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Garden for Wildlife

Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

Gardens are a wonderful way of gaining joy from the outside world. The visual beauty of flowers and plants is pleasing to the eye, but when a butterfly drops in for a visit, another dimension is added to heighten your gratification. It doesn’t matter if you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat can be created. The month of May is “Garden for Wildlife” month, so, it is a fitting time to plant your own wildlife-friendly garden. Find significant resources at the library to help you get started.

“Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” by Douglas Tallamy, will get you off to a great start. Tallamy indicates that the gardener plays an important role in the management of our nation’s wildlife. The plants in your garden attract insects which are necessary to attract wildlife. He tells us which particular insects are best to have in your garden and what particular plants will lure them. This is a comprehensive book that will also help you decide which native plants will work best for your area to draw in desired wildlife.

What is more native to the garden than the bee? “The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity” by Kate Frey, is filled with beautiful photos. Frey tells us that spending time in a bee garden can be a source of pleasure, as well as therapy in your own backyard. Bee-friendly gardens also attract butterflies, moths, bats, and hummingbirds. It’s important to remember that bees provide many benefits, and they only sting when provoked.

Wildlife that you expect to see in the backyard are birds. “Backyard Birding: Using Natural Gardening to Attract Birds” by Julie Zickefoose, explains what type of plants you’ll need for different types of birds. The plants invite birds to the yard because of the food or shelter that they provide. Water is especially important to keep birds coming back, and Zickefoose shares some creative ways for you to supply the water they need. No matter which birds frequent your backyard, the experience of sharing your plot of earth with them will be rewarding.

Whether you want to attract birds, bats, or butterflies, “Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife” by Catherine Johnson is an impressive asset. She not only shares which plants you should grow to entice the wildlife of your choice, but also gives simple instructions for building feeders, nesting boxes, and arbors.

The garden is an awe-inspiring place for children to discover nature. In April Pulley Sayre’s book “Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening with Kids”, simple steps are given that families can follow to create their own wildlife habitat. April reminds us that sound is often the first clue to the presence of wildlife. Children learn to listen, then look for the creatures that have tickled their ears. She also points out that the winter garden is a place of discovery; footprints in the snow give substantial clues to the wildlife that visit and can be a magnificent source of entertainment. Sharing life in a garden with children is sure to be lots of fun.

In this book, “Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People” by Marlene Condon, the author not only gives insight on how to attract the right kind of insects, but also gives guidance in selecting the right binoculars for up-close viewing. Ms. Condon likes to use nesting boxes in her garden. As a result, she has seen eastern screech-owls, southern flying squirrels, and opossum take-up residency in them. She tells us that a gardener must plan to coexist with wildlife as well as their predators to make gardens imitative of the natural world.

There are many other selections available at the library to help you attract and enjoy wildlife in your own backyard. Why not get started today?

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 “Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence”

By Danielle Schapaugh

Not often will you find a witty, southern gothic, heartfelt, fiercely-loving, mystery story featuring Hindu mythology, but that’s just what Joshilyn Jackson’s latest novel “The Opposite of Everyone” has to offer.

Jackson is one of my favorite writers, always surprising readers with plot twists and engaging us with the kind of irreverent humor it takes to overcome hardship.  Her characters are authentic and original, and if you like to get wrapped up in a good story, she is a perfect author for you to explore.

“The Opposite of Everyone,” published in 2016, is the story of Paula Vauss, a smart and smart-mouthed divorce attorney who transformed herself after getting her gypsy-spirited mother arrested and imprisoned. Paula was only ten at the time and she was left to finish growing up in foster care with a new identity shaped by regret.  Her emotional armor expresses itself as sarcasm and outlandish behavior, but never does she seem crass or uncaring.  She’s someone you’ll want to meet. Paula’s mother has many secrets, but her love for her daughter and her unique approach to life and storytelling leave a deep imprint.

Then one day, her mother’s most treasured secret arrives on Paula’s doorstep and she is forced to crack open her armor to search for clues to her past and discover her mother’s whereabouts. This touching story has sharp edges, strong bonds, and a big heart. Paula is actually one of the minor characters from one of Jackson’s earlier novels “Someone Else’s Love Story,” which brings me to my next recommendation.

“Someone Else’s Love Story” is focused on Shandi Pierce and William Ashe.  Shandi is a young woman trying to raise a three-year-old genius, finish college, and keep her complicated life from jumping the rails—when she falls for William, an older man she meets at a gas station hold-up. As funny and “meet cute” as that sounds, this touching story is full of heartbreak, loss, and forgiveness, as well as humor.

None of Jackson’s characters is a flat stereotype, and that might be what I like most about her work. William Ashe, the hot, older-guy-hero Shandi falls for in “Someone Else’s Love Story,” is not just a good looking guy. William is a genetic scientist with Asperger’s. With the help of his best friend from high school (Paula Vauss from “The Opposite of Everyone”) he has learned to adjust. The chapters told from his perspective are full of the mental calculations he performs in order to read social situations, and they are never boring.

Jackson cares about her characters, and never does them the disservice of making even the minor players one-dimensional. In fact, she has another pair of novels that swap characters, and I think you will be interested to read them. Just between us, you should start with these if you are new to Jackson’s work.

The book that made me fall in love with Joshilyn Jackson’s writing is actually her very first novel, “Gods in Alabama.” This is a whopper of a story full of southern charm, grit, and sincerity.

godsThe tale begins with pressure. Arlene Fleet vowed never to return to Alabama, in fact, she made a deal with God about it. If He kept that dead body hidden, she would never again set foot in her hometown, never again see her family, and never again do the things that landed her in the predicament in the first place. Arlene goes about living a good life in Chicago, but unfortunately, neither party is able to hold up their end of the bargain.

Arlene’s family begs her to return. Her long-time boyfriend demands to meet her family.  Then Miss Rose Mae Lolly, who happens to be the former girlfriend of the dead body, shows up at Arlene’s doorstep looking for her lost love.

When you’ve finished “Gods in Alabama,” it’s time to pick up “Backseat Saints” and learn about the life of Miss Rose Mae Lolly. Rose is a hero in her own right, and Jackson will also show you another side of the dead quarterback. She proves, once again, that humans are more complicated and fascinating than we like to assume.

I can’t say enough about Joshilyn Jackson and I want to sum up my esteem for her saying, she’s just a great storyteller and I think you should start exploring her books immediately. Look for her books on the first floor of the Manhattan Public Library in the fiction section or find them at your local bookstore.

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The Growth of an American Icon:  Georgia O’Keefe in Fiction

By Marcia Allen, Manhattan Public Library

I’ve always been fond of fictional books like Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney’s affair with and influence on Frank Lloyd Wright.  Equally appealing to me was Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, which vividly conveyed the early marriage and the fractured relationship between Ernest and Hadley Hemingway.  What is it about such books?  Probably the intertwining of fact and fiction in telling the lives of famous artists.

And now I’ve discovered another jewel of a book.  Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp is a masterful retelling of the love affair between O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, the famed American photographer who promoted O’Keeffe’s art and eventually married her.  I would highly recommend this new title to readers who are also drawn to similar tales for a variety of convincing reasons.

First, the author does an incredible job of developing O’Keeffe’s style.  Those familiar with her stark New Mexico landscapes and striking flower paintings will note the development of her talent throughout the story.   Her initial efforts promised talent, but her gradual creation of a totally new modern art form didn’t come until later.  Stieglitz recognized her potential early on, and encouraged her work, showing and selling it in his gallery.  The novel conveys this through vivid descriptions of settings that compelled the painter, as well as her frustration with pieces of art that she felt were unsuccessful. Vivid colors and open spaces are key throughout the book.

O’Keefe’s character is equally well rendered.  Always a very independent woman, she fought for her own style.  Extended stays in New Mexico gave her the opportunity to experiment with color and light, and she began collecting bones and rocks that inspired her.  A gradual realization that that landscape was essential to her work led to her many lengthening trips to the area and also to the most famous landscape paintings of her career.  Author Tripp’s descriptions of journeys to the Southwest and her lovely references to O’Keeffe’s favorite sites help us better see her creativity in progress.

More important to the book is O’Keefe’s relationship with Stieglitz.  Following a brief correspondence with him, the painter traveled to New York to show him her work.  The two formed an instant bond, and soon they became lovers, despite his marriage and the wide age gap between them.  A very messy divorce allowed the two to marry later.   As their relationship strengthened, Stieglitz arranged displays of her work and encouraged her to explore different mediums.  He also took the famous photographs of O’Keefe, both clothed and nude, that are still considered classics.  Because of Tripp’s careful research and her talent with the writing, we readers witness the intimacy and complexity in the relationship of two very talented and strong-willed individuals.O'Keeffe photographic portrait by Halsman

Tripp’s account of O’Keeffe’s mental breakdown is heartrending.  This collapse took place in the 1930s when a series of events became unbearable.   A contract to paint a mural in Radio City Music Hall fell through when the construction failed to meet deadlines. Stieglitz’s ongoing love affairs became blatant, and O’Keefe could no longer accept his assurances that she was the love of his life.  She found, too, that his insistence on dominating the direction of her career stifled her independence.  The passages in the book that convey this turmoil are fraught with helplessness and despair.  O’Keeffe experienced a grief that became a physical one, because of the death of her long relationship with Stieglitz.  There’s a sad healing realization toward the end that she had to be alone to fulfill her talent.

Like all books that are so well written and so revealing, this one has sparked my curiosity about the life of O’Keeffe.  I plan to re-read Roxana Robinson’s memorable Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life in the near future.  Author Tripp cites it as one of her research sources for this lovely fictional rendition.  You just might wish to do the same.

 

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BOOKBROWSE: YOUR GUIDE TO EXCEPTIONAL BOOKS

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Are you a reader who goes beyond the bestseller lists? Are you looking for new books that will enthrall you, that will keep you reading far into the night? Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and inspire you, and that you just can’t wait to share with your friends?

BookBrowse is an award-winning online resource for booklovers that offers an outstanding e-magazine and website that are packed with information about new and forthcoming books for discerning readers. It is available from Manhattan Public Library through the library’s website, it’s completely free and simple to use, and it offers:

  • A twice-monthly newsletter for avid readers, delivered directly to your email inbox
  • Previews of new books and notable authors publishing soon
  • Helpful reviews of the latest books in fiction and non-fiction
  • Recommendations of fiction by genre (mysteries, sci fi, romances) and by setting, time, and theme
  • Thousands of read-alikes by book and by author (as in, “if you liked X, you might also like Y or Z”)
  • Resources for book clubs, including book recommendations and reading and discussion guides
  • A readers’ blog with frequent posts about good books and reading lists
  • One-click direct links to our MPL catalog so you can locate the books that pique your interest and place your requests then and there.

The latest issue of “The BookBrowse Review” arrives in your email inbox automatically twice a month, and it’s a gem! With its new book recommendations, sneak previews of upcoming books, professional and reader reviews, and much more, readers can use it for building their reading lists, placing holds on books in the library, and requesting new purchases for the library’s collection.

As an avid reader myself, as well as someone who is frequently asked for book recommendations, I am a huge fan of the BookBrowse magazine. I’m always happy to see it when it pops up in my inbox and in every issue I find new books I want to check out. It’s a cinch to place requests on them in my MPL account (one click takes me to the catalog) or to submit a suggestion for purchase if the library doesn’t have them yet. The website and readers’ blog are equally fun. Just this week I was delighted to see a post in the BookBrowse blog, “A Spot of Britain: 10 Books Set in Britain,” written for grieving Downton Abbey fans!

But, as they say, don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s what others have said about BookBrowse:

“Bookbrowse gets an ‘A’ for easy-to-use info and smart advice; [it’s] the armchair version of browsing your favorite bookstore.” – Family Circle Magazine.

“[Bookbrowse] offers lengthy excerpts from select popular and literary titles.” – San Francisco Chronicle Best of the Web

“Once I discovered your site…all of my [book club] picks are from your lists and recommendations.  Thank you so much for making it so easy for me and others in our club to make great choices easily.” – Kim

 “Excerpts from the best books for sale now,…and we’re not talking teensy fragments.” – Yahoo Incredibly Useful Site of the Day

 “I have to tell you, when I finally found BookBrowse…I swear a light shone down on my monitor and angels began to sing!” – [the appropriately yclept] Angela

To sign up to receive the “BookBrowse Review” twice a month, or to catch up on previous issues, go to the MPL website at www.mhklibrary.org and click on the Books & More tab. Scroll down to click on the BookBrowse link, and then click on SUBSCRIBE in the “Free Newsletters” box.

Or come to the library and talk to one of the librarians at the second floor Reference Desk about BookBrowse and other readers’ services and guides.  They are trained and eager to help you find something good to read.

 

 

 

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Celebrate Women’s History Month!

March is Women’s History Month! Many women who had a hand in changing or making history have been overshadowed by the men of their era. We are all familiar with Clara Barton, Betsy Ross and Amelia Earhart, but there are many other women who were pioneers in their fields, overcoming prejudice and discrimination along the way.  Manhattan Public Library has many books that tell the stories of women adventurers, explorers, rebels and educators—women whose discoveries or adventures have inspired others or have changed the world. Some books that may be of interest are:

  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott. This fascinating book tells the stories of four women during the Civil War: Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides; Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War; the beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals; Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives. Their stories are remarkable and the strength, bravery and resilience of the women is extraordinary. This is a fascinating look at four women willing to place their lives on the line for their causes.
  • American Heroines: the Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchinson Author Hutchison tells the stories of women who overcame prejudice and resistance in their various field to become accomplished leaders. One such woman is Emma Willard, who founded the first school in the US for women’s higher education in 1821, and who advocated for the education of women all of her life. Hutchison also illustrates the accomplishments of more contemporary women who achieved their successes on the shoulders of the women who came before them.
  • African American Women of the Old West by Tricia Martinau WagnerWagner profiles ten remarkable women who went west to find a better future for themselves, but still faced the prejudice and ostracism of the time. Some were slaves, some free, and some were both during their lifetimes. One woman, Abby Fisher, a former slave, moved her family to San Francisco and first began cooking for wealthy residents, began a catering business, began a food manufacturing business, and eventually was the first former slave to publish a cookbook. Described in this book are nine other women including philanthropists, educators and businesswomen.
  • Medicine Women: the Story of Early-American Women Doctors by Cathy LuchettiBeing excluded from all-male medical schools caused nineteenth-century women to form their own colleges to learn medical skills. Forced to overcome prejudice against women, especially educated, professional women, along with a distrust of the medical field itself, early female doctors were forced to prove themselves time and time again. This book tells their stories through their own writings and through photographs and narrative. It is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early frontier doctors—women who challenged the social norms of the time and overcame formidable obstacles to practice medicine.
  • Undaunted: the Real Story of America’s Servicewomen in Today’s Military by Tanya BiankDespite advances, today’s servicewomen are constantly pressed to prove themselves, to overcome challenges men never face, and to put the military mission ahead of all other aspects of their lives, particularly marriage and motherhood. By focusing on four individual stories,  this book brings to light the real issues they face–of femininity, belonging to an old boys’ club, veiled discrimination, dating, marriage problems, separation from children, questions about life goals, career trajectories, and self-worth. Undaunted is the story of these courageous trailblazers–their struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs in the name of serving the country they love.
  • Founding Mothers : the Women who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts. Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington — proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might never have survived. The  stories of these women prove beyond a doubt that like every generation of American women that has followed, the founding mothers used the unique gifts of their gender to be a force for change in a new nation.

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SHAKESPEARE FAIRE AT MANHATTAN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

 

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Manhattan and KSU are in the throes of a full-out Shakespeare First Folio frenzy this month!  Joining in that spirit, Manhattan Public Library invites you to share the genius, joy, and fun of Shakespeare with us at three different events – a Shakespeare Faire here at the library on Saturday, February 20, with programs for all ages; a series of four modern film adaptations of Shakespeare plays on Saturday afternoons from February into March; and a casual evening Shakespeare Reading Party (with delicious hors d’oeuvres) on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Little Apple Brewing Company.

To kick it all off, join us for a Shakespeare Faire for all ages on February 20 from 10:00-3:00 p.m.  The day’s programs will include a workshop for kids, insightful and informative talks, live music, Renaissance instruments, open mic poetry and readings, experimental theatre, and a critically acclaimed film.  You’re welcome to come for a single program, come for all, or choose from the buffet.

Here’s the program line-up for the Shakespeare Faire:           

10:00 a.m., auditorium:  “Shakespeare Workshop for Kids.” Recommended for age 6-14, but all are welcome.  Warm up by shouting some pithy Shakespearean insults (“You beetle-headed, flap-eared knave!”).  Then discover more about Shakespeare’s world and Elizabethan England, play a trivia game, and explore the language of the time through word play.  Presenter: Melissa Poll, KSU College of Music, Theater, and Dance.

11:00 a.m., Groesbeck Room:  “Tinkering with Shakespeare’s Text” presented by Michael Donnelly, with an afterword from Don Hedrick, both faculty members in the KSU English Department.

11:30 a.m., auditorium:  KSU Collegium Musicum presents a Renaissance Instrument Petting Zoo.  If you’ve ever been curious about sackbuts, viols, cornetti, crumhorns, frame drums, and lutes, here is your chance.  Some instruments are to see and some are to try.  There will also be examples of turn-of-the-17th-century printed music.

12:00 noon, auditorium:  KSU Collegium Musicum directed by David Wood offers a program of Renaissance vocal music and recorders that is sure to be a delight.

12:30 p.m., Groesbeck Room:  Speed Scholars from the KSU English Department present short, TED-style talks on a variety of Shakespeare-related topics.  Presenters include Kara Northway, Wendy Matlock, Tosha Sampson-Choma, and Joe Sutliff Sanders, and their topics include the history of the First Folio, the literary roots of Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespearean characters reimagined, and the modern uses of Shakespeare in comic book format.

1:00 p.m., main atrium:  “Sonnets & Soliloquies: Open Mic” will be your chance to step up to the microphone and declaim from the library’s atrium balcony.  Join KSU students at the open mic as they and you read favorite passages from Shakespeare’s drama and poetry.  Selections for you to choose from will be available at the event, or bring your own script!

2:00 p.m., auditorium:  “Experimenting with Shakespeare:  Short Plays Inspired by Hamlet” presented by the students of the Manhattan Experimental Theater Workshop led by Jim Hamilton and Gwethalyn Williams.

Also on Saturday, February 20, from 3:00-5:00 in the auditorium we’ll show the first in a series of four modern film adaptations of Shakespeare plays. This first film is a 2012 black-and-white contemporary reinterpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies.  Filled with scheming, mistaken identity, betrayal, and a contentious romance, the film showcases the human tendency to create a lot of fuss, bother, and drama about …, well, nothing!  Rated PG-13, this film is more suited to older teens and adults.

comedyJoin us at the Little Apple Brewing Company on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. for a casual evening Shakespeare Reading Party, accompanied by generous hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the Manhattan Library Association.  Drinks and dinner available at your own expense.  We’ll take turns reading our way through Shakespeare’s shortest play and one of his most farcical comedies, “The Comedy of Errors,” with plenty of time-outs for conversation, food, and beverages. The play centers around two sets of identical twins separated at birth and is full of mistaken identities, slapstick humor, confusion, wordplay, and puns.  Copies of the play are available for free download to your e-reader device from Project Gutenberg and are available for purchase from amazon.com for $4.95 (the Signet Classic paperback edition).  A few paperback copies will be available at the event for those who decide to drop in and enjoy the fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dynamics of the Con

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Have you ever heard of Ferdinand Waldo Demara? How about William Franklin Miller? Chances are, you are unfamiliar with those names, as was I. It turns out that they rank among the most gifted of con artists. Demara, for example, was posing as Dr. Joseph Cyr, a surgeon on board the HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War, at which time he routinely treated those injured in the conflict and even performed surgeries. The problem was that he not only assumed the identity of a respected medical doctor, but also failed to graduate from high school. Miller, in similar fashion, fabricated his investment strategy expertise in the late 19th century by luring friends to deposit small amounts of cash for a guaranteed 10% return and no risk. In this manner, he built a personal fortune worth over $1 million dollars.

Both men are mentioned briefly in a wonderful new book by Maria Konnikova entitled The Confidence Game. This fascinating look at the con offers both unbelievable stories of those who successfully conned others and a close look at the psychology involved.

Konnikova explains the success of the con artist through what she calls “soft skills.” Con artists are not hardened criminals that take and harm through violence; they are those who appeal to our sense of trust or sympathy. Konnikova points out that the con artist doesn’t force victims to do anything. Instead he allows the victims to work with him, offering up whatever he is willing to take from them. The author faults the human condition of need for story. She says that we all crave narratives and that we want to believe what others tell us, regardless of actual truth.

What makes a good con artist? The author describes the most talented of a cons as those who can read emotions and backgrounds in a heartbeat. They are intelligent and highly perceptive and can sense the desires of victims even when those desires seem to be well hidden. How did Konnikova discover so much about cons? She did the research and even consulted a mind reader who (without knowing her name or occupation) played on her job insecurities and raised issues of self-doubt.

All of this leads to Konnikova’s chapter entitled “The Play.” Here we learn what it is that hooks the heedless mark into the trap. She cites an example of a young woman who fell in love with a brilliant young scientist. The two young people moved in together, but the woman began noticing inconsistencies in her beloved’s stories. He had, for example, very few personal effects and offered her no clues to his past or family. When the young woman finally investigated his esteemed research position, she found he had no such position and no educational background. Because she wanted to be in a relationship, she had long ignored oddities that she would normally have spotted.

Where does the ideal con end? The author suggests that it successfully ends just when the mark is at his most convinced. Perhaps the victim has had some financial success or actually bought an object of genuine worth from the con. The con has extended some success to his victim, and the victim has invested complete trust. If there has been some disappointment in transactions, the victim believes it has been an honest mistake. Konnikova suggests that we have a solid belief that everything is going to turn out well for us, even when we should be discovering serious doubts.

Why are human being so vulnerable to the con? Konnikova says that they promise us a reality that we so want to believe. We want to attain the wealth, the contentment, the togetherness with others that the con offers us. That, she says, is what makes the scam the true “world’s oldest profession.”

This book is riveting. The intricacies of the conning process and the individual accounts of theft are simply eye-opening. Chances are very good that interested readers will recall episodes from their own lives during which they were completely baffled by well-constructed lies. Allow this gifted writer to help you avoid future scams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Delve into the Rich History of the Manhattan Area!

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

In 1855, the Hartford, the first little steamboat built specially to travel the Kansas River, beached on a sandbar near the mouth of the Little Blue River.   Little could these new visitors to Kansas imagine their legacy: a rich history of people and unique accomplishments!   First named “New Boston,” “Manhattan” was established after a compromise between two major settling companies.  The Riley County Historical Society, the Riley County Genealogical Society, and Manhattan Public Library maintain reams of history for anyone interested in knowing more about how our city came to be.

Manhattan Public Library makes a point of preserving books about local history.  Winifred Slagg’s Riley County Kansas vividly portrays the early settlers of Riley County.  A local author, Lowell Jack, in his History of Manhattan, Kansas, Riley County and Ft. Riley, offers an excellent timeline starting in 1850.  He recounts personal stories of founders, like Mrs. E.B. Purcell, who persuaded Andrew Carnegie to contribute $10,000 to establish our first library, and Ella Child, women’s suffragist daughter of Seth Child, accompanying her parents to the polls so that they could all vote. Neighbors of the Past, also by Jack, recounts personal histories of interesting historic Manhattanites.

Another local author, Geraldine Baker Walton, wrote 140 Years of Soul: a History of African Americans in Manhattan, Kansas 1865-2005 An excellent review of Manhattan’s local architecture awaits in The Architects & Buildings of Manhattan, Kansas by Dr. Patricia J. O’Brien.  The public library also has many calendars and books full of historical photographs.  Or, on the fantastic side, Ghosts of Fort Riley shares stories and photos about legendary ghosts said to haunt Ft. Riley. The Official State Atlas of Kansas, published in 1887, holds a historic Manhattan city and Riley county map, along with many other Kansas locations, with drawings of many Kansas business buildings and farmsteads.  And, the Manhattan city directories list people and businesses from the 1950s until today.

Google does not know everything yet!  Manhattan Public Library maintains a huge collection of newspapers and local publications on microfilm. The earliest is from 1859 entitled: The Manhattan Express.  Other titles include The Kansas Radical from 1866, The Leonardville Monitor from 1884 on, and the Riley County Chronicle from 1889.  The Seaton family bought the Mercury newspaper in 1915,  and after several title reincarnations, the Seatons adopted the title:  Manhattan Mercury in 1954. Whatever its title, we archive the Mercury from then to now on microfilm – and of course, we keep the paper copies for three months, too!

The microfilm collection provides a wealth of history for Manhattan, Leonardville, Randolph, and the Riley County area.  Thanks to Sy Ekart, who has volunteered hundreds of hours over several years, manually inspecting decades of aging newsprint, we have indexes covering newspapers from the 1850s through the 1940s. Sy is continuing to index more newspapers on microfilm today. The indexes  note obituaries and many other articles in local newspapers.   Accidents, business openings and closings, elections, and so much more; if it happened here, Sy indexed who did what.

Beyond recounting the specifics of Manhattan, older newspapers can entertain!  It is sometimes startling and just plain funny to look at the past.    Familiar and strange things for sale for mere cents, political commentary that could almost have come from today’s op-eds, interesting personal notices – both more and less has changed than we tend to think!  Even browsing your local newspaper from when you graduated from high school can bring back many memories – the news of the time; what bands were playing; the best places to eat and relax.

Manhattan Public Library holds these wonderful indexes in the reference area on 2nd floor, and they are also available at the Riley County Genealogical Society.  Manhattan Public Library’s new microfilm readers let patrons e-mail, print, or save any of these materials for later reading or sharing.  We will be happy to request other Kansas newspapers on microfilm from the Kansas Historical Society at no charge.

Our local history cabinet holds articles and pictures about all sorts of things: local floods, from the massive pre-Manhattan Kansas River flood of 1844 to the floods of 1903, 1951, and 1993; the Tuttle Creek Dam controversy; local biographies; city maps from various times; articles on Kansas City’s George Giles, of the African American Monarchs; writings from anti-slavery settlers; the origins of Manhattan street names; stories about the Old Military Trail, and hundreds of other bits of local history.

Our popular “Tech Tuesdays” classes are starting this Tuesday, January 12 at 2:00 p.m. with “Download E-books and Audiobooks. The following Tuesday, January 19th, also at 2:00, p.m., the session will be on Smartphone Help.  Feel free to call Manhattan Public Library at 785-776-4741, ext. 300 for more information.

Photos courtesy of the Riley County Historical Society

 

 

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New Year’s Resolution: This Year I Mean It!

by John Pecoraro,  Assistant Director

Every January 1st, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, and every January 2nd or 3rd millions of people forget about them. According to Statisticbrain.com, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, but a mere 8% of that number actually manage to achieve their goals. That statistic isn’t as grim as it sounds. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t. The first step in any effort to make a change is to decide to make it.

What kind of changes do we want to make? The top New Year’s resolutions are pretty basic: lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, and spend more time with loved ones. Change isn’t always easy. The most common reasons for failing to keep New Year’s resolutions include setting unrealistic goals, not tracking progress, or just forgetting about them.

Manhattan Public Library has several titles that can help you in your efforts to make your life changes, your promises, and your resolutions.

Why do we stay in bad relationships or hold on to failing investments? What stops us from changing? These are the questions Rolf Dobelli asks in “The Art of Thinking Clearly.” This book examines the faulty reasoning that leads to mistakes. Herd mentality is often part of the problem. Dobelli also warns against buying into apparent experts, authoritative news anchors, and “beautiful people.”

Any New Year’s resolution worth the trouble is going to involve change, whether drastic or simple. Brett Blumenthal inspires and motivates readers to live healthier and to make positive changes in their lives in “52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier Healthier You.” The changes detailed in each chapter of this book build on the ones before, or readers can sample the 52 changes at random.

The 31 methods for change in “Wow: A Handbook for Living,” by Zen Ohashi give you the tools you need to get the life you want. The exercises are simple, such as writing down what is working for you right now. Another method is to write down the date you will accomplish something once you’ve decided to do it. You can change your life by making small changes to the way you think and live.

Based on the idea that achievement can be learned, Bernard Roth offers an accessible primer to success in “The Achievement Habit.” As the subtitle states, this book challenges its readers to stop wishing, start doing, and to take command of their lives. According to Roth, once you learn to flex your achievement muscle, you can meet life’s challenges and fulfill your goals.

Why do dieters fail in their attempts 95% of the time? Why do most New Year’s resolutions fade after a few days? “Change Anything,” explains the science of personal success. This holistic plan has been developed from the research of the Change Anything Labs, a group that studies and works with people who have a pattern of self-destructive behavior. The book encourages you to avoid blaming your inability or lack of willpower, but instead to recognize powerful influences that can counteract negative behavior. Maybe there is a financial incentive that can enable you to change, or maybe what you need is a radical change in the physical spaces you inhabit.

Sometimes what stops us from changing, from fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions is our lack of confidence, our fear of failure, our fear of rejection. Jia Jiang has a unique take on this issue in “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.” Realizing that his fear of rejection was a bigger obstacle than any single rejection could be, Jiang sought out rejection. Jiang learned how the initial “no” can be converted into something positive. He also learned ways to protect himself from rejection and ways to develop his own confidence. Along the way he learned that even the most preposterous wish may be granted if you ask in the right way.

So if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution for this year, or if you plan to, here’s hoping you really mean it!

 

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The Good Books Club Focuses on Native American Mysteries

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

 Manhattan Public Library’s monthly book discussion group, the Good Books Club, will again host a winter-spring series of programs from the Kansas Humanities Council’s TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) program. Our theme for this series will be Native American Mysteries and will feature books that are rich in varied geographic locales and atmosphere, Native American cultures and spiritual traditions, and the changing social, ethnic, and political face of America. Book group meetings are on the last Thursday of each month – January 28, February 25, March 31, and April 28 – and will start at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s 2nd floor Groesbeck Room.

On January 28th we’ll introduce the series with “DreadfulWater Shows Up”, a stylish mystery debut by Hartley GoodWeather, pseudonym of literary author Thomas King. Cherokee ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater has left law enforcement behind and moved to a reservation in Montana in an attempt to shed memories of a killer who got away. Thumps now pursues a career as a fine-arts photographer and hopes to reignite a past relationship with Claire Merchant, head of the local tribal council. After a murder at the reservation’s glitzy new casino and resort development, Claire’s son becomes a suspect and Thumps reluctantly decides to track the real killer. The leader for the January discussion will be Trish Reeves, a retired English teacher at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence.

Our book choice for February 25 is fast-paced mystery thriller “Dance for the Dead” by Thomas Perry. A member of the Seneca Wolf clan of upper New York State, clever, beautiful, and fearless sleuth Jane Whitefield runs her own witness protection service, making victims vanish. Relying in part on ancestral traditions of mysticism and woodland lore, she conjures up new identities for people with nowhere left to run. When an eight-year-old boy, heir to a fortune, is stalked by the same killers who murdered his parents, Jane takes readers on a wild ride of switched identities and super killers, facing dangerous obstacles that will put her powers and her life to a terrifying test. Discussion leader for February is Erin Pouppirt, a member of the Kaw Nation and an independent scholar.

On March 31, we’ll read and discuss “The Shaman Sings” by James D. Doss. Ute Tribal Police investigator Charlie Moon and Granite Creek, Colorado, Police Chief Scott Parrish join forces when confronted with the brutal murder of an ambitious and unscrupulous female university researcher. Aged Ute shaman Daisy Perika draws on native spirituality to guide the investigation, including visions and foreboding dreams that, inexplicably, are shared by other characters. Combining Ute prophesy, scientific investigation, and Mexican fatalism, the author switches points of view and exposes complex motivations as these characters track and find the killer before he strikes again. Our March discussion will be led by Deborah Peterson, an instructor of Chinese language and East Asian civilization at KU.

The final book in our series, on April 28, will be “Dance Hall of the Dead” by author Tony Hillerman, one of his series of complex, colorful, and compelling Southwestern mysteries starring Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navaho tribal police. Two young Native-American boys, one of them a Zuni, have disappeared into thin air, leaving a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn is called to the case but his investigation is complicated by an important archaeological dig under way and by roadblocks created by the unique laws and sacred religious rites of the Zuni people. Hillerman is a master of recreating the exotic atmosphere of Zuni and Navajo culture and ceremonies overlaid by the splendor of the natural setting of Southwestern Native American lands. Discussion leader for the April meeting will be Mickey Chance-Reay, an author and historian who teaches at Kansas State University.

Please join our intrepid and enthusiastic band of avid readers for these discussions this winter and spring. This series is sponsored and by the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of MPL) and by the Kansas Humanities Council.

 

  

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