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Open Book Night at the Outdoor Reading Room: A Reading List

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We had a beautiful Friday evening in the open air as we hosted Open Book Night at NYPL’s Outdoor Reading Room on the terrace of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. While lounging around in the canary yellow deck chairs, we set up a microphone to battle the Fifth Avenue bus noise and had a lovely chat under the trees. The hospitality of the Schwarzman staff and the terrace visitors was as welcoming as the fine weather. Cheers to the wonderful participants who took the time to tell us about the following books that they enjoyed. There was a nice balance between fiction and nonfiction ranging from mystery to memoirs.

Melissa read a paragraph from A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, a memoir she recommended for its humor. Bryson writes about the experience of walking the Appalachian Trail with a friend. “My first inkling of just how daunting an undertaking it was to be came when I went to our local outfitters, the Dartmouth Co-Op, to purchase equipment. My son had just gotten an after-school job there, so I was under strict instructions of good behavior. Specifically, I was not to say anything stupid, try on anything that would require me to expose my stomach, say “Are you shitting me?” when informed of the price of a product, be conspicuously inattentive when a sales assistant was explaining the correct maintenance or aftercare of a product, and above all don anything inappropriate, like a woman’s ski hat, in an attempt to amuse.”

Another recommended memoir was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. This graphic memoir talks about the author’s heartbreaking and humorous relationship with her father. The broadway musical based on the book just won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Moved by A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen, a reader memorized and recited the first paragraphs of the book. “There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists.”

We also learned about the The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, inspiring the reader to think about discarding the buildup of electronic files she’s been saving, clearing up the digital space in her life as well as the physical space.

Tom McCarthy’s latest novel Satin Island was recommended as a literary novel that asks you to think about what you are reading while making connections in unexpected places. The anthropologist narrator is trying to write a great report on what it is to live in our times. He dreams about Satin Island, a pun on Staten Island, as place where the sludge of contemporary life comes together.

The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver intrigued Linda after seeing the movie based on the book a couple of years ago. She described the title as Sherlock Holmes meets CSI.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was recommended to Joanne by another library reader with a description that made it sound so wonderful she began reading it immediately. The narrator of this novel must find a way to escape from an evil force unleashed during his childhood relying on three sisters who live on a farm at the end of the lane and have very long memories.

If you didn’t make it on Friday, please share your favorite authors and titles with us in the comments below. And, if you share your books on social media, remember to tag your posts with the #ireadeverywhere hashtag this summer.

Our next Open Book Night on July 10th will once again meet at NYPL’s Outdoor Reading Room on the terrace in front of the Schwarzman Building to share and discuss books we love!  

If you'd like to share book recommendations with other readers, join us at any or all of our upcoming Open Book Nights at the Mid-Manhattan Library, or in the Outdoor Reading Room this summer. The complete 2015 schedule is listed below. We meet on the second Friday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Corner Room on the First Floor, except for our special outdoor Open Books nights on June 26 and July 10, which will meet on the steps of the Schwarzman Building. We'd love to see you there!

  • February 13, 2015 - Love                                         See the Patron Picks List from Open Book Night, February 2015

  • April 10, 2015 - New Beginnings                         See the Patron Picks List from Open Book Night, April 2015

  • May 8, 2015 - Nature                                                  See the Patron Picks List from Open Book Night, May 2015

  • June 12, 2015 - Sports                                                See the Patron Picks List  from Open Book Night, June  2015

  • June 26, 2015 - Open theme                           Meet in the Outdoor Reading Room

  • July  10, 2015 - Open theme                            Meet in the Outdoor Reading Room                

  • August 14, 2015 - Travel       

  • September 11, 2015 - New York

  • October 9, 2015 - The Occult

  • November 13, 2015  - Thanksgiving

  • December 11, 2015 - Food and Cooking

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