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All That Jazz @ the Library

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Celebrate International Jazz Day this April 30. In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), designated April 30 as International Jazz Day. Its purpose was to bring communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world together to celebrate and learn about jazz. This year’s global host city for International Jazz Day is Washington, D.C.

But you don’t have to travel to D.C. to learn about and experience jazz. Manhattan Public Library has an extensive collection of jazz music cds, as well as books and dvds, and thousands of items in the genre for streaming.

Experience jazz through film by checking out “Jazz,” by documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. The ten dvd set presents the history of jazz from its birth in New Orleans, through the Big Band era, modern jazz, and the fusion of jazz and rock and roll. Along the way, you’ll hear selections from about 500 pieces of music. “Jazz: a History of America’s Music,” by Geoffrey C. Ward, is the companion volume to Burns’ film.

In the same vein, “Jazz,” by music critic Gary Giddings and historian Scott Deveaux has traced the development of jazz from its nineteenth-century precursors to the present. The authors present the story of jazz in the broader cultural, political, social, and economic factors of the times. The book includes a detailed glossary, as well as a list of recommended jazz recordings and jazz-related motion pictures and documentaries.

Don’t know your be bop from your downbeat? Beginners to the world of America’s quintessential music will benefit from reading “The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz,” by Loren Schoenberg. This is a concise history of jazz highlighting noteworthy composers and musicians, including a list of the most influential jazz recordings. Also a complete guide to jazz terminology.

If you need something a little simpler, there is always “Jazz for Dummies,” by Dirk Sutro. An informative reference to the music and its musicians, it also includes tips for building your own jazz collection and a list of more than 100 recommended recordings.

When we think of jazz, certain American cities come to mind. New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz; Chicago, where Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke set the standard in the 1920s; New York, where bebop was born in the 1940s; Los Angeles and San Francisco, with the development of the West Coast sound; and, of course, Kansas City.

“Kansas City Jazz,” by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, gives the history of Kaycee jazz from ragtime to bebop. The Kansas City style of jazz developed during the 1930s, and marked the transition from big band orchestration to the improvisation of bebop. Kansas City is considered one of the “cradles of jazz.” Considered one of the most influential jazz saxophone players of all time, Charlie Parker, the Bird, was born in Kansas City. Future band leader, Count Basie played in Kansas City for several years, influencing the development of jazz.

Kansas City is also home to the American Jazz Museum. “Kansas City and All That’s Jazz,” published by the museum is full of historical photographs, and includes several articles about Kansas City jazz in its heyday.

The library has a diverse collection of jazz music cds available for checkout. But you don’t even have to leave your living room to access the more than 14,000 jazz recordings available for streaming through the library’s hoopla service. All you need to access the hoopla collection is a library card. Click the Digital Library link on the library’s web page, go to http://www.hoopladigital.com, or ask a librarian.

For more information about International Jazz Day, go to http://jazzday.com/. For all things jazz, visit the All about Jazz website at http://www.allaboutjazz.com. Next time you’re in the Kansas City area, don’t forget to visit the American Jazz Museum. Go to http://americanjazzmuseum.org for more information.

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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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In A Galaxy Not So Far Away: The Best of Science Fiction Film

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Back in 1977, in a galaxy not so far away, “Star Wars” captured the imaginations and the dreams of billions. In the six additional films in the series, as in the many incarnations of “Star Trek”, and in the hundreds of motion pictures both good and bad in the years before and since, science fiction on film has continued to draw audiences.

Ask 100 people to name their favorite science fiction movies, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Search the Internet for the best films in the genre, and you’ll walk away with multiple opinions. To simplify matters, this column will highlight the top ten science fiction films as judged by the games and entertainment media company, IGN, from The Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/09/14/top-25-sci-fi-movies-of-all-time.

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10) “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” 1991. In this sequel to the 1984 movie, “The Terminator,” a liquid metal, shapeshifting terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor and prevent him from becoming leader of the human resistance against the machines.

9) “The Road Warrior,” 1981. Also a sequel (“Mad Max” 1979), the film uses a western movie motif to tell the story of a community of settlers who defend themselves against a band of marauders in a post-apocalyptic world.

8) “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” 1951. A humanoid alien, Klaatu, comes to earth with an eight foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message to Earth. Live peacefully, or else. Who can forget those immortal words, “Klaatu barada nikto?”

7) “The Matrix,” 1999. The first in a trilogy about a dystopian future in which “reality” as perceived by humans is actually a simulation called the Matrix, and the real world is ruled by thinking machines.

6) “The Planet of the Apes,” 1968. Based on the novel by French author, Pierre Boulle, astronauts travel to a strange planet ruled by apes, and humans are an inferior species. There were 4 sequels to the original film, as well as a 2001 remake.

5) “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1980. Also known as “Star Wars Episode V,” the title of this film says it all. After the triumph of Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in the original, the galactic empire and Darth Vader strike back at the rebel alliance.

4) “Alien,” 1979. The crew of a spacecraft on its return voyage to Earth lands on a small planet in response to a distress call. They discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of a giant alien. I think you know what happens from there. “Alien” spawned 3 sequels.

3) “Star Wars,” 1977. No, not number one according to IGN. Later retitled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” this is the film where we first meet Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Obi Wan, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and of course, Darth Vader. The rebel alliance seeks to destroy the Galactic Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.

2) “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1969. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, this film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution.

2001

And the number one best science fiction film of all time, “Blade Runner,” 1982, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Rick Dekard is a blade runner, a special police bounty hunter tasked with hunting and killing replicants (androids) from off world who have illegally escaped to Earth.

Most of the top ten films on this list are available at the library. If your favorite science fiction movies didn’t make the list, don’t worry, the library has hundreds of other films in the genre. You should also checkout the selections of science fiction films on Hoopla, the library’s streaming service. Thousands of films, television shows, audiobooks, music cds, ebooks, and comics are available for free streaming on your computer, or to download to your tablet or smartphone.

Remember that today is the final day of the Manhattan Library Association’s annual book sale. It’s bag day. Fill a bag or box with books and other materials for one low price. Now that’s a bargain you won’t have to travel to a far off galaxy to find.

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Book Sale at the Library

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator2016_booksale2

Friday, February 26 is going to be a big day at the Manhattan Public Library. That’s the scheduled kickoff of the Manhattan Library Association’s (MLA) annual book sale!

For those unfamiliar with the annual sale, it’s a three-day event featuring gently used books, DVDs, audiobooks, and more.  With hardcover books going for $1.50 and DVDs for $2, browsers are sure to discover stacks of treasures destined for home shelves.

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The sale opens Friday the 26th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with a special preview for MLA members only.  Memberships to MLA (also known as the Friends of the Library) can be purchased at the door for just $10 per individual and $15 per family.  Shoppers on this night get the privilege of first pick of the thousands of hardback books, children’s books, paperback books, movies, audiobooks, and other materials which have been carefully sorted and prepared by volunteers.  Plus, every membership purchased helps fund library programs and services.

Then on Saturday, February 27, the sale will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  To help keep everyone’s energy up, volunteers from the Teen Library Advisory Board will be selling sweet treats and baked goods in the morning.

Sunday’s sale on February 28th runs from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. with special deals on the remaining materials.

So, where do all these books come from?  The Manhattan Library Association collects materials, either those donated by library users or those removed from the library’s many collections, all year long.   This dedicated team of volunteers meets at the library several times a week to sort through materials and keep everything organized.  During the year, some of the donations are offered for sale at Rosie’s Corner Book Store, which is located near the library’s Tech Center on the first floor.  If you can’t make it to the sale, you can always find great deals at Rosie’s Corner.

Readers might also wonder, why is the sale so important?  Beyond the fact that shoppers can find terrific prices, the sale also helps replenish resources for the library.  All of the money raised will be used to fund library programs and purchases such as new books, new furniture, and special events for kids.  In 2015, $10,400 was raised to support the Manhattan Public Library, and we hope to top that number this year.

DVDsThe book sale would not be possible without the work of dedicated volunteers.  Roger Brannan, Elaine Shannon, and Doug Schoning, who have been friends of the library for many years, co-chair the book sale committee.  They each go far beyond ordinary volunteer efforts to plan the layout of the sale, organize a full staff of other volunteers to work during the three-day event, and answer any questions people might have.  Wilma Schmeller, Carol O’Neill, and the entire crew of Rosie’s Corner volunteers work tirelessly to sort and price all of the donations, in addition to keeping Rosie’s Corner stocked with fresh materials all year long.  Other kind friends, like Carol Oukrop and Rosalie King, donate countless hours of work to this event.  It is truly a community project that helps support a community resource.

Please plan to join us for some browsing at this year’s sale.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful bargains.  Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your purchases will help keep the library stocked with wonderful new books!  If you wish to donate materials to the sale, please wait until March and your materials will be added to next year’s sale.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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Feminist Worthy Romance Novels

by Rachael Schmidtlein, Teen and Tween Services Coordinator
The romance novel industry has a notoriously bad reputation for producing predictable and unrealistic literature. I’ve recently been on a read-a-romance-novel-a-week kind of binge, and after awhile, I became seriously jaded with the lack of creativity that I was encountering. There are certain staple elements in romance novels, such as happy endings, but I didn’t see why that equaled boring. I wanted a story that had strong women, interesting men and a non-traditional story line. Is that really so much to ask for?

Well, did you know that there are websites, blog posts, and news articles dedicated to finding awesome and non-traditional romance novels? There are! After spending an unwise amount of time looking at these resources, I began reading again, and boy, have I loved it! Here are just a few of the feminist romance books that I discovered on my journey.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan:  It’s the 1870’s and Frederica “Free” Marshall runs a women’s rights newspaper in London. She has a small army of supporters but even more enemies bent on destroying her business, reputation and life. Enter our hero, Edward Clark. Edward is an unscrupulous, jaded scoundrel set on revenge after his family left him for dead. Edward and Free aren’t the typical historical romance couple with opposing ideologies. They work together to accomplish their own goals and find undeniable chemistry in each other. Their story is ripe with sharp witty banter and scandalous intrigue.  Honestly, all of Courtney Milan’s novels are amazing. She pushes her characters and story lines to new places and experiments with unexplored romance-based territory. For me, The Suffragette Scandal takes the cake because of its sassy characters and my personal love for suffragettes.

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare:  Minerva Highwood is a logical and determined scientist. After she makes a monumental discovery, she decides to find her way to Scotland to present her discovery to the geologic society. Not one to worry about her reputation, and to save her sister from a disastrous match, she enlists the help of notorious rake Colin. Colin, Lord Payne, is stuck in wretched Spindle Cove until he turns of age to seize his inheritance. Watching this unlikely couple journey to Scotland is a fun and surprising adventure. The plot is character- driven and Tessa Dare delivers a truly funny story. A Week to be Wicked is a breath of fresh air because the characters don’t change for one another. At the end of the story, Minerva and Colin are the same people they were at the beginning, but the journey makes you love them all the more for it.

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev:  Ria is the perfect Bollywood actress, but she has a secret. Her entire life she has kept her ice princess persona in check but when she is found in a compromising situation she decides to attend her cousin’s wedding in Chicago. Also attending the wedding is Vikram, an ex-love, from a relationship that ended really badly. Emotions ignite as the two characters dance around one another in this very emotional read.  If you love heart-wrenching romance and angst, then The Bollywood Bride is your kind of book. The language and imagery of the Indian – American culture is stunning, and the love story is sweet and passionate. Sonali Dev does a really great job of making the characters believable and the story addicting.

Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl:  Veronica has moved back to her hometown in Wyoming after failing to accomplish her dreams in New York City. Desperate, she takes a job as a relationship advice columnist and blunders her way through topics that she knows nothing about. Then she meets Gabe, the rugged small town librarian.  This book is entirely about Veronica’s transformation from an insecure mess to a strong woman who can stand on her own. Gabe is a great example of a male character who challenges the stereotypes of traditional male qualities and guides, not forces, Veronica’s transformation.

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