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What’s Making Us Happy, Part 1

The fine folks at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour—a podcast that makes us smile on a regular basis—end each show by asking its guests and hosts to go around the table and name something that’s making them happy this week.

We love it so much that we thought we’d take a break from Very Serious Book Recommendations and do the same.

We asked our library staff members to tell us what’s turning their pages this week, and we got so many responses that we have to break them up into two separate posts.

Here’s the first installment, covering podcasts, music, and—of course—books.


Criminal podcastI am creepily excited/happy each time a new episode of the Criminal podcast comes out. This is one of the very few podcasts that makes me sometimes wish my commute was a little longer. It is SO GOOD and you just never know what you are going to get when you listen! —Sarah Lugo, Administration

stuffI love the Stuff You Should Know podcast. The title describes the content: Hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark find a topic that interests them, do as much research as a 30-40 minute podcast can contain, and tell you all you should know to have a solid understanding of the subject. Some of my favorite topics have been: Winchester Mystery House, placebo effect, the NSA, and airplane black boxes (see? they talk about anything). —Angie Miraflor, West Bronx Network

judgeSince the wonderfully backstabby UnREAL ended last month, I’ve been entertaining myself with the Judge John Hodgman podcast on Maximum Fun. John Hodgman is a gem and a national treasure worthy of Nicolas Cage’s covetous gaze. With Jesse Thorn as bailiff, Hodgman deliberates and adjudicates on such matters as how to take care of a bat problemwhether an “artisanal axe” should be displayed in a home, and other serious matters that never made Judge Judy’s docket. Good-natured and humorous, Hodgman never fails to find the “crux” of the issue and deliver surprisingly fair and sensible rulings. —Crystal Chen, Hamilton Grange

patcastPatCast has been making me super happy lately!  The lead singer of my favorite band, Pat Monahan of Train, interviews other musicians to hear their story and about relationships between band mates, best experiences on the road and he gets them to play acoustically for him on each episode.  And that voice... swoon! —Jessica DiVisconte, Administration

obmEvery Thursday, when the newest episode of One Bad Mother appears on my phone, I get this little frission of happiness. Biz and Theresa turn parenting into a funny shared experience full of genius and fail moments, and I'm so grateful to them every single week for reminding me that we're all doing a good job. —Gwen Glazer, Readers Services




hamiltonThe Hamilton cast recording is currently rocking my world. Hip hop, the founding fathers, the Revolutionary War... it is hitting several sweet spots for me. Contentious Cabinet meetings should be conducted as rap battles. Judd Karlman, Castle Hill




i love you

I’m utterly obsessed with Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear—it’s dramatic and smart and cynical (and catchy, of course!). I’m also totally hooked on Tame Impala’s latest ’80s-inspired album, Currents. I have to give a shout-out here as well to the Rockin’ Reads blog series for helping me find some really cool lo-fi indie bands that I would have missed otherwise! —Nancy Aravecz, Mid-Manhattan



Channel your inner gypsy and join Anoushka Shankar on her soulful “raga flamenco journey.” Fusing traditional Spanish and Indian music, rhythms and song, the master sitarist’s CD Traveller is a veritable feast for the ears. —Miriam Tuliao, Selection Team






I just finished this book and it had me laughing out loud on the train, it was so good. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain is arguably the first novel written involving time travel, but it’s the furthest thing from two-hearted aliens you could imagine. Its title says it all: A man from late 19th-century Connecticut is dropped into King Arthur’s court. Get ready for knights who advertise soap and a very grumpy Merlin. —Allie Affinito, Chatham Square





Wolf Hall

I’ve been coming to terms (rather badly) with the upcoming last season of Downton Abbey. To assuage the terrible absence of British period drama on TV that I will soon suffer through, I’ve been filling my life with British period drama, print version. Wolf Hall has served this purpose beautifully (and, thankfully, has taken a long time to get through, so it’s occupied my mind nicely). It’s made me so happy, I will definitely be following it up with Bring up the Bodies and then can be really happy when I’ve finished both novels and can watch the TV version of Wolf Hall! So many good times to come! Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange





I just got the To Kill a Mockingbird audiobook on my phone. Sissy Spacek is killing it and it's making me really happy. I never actually had to read it in school, so this is my first time. It made me so happy I put it up on the Mid-Manhattan Instagram. —Arieh Ress, Mid-Manhattan






Children’s Books


I always return to E.B.White’s Charlotte’s Web for these glorious words near the end:

It was the best place to be, thought Wilber, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything.

The glory of everything—even rats and manure. I am smiling as I type this now. —Danita Nichols, Inwood



nyrbI get super happy when I see the New York Review Children’s Collection books come in. They are well-selected, beautiful to behold, and bring back many warm memories of reading these titles when I was a kid. —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street




Kate Beaton is known for her hilarious illustrations and her latest picture book, The Princess and the Pony, definitely continues that vibe. Princess Pinecone doesn’t just want a pony for her birthday, she wants a war horse! The chubby, lazy pony she ends up with isn’t everything she imagined, but Pinecone is intrepid and loving, and she bravely charges into battle nonetheless. This book had me laughing out loud for much longer than appropriate. Shout-out to power recommender Anna Taylor who originally told me to read it! Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Young Adult Programming

Comics & Graphic Novels


The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by Shōtarō Ishinomori. Familiar and new all at once, it was a favorite the moment I turned the first page. Same heroes, same villains, and same tale of rescuing the princess, but with captivating new visuals and character insights. This book is a gift to all fans of the Nintendo classic, and it is nothing but pure nostalgia and happy smiles (aside from the whole attempt at world dominion by an evil overlord thing). Daniel Norton, Mid-Manhattan




I’ve just got to go with Brian Vaughan’s Saga. Hands down the best comic book out there today. In a world where it’s easy to get yourself down about certain things, trust me, you don’t have it nearly as bad as Marko and Alana, who star in this space opera about two aliens who fall in love despite their respective races being at war with one another. Volumes 1-4 are already in circ (with Volume 5 on the way!). —Joseph Pascullo, Grand Central






Nothing does more to cheer me up than the work of Jaime Hernandez, especially Locas, the stories about Maggie and Hopey. This tender yet complicated friendship between two women reminds me of my own simpler times of punk, rash amorous infatuation, and youthful exploit. This series shows the trials and tribulations of a cast of characters who, through thick and thin, persevere and maintain their edge. —Andrew Fairweather, Seward Park





Call it NYC Syndrome, but the past few weeks have felt completely chaotic. On a whim (and desperate to relax), I picked up The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power. I generally don’t gravitate towards graphic novels, but a superhero whose costume has a fluffy tail, a squirrel sidekick named Tippy Toe, and lines that keep me laughing out loud even when I am the most stressed? Sign me up. Lyndsie Guy, Chatham Square





Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend.

And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for 100 new recommendations every month!


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