Lena Dunham's Book Reading Included Little-Known Comedian Amy Schumer (And a Baby)

Categories: Books, Film and TV

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Katie Toth
Antsy Lena Dunham fans, shut out of the fourth floor of Barnes & Noble, resign themselves to watching Dunham's event on a television screen nearby.
Better Than: Eating ice cream and pickles with Jemima Kirke

Lena Dunham's book Not That Kind of Girl (Random House, September 30) is full of homages to Helen Gurley Brown, the Cosmopolitan editor who drew ire from feminists and "smut police" alike for "having it all."

So maybe it's only fitting that the first stop of her book tour -- on Tuesday, at the Union Square Barnes & Noble -- was interrupted by an adorable five-month-old baby.

"This isn't for babies!" Dunham joked at one point during her reading, appearing a little flustered. "I love babies. But this is...sexual!"


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A Brooklyn Librarian Will Now Make You a Personalized Reading List, and You Don't Even Have to Put on Pants

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Photo by Flickr user Jose Raimundo Sousa Ribeiro Jr.
The main Brooklyn Public Library branch at Grand Army Plaza
This has been, without a doubt, an excellent summer for New York's libraries. In Manhattan, the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch set up a beautiful outdoor reading room that was open for the past two weeks before closing on the 22nd. A group of seafaring book lovers announced that they'll launch a floating library aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship for a month come September. And now, in a less temporary and totally genius move, a group of hardworking librarians across the Brooklyn Public Library system will make you a personalized reading list. You don't have to leave the house, dress yourself, or talk to another human being to put in a request for one. The future is here, and it is glorious.

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Topless Book Club Wisely Opts Out of "Go Topless Day"

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Image via Facebook
The topless book club during a recent outing.
We're sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you missed out on an important national holiday on Sunday: GoTopless Day, which was held in cities across the country and is exactly what it sounds like. The festival of shirtlessness is sponsored by the Raelian Movement, a cheerful and publicity-hungry group of folks who believe that life on earth was created by aliens.

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The New York Public Library Just Set Up an Outdoor Reading Room on 5th Avenue

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Image courtesy of the New York Public Library
It's set to get hot, humid and occasionally stormy this week, as New York's weirdest summer ever (weather-wise, anyway) continues. But it's still summer, dammit, and that means you should be spending your leisure time at the pool, smearing an ice cream cone on your face, or buried in a book. The New York Public Library would very much like it if you'd do some of your reading with them. And so they've set up a glorious outdoor reading room at the main branch on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue.

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St. Mark's Bookshop Has Moved to East 3rd Street, Won't Be Called East 3rd Bookshop

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The new location at 136 E. Third Street
It's been coming for a long time, but it still doesn't quite lessen the sting: St. Mark's Bookshop has moved from its longtime location on 3rd Avenue. The venerable bookseller had been battling its landlord, Cooper Union, for a number of years, trying without success to keep the school from raising their rent. But they are not, repeat, not gone for good: they've got a new shop location in the East Village, at 136 E. Third Street, between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. The move was made possible in part by an IndieGoGo campaign; bereaved book-lovers donated almost $52,000 to help out.

The bookshop staff reports on Facebook that they probably won't re-open until next week, the week of July 7. In the meantime, no one is mourning their departure from 3rd Avenue quite as keenly as Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Moss petitioned passionately to save the bookshop when it was first endangered back in 2011. He notes that the store left behind a lovely Ted Berrigan poem in their window to say goodbye. And he's written St. Mark's a love letter of his own, which made us just a little prickly behind the eyes.

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Grilling Mimi Pond About Her New Graphic Novel, Over Easy

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Panels from Over Easy.
Cartoonist Mimi Pond's history with the Voice goes back to the early '80s, when she drew a page regularly for Mary Peacock's fashion section. Pond soon became a best-selling humorist with her book The Valley Girl's Guide to Life. In the meantime, she wrote for television, writing for Pee-Wee's Playhouse and the first episode of The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."

Her first graphic novel, Over Easy, is a clever, warm-hearted look back at her time as an art-school dropout-turned-waitress in an idiosyncratic Oakland diner, as California hippieism was giving way to disco and punk.

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A Chilly, Educational Field Trip with the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

Categories: Books, Breasts

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Image via The Topless Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society
The book club at Lincoln Center, shortly before they were asked to re-clothe
In this week's cover story, we profile Holly Van Voast, an artist who for a time was also one of New York's most frequently topless women.

In 2011 Van Voast created a character named "Harvey Van Toast," who ventured out with a camera, a curly mustache painted on with liquid eyeliner -- and no shirt. She photographed hundreds of people in that persona, both her friends in the underground "punk drag" scene and a series of befuddled celebrities. (Filmmaker Chris Stearns made an excellent documentary, Topless Shock Syndrome, about Van Voast, with lots of photos of the performers she captured. It's available here.)

Although toplessness has been legal in New York state for 25 years, Van Voast was arrested or detained at least a dozen times, and involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation on four different occasions. Even when she wasn't being hassled by the police, she told me, public toplessness could be terrifying: "It's really nerve-wracking. It was like Jackass on speed." Before she went out, she says, "I'd sit there sweating for an hour."

After a few weeks of working on the story, it seemed to me that the only way to properly understand being topless in public was to do it (my editor would probably appreciate if I mentioned at this point that this wasn't his idea). I emailed the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, asking if could come along on the club's next outing.

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Manhattan Topless Book Club on Brooklyn Woman's Arrest: Police Officer Was "Ignorant of the Law," "Abusive"

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Image via OCTPFAS official blog
Book club members enjoy reading (and not being arrested) in Central Park
Last week, we told you about Jessica Krigsman, a Brooklyn woman who's suing the city, alleging that she was wrongfully arrested last summer for sitting topless in a Gravesend park.

According to the suit, Krigsman was sitting on a bench when two police officers approached and told her to get dressed; when she declined, the suit alleges, Officer Colleen Canavan forced her shirt on her. Krigsman was cuffed, taken to the precinct, and, ultimately, charged with "obstruction of a sitting area," a charge that was later dropped.

Although going shirtless in New York is, for the nth time, totally, totally legal, Krigsman's lawsuit generated the usually flurry of commentary about whether it's right and appropriate and what about the children.

"Skank," offered one thoughtful commenter beneath a New York Post story.

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Legendary Phantom Tollbooth Illustrator Jules Feiffer On Wanting to Overthrow the Government [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

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Jules Feiffer in his Voice years
You've either never read the Phantom Tollbooth, or it's your favorite book. The first time you met Milo, you were probably his age, around 10, and Tollbooth seemed like a sweet little chapter book about a boy who's always bored and aimless. One day, a tollbooth materializes in his room, and with nothing much else to do, he hops into his little blue car and drives through, into a lovely story about words, math, and saving the two beautiful princesses of Rhyme and Reason. By the time you realize the whole book is an allegory, it's too late. You've already absorbed some meaningful life lessons about being ethical, industrious, and not eating too much Subtraction Soup.

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Here's Every Chapter-Ending Cliffhanger from the Man of Steel Novelization

Categories: Books, Film and TV

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On a shelf with the classics.
Big news! Novelizations are still a thing! Here's the one you've no doubt been looking for, because, like any reasonable person, you just know that your time would be well spent reading a cheap-o paperback rewrite of the nonsensical script story of the new movie remake of an old movie and its sequel that themselves retold the story of comic books and TV shows that had already been around for the better part of a century.

That is what reading is for: to help us kill those sad moments before bedtime when we are briefly not staring at images of licensed characters.

Anyway, not everyone has the 45 free minutes it would take to read Greg Cox's Man of Steel. To help you decide if you should drop $7.99 at Walgreens, here's how it holds up to the key test for any mass-market paperback: How good are its end-of-chapter keep-you-reading hooks?

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