News & More...

Archive for Adult Services

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

 

 

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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!

 

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.

 

  

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Escape Holiday Stress with an Adventurous Book

by Danielle Schapaugh

Because this time of year is extra stressful (plus the weather is getting bleaker and the days ever shorter), it’s the perfect time to escape into a can’t-put-it-down fantastic story.  The books below will whisk you away to other worlds and great adventures, some are gritty and others uplifting, and each one is worth a try.

Pierce Brown’s debut novel, “Red Rising,” will grab you from the first page and take you on a daring, action-packed journey into the future and across planets.  The best part is, it’s also full of heart.  The story begins deep in the mines of Mars with Darrow, the youngest drill specialist or “helldiver” in recent memory.  After a torturous betrayal, his need for vengeance drives him to become a revolutionary with the hope of changing the entire caste system of his society.  Driven to seek social justice by his indestructible love of family, he transforms himself and becomes more than he ever thought he could be.  Like Rocky Balboa, he possesses an inhuman ability to endure, and you will love Darrow soon after the first line, “I would have lived in peace but my enemies brought me war.”

Book two in the Red Rising series, “Golden Son,” does not suffer from the typical sophomore book slump.  I was grateful to be able to pick it up immediately after finishing the first book and am now anxiously awaiting the third installment, “Morning Star,” which is due to be released on January 12.  I recommend Brown’s books to everyone I meet, including my dental hygienist, mail carrier, and all of my coworkers.  Universal Pictures purchased the screen rights for seven figures, so it looks like a new blockbuster is in the works.

Next, for an adventurous tale that is both gritty and poetic, try “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doer.  This is the story of two young people on opposing sides of WWII in occupied France.  Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a young blind woman left alone in a house that is crumbling around her.  As the bombs drop, you follow her journey while she hides, drinks the dusty water from a bathtub, and discovers a last can of food that is miraculously filled with peaches.  Your heart may forget to beat as you turn the pages.

Marie-Laure’s counterpart, Werner Pfennig, is a German orphan who loves fixing things.  When an officer discovers Werner’s uncanny ability to repair radios, he finds himself recruited by the Nazis and plugged into the war machine.  You will long for the war to end but for the book to continue forever.

Finally, in “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” you will find yourself becoming strangely fascinated with the study of moss.  The journey in this book is largely internal, but oh, what an immense and powerful journey it is.  Plain-faced Alma Whittaker moves from infancy to old age and discovers truths about herself which only time can reveal.  The visceral details of 19th century life, the struggles between identity and expectations, and the passion with which Alma approaches her scientific study of mosses will have you immersed in another world and begging for more.

Accepting someone’s book suggestion requires a certain amount of trust.  You wouldn’t trust the opinion of someone you don’t know, but I would like you to think of your local librarians as your “book fortune tellers.”  Librarians are trained to identify the “appeal factors” of a book in order to recommend the right book for the right person.  So, if ever you find yourself in need of a reliable suggestion, a librarian will help assess your preferences and give you a list of books you are sure to love. The next time you’re here, ask a librarian about getting a personalized reading list.  You can also call the library at (785) 477-2735, or email us at refstaff@mhklibrary.org.

 

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Time to Travel

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

People talk about having time, making time, and wasting time. We’re anxious about time all the time. It’s no surprise that we’re fascinated by the idea of time travel. After all, who hasn’t dreamed about going into their past, and maybe improving the present? Who hasn’t fantasized about journeying into the future to see how we all turn out?

While H. G. Wells’  “The Time Machine,” written in 1895, popularized the concept of time travel, prototypes of time travel stories include Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Washington Irving’s story “Rip Van Winkle,” (sleeping for 20 years), and even the 8th century Japanese folk tale “Urashima Tarō.” In this story, a fisherman visits a world under the sea for three days only to find after returning home to his village that three hundred years have passed.

There are several best of time travel lists on the Web, and hundreds of titles listed. Here is a small sampling of some of the best.

In “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger. Librarian Henry de Tamble suffers from Chrono Displacement disorder. He disappears into the past or the future during times of stress. Needless to say this can wreak havoc with a marriage. Clare, the time traveler’s wife, endures, as does the relationship between her and her husband.

The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells is the classic time travel tale. Wells coined the term “time machine” to describe the mechanical device that propelled his Victorian scientist hero through time. The unnamed protagonist travels into the far future where he discovers a world peopled by the peaceful, childlike Eloi, and the ape-like, underground dwelling Morlocks, and the horrifying relationship between the two.

When illustrator Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave the twentieth-century for 1882. What happens when Si meets and falls in love with a woman in the past is the story Jack Finney tells in “Time and Again.”

In “Timeline,” by Michael Crichton, archaeologists studying the remains of medieval towns in Dordogne discover a pair of modern glasses and a note on parchment in the handwriting of missing Professor Edward Johnson. Using quantum technology provided by a mysterious company called ITC, a group of history students travel to 1357 France to look for the missing professor. What they don’t realize is that ITC’s motives for traveling to the past involve more than research.

 

When Claire Beauchamp Randall walks through a cleft stone in Scotland in 1945, she is somehow transported to 1743. There she encounters her husband, Frank’s, evil ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. So begins “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon, the first in the popular series by the same name.

In “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” Connie Willis weaves the story of Ned Henry who travels from the 21st century back to the 1940s as part of a project to restore Coventry Cathedral. But when fellow time traveler, Verity Kindle, rescues a cat in Victorian times and brings it back to the present of 2057, she starts in motion events that can change the course of history. Now Ned has to jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right.

Travelers through time may seek to change the past, or they may be guardians sent to protect the past from other travelers. They may want to prevent a bad future from happening by changing the present (think “The Terminator”). Time travelers to the past may unintentionally change the future (their present) by their actions. In Ray Bradbury’s story “The Sound of Thunder,” a time traveling safari to see the dinosaurs has drastic results when one of its members makes a very small adjustment in the past.

There was a moment in history when everyone in the western world jumped several days in time. On October 4, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the very next day would be not October 5, but October 15, thus correcting the ten day error of the Julian calendar. Of course we all time travel on a very limited scale each fall and spring. We fall back in time to relive an hour, or we zoom ahead. Happy time travelling.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

New Nonfiction Standouts for Adults

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development, Manhattan Public Library

With summer activities but a memory, and colder weather looming in the near future, it’s time to return to indoor activities.  Fortunately for us, these changes coincide with the release of new fall book titles.  And this season’s releases offer some intriguing topics that just might attract you.  Consider the following:

  • The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff. This lengthy book received a lot of advance attention, primarily because of the tremendous success of Schiff’s 2011 nonfiction bestseller, Cleopatra, as well as her 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning book,   This time, Schiff recounts that shameful period of American history known as the Salem Witch Trials.   She opens the book with a reminder that in the year 1692, nineteen people were hanged in the little town of Salem, after their accusers testified to a series of horrendous deeds they suffered at the hands of those they accused. A list and description of the major characters involved in this tragedy helps us to better understand the nature of this frenzy.  Schiff’s telling is dramatic, and though we know how the story plays out, the book is a worthy reminder about human behavior at its worst.

 

  • Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown. This book is about the Lewis chessmen of the Scottish National Museum and the British Museum which are considered rare treasures indeed, but the book is more of a whole cultural experience.  The 12th century, during which the chessmen were created by the talented Margret the Adroit of Iceland, is displayed in all its colorful history.   Curious readers will discover the extent to which the Vikings controlled the North Atlantic.  They will learn of the hunt for coveted walrus ivory.  They will explore the culture of Norse society.  Each chapter opens with a reference to a particular chess piece, but it soon veers off into tales of contemporary nobility and war, the creation of art, the written tales, and so much more.  There’s a bit of everything in this wonderful tale.

  • Fortunate Son by John Fogarty. This is one of many autobiographies written by entertainers to come out this season, but it’s also one of the better ones.  Well known for his role in Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogarty tells of his early admiration for musicians like Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs, and he recalls the band’s memorable performances, like their arrival at Woodstock.  He shares his naïve dealings with his first agent, and he describes the motivation behind so many of his hit songs, like his intent with “Run through the Jungle.”   He speaks well of his successes, but he also recounts the poor choices that he made, thus we discover the humble storyteller that he is.

 

  • SPQR
    by Mary Beard.  At over 600 pages in length, this history of ancient Rome seems intimidating, but Cambridge professor Beard brings an amazing period back to life.  Her goal?  Of course, she tells the story of the growth of a powerful empire, but she also works to dispel the Roman myths we have all come to accept as truth.  She tells us, for example, that Rome was not some inferior copier of Greek culture; in fact, Rome was a nation of inventive people fascinated with structural engineering.  We learn in these pages more than history ever previously revealed about Roman perception and Roman thinking.  Recent discoveries in literature and in excavation have given us a truer picture of those who lived so many centuries ago.  Think of Beard as a lively guide, displaying for us a lost age.

  • The Art of Grace by Sarah L. Kaufman. What a lovely book!  As author Kaufman says, “Grace is being at ease with the world, even when life tosses wine down your pants.”  Her book is a collection of the characters and the anecdotes which speak to her of the true nature of grace.
    Roger Federer, says the author, exhibits grace in beautiful movement on the court.  Margaret Thatcher exhibited grace for her bearing and her attention to her appearance even when facing the House of Commons.  Ballerina Margot Fonteyn demonstrated grace in her poise and obvious joy in dance.  At the heart of grace is ease, says Kaufman, a talent that one can attain through a practical consideration of her ten helpful points.  A lively look at an admirable characteristic.

With all the readily available new titles that this season offers, we can shift comfortably into the confines of winter.  An armchair adventures awaits.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Women Who Made America Stylish

 

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

 The Manhattan community is in for a treat when Linda Przybyszewski, Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, visits Manhattan this Thursday and Friday, October 22-23, to talk about her book “The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.”  She will speak at Manhattan Public Library, at the Kansas State University College of Human Ecology, and in the Meadowlark Hills Community Room.  Her visit is funded by the Chapman Center for Rural Life and sponsored by the Manhattan Public Library, the KSU History Department, the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design, and the University Archives of Hale Library.

Home Economics as a 20th century academic discipline grew out of the earlier Domestic Science movement.  It applied scientific and economic principles to managing American homes and included research and teaching on nutrition and food safety, family and child development, consumer science, family economics, interior design, clothing and textiles, and more.

The Lost Art of Dress” is the story of a remarkable group of women, pioneers in Home Economics as an academic field, who spearheaded a nationwide movement in the early 20th century toward fashion that was beautiful, economical, and practical.  Nicknamed the Dress Doctors, they included home economists from Kansas State University and they reached out in particular to rural, small-town, and working class women, offering advice on radio shows, at women’s clubs, in magazines, and through 4-H clothing clubs.  Using scientific and artistic principles, they taught American women how to bring stylish fashion into their lives and create affordable clothing for their families.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were times of great change for American women in many arenas of life.  More and more women were being educated at colleges, even heading academic departments.  Lots of working-class and middle-class women were moving into wage work and factory jobs.  There was a movement encouraging young women to exercise for health and wellbeing.  And as women gained the right to vote in various states and then nationally, they were becoming more active in civic and public life.

All of these women needed practical, comfortable, affordable, yet stylish clothing that was easy to keep clean, offered freedom of movement, didn’t compromise safety on the job, and expressed the seriousness of their endeavors.

The social upheaval and economic shortages of the two World Wars and the Great Depression also brought challenges and changes to women’s lives in the 20th century and the Dress Doctors offered practical wisdom and simple principles that enabled ordinary women to weather difficult economic times in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

Professor Przybyszewski’s book is a well-researched look at the teaching and writings of the Dress Doctors but, happily, it is also witty, entertaining, and delightfully opinionated.  Join us as we welcome her to Manhattan on October 22nd and 23rd and learn about the simple design techniques, artistic principles, practical skills, and enduring wisdom of the Dress Doctors.

Events are free and open to the public:

Thursday, October 22, 7:00 p.m., Manhattan Public Library Auditorium.  Author presentation: “The Wisdom of the Dress Doctors: Dressing for the Modern Age.” Books available for sale and signing at the event.

Friday, October 23, 10:30 a.m., Meadowlark Hills Community Room.  Presentation: “The Wisdom of the Dress Doctors: Dressing for the Modern Age.” Books available for sale and signing at the event.

Friday, October 23, 3:30 p.m., Hoffman Lounge and Room 163, Justin Hall, KSU Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design.  Reception and presentation: “The Role of Home Economics in Fashion Education in the Early 20th Century.”

The Wisdom of the Dress Doctors:

  • Practice the art of dress.  You may be self-conscious because you are far better dressed than the people around you, but maybe you can inspire them.
  • Mark your day by the pleasures of dress. Change in some small way for a dinner out.  Own something comfortable and beautiful to slip on at the end of a hard day’s work.
  • Less is more. So long as you value beauty over novelty, five outfits are all you need for work.  (Or maybe just one!)
  • Dress for the people you love. Yes, the people who love you will forgive those torn gym shorts, but don’t ask them to if you can help it.
  • Balance concealment with revealment.  Flesh exposed all the time has far less effect than flesh revealed on special occasions and for a privileged few.  People who receive privileges should be appropriately grateful.
  • Celebrate girlhood and womanhood, and the difference between them.

 

 

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, library services, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Spin That Dough, its National Pizza Month

by John Pecoraro ,  Assistant Director

Something vaguely similar to pizza has existed for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the lowly, new world, tomato arrived in Europe that the pizza we know and love today became a possibility. Thought for years to be poisonous (as a member of the nightshade family), tomatoes had become a regular part of the diet of the southern Italian poor by the late 18th century. Pizza crossed the Atlantic to America along with Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.

As testament to how much we Americans enjoy pizza, consider that there are 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S., and that annual pizza sales revenue is 32 billion dollars. Three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, with the average consumer eating 46 slices (usually not at one sitting). An estimated 93% of Americans eat at least one piece of pizza early month, with more pizza consumed during Super Bowl week than at any other time of the year.

Since October is designated National Pizza Month, take the opportunity to sample some of the books about this delectable round (and sometimes rectangular) food.

In “Truly Madly Pizza,” food stylist Suzanne Lenzer sings the praises of pizza as a blank slate happy to be topped with whatever you’ve got floating around your refrigerator. Take a really good crust and have fun repurposing leftovers. What could possibly go wrong? Lenzer begins with one incredibly easy recipe for pizza crust, followed by hundreds of sauces, spreads, and topping combinations to make pizza a nightly affair.

Eleven time world pizza champion, Tony Gemignani, offers a collection of over 100 recipes in “The Pizza Bible.” This is a comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine regional styles including Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago.

Just what are the differences in pizza styles? Neapolitan is tomatoes, garlic, and oregano (pizza marinara) or tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil (pizza margarita). Sicilian is thick-crusted, deep-dish, and usually rectangular in shape. Chicago style is the ultimate deep-dish pizza, baked in a high-edged pan with large amounts of cheese and chunky tomatoes. New York style is traditionally hand-tossed, covered with marinara sauce and cheese, and its oversized slices often eaten folded in half.

You don’t necessarily need a brick oven to cook delicious pizza. In “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” barbecue champion John Delpha, reveals the best techniques for cooking perfect pizza on your outdoor grill. The results are pizzas with a crunchy crust, perfectly melted cheese, and a smoky flavor.

You can get quite a workout kneading pizza dough, but for a less strenuous experience, Jim Lahey presents “My Pizza: the Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home.” You do have to be patient with your dough, which has to rest unkneaded and unattended for eighteen hours. After the dough, the sky’s the limit, and Lahey’s recipes include innovations beyond tomato, cheese, and pepperoni.

“The Pizza Book,” by Evelyne Slomon, claims to explain everything there is to know about the world’s greatest pie. Included are more 200 easy-to-follow recipes, and advice about ingredients, equipment and technique.

Over the years pizza has become one of America’s most popular foods, especially in school lunchrooms. In her “Pizza: a Global History,” Carol Helstosky explains how pizza has been adapted to local cuisines and has become a metaphor for cultural exchange. Her book also features several recipes and a wealth of illustrations.

Pizza goes great with everything, especially when it’s free. Last April, Director J.J. Abrams bought pizza for 1,500 fans waiting in line for a Star Wars event in Anaheim, California. And speaking of Star Wars, the library celebrates Star Wars Reads Day on Saturday, October 10. Activities including crafts, trivia, selfie photo booth, and a Yoda impersonator contest begin at 11:00. The will be a showing of the movie that started it all at 1:00

Whether you enjoy your pizza delivered to your home or office, picked up from a pizzeria or supermarket, savored as you dine at your favorite pizza place, or love to make your own, October is the month to indulge your pizza fantasies. Happy National Pizza Month.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

People and their Stories

by Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

Have you ever noticed how many books are written about people? More than one-fifth of the Manhattan Public Library nonfiction collection is categorized with a biographical subject heading. Who reads these books? Our customers do! People are enamored with other people’s lives. We want to know how they made it through challenging circumstances, or how they were able to accomplish great feats. So, what do we do? We read about them. Stories of other people’s challenges and triumphs are interesting, rewarding, and satisfying to our humanity. To quote Studs Terkel, “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.”

One of my favorite biographical books, one that is popular with many Manhattan Public Library patrons is “Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II” by Vicki Croke. It is a story of wild elephants taught to work with their keepers. It is a story of life in the jungles of Burma, its hardships as well as its beauty. It is a story of war, but it is also a story of love and respect. James Howard “Billy” Williams not only had an “uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals,” he also had a great rapport with the people of Burma. An inspiring story, indeed!

A friendship begins with “A Walk on the Beach” of Cape Cod and ends up with a hike on the Inca Trail in Peru.  The author, Joan Anderson, finds a friend and mentor in Joan Erikson. Ms. Erikson, even at 90, was a very active person, so the situations these two got themselves into were amazing. Eye-opening in places, but also entertaining along the way.

The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives” by Cheryl Jarvis is about a $37,000 diamond necklace and the women who wore it. Jonell McLain saw the necklace in a local jewelry store display window and began to wonder why personal luxuries were so plentiful yet accessible to so few. Thus began her desire and plan to make the necklace a part of her life by convincing twelve other women to invest in the necklace with her. The necklace was not only worn by the original thirteen women, but was also loaned to friends and family members for special occasions. Many lives were profoundly changed as a result of this quirky experiment.

Everyday life may never seem everyday again after you read “Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living” by Bailey White. Life in Southern Florida with Mama is never everyday stuff. When Bailey’s father left them a 1958 Porsche, in mint condition, Mama wanted to put it out to pasture with the tractors and lawnmowers. Instead, she took the screen off the back porch and parked it there, never to move it again. The antics of Mama and other family members will keep the smiles coming as you read about their southern living.

An absolutely great book I have just finished reading is “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” by Wes Moore. It is about two boys growing up in the same city with the same name and under similar situations. The main difference is that one of them ended up in prison while the other became a Rhodes Scholar. The K-State Book Network has chosen this title for its 2015 common reading selection. This is one story that you will want to add to your reading list if you haven’t done so already.

Whether you enjoy reading about great adventure or about something humorous, you can easily find books written about people. Come to the library and let us help you find a great biographical book, or visit www.mhklibrary.org and search the catalog. All you need to do is type in the subject of your choice, pair it with “biography,” and voila, you will get results.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 23 12345...»