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The House that Healed

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Rise: How a House Built a FamilyNew to the library is a nonfiction book that speaks of unbelievable determination and courage.  Author Cara Brookins wrote the book to chronicle an experience she shared with her four children.  Rise: How a House Built a Family is an inspirational story that you won’t want to miss.

Brookins, the mother of three children, met and married a man who appeared to be an ideal partner.  He seemed to care deeply about her children, and the couple had another child sometime later.  But things began to go very badly.  Her husband scheduled and paid for a conference room for a presentation to which no one was invited.  He repeatedly threatened his wife with murder.  The children learned early to flee to their rooms and lock the doors to avoid irrational confrontations.  Fearing the increasingly frightening outbursts resulting from her husband’s schizophrenia and worried about her children’s safety, Cara filed for divorce.

The dissolution of her marriage left Cara with one troublesome problem: at some point soon, she and her children would have no place to live.  While the mother had a productive career, she didn’t have many resources and she also had a family for which to provide.  That’s when a seemingly impossible solution occurred to her.

Why not take out a small loan and begin building a house?  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  But her plans entailed much more thought.  She decided that she and the kids (ages 2-15) could do the actual building, if they had access to advice from building supply staff and if they studied YouTube videos that demonstrated techniques.

And so, the long process began.  She bought a small piece of land, and she and the kids began marking off rooms.  They ordered foundation materials and enlisted help from others.  This after-work and after-school project became a lasting commitment in which each had designated parts.  Their projected deadlines for completion were delayed by rainy weather, warping boards, defective plumbing and routine exhaustion, but they kept struggling to complete necessary steps.

And there were other unsettling setbacks.  Despite the finalization of the divorce, her husband continued to appear at the house the family would soon have to vacate and he would make eerie threats.  Several times, he stalked the family until the police were called.  A restraining order had little effect on his bizarre visits.

There were also other obstacles.  The youngest child, who was a two-year-old, had to be kept safe around the many dangers of the family’s construction zone.  The oldest son, a fifteen-year-old, lost his best friend in a car accident.  Cara had the pressures of her job that had to take precedence over the construction.

In fact, one of the lowest points occurred when Cara suffered a nasty puncture wound to her leg.  Shortly after that, she was struck by some falling lumber which left a serious gash over one eye.  Her son took her to the emergency room where the attending physician believed Cara to be the victim of domestic abuse.  When he told her his suspicions, she replied that she knew all about domestic abuse, but this instance certainly wasn’t such.

As the work continued, something remarkable began to happen.  Mom and kids, all pulling together, began to get past the abuse of earlier times.  In fact, they became quite independent.  Any time they stumbled upon a new home-building task, they did quick studies, and each developed special talents, whether that be putting up wall board, staining cabinetry or running water lines.  Perhaps the oldest son explained it best when he reflected that if you can build your own damn house, you can do anything.

Why read this book?  It’s a testament to individual fortitude you won’t want to miss.  Plus, the start-to-finish photographs of the project are unbelievable.   You’ll want to spend some time reading about this amazing mother and her equally determined children.

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Books to Read if You Like The Walking Dead

By Amber Johnson, Youth Services Library Assistant

Rot & RuinA post-apocalyptic story at its finest, The Walking Dead tells the story of sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, after he wakes from a coma to find the world infested with “walkers.” Survival becomes tantamount to Rick and the people he meets along the way, as they try to avoid the ever-growing zombie population. This show, for some, has become more than just a story with zombies.  It has become a commentary on the nature of violence and the lengths to which we go to survive and thrive. As the second part of season seven begins tonight, here are some books that might pique your interest.

Feed by Mira Grant

The zombie apocalypse has happened, but information regarding it doesn’t seem to be very widespread.  Mainstream news has yet to reveal what the infected are actually doing, but bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are shouting the truth loud for all to hear.  When they are asked to be a part of the presidential campaign, they find out that the zombies themselves might not be their worst enemies.

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The only world Mary has ever known has been inside the walls of her community.  The Guardians serve to protect the community from the Unconsecrated, who live beyond the wall and seek to turn people into their own, into the undead.  In this softer, less violent story, Mary seeks to understand her world and the limitations that have been set before her, wondering what kind of threat the Unconsecrated actually hold for her.

Partials by Dan Wells

The human race has been ravaged by a weaponized virus, and the survivors are currently hiding out on Long Island.  Living under mandatory pregnancy laws and in such close quarters, the community is finding it hard to maintain sanity and composure.  Sixteen-year-old Kira is doing everything in her power as a medic not only to reclaim immunity for humans, but also to keep those still living from taking each other out.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Benny Imura wants more out of life than following in his brother’s footsteps as a zombie hunter.  Tom, his brother, is respected, revered and just insanely good at what he does.  In a post-apocalyptic world in which “zoms” run rampant, the job of bounty hunter has become even more important.  As Benny wrestles with his animosity towards his brother, the threat of zombies, and the truth about his family, he might just discover more about his own identity in the meantime.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer is a “ship breaker,” meaning he salvages parts and pieces from old ships, in hopes of finding something to build a life on.  While fortunate enough to have the opportunity to salvage, Nailer goes home to a shanty town and a deadbeat dad.  The idea of rising above this life of poverty and hopelessness is beyond his imagination.  When he discovers a survivor on one of the boats, a wealthy girl named Nita, he has to decide what to do next. Kill her and take all her wealth? Or help her out, trusting his chance at a better life will come soon?

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

The end of the world has arrived, and six students are hiding out in their school, listening to the sounds of zombies trying to get in.  The situation seems dire, but to Sloane, the world collapsed before the apocalypse happened.  With not much left to live for, Sloane gets to watch her classmates struggle to understand their new reality and learn how to interact with each other.

After you’ve hunkered down to watch the beginning of the second part of this season, be sure to stop by the library to check out these titles. Or if you’re new to The Walking Dead series, use your library card to check out the seasons on DVD.

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Self-Help for Non-Gurus

By Vivienne Uccello, Public Relations Coordinator

The Miracle of MindfulnessI am an unabashed fan of self-help books. What better way to spend your time than by improving yourself and your life? Someone once told me that Ghandi said “be the change you wish to see in the world.” So, let’s go! Here are a few of my favorite self-helpers that are guaranteed not to bore you with platitudes.

The title of Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life gives the first clue about how funny, irreverent, and straight-talking she is. Sincero is the tough-loving best friend who can be blunt without ever hurting your feelings. Chapters like “My Subconscious Made Me Do It” and “Fear is for Suckers” will share good tips, teach you how to find the courage to change your life, and keep you laughing all at the same time.

What I love most about this book is that Sincero never gets preachy. Her words are always loving and often hilarious. Her main advice, which she repeats at the end of each chapter, is to love yourself and everything else will fall into place.  Plus, she isn’t snooty. Sincero uses the word “ain’t,” and phrases such as “break out the booze,” which keep her from sounding “holier than thou.”

You are a Badass has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than a year, and Jen Sincero professes to have helped “even the most skeptical self-helpers change their lives.” It’s definitely worth checking out.

Sincero also has a new book coming out in April. You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth promises to be “a refreshingly frank and entertaining step-by-step guide.” From what I’ve read so far, it’s probably going to be another bestseller so you should keep it on your radar.

Another book which has helped me greatly, and I believe has changed my life, is called The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Mindfulness describes a state of being aware and awake for even the small moments in our lives. Have you ever arrived at work without being able to remember the drive? Do you sometimes look up from your Facebook feed to realize that hours have passed? It’s easy to get caught up in tasks and forget to enjoy the experience of being alive, but this unfortunately means that we also miss out on the joys of living.

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Hahn shares stories and practical advice which remind us to pay attention. He gives readers practice skills which can be as simple as not reaching for the next bite of food until you finish chewing. His teaching style is loving and gentle, and after you read his book you will find yourself breathing deeper and noticing things you used to take for granted.

Finally, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, is the best resource I’ve found for making difficult conversations end well. The book is well-researched, backed up with both practical advice and statistical information, and will give you concrete examples of how to check your emotions and speak respectfully even in heated situations.

Crucial Conversations will set you up for communication success. By taking a moment to decide what you want out of a conversation and acknowledging the needs of the other person, you can create safe space for everyone involved. Most importantly, you will learn how to speak honestly and directly without damaging your relationships. The techniques are easy to remember, and this would be a good book to study as a group. I’ve noticed immediate results from the skills I learned in Crucial Conversations and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know.

Even though it’s a catchy phrase for bumper stickers, Ghandi did not actually say “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He did, however, say that “if we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” Working on yourself can have widespread effects in your family and in all of your relationships. Now is always the perfect time to take small steps to improve your life. For more recommendations, or to check out any of these books, visit the Manhattan Public Library.

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Contemporary Immigration and Children’s Books

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The JourneyThis year’s three-part TALK program (Talk About Literature in Kansas) at the library will focus on books about contemporary immigration. It is a timely topic that many adults struggle to understand more fully. When it comes to children, explaining what it means to be an immigrant or a refugee can be even more of a challenge. Reading one of these picture books together may help open communication.

Their Great Gift by John Coy tells a heartfelt story of a shared experience that rings true. Describing the unnamed family of the story, Coy writes, “They made mistakes and people laughed. Others didn’t understand how much they’d sacrificed.” This thin book is full of remarkable photographs of immigrants by Wing Young Huie. Each photo is striking and seems to have a story of its own.

In I am New Here, author/ illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien shows three children experiencing the lonely and confusing transition after leaving a country and a language behind. Maria, Jin and Fatimah show bravery and courage as they find ways to fit in at their new school.  In an interview, O’Brien says she “noticed there was a missing piece” when people seemed to think immigrant children came as “blank slates.” The truth is these children “bring with them full, complete, rich lives in which they have already accomplished so much and know so much.” In her book, she strives to bring out that richness and fullness.

Jose Manuel Mateo and Javier Martinez Pedro chose to create their book Migrant in the format of a codex. The book unfolds like an accordion and is read from top to bottom. The topic is heavy, describing a mother who must take her children and leave their country.  The detailed ink drawing is fascinating as it evolves from a happier time in Mexico to their new life in L. A.

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng is also a somber tale of a father and his daughter traveling by various means – walking, riding atop a train or in the back of a truck. The unnamed setting is desolate and marked with homeless people, refugees, foxes and soldiers. The young girl’s voice is not distraught, though. She finds beauty in the clouds and friendship in the people she meets, but their traveling does not seem to have an end. This book could bring out questions from children for which we do not have many answers.

Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat tackles another tough situation when Saya’s mother is imprisoned for being an illegal immigrant.  The mother sends Saya cassette tapes so she can listen to her mother’s voice, and Saya is moved to write a story of her own to try to change her situation.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna is a child’s view of leaving everything behind to escape to a new place, with illustrations that Kirkus Review describes as “playing dramatically and beautifully with light and shadow…to accentuate the family’s struggles.”

In the award-winning picture book My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald, the main character, nicknamed Cartwheel, has left her home country to be safe. But nothing feels right. “The food was strange. The animals and plants were strange. Even the wind felt strange,” so she invents an imaginary blanket of her old words and familiar things. This metaphor gives readers a sensory object — a warm, soft blanket that can cover Cartwheel with the things she loves and misses.

Similarly, The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart describes how new immigrant Isabel prefers to hang out in a special place she made from discarded cardboard boxes.  Here, she merges her love of and longing for her old language with the delight of learning new words and piecing them together.

For another positive outlook, try Jamie Lee Curtis’s new picture book, This is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From. The rhyming text is perfect for younger children, and it may lead to an insightful activity where children try to decide what they would take with them if they had just one small suitcase to fill.

In furthering the topic of immigration, the TALK programs this February, March and April will invite interesting discussions of the adult novels Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, Harbor by Lorraine Adams, and Typical American by Gish Jen. Extra copies of these titles are available at the library.

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Don’t Ditch Those Resolutions

By Gigi Holman, Adult Services Librarian

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy LivingEvery year on January 1, a large percentage of Americans resolve to better themselves. And then a couple of weeks into the new year, they have returned to our old routines, and these goals have gone by the wayside. In fact, this happens so often that there is an official holiday for it called “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.” If you are one of those people who are on the edge of “ditching your resolution,” never fear! The library has inspiring books that will help you get back on track to achieving your resolutions.

If your resolution is to get healthy, start with If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body by James Hamblin. A basic understanding of how our bodies operate can lead to better health. Hamblin explores the many health questions that we all have about our bodies including sleep, aging, nutrition, and much more. He presents facts in an engaging and entertaining way. One great thing about this book is that it sparks your curiosity. You can jump from topic to topic as if you were a kid who is reading through the encyclopedia set for the first time.

Getting organized can be overwhelming. Marie Kondo, who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and a companion book, Spark Joy, will help you find joy in decluttering your home. Her famous KonMari Method guides you to declutter your home by arming you with techniques that will help you determine if an item in your house sparks joy. Her technique changes your view of decluttering by helping you see what to keep instead of what you should throw away.

We all talk about slowing down and enjoying the simple things, but how do we find time to do that? Hygge, pronounced hue-gah, is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes from taking pleasure in the simple things in our life: cuddling up under the blankets, lighting candles, taking in the morning light, and enjoying every sip of your first cup of coffee. It is taking a good moment and making it special. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking is your “guide to all things Hygge.” It offers suggestions and advice on finding Hygge in your own life from choosing lighting in your home to bringing light to the unexpected moments in your life.

Learning a new craft can be rewarding and frustrating at the same time. You research on Pinterest what you want to do, buy the supplies, then go home, and your new project sits on the kitchen table or in the bag for the next few months. Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman by Peter Korn is an inspiring book that explores why we craft and the rewards of creative practice. In this moving memoir, the author recounts his spiritual and personal journey as a furniture architect and teacher. This book reveals how crafting is an important part of our lives and how it can shape us and connect us with others.

Finally, we would all love to read more! Find your inspiration by delving into Books for Living by Will Schwalbe, which explores why we read. In each chapter, he tells a story about a particular book that he has read, tells why he read it, and explains how it has shaped his life. Warning: this book can add to your “To Be Read” pile.

There are many other opportunities to find success at the library. Take a technology class, participate in a craft program, explore our databases, read in a comfy corner, or just come and explore our shelves. The library can offer inspiration to your resolution list. You just have to find it in the right place.

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Remembering Martin

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Gospel of FreedomTomorrow, January 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A federal holiday since being signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, MLK Day is observed on the third Monday of January. King’s actual birthday is January 15.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech is included in most lists of the greatest speeches in American history. Clarence Jones gives the story behind the speech in “Behind the Dream: the Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation.”  Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant of King, gives a behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, and reveals the collaboration leading to the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.

King: a Biography,” by David Lewis is a foundational biography first published shortly after King’s death. Acclaimed by historians and critics alike, this updated edition includes a new preface, as well as additional photographs of King and his contemporaries.

For a more personal portrait of Dr. King, choose “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Edited by Clayborne Carson, this history-making autobiography portrays Dr. King in his own words. Carson has utilized published and unpublished writings by King, as well as his speeches, interviews, notes, and sermons. The result for the reader is an intimate sharing in the trials and triumphs of Dr. King, including the Montgomery Boycott, the “I Have a Dream” speech, the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 12, 1963, King was arrested in Birmingham for violating a court injunction against marching in the city’s street. In response to eight white clergymen who accused him of being a violent extremist, King addressed his famous letter from Birmingham jail. In “Gospel of Freedom; Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation,” Jonathan Rieder discusses the events that led up to King’s arrest, and addresses the letter’s importance during the struggle for civil rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine motel in Memphis, where he was supporting a strike of sanitation workers. “Death of a King: the Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year,” by Tavis Smiley chronicles the last year of Dr. King’s life. The bookends of this fateful year are April 4, 1967, when King made his first anti-war speech, and April 4, 1968. Throughout his book, Smiley raises the question, “What kind of man had Martin Luther King, Jr. become during the last year of his life?”

For a comprehensive examination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, and its place in American history, select Taylor Branch’s three volume opus. The first volume in the series, “Parting the Waters,” covers the years 1954-1963, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Volume Two, “Pillar of Fire,’ looks at the years 1963-1965, while the third volume “At Canaan’s Edge,” concludes with the years 1965-1968.

There are several titles for young readers available at the library, including “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Brad Meltzer. This title is part of a series of biographies for children by an author better known for his political thrillers. In its pages, kids will learn that even as a child Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by unfair treatment of African-American people. So, when he grew up, he decided to do something about it, fighting injustice with powerful words.

Also for children, “What was your Dream, Dr. King?,” by Mary Kay Carson. This book is arranged in a question and answer format. In its pages curious readers will find the answers to their most burning questions about Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to its sheer beauty, children will also learn from “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifteen award-winning artists illustrate the words of Dr. King’s most famous speech. This title also includes a CD of the speech.

Remember to also checkout Hoopla for titles about Martin Luther King, Jr. in a variety of formats. With your Manhattan Public Library card, you can stream or download 5 titles from Hoopla every month at no charge.

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Heart-warming Reads

by Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Last Bus to WisdomThese months after the bustle of the holidays, with a long wait for the warmth of spring, can feel a bit dreary. To ward off the winter blues, sitting down (preferably with an afghan and a cup of tea) to a heart-warming book can improve your outlook.

The author of the vastly popular A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman, has returned with another tale full of heart and hope, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. At seven years old, Elsa faces the loss of her beloved grandmother and her stories of the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, but she takes on the adventure of delivering her granny’s apology letters. Through her quest, Elsa learns that support can exist in surprising places and that sometimes fairy tales contain the truths of life.

In the delightful novel The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, Sara travels from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her avid-reader pen pal, Amy. When she arrives to learn that Amy has just died, she hunkers down in Amy’s house full of books. She’s eventually inspired to open a book store to share her beloved friend’s love of books with her non-reading community, starting a series of subtle changes that will touch the town and Sara forever.

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore brings to life Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. The life-long friends have met for years at their favorite local diner to eat the best food in town, gossip, and take care of one another. Full of humor and unforgettable characters, Moore’s novel affirms the value of friendship, community, humor, and a good piece of pie.

Ivan Doig takes us on a 1951 road trip in Last Bus to Wisdom. Eleven-year-old Donal Cameron is shipped off to an aunt in Wisconsin when the grandmother raising him in Montana has to have surgery. Aunt Kate is nothing like his sweet Gran, and he can’t seem to get on her good side. After Donal pushes Kate too far, she sends him back to the authorities in Montana and her hen-pecked husband, Herman the German, takes the opportunity to escape with the boy. Doig was known for his outstanding abilities as a storyteller and this humorous road novel demonstrates his mastery.

Lynne Cox was the first person to swim both the Straits of Magellan and around the Cape of Good Hope, but she faces completely new challenges in her memoir Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart. Following the deaths of her parents and her beloved dog, she is diagnosed with arterial fibrillation, which sets her back severely. Her book shares her struggle toward recovery and her recognition of the importance of her community.

Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutlin tells the story of Greg Mahle’s mission to bring dogs from Southern shelters and find loving homes for them in the North. The author traveled with Mahle and shares the tales of the road trip, including the awful conditions that some animals experience and the inspiring people who dedicate their lives to saving them.

Rabbi Susan Silverman examines the meaning of identity, faith, and family in her autobiography Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World. Silverman chronicles her childhood in a loving family that faced difficulties together. It also tells of the creation of her own family as she and her husband add to their three daughters by adopting two sons from Ethiopia. Her sharp sense of humor shines through this thoughtful perusal of a fascinating life.

Horace Mann once said “A house without books is like a room without windows.” A heartwarming read is the perfect way to open your mind and let some light into the long months of winter.

 

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After the Feast

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The Mediterranean Diet for BeginnersFirst there was Thanksgiving with its turkey and pumpkin pie (and everything else), and a few short weeks later, here’s Christmas. And the feasting hasn’t let up for a moment between the two. But now it’s over. It is time to get back to reality. It’s time to start eating right again.

But what’s right? The dizzying array of healthy eating and weight loss options is confusing, to say the least. What’s best, Atkins, or Weight Watchers? Paleo or Glycemic Index? Macrobiotic, Mediterranean, Nutrisystem, South Beach, Volumetics, Blood Type, 3 Hour, how do we make sense of all the choices?

Start at the Manhattan Public Library. The library has an extensive collection of diet books in traditional paper format, and also available for free download through the Sunflower eLibrary and Hoopla.

Some diets preach a no or low carbohydrate lifestyle. In “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You were Designed to Eat,” Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo movement, demonstrates how to prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and other illnesses. The key is a diet rich in lean meats and fish, fruit and non-starchy vegetables. No rice, potatoes, bread, or pasta on this diet.

Cardiologist Robert Atkins developed a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that is still popular. In his “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,” Atkins returns 20 years after the original publication of his diet to insist that sugar, refined white flour, and carbohydrate-based junk food are far more harmful to our health than meat and fish, eggs and butter. Bacon for breakfast every day is OK with Atkins.

Sugar is the villain in many diets. In “The New Sugar Busters,” H. Leighton Stewart and co-authors, argue that cutting sugar from your diet, will also trim fat. They favor a diet of unrefined foods high in fiber and low on sugar. White foods, including potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta, and refined sugar are out. Keeping them out, the authors maintain, will result in weight loss and improved overall health.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the protein rich diets is “The 80/10/10 Diet: Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life One Luscious Bite at a Time,” by Douglas N. Graham. Graham, an adviser to world-class athletes and an adherent of raw foods, espouses a diet of 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, and 10% fat.  This diet of whole, fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, he claims, will result in easy weight management, disease reversal, and optimum health.

Eating habits that work for one person may not be effective for someone else. According to weight loss specialist Dr. Scott Rigden, there is no miracle diet that works for everyone. In “The Ultimate Metabolism Diet: Eat Right for Your Metabolic Type,” Rigden explains that everyone has a unique body type with a corresponding metabolism. He identifies five metabolic types, provides questionnaires to assist people in identifying their own type, and offers specific dietary and lifestyle habits to ease the pain of weight loss.

America ranks number 12 among the most obese countries in the world (http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/29-most-obese-countries-in-the-world.html). It’s no secret, we aren’t eating right. But are there places in the world where people are eating right, that we can learn from? In “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” Dan Buettner writes about the places in the world where people eat and live right. Included in the blue zones are Okinawa, Sardinia, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, and Loma Linda, California.  In addition to diet, Buettner stresses the importance of social networks, daily rituals, physical environment, and the sense of purpose enjoyed by these populations.

The Mediterranean diet is another popular way of eating. In titles including “The Mediterranean Diet for Beginners,” and “The Mediterranean Diet for Everyday,” this heart-healthy eating lifestyle features fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, lean meats and fish, and good fats like avocado and olive oil.

If you want to ring in the New Year by starting to eat right, or by losing a few of those holiday pounds, there’s no shortage of books claiming to have the answers. Whether you want to try “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” or “The Shangri-la Diet: the No Hunger, Eat Anything Weight Loss Plan,” or even “The Fat Flush Plan,” you’ll find them all at the library.

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Library Staff Favorite Reads in 2016

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

The War that Saved My LifeWhat makes a great reading experience?  Is the author, the subject matter, the style?  For most of us, it’s some combination of factors that makes a book truly memorable.  We all have favorites, and while others may not understand our enthusiasm for a particular book, we recall that certain title that really touched us.

I spoke with several staff members at the library, asking for their 2016 picks for top book.  Some suggested newer titles, but others found choices among some of the older titles in our collections.  What follows are their picks and their reasons for their selections.  With a little luck, you might find your own next treasure among their favorites.

Here are ten titles the staff encourage you to read:

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley was a first choice.  This work is children’s historical fiction that takes place in London during World War II.  Young Ada, who has a twisted foot, is neglected by her mother, but the girl flees her mother and follows her brother to a safe home outside the town.  Our reader notes that the girl had to go through a lot of different stuff before the book turns toward a more hopeful ending.

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado is an adult nonfiction title that forces the reader to think in a different perspective.  Author Tirado experienced poverty first hand, but she also developed a sense of humor that is admirable.  Our reader noted that the author made some wrong decisions, but they were not always a personal choice.

Feel like some science fiction?  One reader spoke highly of The Golden Son by Pierce Brown, the second volume in the Red Rising Trilogy.  Why a favorite?  It is something of a Hunger Games tale for adults, a story that demonstrates how a singular event can affect so much.  Then, too, there is so much action that makes this book appealing.

And that wasn’t the only science fiction title.  Another reader had warm praise for Iain Banks’s Consider PhlebasThis tale concerns a galactic war in which ships are creations of artificial intelligence.  The reader describes the book as a very different take on humanity.

Another reader is an admirer of Patti Smith and had the great fortune of seeing her perform in Kansas City in the 1980s.  Her choice of title?  Smith’s M Train, an adult biographical meditation.  Our reader noted that Smith in a unique thinker who very creatively discussed her own life throughout the book.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is another favorite.  This fiction title is an adult story of an elderly Canadian woman who has never seen the ocean. And so, she decides to walk across the country to see it, a trip which husband Otto comprehends because he, too, once traveled a great distance.  Our reader enjoyed the great prose the book offered, the way the language flowed.

One of our readers highly praises Small Great Things by perennial favorite Jodi Picoult.  This well written tale concerns a fictional encounter between a white supremacist and an African American nurse.  What follows is a tragedy during which the reader sees both complex points of view.

Another newer favorite is Paulette Jiles’s News of the WorldOne reader described the story as another take on True Grit by Charles Portis.  In fictional 19th century Texas, an older gentleman accompanies a young girl on her return to relatives after she was kidnapped some years earlier by the Kiowa.  Despite the fact that the girl speaks no English, the two travelers bond during a perilous journey that leads to an uplifting finish.

A young adult selection that gained great praise from a reader is David Levithan’s Two Boys KissingThe book is about gay teenagers, but it is also about so much more.  Our reader said the book had an incredible impact and left her with a sense of raw emotions.

Let’s end on another science fiction title.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is the story of a character kidnapped by his alternative self from a parallel universe.  His task becomes the struggle to return to his home.  Why the appeal?  Our reader said it was a story like he’d never encountered before.

Whatever your choices, please visit the library.  All of the staff wish you years of fulfilling reading.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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Cooking Christmas

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Real Simple: CelebrationsWe’ve all learned that the holidays have their share of hectic preparations and unexpected disasters, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring new discoveries and moments of joy to our gatherings with friends and family.  Manhattan Public Library invites you to browse among the following cooking and entertaining books that just might lighten your already busy schedules.

For openers, “Everything Christmascompiled by David Bordon and Tom Winters will set the mood.  This lovely book of Christmas stories, mouthwatering recipes, and holiday carols and poems is just an opener.  Also included are Christmas trivia and humorous details.

Need some lighthearted humor in your days?  “Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Get Festiveby Jen Yates will surely do the trick.  This holiday cookbook is guaranteed to “bring confectionary hilarity and horror” (according to Library Journal reviews) into your life with its less-than-happy Hanukkah horrors, Christmas conundrums, and New Year’s meltdowns.  How?  There’s an icing-smeared disaster cake for every possible occasion.

Perhaps you just need some good cheer to boost your enthusiasm.  If that’s the case, “Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook” or “Christmas with Paula Deen: Recipes and Stories from My Favorite Holiday” are two special volumes with much to offer.  Both books delight with their unique personal memories, tantalizing recipes, and creative decorating and gift wrapping tips.

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without an array of special sweet desserts. How about forgoing the usual decorated sugar cookies for something with an international flair?  “Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German and Austrian Tradition” by Sarah Kelly Iaia is exquisite.  The German table, famous for its rich heavily-spiced desserts, coaxes you to experiment with specialty breads and pungent spices.  The book promises that your home will comfort all who enter with its delightful aromas.

If you’re still convinced that traditional holiday cooking is the best, “Beatrice Ojakangas’ Great Holiday Baking Book” is a safe bet.  This book offers a wide selection of international treats specially gathered for Passover and Christmas.  Best of all, the book advises the busy cook with mouth-watering desserts that can be made ahead and frozen.

The holidays would not be complete without vegan offerings.  “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” is perfect for some.  Author Nava Atlas has gathered some 200 beautiful recipes, many of which are ideal for Christmas and Hanukkah.

Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook” is a compilation of some 400 recipes, personal comments, and culinary history passed down from generations of Jewish cooks.  For those who yearn for traditional recipes, modern adaptations help ease the difficulty of gathering ingredients and determining portions.

Angela Shelf Medearis offers a wealth of festive ideas for the celebration of Kwanzaa in “Ideas for Entertaining from the African-American Kitchen.”  Included in this excellent book are recipes, party planning tips, and other ideas, as well as historical information relevant for the holidays.

Let’s get serious about home decorating.  What if you’re looking for a something other than the traditional red and green for your home decoration?  “White Christmas: Decorating and Entertaining for the Holiday Season” may be what you’re missing.  Best-selling home decorator Tricia Foley has reinterpreted time-honored customs and simple yet stunning design with her combination of rich evergreen touches on a white-on-white decorating style.

Nervous about entertaining your guests this season?  Don’t be!  “Daisy’s Holiday Cooking, Delicious Latin Recipes for Effortless Entertaining by Daisy Martinez opens to you a world of Latin-themed events.  Especially inviting is her Christmas Eve dinner for six that incudes Tamarind Margaritas, Roasted Duck, and Arroz Con Pato.  If ease is a main concern for you, “Real Simple: Celebrations” by Valerie Rains is just what you need.  This handy book guides you through amazingly easy-to-arrange parties, and it includes hints on terrific hors d’oeuvres and hassle-free cleanup.

There’s no reason for you to miss out on the fun of gatherings this holiday season.  Come browse the unique selections of holiday cooking and decorating books that Manhattan Public Library has to offer.  You’re bound to find something that will help you create a memorable celebration for all your guests.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized

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