Some of the most memorable life stories do not involve the powerful or famous, rather they uncover the lives of regular people in extraordinary circumstances. They can inspire us, humble us, make us laugh or make us cry. Here is a selection of memoirs that will stay with you long after you finish them.
South African author Nadine Gordimer, honored many times for her work including receiving a Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature, has passed away. Here is a selection of her titles from our circulating collections.
Walter Dean Myers, a celebrated author known for writing books about young African Americans, such as “Monster,” “Fallen Angels” and “Hoops,” has died at 76. He was a longtime friend of NYPL.
Myers’ work includes six Newbery Honor Books and three National Book Award finalists. He won the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature and the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.
This blockbook Apocalypsis is a favorite item for some NYPL employees working with our incredible special collections. Found in our Rare Books Collection, this blockbook is the only one in the world that still has its original cover as far as we know. It’s an illustrated biblical text for less literate believers and was produced in 1465, ten years after the Gutenberg Bible, using a printing method that required the images and text on every page to be carved separately. Clearly, that technology couldn’t compete with movable type, so blockbooks’ heyday was short-lived. There aren’t many of these kinds of books around 550 years later, but we love that the sloppily painted folkloric pictures are in complete opposition to the sleek Gothic type of the Gutenberg. Plus, dragons and the fiery maw of hell!
An early advertising poster for The Barrier, an Alaskan adventure story written by one Rex Beach and published by “Harper & Brothers, Publishers.” The New York Times called it “a stirring yarn" but complained about its formulaic plot.
From the opening chapter:
Many men were in debt to the trader at Flambeau, and many counted him as a friend. The latter never reasoned why, except that he had done them favors, and in the North that counts for much.
The Library’s new app for iPad, Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle, asks users to engage in the central themes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in new ways. One feature allows readers to respond to questions that relate to the source material, engaging in a dialogue about everything from what books inspired them as children to ethics in science.
Here’s how Lance Bohy, an IT Architect from Seattle answered a question about technology:
Q: People today are perhaps more likely to read the novel Frankenstein as an e-book, which is somewhat ironic given that a major theme of the novel is technology run amok. As the monster comes to life, Victor Frankenstein says: “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. … But now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” Can we see e-books, now in their infancy, leading to the fulfillment of a dream — or starting down a path that leads to ultimate horror, the dream turned nightmare?
A: A dream turned nightmare? Nonsense. This work that I now hold in my hands bears evidence to just how good we have it. With this device half as thick as my finger I have book, history lesson, master class, art gallery and more all within just this one app alone. This is the stuff of dreams! This is not simply Gutenberg-redux, this is more. Much more. NYPL’s Biblion is a shining example of what is possible and coolest part: we’ve just begun! I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
Now it’s your turn: fire up your iPad, download Frankenstein, and tell us what you think.
This 1927 book jacket from the Library’s General Research Division shows cute cats crossing the road and marching in their own personal parade through the streets of New York City - much like today’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (which you can watch live here). Happy St. Patrick’s Day and happy Caturday!! We’ll be posting some of our historic St. Patrick’s Day cards today, so stay tuned!
You never know what you are going to find in the collections of The New York Public Library. The New York Times wrote a fascinating piece on Valerie Solanas - the feminist loner best remembered for shooting Andy Warhol - who actually came to The NYPL in the 1970s and marked up her own book the S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) MANIFESTO with edits and annotations. The book is now preserved in our Manuscripts and Archives Division at The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 40th Street and 5th Avenue. Solanas story was depicted in the 1996 film I SHOT ANDY WARHOL starring Lili Taylor as Solanas.
Today is also the 25th Anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death. This is not the only Warhol related material we have at The New York Public Library as The Times reported a few weeks ago about a Christmas Card that Mr. Warhol drew and gave to our fascinating Art and Picture collection. RIP Andy.
This book by Judith Kerr is indeed vintage - we only have one copy, and it’s at the Non-Circulating Reading Room in the Schwarzman Building. That said, we are swinging by first thing Monday to have a read - how cute is Mog?!
PS - For library nerds - “Mog the Forgetful Cat” is filed under the subject heading “Cats — Fiction" - Caturday’s favorite subject heading! Happy Caturday!
Children’s book from 1970 featured on Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves. Excerpt:
Once there was a cat called Mog and she lived with a family called Thomas. Mog was nice but not very clever. She didn’t understand a lot of things. A lot of other things she forgot. She was a very forgetful cat.