Adult Services

Archive for Adult Services

Dehumanized Dystopias

By Brian Ingalsbe, Children’s Library Assistant

UgliesOctober is – in my humble opinion – one of the best months of the year. The weather is consistently cool, the leaves are changing colors, and the full anticipation of Halloween is in the air. For me, enjoying this month means snuggling up with a pumpkin spice chai and reading a great book. With Halloween so close, what better way to prepare than with a YA staple: the dystopia?

Dystopias are some of my favorite reads because they are fast-paced, action-oriented, and feature a skewed world, alarmingly similar to our own. Beyond The Hunger Games, The Giver, and The Maze Runner, the young adult collection has hundreds of other dystopian novels, just waiting to be discovered!

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

In a world where higher education is a privilege, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale dreams of being chosen for “the testing” – a program geared at further educating the best and the brightest of the Five Lakes Colony. Cia is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate, eager to prove her worthiness as a future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies: trust no one. Can she trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? To survive, Cia must choose love without truth or life without trust. In this thrilling story, Joelle Charbonneau tells a tale that is as enticing as it is flawed, begging readers to turn page after page. Anyone who enjoyed the Books of Ember or The Maze Runner trilogy is sure to love this book.

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June is an elite – born with the highest family status, groomed for success in the Republic’s most prestigious military circles. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. They are polar opposites in every way. But when Metias – June’s brother – is found murdered, and Day is named the main suspect, all bets are off. Forming an unlikely duo, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its terrible secrets. In this exhilarating story – much like The Hunger Games – Marie Lu transforms two “average” characters through the most terrifying experience imaginable. The result will not disappoint!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the not-so-distant future, the Second Civil War – fought over reproductive rights – has left a country that is fearful and rash. As a result, life is deemed sacred, but only from birth to age thirteen. For the next five years, parents can choose to have their children “unwound” by which their organs are harvested for alternative use, therefore deemed “a continuation of life.” During this horrific age, three children face being unwound: Connor, an out of control child, Risa, a ward of the state, and Lev, a tithe –a child conceived only to be unwound. Separate, they are powerless, but together they may be able to survive. In Unwind, Neal Shusterman creates a chilling world dominated by the effects of population control. Readers who enjoyed The Giver or the Shadow Children are sure to devour this series.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

What can be wrong with a world full of pretty people? Wouldn’t you want to be pretty? For sixteen-year-old Tally, becoming pretty is the end all. In the weeks preceding her operation, Tally can think of little else besides the carefree pretty lifestyle, in which her only real job is to have fun. But when Tally’s new best friend – Shay – rebels from society and flees, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty lifestyle, and it isn’t very pretty. Now Tally must make a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty herself. What will she choose? Her choice will change her world forever. In this well-crafted novel, Scott Westerfeld expertly creates a shallow world of external beauty. Ridden with its own vernacular and relatable characters, Uglies is a story that is sure to hit close to home. Readers who enjoy the writing style of Lauren Oliver will definitely love these books.

No matter what resources you are looking for, Manhattan Public Library has them. Our staff is always willing to help you find your next great dystopia and answer any questions you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department at (785) 776-4741 ext. 400 or

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Horror 101

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

PoppetIt’s the right time of year for a good scare, and I happen to work with some serious connoisseurs of horror. When I asked my coworkers, they were happy to give frightening recommendations.

Naturally, Stephen King was mentioned the most often, and everyone agreed that his older works were the scariest by far. As a talented writer, King’s startling tales will draw you in and leave you breathless while also making you care about the characters and marvel at the beauty that exists even in a cruel world.

“Above, the stars shone hard and bright, sparks struck off the dark skin of the universe.” – Stephen King, The Stand

If you haven’t read the complete and uncut version of King’s The Stand, you should start there. This 1,153-page epic is considered one of King’s finest works and will take you on a nightmarish journey into a bleak new world which just lost 99% of its human population to a super virus. This gripping tale of good vs evil is full of gore, violence, and horror, and it’s also packed with depth and character. For an extra bit of fright, wait and read this one when you’re home with the flu.

If you’re already a fan of Stephen King, and you’ve read The Shining, It, and all of his other major works, try something by King’s son, Joseph Hillstrom King, under the pen name Joe Hill.

Hill obviously has big shoes to fill, but all of his books have reached the New York Times Bestseller list, so it looks like he’s filling them. His works have been praised by authors such as Neil Gaiman and Harlan Coben, and his third book, a supernatural thriller NOS4A2, might be his best so far.

NOS4A2 is creepy to the max. The villain, Charlie Manx, is a Peter Pan character who cruises around in a Rolls Royce Wraith with vanity license plate NOS4A2, looking for children to capture.  When he finds an interesting prospect, he takes the child to a magical theme park called “Christmasland.”

For some reason, the children Manx brings to Christmasland become evil, so he is never satisfied and continues searching for more. Manx becomes obsessed with the only child who ever escaped. He finds her as an adult, and decides her son might be his very best prospect so far.

As you may have noticed, all the symbols in this book pack a serious emotional punch. It will tap into your deep-seated fears and keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.

For fans of major adrenaline who really don’t care about sleep, I recommend author Mo Hayder. Her books are psychological crime thrillers full of gore and action. Also, since there are seven books in her popular Jack Caffery series, you won’t run out of material anytime soon.

Hayder’s first book, Birdman, introduces the character Jack Caffery, lead investigator in the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, UK. Caffrey is new on the job and tasked with solving crimes of unspeakable horror. The first involves the brutal, ritualistic murder of a woman who is mutilated beyond recognition. As Jack delves into the details of the crime, you will squirm, close your eyes, and beg for it to end. As he gets ever closer to the killer, you’ll find yourself unable to tear your eyes away.

The seven books in this series are 1. Birdman  2. The Treatment  3. Ritual 4. Skin  5. Gone 6. Poppet (which is the Circulation Manager’s favorite) 7. Wolf.  The entire series is available at the public library along with several “stand-alone” novels by Hayder.

Books are fantastic, but sometimes what you really need is a good scary movie. The library has thousands of DVDs and Blu-rays to choose from, but my coworkers agreed hands-down that only one movie sits at the top of the horror genre. Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002) might be the scariest movie ever made. It brings the audience genuine, pit-of-the-stomach, bone-chilling fear without relying on cheap tricks or excessive gore.

Diehard fans who have already seen The Ring might want to try the original Japanese version of the film by Hideo Nakata, available online, or the novel by Koji Suzuki.

If you’re interested in exploring other recommendations, stop by the library’s Reference Desk on the second floor. A librarian would be happy to help you find a book or movie that is just the right fit.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Stimulate Your Brain with S.T.E.M.

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the WorldS.T.E.M. education is opening doors for young people by offering them different ways to learn about science, technology, engineering and math, and by seeing how those disciplines are incorporated into our every day lives, from our homes, our world, and beyond.  The library is the perfect place to explore S.T.E.M. ideas, no matter your age.

Here are some titles that could be starting points for introducing S.T.E.M. concepts through stories of real people. As ideas spark, children can wonder off through the subject “neighborhoods” in the Children’s Room and take home a pile of books to peruse later.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark follows Lovelace from her childhood, estranged from her father Lord Byron and encouraged by her mother to learn mathematics, through her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage when Ada created the first computer program. Gorgeous illustrations by April Chu will keep young readers hooked, and they can continue reading about famous females in Women Who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven or Trailblazers: 33 Women in Science Who Changed the World by Rachel Swaby.

In Elizabeth Rusch’s Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World, kids learn how Tesla first came up with his idea for alternating currents, and how his invention was chosen above Thomas Edison’s for lighting the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Remember learning about the Fibonacci code? Joseph D’Agnese’s Blockhead is an intriguing picture book about Leonardo Fibonacci’s challenging life and his special discovery of number sequences in nature. Similarly, Paul Erdos’s unusual life is recounted in Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math. “Uncle Paul” Erdos was strange and socially inept, yet he was beloved by many, and he furthered the study of mathematics in numerous areas.

More topics can be explored by identifying a child’s interests or passions, and using that as a springboard to learn more. This summer, we added four books from the Science of the Summer Olympics series. Check out titles like The Science Behind Swimming, Diving and Other Water Sports if you had a great time watching the Olympics as a family.

Kids who are into popular mainstream shows will appreciate the Batman Science series which explores the “real-world science and engineering” of Batman’s suits, vehicles and utility belt. The Max Axiom, Super Scientist graphic novel series presents S.T.E.M. topics through comic book adventures.

Hands-on kids will enjoy the many books with instructions and ideas for projects they can create themselves.  3-D Engineering: Design and Build Your Own Prototypes with 25 Projects provides enough instruction for kids to test strategies for building anything from bridges to alarms. Lego has produced a whole slew of big, exciting books full of ideas for new things to build, such as the Lego Adventure books. The books foster imaginative creations and experimenting with structures.

No one is too young to experience S.T.E.M.  Babies and toddlers have a natural curiosity that leads them to taste, touch, explore and experiment with everything around them.  While this can make childcare a little hectic, parents can easily encourage children by asking and answering questions, describing things to increase vocabulary, and allowing children to play safely with a variety of household items.  A new board book series called “Baby Loves” by Ruth Spiro captures the enthusiasm for S.T.E.M. In Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering, simple sentences and colorful, bright illustrations present questions and answers about things that fly – birds, airplanes, and a rocket. Andrea Beatty’s picture books — Ada Twist, Scientist, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect – are also good introductions for younger listeners.

Experience S.T.E.M. at library programs, too! Every Tuesday, Chess Club for all ages and abilities meets on the first floor of the library, starting at 5:30.  It is run by the K-State Chess Club, and beginners are welcome.  S.T.E.M. Club for K-3rd graders meets on the second Thursday of the month from 4:00-5:00 in the Children’s Room.  This week, kids will find out if they really know the story of The Three Little Pigs. Activities include exploring various building materials, learning about their properties, and even building little houses to test against the big bad wolf. Later in the year, library staff will be incorporating Sphero robots into some programs for different ages. The library is a great resource for getting your kids excited about S.T.E.M.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Kids, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Lifelong Learning and Hobbies

By Jared Richards, Adult Services Librarian

Wool PetsOne of the main goals of a public library is the promotion of lifelong learning. I am sure there are many highbrow reasons for why people should engage in lifelong learning and, if you are interested in those, come on down to the second floor of the Manhattan Public Library and we will look them up for you. For the purposes of this article, however, I am going to focus on the two most important aspects of lifelong learning to me. First, learning can be fun, especially when it is not followed by a test or a grade on a permanent record. And second, learning something new not only makes your life more interesting, it makes you more interesting to other people. The world can never have enough interesting people.

My favorite way to learn something new is to find a new hobby. I’ve dabbled in more hobbies than I have fingers to count them on, and I have the usual suspects when it comes to fingers, so that is a decent number of hobbies. Despite this, I am always looking for something new, and a great way to do that is by wandering through the shelves on the second floor of the Manhattan Public Library—the 600s and 700s, in particular.

There are not many hobbies that allow a person to create something and then destroy it, while also leaving behind a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. If you are angry, pottery might be that hobby, and we have books about pottery, but I am referring to cooking. Our collection of cookbooks covers methods, diets, and cuisines from all over the world. Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee contains over 100 recipes that blend his Korean heritage with his adopted Kentucky home. We also have seven shelves devoted to vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. Contrary to popular belief, most vegans and vegetarians enjoy food beyond the popular raw vegetable platter found at most gatherings. Before your next get together, do them a favor and consider checking out Meatless in Cowtown by Laura Samuel Meyn or Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin, and give partygoers more to eat than baby carrots and cauliflower.

Taking up woodworking as a hobby allows you to build everything from small toys to large houses. Learning how to recognize different types of wood will go a long way in woodworking endeavors, so check out Wood: Identification and Use by Terry Porter. Restoring old furniture can be calming, especially if pottery was previously chosen as a hobby, and The Furniture Bible by Christophe Pourny is a great place to start learning about furniture restoration. From there, I would suggest moving on to small projects with Woodworking from the Scrap Pile by Derek Jones before advancing to The Complete Guide to Treehouses by Philip Schmidt.

Adult coloring books have been all the rage lately, but why not take it a step further and learn how to color outside the lines? We have a large collection of drawing books, including Drawing School by Ian Simpson. Or stick with coloring because it is fun, and check out The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch or Colored Pencil Drawing Techniques by Iain Hutton-Jamieson.

Having a pet is a huge responsibility and a decision that should not be taken lightly. For those not ready for such a commitment, I suggest one of the yarn hobbies.  With Wool Pets by Laurie Sharp and Knit Your Own Zoo by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, pets can be created that do not need to be walked, fed, or cleaned up after, unless you count the scraps of leftover yarn that fall on the floor as the animals are made.  Once mastered, move on to a hobby that requires a little more care with The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by Carol Deppe.  In no time at all, you can move from leafy green creators of oxygen to furry friends that consume it with the help of Top Tips from Top Trainers by members of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

The Manhattan Public Library also has programming that may lead to your next hobby. For example, every third Thursday we have Library Lab in the Groesbeck Room. At 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 20, 2016, we will be painting mandala rocks. If nothing else, I encourage you to come to the second floor of the Manhattan Public Library to browse, find a new hobby, and join the ranks of the world’s most interesting people.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Lights Out, Film Noir

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Film Noir: 10-Movie Spotlight CollectionAutumn is here, and with the nights growing longer it is the perfect time to explore the darker side of film. The term film noir, or dark film, was coined by a French movie critic in 1946. As a genre, film noir had its heyday in the mystery and crime dramas of the 1940s and 1950s.

Critics haven’t always agreed on whether a film can be classified as noir, what elements films in the genre share, or if film noir can even be defined as a genre. Some critics determine films in the genre by their tragic conclusions, while other critics point to a distinctive visual style. Still others emphasize plot and character type, or mood and attitude.

Manhattan Public Library has an extensive collection of DVDs and Blu-rays, including many film noir classics. There are several collections that are excellent choices if you are new to the genre. “Film Noir: 10-Movie Spotlight Collection,” for example, includes ten classic films on six discs. Titles include “Double Indemnity,” “Black Dahlia,” and “Touch of Evil” to name a few.

5 Film Noir Killer Classics,” is another six disc set. In addition to the five movies, the sixth disc includes the special feature “What is film noir?,” as well as 38 classic film noir trailers. Movies included in this collection are “D.O.A,” “Detour,” “Stranger,” “Scarlet Street,” and “Killer Bait.”

Lists of the most popular film noir titles include a mix of classic examples from the 1940s and 1950s, along with more contemporary titles. “The Big Sleep,” from 1946, features on most lists of the best film noir. Humphrey Bogart stars as private eye Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall portrays the older sister of a woman being blackmailed. Along with blackmailers, there are plenty of other unsavory characters in this film, including murderers, pornographers, night club rogues, and the spoiled rich.

Several film noir classics feature the femme fatale, or fatal woman. This mysterious and seductive woman charms her lovers, and leads them into compromising, dangerous, and even deadly situations. Jane Greer is a murderous femme fatale using her wiles against Robert Mitchum in “Out of the Past.” Mitchum plays private detective Jeff Bailey, hired to find Kathie Moffat by the man from whom she had stolen $40,000 dollars in addition to shooting him. Of course once Bailey finds Kathie, the sparks fly.

Contemporary movies made in the film noir tradition are often referred to as neo-noir. “L.A. Confidential,” (1997) is one example. Three detectives in the L.A. police force of the 1950s uncover a conspiracy behind the shotgun slaying of customers at an all-night diner.

Chinatown,” (1974) is another neo-noir film. Jack Nicholson is private investigator Jack Gittes, hired to trail a Los Angeles Water Department engineer by his wife. Soon Gittes is in over his head, stumbling into a web of intrigue involving a water diversion scheme, murder, and more than he can handle in Chinatown.

Alfed Hitchcock directed several classic film noir pictures. “Greatest Classic Films Collection. Hitchcock Thrillers,” features four of them. In “Suspicion,” rich socialite Joan Fontaine falls in love with dashing Cary Grant, and slowly comes to suspect that he is out to murder her for her inheritance.

Orson Welles is another director of classic film noir. In “The Third Man,” an American novelist in Vienna learns that an old friend has been killed in an accident, and discovers that his friend was more than he appeared.

Many of the classic noir movies have literary connections, being based on novels or stories by Raymond Chandler (“The Big Sleep”), James M. Cain (“The Postman Always Rings Twice”), and  Cornell Woolrich. Woolrich’s published works provided the basis of thirteen films in the genre, including “Black Angel,” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

In addition to titles on DVD and Blu-Ray, MPL’s streaming service, Hoopla, also features several film noir titles, including “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Scarlet Street,” “Pitfall,” and “Mulholland Falls.” Your library card is good for 5 checkouts every month on Hoopla.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Ties of Blood and Love: Memoirs of Childhood and Parenthood

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and LossRecently I picked up Nadja Spiegelman’s I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This, a memoir about generations of mothers and daughters, and it immediately pulled me in. Now, for readers of alternative comics, Nadja Spiegelman is famous as the daughter of Art Spiegelman, whose brilliant memoir Maus told of his father’s experiences during the Holocaust. For Nadja Spiegelman, though, her mother Françoise Mouly looms larger in her own life, casting a shadow she still struggles to understand and fully escape. In an effort to better understand herself and her mother, Spiegelman baldly detailed her own childhood in I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This. Quickly, Spiegelman discovered that, as much as her mother shaped her, her grandmother shaped her mother, and so on, spiraling back through the generations in inevitable cycles of love and hurt. As Spiegelman researched the matriarchs of her family, I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This became a memoir of generations, analyzing the different circumstances that shaped the women of Spiegelman’s life.

I don’t normally read nonfiction, but something in Spiegelman’s work connected with me, and that connection made me curious about other memoirs. Which other authors, I wondered, have spilt their own blood on the page in an effort to better understand themselves and their families? Here are the fruits of my research, a handful of recent memoirs that explore various aspects of childhood and parenthood.

In her memoir Where the Light Gets In, Kimberly Williams-Paisley also wrote about her relationship with her mother, which irrevocably changed when her mother, Linda, was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia. All too quickly, the bright, supportive mother of her childhood began to change, as Linda physically deteriorated and eventually lost the ability to recognize her own family. Despite the enormity of Linda’s illness, Williams-Paisley’s family forged ahead, supporting each other and working to find the best in a difficult situation. In rare moments, Williams-Paisley could still recognize her mother’s spirit and sharp intelligence, and she learned to live in the present instead of mourning the loss of the mother she always knew.

Instead of a traditional memoir, The Rainbow Comes and Goes presents a year’s worth of correspondence between Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. Near her ninety-first birthday, Vanderbilt fell seriously ill; though she recovered, her sudden illness prompted Cooper to stop waiting and begin writing to her, asking everything he’d ever wanted to know about her life. In alternating emails, mother and son reflected on every aspect of their lives, from their greatest losses to their most personal hopes and dreams. The deep connection between mother and son can be felt through the pages, and the book’s advice and musings will stay with you beyond the last page.

The final three memoirs I found all focus on grief and loss from the perspective of a parent, though each parent struggles with a different circumstance. In Falling: A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back, Elisha Cooper detailed his daughter’s diagnosis with kidney cancer and told how he grappled to come to terms with the uncertainty and lack of control he had over his life. Rosalie Lightning, a memoir graphic novel by Tom Hart, depicts his daughter’s sudden, heartbreaking death and the journey he and his wife went through coming to terms with their loss. This book benefits greatly from its graphic novel format, as the images help convey the depth of feelings Hart dealt with following Rosalie’s death. Finally, Cards for Brianna is a memoir from the other side of the equation, written by a terminally-ill mother for her young daughter. Once Heather McManamy realized her breast cancer was terminal, she decided to write cards to her daughter for various life events; this book presents snippets of them, along with vignettes about McManamy’s life, motherhood, and the gifts you can receive by accepting death.

All of these memoirs were published in 2016 alone; if you would like to look into older familial memoirs, Manhattan Public Library has a great selection of those, too. You might start with Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother?, Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son, or Susanne Antonetta’s Make Me a Mother, just to name a few. For even more biography and memoir reading suggestions, you can sign up for our emailed book lists or request a personalized reading list online.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Follow Your Whim to a Great Book

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of DistractionNot surprisingly, in my work as a librarian, I spend a lot of time in discussion about books: what people are reading, how people select books, and how they experience books. Reading is one of the few activities that has stood the test of time, persisting through centuries of distractions that have fallen to the wayside. So I always cringe when I hear someone say, “I should read more” in the same way they might say “I should eat more kale.” When an individual has stopped reading, I don’t think less of them. I just mourn for everything they are missing.

I am not exaggerating when I say that reading has made my life better and I know I’m not the only one. In the Pew Research Center’s recent study, Book Reading 2016, they reported that Americans read an average of 12 books per year. They read for work or school, to keep up with current events, to research topics of interest, and 80% read for pleasure. In direct contrast to the widely held view of younger generations being distracted by technological devices, 18 to 29 year olds are reading just as much as older age groups, and 83% of them read for pleasure. People don’t read because there’s nothing else to do or because of moral superiority; they read because they want to. Books can provide a window into worlds we would otherwise be unaware of, expose us to new ideas and different perspectives, and they can also bring comfort or escape, or even give us a hearty laugh.

So it was with great delight that I stumbled upon Alan Jacobs’ book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction.  The primary theme that Jacobs presents is “Read at Whim.” He encourages readers to read what will give them delight. This can be classic literature, but it can also be a romance novel. All he asks of the reader is to examine the part of our nature that “knows itself and therefore seeks what is really good.” Therefore, he encourages those reading the substantial tome from the list of “100 books you must read” to quit reading if you’ve gotten a good ways into a book and still find it to be a trudge. He also challenges those who stick to a genre with almost identical plots to examine if their reading is still bringing them delight or if finding something a little different might bring a spark back to reading.

The challenge can sometimes be how to find the next book, the one that will fill you with delight. We have lots of tools to explore on the library website,, but there is something to be said for seeking out the recommendations of fellow readers, whether you find them in the pages of your local newspaper or a chat with friends. A list of recommendations gives you a good place to start. From there you can pick up the ones that grab your interest and feel free to ignore those that don’t appeal.

One downside of reading is that it is such a solitary endeavor. As beneficial as reading is, we humans also require community. Manhattan Public Library is hoping to help you meet both needs. Join us at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at Arrow Coffee Co. for our first Silent Book Club. We will gather with fellow book lovers to discuss books, read, and create community. Despite the word “silent,” there will be no shushing involved. We encourage talking with each other about your favorite books. Gigi, our adept librarian, will be on-hand for book recommendations, tips on what the library can do for you, or just to chat about the world of reading.

So, don’t look at reading as an obligation or a moral directive; instead let yourself be open to the advantages that books can bring to your life. Jacobs summarizes his ideas best with a quote from writer Randall Jarrell, “He read it . . . just because he liked to, wanted to, couldn’t help himself.” We wish you all the best in finding such a book and would be delighted to help in your search.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Debut Authors to Freshen Up Your Reading List

by Rhonna Hargett – Adult Services Manager

We’ve put away the coats and sweaters and pulled out the sandals and shorts. It’s time to tuck winter away and breathe in the fresh air of spring. Along with the new leaves, flowers, and grass, this is a great time to freshen up your reading with new authors. At Manhattan Public Library we have some fantastic books by debut authors that will invigorate your transition into summer.

In Dodgers by Bill Beverly, East, 15-year-old gang member from LA is sent on a road-trip to kill a witness in Wisconsin. Traveling in a minivan with three other gang members, including his younger brother, he is unprepared for the lessons forced upon him about his own identity and how he fits into the world around him. This bildungsroman/crime/road novel will appeal to fans of HBO’s The Wire.

Julie McElwain delivers mystery and romance with A Murder in Time. While FBI agent Kendra Donovan attempts to wreak revenge upon the criminal who killed her fellow agents, she is accidentally transported to 1815. She attempts to adapt to her surroundings, jumping in to offer her assistance in solving a murder. Described by Library Journal as “absolutely captivating,” McElwain leaves us in anxious anticipation for sequel.

When a naked newborn girl is found in the snow, 8-year-old Aurelia Vennaway takes her home and insists that her wealthy and unkind parents take the baby in. As they grow, Aurelia and the newly named Amy Snow grow to be the best of friends. When Aurelia dies unexpectedly, she leaves a letter that sends Amy on a treasure hunt to unlock a long-held secret. Set in Victorian England, Amy Snow by Tracy Rees delivers a tale of friendship and intrigue.

On a lighter note, Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen shows how one little black dress brings a bit of magic to the lives of nine women. From a Bloomingdale’s sales clerk mooning over her ex to a Brown grad with no job but a fabulous fake life on social media, all their lives are touched in this laugh-out-loud delight of a book. A great read for those who adored the movie Love Actually.

In We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenridge, Laurel Freeman is recruited by the Toneybee Institute to use their sign language skills to teach a chimpanzee named Charlie to speak. She and her family welcome Charlie into their home, not realizing how the relationship will interfere or the questionable background of the institute. Exploring issues of race, religion and communication, Greenridge’s novel exhibits her deft storytelling skills.

Rush Oh!
by Shirley Barrett takes us back to 1908 in New South Wales, Australia. Mary Davidson is responsible for the care of her five younger siblings, as well as cooking for the members of her father’s whaling crew. In this view into the domestic side of whaling, Barrett shares some of the nitty-gritty details, humorous tales, and Mary’s romance with a former Methodist minister on her father’s crew.

Shelter by Jung Yun explores the dilemma of Kyung Cho, a college professor who is drowning in debt. He resists moving his family to live with his wealthy, abusive parents, but is beginning to accept this as his best option. When his parents are the victims of a brutal crime, they instead move in with him, creating a stew of resentment and tensions. Booklist calls Yun’s debut “a work of relentless psychological sleuthing and sensitive insight.”

Yaa Gyasi’s saga Homegoing covers seven generations in Ghana and the United States, starting with the half-sisters Effia and Esi. Alternating chapters tell the stories of Effia’s life married to a British colonizer and Esi’s captured into slavery in the American South and of the descendants that followed them. Reminiscent of Alex Haley’s Roots or Lalita Tademy’s Cane River, Homegoing is painful at times, but Gyasi’s beautiful use of language skillfully considers how individual lives can shape the fabric of a nation.

Find out more about these titles at If you would like to get the scoop on upcoming titles, go to our Books page to sign up for newsletters that we email out each month.


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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Cookies Anyone?

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Who doesn’t want a cookie right now? Children, adults, even big, blue, furry monsters love cookies. They can be round, square, flat, fat, soft, crisp, with nuts, chocolate, coconut, or fruit. The cookie combinations are endless. Everyone has their favorite, but the most popular cookie in the United States is the chocolate chip variety. Today, 25% of all the cookies baked in the United States are chocolate chip.

The library is the place to go for cookie cookbooks. “The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book,” by Carolyn Wyman offers a fun, historical perspective on this popular cookie. She traces the development of the chocolate chip cookie from its 1930 inception at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, and expands it to include recipes inspired by cookbooks, chefs, and businesses. She also profiles famous cookie makers such as Otis Spunkmeyer and Famous Amos.


Nothing says love like a warm, home-made cookie. In today’s busy world, however, we sometimes have to settle for store-bought. Not to worry. Christi Farr Johnstone shows how to jazz up those store-bought cookies in “Smart Cookie: Transform Store-Bought Cookies into Amazing Treats.” By following the 50 decorating designs included, readers of all ages can turn store-bought cookies into eye-catching custom creations. In each project, Johnstone presents easy techniques so that the recipes require minimal time and equipment and no baking.

For those of us short on time there is also “Slice and Bake Cookies: Fast Recipes from your Refrigerator or Freezer,” by Elinor Klivans. The author shares 50 recipes that are quick to mix up, stash in the refrigerator or freezer, and have ready when the cookie monster in your house raises his hungry head. Included are classics such as old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookies and Linzer hearts, and modern takes on savory cookies and crackers.

There’s a cookie recipe for every day of the year, and you can sample them all in “The Daily Cookie: 365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of your Life.” Blogger and Pillsbury Bake-Off grand prize-winner Anna Ginsberg includes recipes for cookies, brownies, and bars for celebrating major holidays and every-day events. Her categorical indexes make it easy for readers to browse recipes by type, pan size, or batch size.


Cookies can be plain or fancy. For those looking for a truly high class cookie, look no farther than “The Gourmet Cookie Book,” by the publishers of “Gourmet” magazine. This book includes the Gourmet Magazine’s best cookie recipe for every year from 1941 through 2009. The recipes reflect changes in American tastes, such as the prevalence of coconut in the 1960s, and espresso in the 1990s.

Whether you called their biscuits or biscottis, cookies are a world-wide phenomenon. Try out some of the many recipes included in “Cookies: 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes from Around the World,” by the publishers of “Reader’s Digest.” All kinds of cookies are represented: drop cookies, rolled cookies, brownies, icebox cookies, tea cakes, macaroons and more. Following the recipes in this book, an ambitious baker could bake a different cookie every weekend for 19 years without repeating a recipe.

Sometimes it’s a challenge getting the cookies in the oven before the cookie dough is eaten, raw eggs and all. Lindsay Landis offers an egg-free alternative in her “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook.” Using her cookie dough, you can make dozens of delicious cookie dough creations from cakes, pies, candies, and even cookies.

May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day. Ruth Graves Wakefield’s creation of the original chocolate chip cookie was a happy accident. Ruth intended to bake chocolate cookies for her guests, but she ran out of baker’s chocolate. When she substituted chopped up semi-sweet chocolate, she discovered that the pieces did not melt into the dough as she expected. Her cookies were an instant hit, and they still are today.



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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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?

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

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 25 12345...»