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Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers : A Little Book of Whimsy and Wisdom from the Files of the New York Public Library
by New York Public Library and Barry Blitt




Overview -

The New York Public Library staff answers questions remarkable and preposterous, with illustrations by Barry Blitt.

Have you've ever wondered if you can keep an octopus in a private home? Do you spend your time thinking about how much Napoleon's brain weighed? If so, Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers is the book for you. The New York Public Library has been fielding questions like these ever since it was founded in 1895. Of course, some of the questions have left the librarians scratching their heads...

"In what occupations may one be barefooted?"
"What time does a bluebird sing?"
"What does it mean when you're being chased by an elephant?"
"What kind of apple did Eve eat?"
"How many neurotic people are there in the U.S.?"

In Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers, the staff of the NYPL has dug through the archives to find thoughtful and often witty answers to over one hundred of the oddest, funniest, and most whimsical questions the library has received since it began record-keeping over seventy-five years ago. One of The New Yorker's best-known and beloved illustrators, Barry Blitt, has created watercolors that bring many of the questions hilariously to life in a book that answers, among others, the question "Does anyone have a copyright on the Bible?"

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More About Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by New York Public Library; Barry Blitt

 
 
 

Overview

The New York Public Library staff answers questions remarkable and preposterous, with illustrations by Barry Blitt.

Have you've ever wondered if you can keep an octopus in a private home? Do you spend your time thinking about how much Napoleon's brain weighed? If so, Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers is the book for you. The New York Public Library has been fielding questions like these ever since it was founded in 1895. Of course, some of the questions have left the librarians scratching their heads...

"In what occupations may one be barefooted?"
"What time does a bluebird sing?"
"What does it mean when you're being chased by an elephant?"
"What kind of apple did Eve eat?"
"How many neurotic people are there in the U.S.?"

In Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers, the staff of the NYPL has dug through the archives to find thoughtful and often witty answers to over one hundred of the oddest, funniest, and most whimsical questions the library has received since it began record-keeping over seventy-five years ago. One of The New Yorker's best-known and beloved illustrators, Barry Blitt, has created watercolors that bring many of the questions hilariously to life in a book that answers, among others, the question "Does anyone have a copyright on the Bible?"


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250203625
  • ISBN-10: 1250203627
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • Publish Date: October 2019
  • Page Count: 168
  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Gift books: For the friend who's read more books than you

Book lovers, bibliomaniacs, librarians at heart—call them what you will, some readers take the contents of their shelves very seriously. We’ve rounded up a quartet of titles for the literature lovers on your gift list.


The Penguin Classics Book, edited by Henry Eliot, will send bibliophiles over the moon. Spotlighting 1,200 works and covering four centuries, this handsome volume provides an overview of the Penguin Classics imprint, which released its first title—a new translation of The Odyssey by E.V. Rieu—in 1946. Filled with archival gems including images of vintage covers and rare editions, all beautifully reproduced and ripe for perusal, the book gives readers a sense of the imprint’s enormous output. Eliot, a Penguin Classics editor, describes the volume as “a reader’s companion to the best books ever written.” Indeed, the diverse featured titles are drawn from every conceivable genre: poetry, drama, philosophy, fiction, history and more. The book stands as a tribute to Penguin Classics’ endeavor to publish accessible, affordable editions of essential literary works from around the world. Author biographies, précis of major literary movements and background on the development of Penguin Classics as a publishing entity make this tome a necessary addition to the library of every book lover.

Classics also serve as the foundation for Great Goddesses: Life Lessons From Myths and Monsters, a new collection of poems and prose by British Indian author Nikita Gill. Mining ancient Greek stories for feminist inspiration, Gill offers fresh interpretations of archetypal tales that feature formidable women—Artemis, Hera, Hestia, Penelope, the list goes on—each with an indomitable spirit and distinctive destiny. In “Athena Rises,” the goddess is at once coolly self-possessed and irrationally passionate, a figure whose “heart wears wisdom skin / and wit-warmed splendor, / the echoes of a war cry holding / its four chambers together.” In “Gorgon (A Letter to the Patriarchy),” Gill reenvisions the snake-haired Medusa: “Perhaps the truth about Gorgons / is they are just women, / women who do not bend to the world or fit into the narrow mould you want them to.” Throughout, Gill includes “Mortal Interludes”—lyrical passages of personal reflection that demonstrate the messages she gleans from the myths. With hand-drawn illustrations that match the magnificence of their subject matter, Great Goddesses is a provocative tribute to the power of female agency.

Any list of literature’s leading ladies would surely include the March sisters from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Part of the appeal of Alcott’s esteemed novel, which turns 150 this year, lies in her nuanced depictions of the siblings, who couldn’t be more dissimilar: Meg, mature and dutiful, is the eldest; headstrong Jo is a budding writer; delicate Beth has a kindhearted disposition; and Amy, the youngest, is a vivacious beauty. A fascinating new book pays tribute to Alcott’s heroines. In March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women, authors Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado and Jane Smiley contribute essays on the little woman of their choice. In addition to reflecting on how the book impacted them, each contributor delves into the singular bond she feels to each sister, investigates Alcott’s inspirations and intentions and explores why the book remains relevant today. March Sisters is a must-have for steadfast fans and those new to Alcott’s novel.

Readers who live for trivia will find innumerable tidbits of interest in Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers. Comprised of queries posed to New York Public Library staffers, this weird, wonderful book draws on archives dating back to the 1940s. Some of the questions are sensible (“May a funeral be held on July 4th?”), some are true curiosity ticklers (“How many seeds are there in a watermelon?”), and some appear calculated to confound (“What is the life cycle of an eyebrow hair?”). Questions of this kind would stretch the skills and stamina of the most long-suffering researcher. Yet library staff stepped up and supplied crisp, succinct responses to all inquiries. New Yorker illustrator Barry Blitt captures the surreal, slightly mad mood of the proceedings in his clever cartoons. This pocket-size book has enormous appeal. 

 

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