he was already an adept at tracking and hunting, and perhaps not surprisingly, left school at the 

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English Nature Writers: Gilbert White

I'm a literary Anglophile. There — I've confessed and we can move on. One of their really cool genres is nature writing. They do it in such a quiet and smooth style, as if they've lived in field and woods all their lives. (Dah!)

Perhaps the most famous, or at least the most referred to, is

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Clinging to Books: Reading List 2012

During my vacation from the library, between Christmas and New Year's Day, I learned a remarkable lesson. You can get along very well without NEWS. For a full week, I entered a blissfully news-free vacuum. No NPR; no relentless checking of Google News; no Sunday New York Times beyond Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. I didn't care if it was the twenty-first century or the fifteenth. Without that drumbeat of doom in my head all the time, I could focus on what was really important: family, friends, dining, museums, and music.

Since winter is my favorite time 

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Just Who Was DeWitt Wallace, Anyway?

DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Reading Room

In the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, there is a reading room with high wooden carved ceiling called the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Reading Room. You may have seen the historical room decorated with large murals reflecting major publishers of periodicals, newspapers and books at the turn of the century by

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Haiku Redux

Fang and I were very, very lucky during the hurricane. We were out of power for only 24 hours, during which I wrote the three haiku below: "On the Advantages of the Absence of Electricity."

Haiku is one of the more accessible poetic forms (have you ever tried writing a sestina?), at least for the likes of me. There are, of course, books galore of and about them, but a short and sweet

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Arnold Schoenberg and Haiku

I play the piano a little bit and am working on AS's Six Little Pieces, op. 19. Little they are — all six take less than five minutes to play. Easy they are not — the slightest error in nuance ruins them. Written in 1911, they are among his 'atonal' works, a vague term but basically describing those works in which the usual major/minor tonalities were avoided. I don't quite know why so many people have an aversion to this music, and its successor, serial 

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Books I Read in 2012

It's amusing to keep track of the critters, and helps me read more non-fiction, novel-hound that I am. The Library has most of these books, but I've only linked a few, as not to clutter and overburden the post. At the end of the list I award prizes, or "the Barkies," for various categories. But just two things first: Re-reads (always a good idea) are in bold, and if you have a taste for rhetorical but highly passionate drama, do read some Thomas Otway (1652-85).

I'm lucky enough 

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Thinking about Grad School? NYPL Can Help!

As the year is coming to an end, many of us are already planning for new and exciting changes in the upcoming year. Some people may consider different vacation spots, career changes or even returning to school. If you are part of the group interested in going to graduate school, we can help!

So first you should ask yourself why you are going back to school and whether it is something worth your investment in time and money. Additionally, you may want to ask yourself:

Can I afford to go to graduate school on a full-time basis? Should I go to graduate ... Read More ›

Chinese American Food: Stories of Odds and Ends

Did you know that some of your favorite dishes from a Chinese take out restaurant have interesting stories behind them? The origin of their names, the ingredients used and how they were conceived and transformed in America all make fascinating tales in food history.

Since the 19th century, Chinese immigrants opened restaurants throughout the American frontier. These dishes preserved and reflected the different Chinese cultural and regional identities. Initially they were not accepted or liked by Americans because they were perceived as foreign. However, many dishes 

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George Romney Republican: The Rise and Fall of Mitt's Political Mentor

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, or does it? If you come to the South Court Auditorium of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street this Thursday at 1:15 p.m. (whew!) you might find a clue. The first lecture of the year by the writers of the Wertheim Study and Allen Room will be given by John R. Bohrer, a cool guy and journalist often writing 

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The Summer Olympics: History and Resources

The 2012 Summer Olympics, officially called The Games of the XXX Olympiad kicks off on July 27th in London, United Kingdom!

For about two weeks, the world will be watching their top athletes compete for medals of honor in a multi-sport event.  These sports range from

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Summer Reading When It's Too Darn Hot To Do Anything Else

According to the Kinsey Report Ev'ry average man you know Read More ›

The Passionate Brontës

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. (The Catcher in the Rye)

Over the last few months, I have read all seven novels, many of the poems, and selected bits of juvenilia by the three Brontë sisters — as well as several biographies, odds and ends of literary criticism, and a

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: History and Resources

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. This month celebrates the contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In 1978, Congress passed a joint congressional resolution to observe and honor Asian American Heritage week during the first week of May. Historically, Asians have played an important role in American history. The week celebrates two anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7th, 

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Words or Music, Part 4: Macbeth and Manon

I have spent a lifetime reading books and perhaps half a lifetime going to the opera. Each is a very real pleasure — neither can be done without — yet both offer different kinds of satisfaction. Words? Music? Which is more important? Fortunately, I am not in the position of having to choose. Books can sometimes lead to opera; opera can sometimes find its way back into books. Since the library specializes in both these worlds of artistic expression, it might be intriguing to look briefly at some of the places they intersect.

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and The Merchant of Venice, Updated

E M DelafieldSt. John Ervine was an English theatre critic in 1920s, '30s, writing often for Time and Tide, that remarkably sensible middle-class magazine which first featured the dry and sly E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady (reserve this book right away!). But I digress.

He also wrote a play, The Lady of Belmont, which takes the Merchant of Venice 10 years later.  Below is a sample of the dialogue, which is dated, though perhaps it 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and that of 2011

The late, and very great, Bernice W. KlimanThinking a great deal just now about the Great One, I thought of last years venture, April 11-15 2011.  It was a great deal of fun, and inspiration, and I felt great admiration for the Allen Room and Wertheim Study scholars who presented such fine work.  The week was audio-taped 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Romeo and Juliet

Since in less than a week you will have heard a terrific lecture incorporating and marmorializing [sic] Romeo and Juliet, I thought to prime the pump with a reprint of an earlier post: The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper.  It is still one of my favorite, for joyous, books.


Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia 

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