Go Outside and Play!

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Looking for affordable summer fun with benefits to last a lifetime? Go outside and connect with nature!  Exploring nature offers you healthy exercise and fresh air, and can strengthen your spiritual, intellectual, and family life.  Getting started as an amateur naturalist is easy with help from Manhattan Public Library.
Start with inspiration from The Practical Naturalist, an easy-to-browse beginner’s guide with stunning illustrations from publisher Dorling Kindersley, or The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors from Oxford University Press.  If you’re making this a family project, plan your summer activities using The National Wildlife Federation Book of Family Nature Activities: 50 Simple Projects and Activities in the Natural World by Page Chichester.  Another great nature study guide and activity planner is The Bumper Book of Nature: A User’s Guide to the Great Outdoors by Stephen Moss, a year-round guide that includes seasonal nature activities that appeal to all the senses, identification tips for everything from birdsong to lichens, and simple encouragements like, “Lie in the tall grass and look at the sky.”
While you’re looking at the sky, take time to study the clouds as they change and move and then learn what they tell us about the weather.  Find guidance and inspiration in The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a delightful cloud identification guide and a surprise best-seller in Britain that offers plenty of helpful illustrations and surprising humor.  Another good read for cloudgazers is The Book of Clouds by John A. Day, which includes spectacular photographs, a cloud chart and weather forecasting information, and the author’s inspiring list of Ten Reasons to Look Up.  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather by David Ludlum can help you interpret what you see.
Closer down to earth, learn to recognize trees and appreciate their beauty and strength with The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town by Arthur Plotnik or the masterful Sibley Guide to Trees by David Allen Sibley.  For gorgeous and inspiring nature photography, treat yourself to Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Hugo and Robert Llewellyn.  Use your new-found knowledge on a self-guided tree walk in Manhattan City Park or on the KSU campus.  Guides for both the City Park Tree Walk and the Campus Tree Walk can be found online by going to www.riley.ksu.edu, then entering City Park Tree Walk or Campus Tree Walk in the search box.
Study the creatures that creep, crawl, run, and fly with a wide selection of guidebooks at the library.  Go pond-watching with Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles in Kansas by Joseph T. Collins.  Identify mammals by their tracks and learn about their behavior from Mammal Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch or Behavior of North American Mammals by Mark Elbroch and Kurt Rinehart.  Learn more about birds in What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young, then go birding with the Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots by Bob Gress.
When you’re ready to go further afield and into the Flint Hills, check out the Field Guide to the North American Prairie by Stephen R. Jones or Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils to help you understand the ecology and terrain.  Then head out to Konza Prairie or beyond and take along Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas by Michael Haddock or Kansas Prairie Wildflowers by K-State’s own Clenton Owensby to help you identify plants and grasses.
At the end of the long summer day, stargaze under the dark night sky.  The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide and Summer Stargazing: A Practical Guide for Recreational Astronomers, both by Terence Dickinson, can guide you to celestial wonders.  Kids can discover more from Night Sky and Planets, both from Scholastic Books and available in the library’s Children’s Room. To learn the mythology behind the constellations, check out A Walk through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends by Milton D. Heifetz.  For more stargazing fun, go to Stellarium.org and have your own planetarium show on your home computer.  Type in coordinates to watch the night sky and see stars, planets, and satellites move as the night and day progress.  On June 30 at 2:00 p.m., join us at Manhattan Public Library for a fun program, Dream Big: Follow the Stars with cool games, stories, and activities for parents and kids K-6th grade.  Have a wonderful summer, Manhattan.

Genius Loves Company by Ray Charles

One of my memories from childhood is sitting entranced, hearing Ray Charles play piano on television.  His voice still affects me the same way.  In Genius Loves Company, his last album recorded before his death in 2004, he teams up with some all-time great voices, including Norah Jones, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Elton John, and even Willie Nelson, making them sound better than ever.  I found that this album did not make good background music.  I found myself shushing my family so that I could catch every note.    So sit back, relax, and savor the legendary tones of Ray Charles and company.

One, Two, Three Books to Read About the Old Ball Game

Whether you like baseball or not, you have to admit that it provides some good stories.  John Grisham just recently came out with Calico Joe, which I’m looking forward to reading.  Here are some other baseball tales to enjoy.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
One errant throw sets of a series of events that changes the lives of many in this story of the baseball team at a small liberal-arts college in Wisconsin.  Harbach explores the lives of the characters, as well as the beloved game.

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
If you’re in the mood for a good book/movie combo, this is the book that Field of Dreams was based on.  A farmer in Iowa builds a baseball field for the past baseball greats, roping a reclusive writer into the project along the way.

The End of Baseball by Peter Schilling
In a dream-worthy alternate history, Bill Veeck transforms 1940′s baseball by recruiting the best of the best Negro Leagues baseball stars to play on the the Philadelphia Athletics, causing an uproar from fans, players, and even the United States government.


Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Lucy and her friends have decided to spend graduation night searching for Shadow, the elusive but talented graffiti artist.  Ed and his friends just want to kill time until they can carry out their real plans for the evening.  In the meantime, Ed joins Lucy in her quest, racing to all of Shadow’s artwork while thawing their prickly relationship through their stories and hopes.  Lucy shares her obsession with Shadow and his art, unaware of how close he really is.  Graffiti Moon is a fun young adult novel with great characters and an artistic twist.

For Kansas Travelers: 8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collections Manager

While some Kansans will have no idea of the location of the town of Inman, and more may have never heard of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, there’s always time to discover a regional treasure.  Inman author Marci Penner published the first of her Kansas guides in 2005, entitled The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  That lovely first effort was a guide to towns, restaurants, and local details grouped by region throughout the state.  It remains a perennial favorite, and interested travelers are quick to search its pages for undiscovered locales.
With hot summer days and dreams of vacations yet to be taken, I can think of no better way to pass a little time than by exploring Penner’s gorgeous second book, 8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook.   Like her first title, Penner’s latest is a guide to Kansas attractions, but the book is so much more.
The groundwork for this book began as a contest.  From June 2007 to October 2010, participants were invited to nominate Kansas attractions that fit into one or more of eight select categories (architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people).  In all, more than 100,000 people from around the world voted, and an amazing 1000 stories, articles, blogs, etc. were generated.  The result?  A compiled display of 216 of the best of what Kansas offers, a terrific book that is a delight to read as well as an excellent travel companion.
Photographer Harland J. Schuster is to be complimented on the breadth of his work.  His introductory remarks allude to the early morning shots, aerial panoramas, and late afternoon vistas that were part of the typical day’s work.  He also notes the generous help that he received from the many local citizens eager to be a part of the project.  And the photography is excellent.  A double-page spread for Konza Prairie, for example, boasts shadowed photos of a distant hillside.  A display of Pillsbury Crossing features a sun-sparkled view of pooled water, as well as a sidebar feature of the falls. And the other 214 wonders are just as appealing as those from the Manhattan area.
Among the overall winners is Greensburg’s Big Well.  Penner supplies us with the history of the project, a 109-foot-deep venture that took a year to finish. Until 1932, the well served not only the town but also the steam locomotives that regularly made stops in the town.  The photo of the well, taken from the depths of the excavation, awes the reader with its focus on obviously hand-tooled walls.
Treated as one top selection are Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  At 41,000 acres in size, Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest fresh-water marsh in the interior of the United States, says Penner.  She tells us it is also considered the most important migration point in the Western Hemisphere.  And nearby Quivira National Wildlife refuge hosts an amazing 500,000 birds.  If we’re not already convinced these two refuges are to be included, the breathtaking photos of water birds in flight should do the trick.
You can probably guess a few of the other top winners (think of former presidents, salt reserves, and space exploration for starters), but plan to check out the individual category winners as well.  You’ll be surprised how many you recognize.
For architectural honors, for example, one can’t omit the dramatic Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls.  For art recognition, the Stan Herd Earthwork located in Atchison was selected for its exceptional utilization of earth as a medium and farm equipment as a means of application.  Among winners for customs is the old farming habit of using post rock for fencing, particularly in LaCrosse and the Smoky Hills region.
Each selection also includes location, contact information and hours of operation.  And the fold-out cover lists tips on how to use the guidebook and a state map that sports each winner’s exact location in relation to all the others.
Looking for a fun way to spend lazy summer days?  If so, this book is right for you.  It’s perfect for family exploration as well as individual ventures.  Take a little time to explore the many riches of Kansas.

Dreaming, Owning, Waking – Summer at MPL

By Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

Where do I begin? So many great things are happening this summer at Manhattan Public Library, it is hard to decide what to share first.

I guess we start with the themes. Inspired by the nighttime, this year’s children’s theme is “Dream Big-Read,” the teen theme is “Own the Night,” and the adult theme is “Wake Up and Read.”

Readers of all ages can sign up for Summer Reading at MPL online or by coming to the library where a staff member will help get you registered. Online sign-up has begun and registration at the library can be done beginning this Friday.

Once registered, participants track their reading time (adults can choose to track number of books instead). This time can be tracked online or with a paper record provided by the library. All readers can have a chance to earn prizes by turning in their reading time.

Adults (ages 18 and up) are entered for weekly drawings with each book or for every 4 hours they read. Additional credit can be earned by doing any of 10 bonus challenges. A complete list is available at the library. Seven prizes will be awarded each week in random drawings from sponsors such as The Chef, Hy-Vee, Starbucks, and Panera Bread.

Teens (those entering 7th grade through high school) have a 15 hour goal at which time they can get a free book and a gift certificate to Quiznos. After that, teens can continue to track time and turn those hours in for additional prizes (like tickets at an arcade). All teens who record time will also be entered into drawings for Prize Baskets to be awarded at the end of the summer.

Children (birth through 6th grade) can earn prizes at 250 minutes (ice cream from Vista and toy choice), 500 minutes (book and choice of Applebee’s or Quiznos kids’ meal), and 1000 minutes (Super Reader bookmark and choice Chili’s kids’ meal or Papa Murphy’s cookie dough).

Reading logs can be recorded for all reading done for June 1 through July 31.

In addition to the reading part of Summer Reading, several programs and events have been scheduled for kids and teens throughout June and July.

These events kick off this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon as MPL hosts the annual Summer Reading Kick-Off On the Lawn.

Once again there will be games, prize drawings, activities and live entertainment. This includes carnival games for kids, activity and display tables from the Beach Museum, the NCK Astrological Society, and Pathfinder

Taking the stage at 10:20 will be the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble. Between songs, the group will teach tap steps to any interested children. At 11:00, Mr. Steve will use his acoustic guitar to present his sing-along program for kids.

In the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the library auditorium.

Several events will take place each week throughout the summer. Storytimes and clubs for elementary school children begin the week of June 4 and go through the week of July 23.
Children can also participate in special events such as the “Lucky Stars Juggling” show, After Hours Pajama Party, programs by the Beach Museum and the Milford Nature Center, ZOOfari Tales, movies, and more.
Teen-focused events are held at least once a week. Many of these events include a variety of nighttime themes such as dreams, astrology, stargazing, relaxation, and more. Events for teens culminate in the End-of-Summer Teen After Hours.
A detailed list of all events, clubs, and storytimes is available on the MPL website or at the library.
Groups visits are encouraged to visit the library during the summer. By calling the Children’s Department, groups can schedule one storytime per month presented by a Children’s Librarian. Large groups are also encouraged to let the Children’s Department know when they would like to visit so overcrowding in the Children’s Room can be avoided. Contact the department at 776-4741 ext. 125.
All events and activities at the library are free and open to the public.
More information can be found by visiting the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, online, or by calling 785-776-4741.

More International Mysteries

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
Last year I wrote about how the bestselling novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, had fueled an explosion of interest in Scandinavian crime novels and in international mysteries in general. They continue to be in high demand with readers, and publishers have responded with more and more hot titles from around the world.  Mysteries with an international setting combine exposure to unfamiliar cultures, the atmospherics of an exotic locale, and the intellectual challenges of a crime story into an absorbing and satisfying reading experience.  Here’s a list of more great international mysteries at Manhattan Public Library.
Greece:  Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger.  Newly promoted to police chief of the island paradise of Mykonos, Andreas Kaldis must catch a killer while navigating the island’s convoluted local politics and religious orthodoxy, and without risking the island’s tourism.
Turkey:  The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer.  Called “a delightfully over-the-top drag queen campfest” by one reviewer, this unexpected and entertaining mystery set in Istanbul features a transvestite sleuth, a quirky and refreshingly human cast of characters, and delicious dialogue.
Denmark:  The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol.  A noir mystery investigating criminal mistreatment of women and children, written by two women and starring female characters.  The New York Times called this “another winning entry in the emotionally lacerating Scandinavian mystery sweepstakes.”
Mongolia:   The Shadow Walker by Michael Walters.  It’s winter in post-Soviet Mongolia, and Minister Negrui, Harvard MBA and head of the Serious Crimes Unit, is working with a visiting British police inspector to find a serial killer. Booklist recommends this series for readers “who like plots filled with global political complexity.”
Canada:  Still Life by Louise Penny.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigates a murder in the tiny village of Three Pines, south of Montreal.  This is a traditional procedural mystery, full of clues hidden in plain sight, red herrings, engaging characters, and complex relationships.  Author Penny has been compared to P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, Martha Grimes – and even Agatha Christie.
Ghana:  Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey.  Darko Dawson, police inspector in Ghana’s Criminal Investigation Division, has been sent to investigate the murder of a young female medical student and AIDS worker in a village outside the city of Accra. There he confronts powerful traditional beliefs, brutal local authority, and a long-standing mystery in his own life.
France:  Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker.  One reviewer wrote, “If you can’t afford that vacation in the south of France this year, Bruno may be the next best thing.”  In the quiet, friendly village of St. Denis, chief of police Bruno Courrèges, formerly with UN forces in Bosnia, hopes to find a peaceful life, but crime and the problems of contemporary French life inevitably intrude.
Israel:  The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Rees.  For many years, Omar Yussef, a good man in a tragic and difficult place, has taught history to the children of Bethlehem.  When Israeli snipers kill a PLO soldier, one of Omar’s former students, a Palestinian Christian, is accused of being an Israeli collaborator and faces almost-certain retribution. Omar determines to save his friend, and his investigations take him deep into the complicated, violent, and corrupt world of the occupied West Bank.
Botswana: A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley.  Game park rangers in the Kalahari come across a hyena feasting on a human corpse, and Detective Kubu (“Hippopotamus”) Bengu is called in to investigate.  Kubu, like his namesake, is huge, amiable, determined, and ferocious.  Publishers Weekly said, “The intricate plotting, a grisly sense of realism, and numerous topical motifs (the plight of the Kalahari Bushmen, diamond smuggling, poaching, the homogenization of African culture, etc.) make this a compulsively readable novel.”
Saudi Arabia:  Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. In this literary mystery-thriller set in contemporary Jeddah, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy family disappears days before her marriage and is soon found dead – and pregnant.  Her family turns to conservative Muslim Palestinian Nayir al-Sharqi to investigate the death, and he turns to Katya Hijazi, medical examiner and highly-educated modern woman, for assistance.  An engrossing look into the complexities and cultural struggles of modern Saudi society.
India:  The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. Vish Puri is India’s Most Private Investigator and the Indian answer to Rumpole or Precious Ramotswe in this series full of humor, food, and delightful dialogue.  Nicknamed “Chubby,” Vish is “portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi,” and he draws on up-to-date investigative techniques as well as ancient Indian principles in order to solve mysteries in modern Delhi.

The Proposal by Mary Balogh

Gwendoline, Lady Muir has long been known for her cheerful disposition in spite of her widowed status.  Lord Trentham, Hugo, is a former soldier and grumpy recluse who only emerges once a year to gather with fellow war survivors.  When Gwendoline experiences a moment of vexation, causing her to undertake a more ambitious walk than usual, she trips and badly twists her ankle.  The imposing Hugo is nearby and ignores her protests to scoop her up to carry her back to the manor where he’s visiting.  Their forced companionship leads him to question his original impression of her as a silly, vain woman and leads her to question whether she is really as content with being a widow as she originally thought.  In The Proposal, Balogh creates another sweeping Regency romance that you won’t be able to put down till the very end.

Sustainable Gardening in Kansas

By Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

Gardening in Kansas can be challenging at times—heat in summer, extreme cold and wind in winter, heavy rains or drought conditions. All of these factors combine to make it difficult to develop a thriving garden in our area. Using plants and techniques that are adapted to our local climate makes gardening easier, less costly and more sustainable. Choosing the right plants for the right place in your yard helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and watering, as well as providing plants beneficial to native pollinating insects and birds.

Manhattan Public Library has several books that offer advice specific to gardening in the Midwest.

The Complete Guide to Western Plains Gardening by Lynn Steiner offers practical information and step-by-step photographs to help you through the basic techniques of gardening. Written for areas of the Midwest from Southern Canada through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, this book can help you choose just the right plants for your garden.

Prairie Lands Gardener’s Guide by Cathy Barash features 167 plants suggested for our area for a successful garden, ranging from flowering annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses. Full color photographs of each plant accompany advice on planting, growing and care of each plant, as well as sun requirements and, information on birds and other wildlife attracted by the plantings.

Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland by Anthony Kahtz contains 140 in-depth plant profiles as well as 260 additional recommendations. Each plant entry gives the  common name of the plant as well as descriptions of its flowers, soil and sun requirements, propagation, insect or disease problems, and recommendations on where and how to plant.

Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden is a guide to all types of plants selected for their wide adaptability. Although this book suggests plants for gardens across the U.S.,each of the entries discusses soil and sun needs, mature size, creative design ideas, and recommendations for companion plants.
Their suggestions make creating gardens that require less water easier and more practical.

Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage is an excellent authoritative guide to native plants. Concise information on hundreds of species of native perennials and annuals is discussed, with entries including descriptions of plants and their habitats, hardiness and growing requirements. In addition, the author has included internet sites, addresses of nurseries, and other recommended publications for further information.

Xeriscape Handbook:  A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening by Gayle Weinstein focuses on growing plants in arid and semi-arid areas, conserving natural resources in our gardens, creating an awareness of the natural environment and applying the principles of xeriscaping to your garden. Besides suggestions for selecting the correct plants for the area, the author also discusses the landscaping and maintenance techniques that will help your low-water garden thrive.

Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes by David Winger offers suggestions for adding color to your garden through all seasons of the year. This is a perfect book for gardeners wanting to conserve water and mix colors and textures of flowers, shrubs and trees in their landscape.

In addition to browsing the books  available at Manhattan Public Library, the best resource for local gardening advice is our Riley County K-State Research and Extension office, located in Room 220 at 110 Courthouse Plaza. Extension agents can offer lawn and gardening advice and have many KSU Extension publications available. Stop by their offices or check their web site to find a wealth of information about gardening in Kansas. Their publication “Low Maintenance Landscaping” is available online.

Check out one of our books or stop by the Riley County Extension office to learn more about sustainable and low maintenance gardening using the best plants for our area and have a beautiful garden even in the most difficult Kansas growing conditions.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

What would you take?  When the Soviet police come to take her family away, fifteen year old Lina has 20 minutes to pack to leave her home in Lithuania.  She chooses a few clothes, a family photograph, and drawing paper and pencils, leaving the loaf of bread cooling on the counter.  She cherishes her treasures, but can’t help wishing she had also brought the bread.  She and her mother and little brother are shipped to Siberia packed in train cars, always worrying about and missing her father.  Through the book more and more of their dignity is stripped away as they experience horrible hunger, cold, and back-breaking work under the watchful eye of the completely unpredictable Soviet police force.  But in the midst of this extremely grim story, we also get glimpses of the humanity that Lina and her fellow prisoners cling to; moments of sharing, kindness, and celebration together.  And through it all, Lina draws with whatever she can get ahold of including dirt and ashes.  The other prisoners smuggle bits of paper for her to use, having seen her special gift for expressing the truth of their experiences.

Between Shades of Gray brings to light a part of history that is often neglected.  Powell’s story examines the basis of what it means to be human, expressing the best and worst of those in difficult situations, equally present in the police as in the prisoners.  The subject matter is somewhat grim, but Lina’s determination to live and draw and the moments of kindness add enough light to make it a truly rewarding read.

Dystopian Fiction: Something’s Not Right with the World


by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” With these seemingly innocuous words George Orwell began his view of the near future in 1984. Orwell’s vision, published in 1949, was one of pervasive government surveillance by Big Brother, perpetual war, and continuous public mind control.

While Orwell’s novel is a classic in the genre of dystopian fiction, John Stuart Mill actually coined the word dystopia in 1868 by adding the Greek prefix for bad, abnormal, or difficult (dys), to utopia. Sir Thomas More had originated the word “utopia” in 1516, from the imaginary island he described in his book by the same name. More’s Utopia was an ideal place, a place of political and social perfection (utopia comes from the Greek for “not a place”). Dystopia describes the opposite.

The worlds described in dystopian fiction are deeply flawed. While the societies they picture may seem utopian on the face of things, the perfection of the utopian dream is often repressed by government or societal control over behaviors, thoughts, and even dreams.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells is a classic example of late nineteenth-century dystopian fiction. Its time-traveling hero journeys to the far future where humankind has evolved into two species. In this ultimate example of the haves and the have-nots, the Eloi live on the surface of Earth, living an idyllic life of leisure without fear of hunger. The Morlocks, condemned to life underground, are monsters who feed on the Eloi whom they raise as cattle.

While dystopian fiction usually takes place in the future, the authors’ visions are often fueled by present events. In We, author Yevgeny Zamyatin described the One State with its ranks of “ciphers” all marching in step, living in rooms made of glass, with every moment planned by “The Table.” Zamyatin, writing his novel during the early 1920s in the fledgling Soviet Union, characterized the rising totalitarianism of his time.

Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis did much the same thing in It Can’t Happen Here. In this story of a populist politician who becomes a dictator after his election, Lewis mirrored events in 1930s Nazi Germany.

Aldous Huxley, in his novel Brave New World portrayed the ultimate in planned society. In Huxley’s world new members are incubated in factories, where their intelligence, ability, and occupation are predetermined. There are no individual parents; society is the parent of all, and everyone has a specific place in the scheme of things.

Kurt Vonnegut painted a picture of a future run by engineers and scientists in Player Piano. In this author’s future, machines do much of the work once performed by men and women, making most of the population superfluous. Vonnegut offered a dystopian version of the great wealth and prosperity promised in the aftermath of the Second World War.

What is harmless and even helpful in the present day is taken to its furthest, most absurd extreme in dystopian fiction. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, for example, firemen burn books as a means to protect society from the harmful influences of ideas. Bradbury also predicted both the ubiquity of television and reality shows in his portrayal of a future where multiple large screen televisions are the rage, and the audience participates in the programs.

The popularity of dystopian fiction continues today. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and its sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, tell the tale of Panem (post-apocalyptic North America), and its capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. As punishment for an earlier rebellion, each year the districts are forced to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

An extensive list of titles in the dystopian genre written between1835-2011 is available at wikipedia. Many titles in this genre from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are available as free e-books from sites such as Project Gutenberg, and Many Books. Many of the titles discussed in this article are available at Manhattan Public Library in print or electronic format. You can learn about the possibilities of your e-reader or tablet computer and the library’s e-book collection at free workshops on May 12. For more information, go to http://www.eoly.ru/index.php/ereaderworkshop.

Good Girls Do by Cathie Linz

Librarian Julia Wright has separated herself from her eccentric family in an attempt to have a quiet, responsible, and normal life.  But once Luke Maguire rides up, dressed in black and riding a Harley, Julia’s serenity starts swirling down the drain.  Luke is forced to come back to Serenity Falls due to a clause in his father’s will and resents every minute there, but is starting to wonder if the cute librarian might make his stay a bit more tolerable.   Julia is further troubled by the sudden appearance of the very family she was trying to avoid; a hippie mother and a free-spirited sister who’s most recent business venture leave them stuck asking the responsible Julia to let them move in.

All set in a quirky small town with great secondary characters, Good Girls Do is a delightful story that will keep you laughing and racing to the very end.

Springtime in Paris

by Susan Withee
Adult Services Manager

Paris is a city of legendary charm and for centuries has been an international center of political power and social change, culture and the arts, science and learning, Epicureanism, sensuality, and fashion.  The past few years have seen a publishing explosion of books about Paris – from novels to cookbooks to travel guides, memoirs, and histories.

If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Paris, Manhattan Public Library has travel guides galore to hotels and cafes, historic landmarks, flea markets, museums, famous neighborhoods, and hidden destinations.  And if, for the moment, you can only dream about making the trip, come to the library for the next best thing, books that will transport you there in spirit to discover the fascinating people, beautiful architecture, storied locales, and passionate joie de vivre of the City of Light.  Put an Edith Piaf CD on the player, pour a glass of Chablis, and treat yourself to a vicarious adventure in Paris.

To start your journey, check out Paris: Biography of a City by Colin Jones, a chronological history that is comprehensive in detail and scope. Or for a more creative approach try Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb which explores the geography and history of the city using surprising biographical vignettes of the famous and the obscure.  In The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, bestselling author and historian David McCullough tells of famous Americans, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Mary Cassatt to Samuel Morse, who lived in and learned from Paris.

Andrew Hussey’s Paris: The Secret History, highlights the lives and hangouts of some of the city’s shadier and more subversive historical individuals and groups, and in The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps, author Eric Hazan takes us through the streets of radical Paris to reveal the riots and revolutions of the 19th and 20th century.

For a unique tour of the city’s architecture, check out Paris Then and Now by Peter Caine, a past-and-present photographic history of the city’s most famous buildings, or Paris: An Architectural History by Anthony Sutcliffe.

For a more personal vision of life in Paris, indulge in the memoirs of people who, for reasons of love, work, adventure, or desperation, have gone to Paris and learned for themselves what it’s like to live la vie en rose.  Paris in Mind: Three Centuries of Americans writing about Paris is an anthology of memoirs as well as essays and excerpts that is enjoyably eclectic and fun to read.  La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life by Elaine Sciolino, longtime Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, is a delightful memoir and treatise on how the French use the art of seductive charm not only in love and relationships, but in every other part of life as well, from politics to daily commerce.

Fans of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love will enjoy Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull or Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. In his offbeat and funny book, The Sweet Life in Paris, renowned chef David Lebovitz tells of his adventures in moving to Paris to start a new life, and includes recipes for over fifty delicious dishes and desserts.  More memoirs to savor:  Paris in Love by Eloisa James; Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik; C’est la Vie: An American Conquers the City of Light by Suzy Gershman; and Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin.

Add texture and zest to your Paris experience by wandering off the beaten track with the following:  Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More by Christina Henry de Tessan; The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White; Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey into the Heart of Historic Paris by Leonard Pitt; Quiet Corners of Paris by Jean-Christophe Napias; and Paris Discovered: Explorations in the City of Light by Mary McAuliffe.

For travelers based in Paris and looking for day trips beyond, try Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History by Train by Ina Caro.  From the outstanding Vintage Departures series, Paris: The Collected Traveler is a must-read, a meaty traveler’s companion that includes excursions outside the city, expert advice and extensive recommendations for unique experiences, and an enticing list for further reading including novels, histories, memoirs, cookbooks, and guidebooks.  Bon voyage.

Best Albums of All Time


I love “Best Of” lists.  They seem so definitive.  So you can imagine my joy when I stumbled across Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  It’s a bit dated, but still a valuable resource for exploring the world of great music.  Here are the top 10 albums from the list that we have at the library.  I would love to hear what you think they missed, or what you would add that’s come out since the list was created.

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles
2. Revolver by the Beatles
3. Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan
4. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
5. Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones
6. The Beatles by the Beatles
7. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
8. Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix
9. Nevermind by Nirvana
10. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

I Geek my day at 2012 KLA

>by Janene Hill
Young Adult Librarian

“I Geek Kansas Libraries”
That was the theme of the 2012 Kansas Library Association Conference in Wichita, which took place last Wednesday through Friday. The annual convention is touted as the state’s premier opportunity for librarians to gather, learn, and network, then “return to your library recharged and energized.”

I hope you will endulge me while I take today’s column to walk you through a few of the highlights from Day 1 for me at this year’s convention.

7:12 Car loaded, breakfast eaten, car gassed up and audiobook cued up. Guess I’m ready to go.

I’m listening to The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. A Young Adult book that I still haven’t quite figured out but is a little paranormal, a little science fiction and some fantasy. A long trip will be great for seeing how this thing turns out.

9:25 Conference registration complete. Unfortunately, I chose to enter at the completely opposite of the end of the convention center. I’m sure I’ve already gotten a mile of walking in for the day. The trek did, however, allow me to see several friends and colleagues along the way.

9:33 Putting the convention badge around my neck is an action that always instantly gets me excited for the upcoming days.

This year’s theme “I Geek Kansas Libraries” is derived from the national awareness campaign sponsored by OCLC, a nonprofit library cooperative, and by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The campaign is dedicated to spreading the word about the vital role of public libraries and raising awareness about the funding issues many public libraries face. The State Library of Kansas has co-sponsored the initiative since December 2010.

9:36  Stopped by the Gift Basket Raffle table on my way and drop a few bucks to support Kansas Library Association Educational Foundation, and take a stab at possibly winning some good loot (I really would enjoy that relaxation-themed basket!).

10:08 First session of the day has begun. Listening to the very in-depth introduction of Cory Doctorow. This guy is smart, accomplished, and busy!

Doctorow is the author of the best-selling YA book Little Brother. His biography says he considers himself a science fiction author, activist, journalist, and blogger (he is the co-editor of boingboing.net). He is known for speaking out about copyright, technology issues, and other hot-button topics relating to information sharing.

10:22 Cory says when writing, finishing in the middle of a sentence gives you a starting point for the next day. All authors have their own methodology and it is always interesting to hear how a writer works.

10:42 Realized Cory is wearing some pretty quirky black and white striped slacks. A little whim that makes me appreciate him just a little more.

11:35 A panel of authors (including Doctorow) tout the importance of libraries in the art of “hand-selling” a book. It is reassuring to hear author appreciation for librarians’ efforts to get books into the hands of those who may not otherwise access them.

12:52 Finished eating at Ty’s Diner just west of downtown with some co-workers. Great burger and fresh-cut fries. I recommend it if you like a little bit of a dive, hometown, old-school burger joint.

1:27 Networking with other Young Adult/Teen Services Librarians from across the state at the Young Adult Roundtable Meeting. It is always reassuring to know there are others out there trying to accomplish the same things as you.

2:14 Hearing how Pittsburg Public Library reorganized their non-fiction into categories based on subject. It’s such an interesting concept. Not without it’s ups and downs though. Listening to the presenter, PPL’s Director, is fun. She’s really energetic and inspiring.

3:18 I’m getting all sorts of great ideas of new and fun ways to approach reader’s advisory for teens. Look out Manhattan Middle School kids – this year’s pre-summer visits are going to be different and fun!

3:35 “Life is too short to read books you don’t like.” One of my favorite rules of thumb regarding books.

4:41 In the past half an hour I’ve been mistaken for a Hotel manager and been called ‘young miss’. I’m not sure which one I was more flattered by – looking like I could be in charge or being thought of as young by someone around my same age. A nice change from all of the teens who think I’m “old”.

5:02 Trying not to spill my popcorn all over the table as I munch and type. Whoever decided popcorn and lemonade would make a good pre-supper snack is brilliant! Now, if we could just pull that huge container with the cheesy popcorn over to our table without anybody noticing…

7:15 Pull into the hotel room for the night. Kick off shoes, dump bags, and hook up the laptop to check email and Facebook. Then get down to work – have to make sure I’m ready for both of my presentation sessions tomorrow.

10:28 Done with a last run-through for tomorrow’s presentations. It’s not the actual presenting I worry about, it is wanting to make sure the audience is engaged and entertained and that the presentation is the right length. It’s the little things that make or break presentations like this. If all else fails – the candy I’m providing should smooth over the rough parts.

11:18 Put the finishing touches on this column. Now it is time for bed. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings and find lots of good ideas to bring back to do my part in making Manhattan Public Library an even better place.

Thanks for joining me in my day at KLA.