Readings — January 13, 2016, 11:28 am

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An illustration, first published in the December 1872 issue of Harper’s Magazine, of the interior of the Library of Congress

From queries submitted by telephone and in person to the New York Public Library’s Reference and Research Services between 1940 and 1989.

Do you have any books on human beings?

Are Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates the same person?

Why do eighteenth-century English paintings have so many squirrels in them?

Were Tsar Nicholas II and King Gustav of Sweden tattooed?

What is the life cycle of an eyebrow hair?

In what occupations may one be barefoot?

What is the natural enemy of a duck?

Is it possible to keep an octopus in a private home?

What percentage of all the bathtubs in the world are in the United States?

Who built the English Channel?

Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?

Where can I get statistics on the sale of cadavers?

What is the nutritional value of human flesh?

Where can I rent a guillotine?

If the Empire State Building is the highest building in the world, what is the smallest?

Is there a law in N.Y.C. whereby a child can become unrelated to its parents if they don’t like each other?

Where can I find something on the comical aspects of pregnancy?

Is it proper to go alone to Reno to get a divorce?

What is the life span of an abandoned woman?

What country has the highest number of honorable women?

Do you have a list of buildings built in the shape of fruits or vegetables?

Do you have a list of historical characters who were in the right place at the right time?

Is this where I ask questions I can’t get answers to?

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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