Our Collection

What We Are Reading Now

In our April e-newsletter, we asked our members "What are you reading from home?" We received a lot of responses, both signed and anonymous, and a large selection is included here. We put the same question to Library staff and our Instagram followers and their responses are below. As expected, there is a compelling variety of intriguing books and something for every reading list.

Note that many of the selections included here are available as e-books in the Library's Cloud Library collection. The Cloud Library never closes, so if you have not already done so, sign up to gain access to a fine collection of classics, new titles, mysteries, biographies, audiobooks, children's and young adult books, and much more.   

Click on the linked titles below to see the book in our online catalog. To place a hold on any book that is checked out, or "In Transit," log in to our website, and click the Request button over the search bar. However, if the book is on the shelf, staff will need to place the hold for you. Send an email to requests@nysoclib.org to have it placed on your holds list. You can look forward to a lot of good reading when the Library re-opens. 


The Laws of Change: I Ching and the Philosophy of Life, by Jack M. Balkan -Albert DiBernardo 

Just finished Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (ebook). Highly recommended, a great read about wonderful women characters, their lives and connections, in Great Britain. Now reading American Dirt (ebook) by Jeanine Cummins. -Andrea Clark

This is the perfect "long interval" to read a very long American classic that I meant to read—for 50 years!: The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S.Grant. Justly famous for the General and President's style, and his astonishing first-hand record of the Civil War, his great work is less known for the author's fervent anti-war philosophy, his sly humor, and his barely-concealed distrust of politicians of all stripes. I'm working on a short biography of Rosa Luxemeburg, herself an uncompomising Pacifist, and I'm ever inspired by Grant. -Benita Eisler

Toni Morrison's Sula -Bourge Hathaway

Thackeray's Vanity Fair; To the North, by Elizabeth Bowen [we have four other Bowen titles available as ebooks]; RL's Dream, by Walter Mosley; and from my own shelves, Samuel Johnson, by W. Jackson Bate.  -Chris Porterfield

Abigail by Magda Szabo (ebook). I found this browsing through NYSL's Cloud Library ebook collection. I had never heard of it before. It's a classic of Hungarian fiction. Published in 1970, set during WWII, it's a dramatic story of a young girl's coming of age in a remote boarding school. -Constance Vidor

Caroline Graham's Inspector Barnaby series, Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series (I'm also watching Taggart for some time travel) -Constance Young

Tepper Isn't Going Out, by Calvin Trillin. -Daniel Deutsch 

Those piles of The New Yorker that I never had time for until now. So much brilliance. -Deborah Prager [note that an electronic version of The New Yorker is available to members via the RB-Digital platform. Same content, no piles.]

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling (ebook; audiobook) -Emily Cohn

I just read Anonymous Soldiers: the Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947 by Bruce Hoffman, a long and interesting book about the terrorist groups that helped push the British out of Palestine before and after WW2. I didn't know much about the birth of Israel so it was all new to me. -Grace Lichtenstein

David Cannadine's The Pleasures of the Past  -James Fishman

Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein (ebook) -Jennifer Lauren

Rereading MM Kaye's The Far Pavilions, an immersive historical novel set in India. I believe she published it when she was close to 70...inspiring for me, a 75-year-old writer hoping for more years. -Katherine Weissman

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (ebook; audiobook). Hoping that the NYSL book group starts up again when this is over. -Lauren Burke

Boccaccio's Decameron (ebook) -Lisa Smid (+ 1 anonymous member) 

Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light (ebook; audiobook): I was first on the hold list & picked it up from my PL here in Santa Fe before it closed. Whew! Good thing that nothing is really due now; I might actually finish it before everything reopens. Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile (ebook), via audiobook and in print. With so many footnotes and annotations to study, having a paper copy in hand is critical, but the audiobook is my walking companion. And finally, there is no excuse now for not finishing Robert Caro's The Power Broker, re: Robert Moses, which I've been picking at for years. -Marie F. Harper

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (ebook). His first novel and perhaps a bit long; still compelling fictional story of slavery. And Say Nothing: a True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (ebook). Well written, fascinating non-fiction detailing Northern Ireland's Troubles and its roots in two distinct cultures. -MC Bolster

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (R. Pevear and L. Volokhonsky translation); John McPhee's Draft No. 4 (ebook); and re-reading several W.S. Merwin collections. I just finished a wonderful historical novel: Roxana Robinson, Dawson's Fall. I recommend it highly. -Patricia Rosenfield

Re-reading Bring Up the Bodies (ebook) by Hilary Mantel to refresh my memory before I dive into the concluding volume of the Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and the Light (ebookaudiobook). -R. Fine

The Idiot by Dostoyevsky -Ralda Lee

I am being fascinated by Winston and Clementine: the Personal Letters of the Churchills (edited by Mary Soames). -Sheila Walpin 

Joyce's Ulysses, for a course at the 92nd St. Y, which ended up to be on Zoom. Jill Lepore's These Truths, borrowed from NYSL (ebook). -Susan Gaffney

Laurence Sterne, Sentimental Journey -Susanna Stevens Cuyler

The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood. Complex history made compelling by rapid pace and concise but colourful prose. -Timothy Eckersley

Like so many others, Camus' The Plague (ebook). -Tom Orr 

The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard (ebook). Aftermath of destruction, including issues of illness, recovery and love. Beautifully, even peacefully, written.

The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (ebook)           

Giuseppe Tomassi di Lampedusa's The Leopard (ebookaudiobook); also, Jane Gardam, The Queen of the Tambourine; Adam Smyth, 13 March 1911; Thomas Hardy, William and Dorothy Wordsworth; Charles Darwin. Who has a one-word answer for quarantine reading?                 

Beatriz Williams, CS Lewis (who wouldn't rather be quarantined in Narnia, of course!), Rion Amilcar Scott

Elizabeth David: South Wind Through the Kitchen. It's a south wind for mind and spirit!    

War and Peace with #TolstoyTogether via @apublicspace. Kinda fun and enlightening to finally start getting through a book I never finished.

Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger                  

Every year I re-read Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series - perfect for right now!  Like Marialuisa Monda, I read The Lord of the Rings at least once a year. It is next on my re-reading list!

Trying to read Natalia Ginzburg but consumed by news [Note: We have two Ginzburg ebooks.]                 

Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers (ebooks); Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks novels (ebooks) & Make Way for Lucia, by E.F. Benson                 

The Splendid and the Vile by Eric Larson (ebook). London during the bombing raids in 1940 Churchill's great leadership How the British people coped with danger and fear Sounds familiar ?       

Susan Rice's Tough Love

The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford 

Love in the time of Cholera (ebook) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A beautiful story and timely. 

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, by Imani Perry  I was four years old when Hansberry died at the age of 34. I've known little about her beyond watching the movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun." I had no idea she was a political activist who was close friends with James Baldwin and Nina Simone. The book evokes a time of anger and resistance in the black community during the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly in NYC. Hansberry was an amazing force, someone I would have loved to have known had it been possible.    

Rereading Birds of America by Mary McCarthy and a funny novel called The Frozen Rabbi by Steven Stern.  And making my way through a pile of New Yorkers.                 

For comfort reading, nothing beats the original, REAL Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers.          

Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition and Donna Leon.

Jon Cleary, Arthur Upfield and Eleanor Taylor Bland mysteries from the stacks (several books of each); Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers not at NYSL but it should be (we agree and we just ordered it -NYSL staff)  ; Bloodlands: Europe Between Stalin and Hitler by Timothy Snyder; A Grain of Truth by Zygmunt Milszewski and after 15 years on my bookshelf and two years of reading I'm almost finished with Gotham: A History of NYC.        


New York City without people on the streets feels somber and somnolent. As a remedy, I have been dipping into The Collected Poems of Frank O’HaraThe New York City of his poems is filled with parties, gossip, friends, and flirting. It’s a wonderful reminder that there are better days to come. -Patrick Rayner, Acquisitions Assistant/Circulation Assistant

I've been re-reading Little House on the Prairiethe book that cemented my love for historical fiction as a second grader—while #stayinghome. As a child I hadn't interpreted the story's portrayal of Native Americans as racist. Now it's impossible to ignore. Still, the parts of the story that hooked me then—detailed descriptions of the Ingalls family's daily life and adventures as settlers—continue to engage me now. When I finish, I'm going to move on to The Birchbark House, the story of an Ojibwe girl in the mid-1800s. Finally, when the Library reopens I look forward to adding Prairie Lotus to the collection, a new book set in a similar time and place as Little House on the Prairie, with an Asian-American young heroine. -Randi Levy, Head of the Children's Library

With all the recent talk of how imperative it is to carry out as many COVID-19 tests as possible, I found myself wondering where the state of blood testing would be today had Elizabeth Holmes' promise to revolutionize the medical industry yielded fruitful results. This curiosity, coupled with my desire to read something more or less surreal than our current global state of affairs, got me interested in reading John Carreyrou's riveting and masterfully reported book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (ebook). Bad Blood provides a thorough account of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, who also served as its CEO. Touted as the female Steve Jobs in 2015, Holmes misled investors and retail partners into thinking she invented a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier, while hiding the fact that her technology was flawed and had serious limitations. Their deception would lead to nearly one million false test results, some of which seriously jeopardized the health of patients. This gripping tale of Holmes' deceitful exploits not only narrates the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, but also serves as a cautionary tale for people who get swept up in the excitement over the next big innovation and do not perform their due diligence. A few real world examples come to mind today... -Freddy Kpeli,Circulation Supervisor

Harry Crews' journalism—funny, well-written pieces on carnies, cars, camping, rehabilitating an injured hawk, and more—collected in Blood and Grits have provided distraction for which I am grateful. I am about 2/3 through Frank Norris's McTeague and am enjoying it very much. Its well-plotted story is easy to fall into, its foreboding inevitability difficult to shake. But the book I am most thankful to have on-hand is A Shelter for Bells, a collection of writings by Hans Jürgen von der Wense—"composer, translator, folklorist, wanderer, aphorist, poet, and consummate mystagogue of the landscape," as the foreword describes this obscure outsider of German literature. This is the first translation of his work, masterfully compiled and sequenced from over 30,000 pages of writing. The writings—on landscape & nature, walking (Wense rambled 10-12 hours a day), weather, the cosmos, writing and art, and more—are mostly aphoristic and fragmentary, ecstatic, and sometimes playful.  There is a gem on every page. This is writing that goes straight to the heart. The design of the book lives up to its contents. -Steven McGuirl, Head of Acquisitions

I find myself drawn to books with beautiful scenery descriptions in rural places with a touch of mystery and horror.  The following titles have been captivating my attention, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (ebook) by Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk, and The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry. -Ashley-Luisa Santangelo, Bibliographic Assistant

I've been listening to a lot of e-audiobooks when I go on my daily walks. Recently, I enjoyed Carlos Hernandez's Sal & Gabi Break the Universe and Abdi Nazemian's Like a Love Story. The first one is a great adventure story perfect for Percy Jackson fans and the second will make you cue up a Madonna playlist as soon as you finish it. -Susan Vincent Molinaro, Children's and Young Adult Librarian

Because what I'm craving now is a good, long hike, I've been re-reading Patrick Leigh Fermor's brilliant trilogy, A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water (ebook), The Broken Road (ebook), recounting his tramp from Holland to Constantinople in 1933-1934. -Carolyn Waters, Head Librarian 

I have been reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I read it in high school but recently came across it again. Protagonist Robert Langdon gets to do a lot of things I think we all wish we could do right now—go to museums, travel the world, get tangled up in an international conspiracy... -Pete Fey,  Assistant Children's and Young Adult Librarian

Animal Farm by George Orwell explores the dynamics between those who are in power and those who are not. It is an interesting read while society is being tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. -Mirielle Lopez, Circulation Assistant

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe - fantastic book. Just picked up Binti: The Complete Trilogy (with a brand-new Binti story) by Nnedi Okorafor. -Marialuisa Monda, Events Assistant


Regina Porter's The Travelers ("incredible"), Cara Wall's The Dearly Beloved ("A+ so far!") 

Yesterday Morning by Diana Athill, Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson [note: we have three other Athill memoirs available as ebooks in the Cloud Library]

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Grit in the Pearl: The Scandalous Life of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll by Lyndsy Spence

The Cazalet Chronicles series by Elizabeth Jane Howard (ebook) ("like Downton Abbey with an upper class family during WWI")

The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt by Andrea Wulf, illustrated by Lillian Melcher (note that the Library also has Wulf's acclaimed on Humboldt biography, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World available as an ebook)

Circe by Madeline Miller (ebook)