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Old-Fashioned Gentle Reads for Summer

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

We frequently hear requests from readers for old-fashioned, happy-ending books – perfect reading for summertime.  Here are some of my favorite heart-warming and hopeful books from years gone by, admittedly a list with a distinct girlie slant offered mainly with reading women and girls in mind.

cheaper             Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  The true, laugh-out-loud adventures of a family of twelve rambunctious, red-haired siblings and their eccentric parents during the first decades of the 20th century.

            The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West.  Scenes from the life of the fictional Birdwell family in Civil War-era Indiana – farm wife Eliza, a gentle, wise, Quaker minister; her more free-spirited husband, Jess; their family and their community – during a time of upheaval and spiritual questioning.  After reading this book, enjoy the wonderful 1956 film version starring Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire.

 mrs           Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman.  A classic novel of love and courage in the Canadian wilderness, this is the story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, privileged daughter of Boston, and her new husband, Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Mounties, as they start a life together in a dangerous, beautiful, enthralling place.

Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith is another heart-warming novel about early marriage.  Young Annie McGairy leaves her home in Depression-era Brooklyn to join and marry Carl who is studying law at a large Midwestern university.  This is her story of their first year of marriage as she and Carl face many challenges and learn how to honor themselves and their marriage.

            Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough.  A delightful memoir of innocents abroad – footloose, young, and disaster-prone. In 1920, best friends and Bryn Mawr students Skinner and Kimbrough embarked on a memorable European Grand Tour and later recounted with great humor all its surprises, mishaps, wonders, and revelations.

        Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. The charming novel, written in letters, this is the story of orphan Judy Abbott who, through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor, is able to attend school and discover a world that offers her undreamed-of possibilities.

lantern      A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich.  The story of a young pioneer woman who puts her youthful dreams aside to live a challenging but rewarding life with her husband on the Nebraska frontier.  And if you like this novel, look for The Edge of Time by Loula Grace Erdman, another captivating and romantic pioneer adventure set in the Texas panhandle.

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Keri Mills
Young Adult Librarian

sherlockThe series, “Sherlock,” premiered in 2010 and has since gained legions of followers. If you are one of the many, like myself, who have been “Sherlocked,” then you were unhappy with the news that season 4 will not even begin filming until the winter of 2015. Having to wait two years for new episodes practically qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment! Other than watching reruns of previous seasons, what are Sherlockians to do? Here ae a few suggestions to get you started.

Try some classic Sherlock Holmes. Start with “The Sherlock Holmes Collection” by A&E Television. This collection presents the five surviving episodes of the classic BBC show that aired in the 1960’s with Sherlock played by Peter Cushing. Or, watch “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock mysteries. This movie adaptation was created in 1983 and stars Ian Richardson as Holmes.

For a more contemporary take, there is the movie “Sherlock Holmes” and its follow-up “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” both directed by Guy Ritchie and released in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Holmes is played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Watson is played by Jude Law. These films diverge quite a bit from the classic Sherlock Holmes portrayal, in that Holmes and Watson are more like big blockbuster action heroes than intellectuals. However, Holmes is still arrogant, impulsive, intelligent, and of course, amazing at deductive reasoning. Another option is “Elementary,” a CBS TV series that debuted in 2012, with the third season slated to premier in October. Originally, producers garnered a lot of flak as they seemed to be riding on the coattails of “Sherlock’s” success, but this show can definitely stand on its own. Like “Sherlock,” it is set in the modern day, but, the setting is New York instead of London. And, while Holmes (Jonny Miller) still has a sidekick, she is now a woman, Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).

expressBesides watching other adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, anything based on Agatha Christie’s mysteries is a good choice. One of the great classics is “Murder on the Orient Express.” This 1974 film is star-studded with such actors as Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, and Vanessa Redgrave. In the movie, the Orient Express, a luxurious passenger train, is stopped by deep snow, and passengers discover that a murder has been committed. Luckily, or not so luckily for the murderer, famous detective, Hercule Poirot, happens to be on board. He must identify the murderer before he or she decides to strike again or is able to escape from the train. Another option is “And Then There Were None.” In this 1945 movie, based on Christie’s book by the same name, ten people are invited to an island for the weekend by the mysterious Mr. U. N. Own. Left on the island by boat, and then stranded, the ten begin being murdered one by one. Will they discover the murderer before all ten are dead?

For something a little different, “Doctor Who” is a good alternative. For those of you unfamiliar with “Doctor Who,” it is a long-running British science fiction TV series (recently celebrating 50 years). The Doctor, who is a Time Lord, explores the universe in his TARDIS, a time-traveling space ship that resembles a blue British police box. Along with various companions, the Doctor travels throughout time to save civilization and right various wrongs. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, co-creators and writers for “Sherlock,” are also writers for “Doctor Who” (Steven Moffat is also the executive producer for “Doctor Who”).
If you just want to see more of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the library has several of their movies. To see the two of them together again, watch “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” See Martin as Bilbo Baggins, and hear Cumberbatch’s marvelous voice as Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon.

imagesRRCDMDWQWhile none of these movies can take the place of “Sherlock,” hopefully they will help to tide us over for awhile. All of the above titles can be found at MPL. And, while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the original Sherlock Holmes adventures by Sir Arthur Conan D

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Book News

Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

One of the many great things about working in a library is that you’re privy to all of the hush-hush whispers about what’s going on in the book world. Here are some of the exciting things that are coming down the pipeline soon!


  • New Doctor Seuss book: Lost Doctor Seuss stories will be published in a new picture book in September. Stories will feature early appearances by Horton the elephant and other characters from the Seuss canon.
  • New Harry Potter covers have been revealed! Bloomsbury Children’s Books will be releasing new editions of Harry Potter books on September 1st. The gorgeous new covers are the work of artist Jonny Duddle, who has crafted new designs for each of the seven books. Unfortunately, for the time being, the new editions will only be available to purchase in Britain.
  • New Downton Abbey title: If waiting until January 2015 for the return of British period drama Downton Abbey seems utterly unbearable, you might receive some consolation in the pending October release of A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey. The title features images from the set, back stories behind episodes of Downton Abbey, period research, and interactives such as recipes and instructions on how to curtsey.
  • NASA is giving away free eBooks. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is opening the digital doors of its library to the public by making its eBook collection available for public downloading. If you’re interested in flight research, returning home after space travel and dressing for altitude, or maybe just want to learn about the vast galaxy NASA researches and explores, visit them today.


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Classic reading for lovers of English gardens, village life, and country houses

index4LBRRIONIn the 1930s, Englishman Beverley Nichols wrote about his adventure buying and restoring a dilapidated country house and garden, including his introduction to village life and the various neighbors who helped, hindered, and critiqued his efforts. 

His writing is lively, hilarious, and inspiring – perfect summer reading.  In 2006 upon the reissue of these books, Home and Garden described Nichols as being “as observant as Jane Austen, as witty as Oscar Wilde, and as sentimental as James Herriott.  He also happens to be as funny, timely, and un-P.C. as Jon Stewart.”

Get to know Beverley Nichols through his gardening trilogy – Merry Hall; Laughter on the Stairs; Sunlight on the Lawn  – and through the Allways trilogy, which includes Down the Garden Path; A Thatched Roof; A Village in a Valley.  Or try a new compilation of his writings, Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverly Nichols.

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Coming Soon to Theater Near You–Favorite Books Made into Movies!

In the coming weeks and months, several books that have been favorites at Manhattan Public Library have been made into films and will be coming to a theater near you! Some of the films coming soon are:

hundredThe Hundred Foot Journey, coming to theaters on August 8, stars Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal, tells how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian restaurant and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. It is a fable that is a testament to the inevitability of destiny.

Before I Go to Sleep, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is scheduled for release August 12.  Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life. (more…)

Posted in: Adult Services, For Teens, Mercury Column, News

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Fundraising in the Flint Hills

golfLooking to have a good time and spread some goodwill this August? You’ll be able to do just that at one of the many spectacular fundraisers happening in Manhattan this month.

  • 25th Annual Mercy Golf Classic on August 11 from 10:30am-7pm: A day-long benefit golf tournament supporting community health initiatives at Mercy Regional Health Center. Located at Colbert Hills Golf Course
  • Brew at the Zoo on August 22 from 6-9pm: Visit Sunset Zoo and try local microbrew samples while supporting the zoo and its wildlife conservation efforts. In addition to beer samples, there will also be small bites, entertainment, and live, in-person encounters with Sunset Zoo’s animal ambassadors!
  • Art Happens on August 23 from 6:30-10:30pm: features visual artists demonstrating their creative process, performing artists giving short performances, a silent art auction, and the evening ends with a live art auction. Heavy hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants will be served.
  • Cattle Baron’s Ball on August 23 at 6pm: Support the American Cancer Society at the 4th annual Cattle Baron’s Ball. The Cattle Baron’s Balls have raised nearly $257,000 for Society programs, research for on prevention, early detection, and cancer cures. Entertainment, dancing, auctioning, and food and drink will be provided at this all-out party for a great cause.


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This is the day! Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day!

imagesWhat a great year for gardening with the rain in June and the moderate temperatures.  We can imagine there are zukes hiding under those huge leaves in your gardens.  Take a chance and sneak them into your neighbors yard before they become the size of baseball bats. Since it is also Happiness Happens Day, you will have succeeded in killing two birds with one stone.

You can find great savory recipes for next weeks crop in The Kitchen Garden Cookbook edited by Caroline Bretherton, Vegetables by James Peterson and Cooking from the Garden edited by Ruth Lively.  I plan to try Briami, a Greek dish of mixed garden-fresh vegetables, layered, seasoned and baked like a gratin. (page 172 in Cooking from the Garden)


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indexQQVUNTAOIs it even too hot to READ?  As the dog days of summer arrive, look for effortless, lighthearted entertainment in the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.  These films characteristically feature nutty plot lines, witty repartee, a rapid-fire delivery style, a skillful blend of sophistication and slapstick, elegant settings, and battling but romantically-inclined main characters.  The films first appeared in the early 1930s, with mega-hits It Happened One Night and My Man Godfrey.  They came at a time when the nation was dealing with the fallout of the Great Depression, and they were movies that made people laugh and were guaranteed to have happy endings.  They showcased many of the greatest stars of Hollywood from that golden era.  These screwball comedy classics are all available from Manhattan Public Library. 

It Happened One Night (1934), Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable 

Twentieth Century (1934), John Barrymore and Carole Lombard

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur

My Man Godfrey (1936), William Powell and Carole Lombard

Topper (1937), Cary Grant and Constance Bennet  

The Awful Truth (1937), Irene Dunne and Cary Grant  

You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart

Holiday (1938), Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn 

His Girl Friday (1940), Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant

My Favorite Wife (1940), Irene Dunne and Cary Grant

The Philadelphia Story (1940), Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant

The Lady Eve (1941), Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda

indexZ5EIHXVLBall of Fire (1941), Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck  

The Palm Beach Story (1942), Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea

Woman of the Year (1942), Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy   

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Cary Grant, et al.



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Election Day is August 5th

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

voteThe summer has flown by and it’s already election time—Primary Elections will be held in Riley County on August 5. The Riley County Clerk’s web site has LOTS of information about voter registration and elections.

Although voter registration is closed for the upcoming primaries, you still have time to register to vote in the General Election held on November 4, 2014. The last day to register to vote in the General Election is October 14, 2014. To register to vote, you will need:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • A Completed Voter Registration Application, available online or at the County Clerk’s office. Mail your completed form or walk-in to the Riley County Clerk’s Office at 110 Courthouse Plaza to finish your registration. There are also many places around town and throughout Riley County to pick up a Voter Registration Application, including at the check-out desk at Manhattan Public Library!
  • Your voter registration information and sample ballot for the Primary Election are also available at the County Clerk’s web site.  Enter your name, birthdate and county to view a sample ballots for either Democrat or Republican candidates, your personal voting history, and where your polling place is located. For the Primary Election, your ballot will be available according to your party affiliation. If you are Unaffiliated, you may choose a party ballot when you go to the polling place, but you must declare your party affiliation when you select a ballot.

Advance voting is conveniently located on the second floor of the Riley County Office Building, weekdays through August 1, 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, and Saturday August 2 from 8:00 am until noon. The last day for advance voting is Monday, August 4 from 8:00 am until noon.

To vote in advance or at your polling places (open 7am to 7pm on Tuesday, August 5), every voter must show a photo ID. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Kansas Drivers’ License
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Military ID
  • Student ID from an accredited post-secondary institution in Kansas
  • Employee ID or badge issued by a government office
  • Public Assistance ID card
  • Concealed Carry or Handgun License issued by a state government

If you have any questions about your registration or the elections, please contact the Riley County Clerk’s Office at 785-537-6300.

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