The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw

The Hungry Ocean was published in 1999 and became a New York Times bestseller.  Recently I found it while looking for something totally different to read and I was not disappointed.  This riveting tale of a woman swordboat captain is the reason I love reading non-fiction.  Linda Greenlaw leads such a different life from me and any of my landlubber friends that I can’t imagine she lives on the same planet.  What an amazing story of a gutsy lady from Maine who spends her life on the ocean.

Linda Greenlaw is captain of the Hannah Boden, a sister ship of the Andrea Gail, a boat that was lost in the horrible storm of 1991 and portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm. Captain Greenlaw is in command of five men who spend month-long trips fishing over 1000 miles off the northeast coast in the Grand Banks.  She has to fight weather, mechanical failures, close quarters with very little time for personal hygiene, disagreements, illness, and all the decisions of where to fish in order to bring home a full boatload that will pay their expenses.  The story of her personal experiences in how to run a complex operation is fascinating.

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins

We know very little about what trees do for the environment and the impact they have on the natural world. As trees disappear, we learn what they did from their absence, a poor way to manage our environment. The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet is nominally about David Milarch, founder of The Champion Tree Project. The project is an effort to save what are known as the Champion Trees, the most impressive specimens of each species of tree found on the planet. Milarch’s story really just pulls together all the amazing information we do know about trees and what they do in the world. Robbins explains such things as how trees are great at cooling the area around them as water evaporates through their leaves. They are also awesome filtration systems for waterways and have the potential to save thousands if not millions of dollars when strategically planted to filter fertilizer and toxins from rivers, streams and ponds rather than treating water with modern conventional technology.

Many of the largest, most successful trees in the world have been harvested for lumber, paper production, etc. and the Champion Tree Project is an effort to clone the most successful trees left in the world to make sure their genes continue to live on. We still aren’t sure what role genetics plays in the success of trees, but this project ensures that when the technology is there to sequence tree genes, these trees will still be around to test. Some of the species the project has cloned include sequoias, redwoods, black walnut, willows and others that have well-documented environmental benefits. The project has never had as much funding as it needs, but Milarch and others who believe we need to reforest the earth in order to help mitigate climate change and keep the environment healthy for future generations are dedicated and continue to do what they can to spread Champion Tree genetics.

The First 20 Minutes

Are you tired of all of the hype surrounding exercise? It seems like we are constantly bombarded with information regarding the best ways to exercise and how much time we really need to spend working out. Finally, a book that the average person can understand that explores actual research behind current trends in exercise. The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds is great for everyone from couch potatoes to athletes.  For instance, it answers many questions that runners have.  Is it necessary to purchase those high dollar running shoes to avoid injuries or are those new “barefoot” running shoes the way to go? And, if I do go for a run or work out, are sports drinks the best way to stay hydrated and recover? If I am entering a race should I carbo load for optimal performance? For everyone from the occasional to the regular exerciser, a number of questions are answered as well. For example, just how much time do you need to spend exercising per week to start reaping health benefits? Do I really need to do all that stretching before and after I exercise to avoid injuries?  Is weight training valuable or should most of my time be spent on cardio? If I’m exercising why don’t I ever lose any weight? For those who are not currently motivated to work out, this book is for you also. It discusses many of the benefits of exercise not only for your body but also for your brain!

Ever By My Side

 Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight Acts Pets by Dr. Nick Trout is much more than a veteranarians account of his daily life.  It is a story of relationships, of hope, and of hurting.  The senior Mr. Trout had Nick pictured in a “James Herriot” type practice, so when Nick decides to go to America and practice, his father is disappointed.  Another disappointment came when Dr. Trout married a woman with cats and they didn’t add any dogs to their family home.  Dr. Trout tells how the pets in his life help him understand, enjoy, and get through hard decisions.  When his daughter became very ill, it took a pet to help him through her illness.  Of course his memoirs include animal antics that are hilarious and heart warming as well as sad.  You’ll enjoy this book if you like animals, but even if you aren’t an animal lover it’s a great story for everyone.

Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love by Jessie Knadler

Jessie, a thiry-something New York City girl, editor for a splashy women’s magazine, describes herself not as “happy,” but caustically content with her life–work, parties, and  drinking and has a long-time relationship with a guy who at best is a jerk.  Assigned to go to Montana to do an article on rodeo, she meets Jake, a twenty-five-year-old bull rider.  Jake votes Republican, listens to Garth Brooks, owns guns and is a Christian.  Jessie is blindsided by a genuinely lovable, optimistic, old-fashioned gentleman.  After a short long-distance courtship, she impulsively ditches Manhattan, and finds herself living in backwoods Virginia, canning, sewing, and raising chickens.  After a time, she asks, “is it worth it?”  The answer comes among war, Bible clubs and moonshineRurally Screwed is a hilarious true-life love story, reminiscent of Macdonald’s The Egg and I.  Take a peek at Jessie’s website, www.rurallyscrewed.com with pictures and funny comments on life in the country.

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.

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

Wikipedia definition:  Vignette (literature), short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a particular insight into a character, idea, or setting.

Enjoy vignettes of life in Paris in Eloisa James’ memoir of her family’s year in Paris.  Not your typical memoir, Eloisa kept her tweets and Facebook posts while on sabbatical in Paris for a year with her family and turned them into this delightful Parisian read, Paris in Love.  Descriptions of ultra- fashionably dressed ladies, wonderful restaurants, rude waiters and fabulous shopping all contribute to a vivid picture of Paris.  Funny stories surrounding her children’s adjustment to new schools, friends and language challenges are part of the flavor.  I appreciate Eloisa’s ability to describe the little details of life, such as, “This morning I dropped Anna off at school then walked across the Seine on a lavishly gilded bridge.  The wind was fiercely chilly, but the sky bright blue, and the way the sun shone on the river and danced over all that gold leaf opened a door straight from winter to a slice of spring.”

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.

Be The Miracle

As you listen and read the news, do you ever think how nice it would be to hear or read good news or accounts of people doing something helpful?  Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett fits the bill.  The 50 lessons that Regina tells about are from her own experience or from people she has met in her years as a journalist.  It was amazing to me how little things that we may think inconsequential, can really make a great difference in someone’s life.  One day Regina stopped in an Ice Cream Shop to get directions, she met a young man scooping ice cream who wanted to be a neurosurgeon.  He had been attending a prestigious school, but his family ran out of money.  “When Regina called the school to check out his story, they were so glad to find him, they agreed to cover all his expenses.”  When a neurosurgeon read the column Regina wrote about the young man, he offered him a chance to observe in surgery.  And it all happened because Regina needed directions and took time to talk to a young man behind the ice cream counter.  “George Bernard Shaw wrote that the great secret wasn’t about having good or bad manners, but having the same kind of manners for everyone.”  You might be surprised at what miracles can happen when you take time to make them happen.

Imperfect: an Improbable Life by Jim Abbott

  In this extraordinary memoir, Jim Abbott tells the story of his life as a child and of the years before and after becoming a major league pitcher. Not just a biography nor just a baseball story, Imperfect: an Improbable Life is the story of a  man’s perseverance and dedication to overcome his physical disability and to gain acceptance for his achievements as a player and a person, not only as a disabled person. Abbott was born without a right hand and was raised by two young parents who provided unconditional love and  who taught Jim to regard his disability as an opportunity and a challenge. As a child, Abbott hides his right arm in a pocket, enduring the teasing of other children for being different. He plays baseball and football with neighborhood children and gains acceptance for his abilities on the playing field. Hours of throwing a ball against a wall improve his pitching and his technique to throw then place the ball glove on his left hand for fielding. Abbott eventually plays high school baseball and football, wins an Olympic Gold Medal for baseball, was an All-American player the University of  Michigan and is drafted by the California A’s baseball team. The book follows the ups and downs of his baseball career, and chapters about his life alternate with chapters describing each inning of the no-hitter that he pitched while playing for the New York Yankees. Inspiring is Abbott’s humility, and his belief that his example of achievement despite obstacles will inspire children with disabilities to reach for their own dreams. The most touching moments in his story are those before and after each game, when Abbott spent  countless hours signing autographs, talking with families of children with disabilities, and answering hundreds of letters from disabled children.

Told with honesty and humor, this is a memoir not only about a career in baseball but of a life that inspires us all to overcome the burdens and challenges of living.

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

After contracting tropical pneumonia on a family vacation to the Dominican Republic and getting a taste of his own mortality, author A.J. Jacobs decides to go on a two year quest to become the healthiest man alive. Jacobs decides to go about this by tackling one body part per month. He starts with the stomach and finishes up with the skull. Along the way, he focuses on everything from the adrenal gland (lower his stress levels) to the skin to the hands. Throughout the book, Jacobs shares interesting studies that have been conducted about health and we learn how many health claims by “experts” are dubious at best. Jacobs approaches the topic of his own health with skepticism, humor, and a willingness to try new things in the name of trying to become the healthiest man alive. He obviously doesn’t make his goal, but he learns a lot along the way (and shares it with his readers). This isn’t a how-to-manual, but the quirky story of Jacobs’ experiences and the many people he meets along the way as he tries to improve his health.

Drop Dead Healthy is for people who have read and enjoyed Jacobs’ previous book, The Year of Living Biblically, and for those who are interested in self-improvement and health and fitness.

Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit by River Jordan

“But one thing is for certain – our need for love, our need for each other does not change. And that’s the painful truth, the raw beauty of being human. We hurt, we love, we endure, we continue – and on any given moment of any given day – we rejoice. Praying for Strangers has allowed me those moments of rejoicing in being human.”  So says the author River Jordan one year after the debut of her second book, Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit.

I appreciated this book for the motivation instilled in me to think more of my fellow people each day.  I may not take the challenge of praying everyday for a stranger as River did, but I have been more cognizant of my interactions with those around me.  River chose to begin this resolution one New Year’s when she had much on her own plate that needed prayer.  She selfishly could have focused on her own needs such as her two sons being deployed, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq.  Instead River began praying every day for someone she crossed paths with and then telling them she would be doing this.  Many times she approached them with, “Would you mind telling me your name?  I have this daily resolution to pray for a stranger and you are my person today”  The reactions and responses she received were nearly always of gratitude and love.  The short converstaions that followed were such a boost to her spirit that River was encouraged to continue all year.  Many shared particular prayer needs and their short interactions became sweet memories and wishes to see them again.  We go through life depersonalizing those around us by never acknowedging their existence.  The clerk at Wal-mart checking us out could be a robot for all the human interaction we have with them. River Jordan’s book helped me to realize the worth of each person and the hope we can give those around us just by sharing a smile, a few words and a prayer.  Praying for Stangers is one book that won’t be read and forgotten.

Traveling the Silk Road

 Traveling the Silk Road :Ancient Pathway to the Modern World conjures images of romance and mystery, but in fact the Silk Road was a vast network of trade routes stretching over 5,000 miles from China through Central Asia and the Arabian Penninsula and into Europe. This was the first “information highway”–goods were exchanged along with news, ideas, foods, religions and cultures. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all found their way to new cultures along the Silk Road, from 600CE to the 14th century. The use of the  first paper and paper money spread east from China as glass and glassware  were traded from Istanbul towards the east. Goods such as silk, spices, wine, tea, cotton and metal items all spread from Asia to the rest of the world along the Silk Road. From Xi’an, China to Istanbul (Constantinople) and beyond, cultures were influenced by the trade items passing through. Xi’an was a thriving city with many religions and languages, Istanbul was at the crossroads of two continents –  a thriving trade port and Baghdad was a scholarly city with a university and 36 public libraries in the 12oo’s–a center of learning, writing and art. Recent archaeological finds have shown the extent of trade along the various routes, and this book is beautifully illustrated with photos of artifacts as well as of art work and maps of the routes. The book follows the route of the Silk Road in stages and includes fascinating photographs, of places such as the karez (wells) in the Turfan area of China that were built in the sixth century and are still in use today. This beautiful publication by the American Museum of Natural History offers a glimpse back to a time when ideas and cultures were being shared and explored.  Check out this book and visit some of the  the exotic stops along the Silk Road.

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.

Vertical Vegetables & Fruit by Rhonda Massingham Hart

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For people with small gardens, planting food crops that climb can greatly increase yield. This book is a great resource for recommending which types of structures are best for each type of climbing plant. Part I of the book includes information about the why’s and how’s of vertical gardening. Hart includes illustrations of different types of garden structures and helpful tips for how to best assemble these structures.

Vertical Vegetables & Fruit also contains information about container gardening for those who don’t have a yard at all. The library has many books specifically about container gardening that cover that topic in more depth, though.

Part II and Part III of this book cover which varieties of fruits and vegetables are best suited to vertical gardening. She includes specific varieties, their properties and disease resistance, and information about which USDA Hardiness Zones each variety is best suited to.