Archive for For Adults

Judging Books by Their Covers

By Jared Richards, Adult Services Librarian

The De-TextbookThe cover is bright blue and neon yellow with a bright pink spine. That is how Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal caught my eye. On the back she describes the cover of a book as being extra credit. The contents of a book are really what matter, but a cool cover can help.

You should never judge a book by its cover, as the old adage goes. I believe this is a good rule of thumb when it comes to not judging or underestimating people based on their appearance, but I find that judging literal books by their covers is a perfectly acceptable practice. According to the International Publishers Association’s annual report for 2015-2016, there were 338,986 new titles published in the United States in 2015. If you were to read a book a week, it would take you over 6,500 years to read all of those books, and more than 900 years even if you read a book each day. When faced with those sorts of numbers, you need strategies for finding a good book. If anyone wants to judge you for judging covers, just let them know that designing covers is a legitimate career that would not exist if people didn’t care about book covers. So let’s take a look at some extra credit.

The De-Textbook from the writers of Cracked.com is a book that gives you the truth about the things you learned in school that were often wrong. The cover shows an illustrated profile of a human head broken into compartments, occupied by various things like: King Tut, Shakespeare, and giant birds. A cleaning crew is spread throughout compartments cleaning out the myths, which are being piped from the back of the head via a spigot. It gets the point of the book across quite well.

There are twenty-nine small figures in red tank-tops and black shorts, most with a basketball, aligned in five rows on the cover of Now You See It by Cathy N. Davidson. There is also a lone gorilla, a reference to the now famous experiment on inattentional blindness by Daniel Simons. The experiment involved a video in which participants were asked to focus on one specific thing, causing half of them to miss the gorilla walking through the middle of the scene. Davidson’s book is about rethinking education and business in the age of modern technology with a focus on attention studies and anecdotal evidence – an interesting idea with an intriguing cover.

Few covers have lived up to the title of a book more completely than the cover of Incredibly Decadent Desserts by Deb Wise. Imagine a single piece of the best chocolate pie you have ever had, piled high with whipped topping, and accompanied by a gold fork because it’s decadent. This cover sets the stage perfectly and whets the reader’s appetite for the rest of the book, which is filled with mouthwatering food photography and recipes, each tastier than the last.

The cover of The Butterflies of North American: Titian Peale’s Lost Manuscript shows one half of a butterfly. The other half is on the back of the book, which is bound in such a way that it can be opened completely, allowing the front and back covers to touch, creating a whole butterfly. This little touch shows the attention to detail put into this book, which collects the full color plates of notes and numerous butterflies and caterpillars illustrated by Peale, an artist and naturalist from the 1800s.

A woman in a red coat and ruby high heels, holding a red umbrella in the rain, and seeming to defy gravity as she hangs in mid-air doing the splits on a city street. That is on the cover of Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter, a book inspired by watching his young son create an imaginary play world. It captures photographs of dancers in regular clothes, engaged in often mundane tasks, but expressing the joy and fantastical nature of a child’s imagination, through feats of athleticism.

This article has come to an end, but a picture is worth a thousand words, so come on down to the Manhattan Public Library and judge these covers for yourselves. As an added bonus, if you happen to judge covers based on their color, you’re in luck. This month we have a display devoted to books with green covers. A famous frog once said “It’s not easy being green,” but it is easy finding green books at the library.

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Irish Heritage Month

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Irish America: Coming into CloverIf your ancestry is Irish, you share that fact with 39.6 million other Americans. Irish Americans make up about 12% of the population of the United States.  In Boston, they account for over 20% of the city’s population, and if you live in the Breezy Point section of Queens, New York, you share Irish ancestry with a whopping 54.3% of the population. Irish is the second largest ancestry group in the United States. German is number one.

So with such a large part of the U.S. population having Irish ancestry, it is proper to celebrate this shared heritage. In additional to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, the entire month of March is Irish American Heritage Month.

You can read up on the Irish American experience at the public library. For example, let’s start with the basics, “1,001 Things Everyone Should Know about Irish American History,” by Edward O’Donnell. O’Donnell organizes his book around broad subjects such as culture, politics, religion, and sports. The list of things everyone should know tells the story of how Irish immigrants have played a central role in defining American character and identity.

The Irish in America,” edited by Michael Coffey, with text by Terry Golway is a magnificently illustrated book. Setting the stage by describing the misery of the potato famine, Golway presents stories about rogues, priests, politicians, poets, gangsters, nuns, ballplayers, union organizers, writers, and common working-stiffs that celebrate Irish achievement and success.

Maureen Dezell explores the unifying myths of what it is to be Irish American in her book, “Irish America: Coming into Clover, the Evolution of a People and a Culture.” More than an examination of a stereotype, Dezell’s book is a tribute to a people that was one of the building blocks of America.

In “The Irish Americans: a History,” author Jay Dolan highlights four dominant themes in the history of Irish Americans: politics, religion, labor, and nationalism. The author highlights the significance of the Church in the history of Irish Americans, and also examines the enormous influence that extreme poverty had on the lives of Irish immigrants.

The Famine Ships: the Irish Exodus to America,” by Edward Laxton, explores the agricultural disaster that sent over a million emigrants escaping the potato famine by sailing to America. Using family histories, the author tells the story of the courageous and determined people who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships to make new lives for themselves.

Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrant parents. The family moved back to Ireland during the Great depression. McCourt returned to the United States in 1949 at the age of 19. McCourt’s two biographies, “Angela’s Ashes,” and “Tis” tell the story of his impoverished upbringing in Brooklyn and Limerick, and his eventual return to America. “Angela’s Ashes,” won McCourt the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

The most famous Irish American family is undoubtedly, the Kennedys. In his book, “The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings,” Thomas Maier examines the family as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy’s 1848 arrival in Boston, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the Kennedy saga, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values.

Food is an integral part of culture and heritage. David Bowers provides an introduction to Irish cuisine in “Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country.” No corned beef and cabbage here, Bowers gives readers a taste of real Irish food, such as moist brown soda bread, apple tarts, and rich stews. Included are recipes for Homemade Irish Sausages, Whiskey Chicken and Roast Goose with Applesauce, and a trinity of variations on mashed potatoes Boxty, Champ, and Colcannon.

For the literary-minded, there are an abundance of Irish American authors to choose from with titles available in paper or digital format. To name just a few in no particular order: Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Eugene O’Neill, Flannery O’Connor, Margaret Mitchell, Alice McDermott, William Faulkner, and Ken Kesey.

You don’t have to be Irish American to celebrate Irish American Heritage Month, but there’s about a 1 in 8 chance that you are. Erin go Bragh!

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Reading the Oscars

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

ArrivalEvery year the buzz around the Oscars focuses on the gowns and the gossip, but this long-standing American tradition is really about telling stories. The 2017 Oscars offers the usual spectrum of brilliantly-told tales, with many of them based on books you can find at your library. Let’s start with the biggies, the nominees for best picture.

Arrival is based on a short story in Ted Chiang’s collection The Stories of Your Life and Others. In this thought-provoking short story, a linguist is asked to help communicate with alien lifeforms that have come to Earth. Her interactions with them expose her to a different way of looking at time, allowing her to remember the past and the future. Chiang forces readers to re-evaluate their assumptions of social constructs and see the world in a new way.

Fences, the play by August Wilson, has already won a Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. The story of an African-American family in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, Fences forces us to take a closer look at disappointed hopes and the legacy they can create. Troy, the head of the family, was a talented player in Negro League baseball in his younger years but is now a trash collector. His disappointed hopes affect his relationship with his sons.

Hidden Figures is based on the nonfiction book by Margo Lee Shetterly about the black women mathematicians who helped the United States move ahead in the space race. During World War 2, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics sought out talented individuals to support the work of their engineers. Due to the labor shortages, these African-American math teachers from the South were able to use their skills to become important contributors to history, even if no one knew about them.

Lion is based on the true story A Long Way from Home by Saroo Brierley. When he was four years old in India, he ended up on the wrong train and was separated from his brother. After wandering lost, he was eventually adopted by a couple in Australia. Even with the love he received from his parents, he was never able to forget his original family. In his late 20’s he was able to use Google Earth and the slight cues from his memory to finally locate his home.

In the foreign language film category, there’s a title that’s had its share of buzz even without a movie, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. A grumpy old man has his orderly world upended when a friendly family moves in next door and promptly runs over his mailbox. In this heartwarming tale, Ove thinks he is done with life, but his meddling neighbors, with their baked goods and sweet daughters, might be able to convince him otherwise.

With words that inspire costume design nominations, J.K. Rowling has come through again in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A guide that no self-respecting wizard home would be seen without, Fantastic Beasts covers magical creatures, along with their habitats and habits. Although the filmmakers created a gripping story, keep in mind that the book is an encyclopedia. Rowling’s imagination and humor still shine through, even with the different format.

The film based on Ron Suskind’s book Life, Animated is nominated in the documentary category. Suskind’s son Owen is autistic, but he was able to communicate and his family could communicate with him using the songs and dialogue of Disney movies. This is a beautiful memoir of a family using stories to help a boy make sense of the world.

Pairing books with movies is an excellent way to experience more of the world and to go further into the story. When the glamour of the Oscars has faded away, you can continue to enjoy the delight of a good tale, and the library will be here to guide the way.

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The House that Healed

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Books to Read if You Like The Walking Dead

By Amber Johnson, Youth Services Library Assistant

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

Feed by Mira Grant

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

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

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

Partials by Dan Wells

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

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

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

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

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

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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

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

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Shakespeare Now Press Release

MODERN SHAKESPEARE EXTRAVAGANZA

MANHATTAN, KS—In February and March, the Manhattan Public Library will partner with the K-State English Department to bring a series of modern Shakespeare events to the Manhattan community. All of the programs are planned, performed, and executed by K-State students as part of the grant for the Shakespeare’s First Folio project. The public is welcome and tickets are not required for any of the events.

Film Screening
6:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 14
Manhattan Public Library
Watch an award-winning film on the big screen in full surround, while you contemplate the history of young Shakespeare and who may have served as his muse. A student-led discussion will follow.

Vinegar Girl Discussion
6:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 15
Manhattan Public Library
Discuss Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl—a delightful retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, updated to current times. Familiarity with the original play is not necessary to participate. Copies of Tyler’s book are on reserve at Hale Library and Manhattan Public Library and may be checked out before or after the event.

“Shakespeare and the Military”
6:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 1
Manhattan Public Library
Students will lead a discussion based on video clips and passages from Shakespeare’s works. Special emphasis will be placed on text from the war play Henry V. Prior knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays is not required for participation.

Nutshell
6:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 15
Manhattan Public Library
Explore the dark comedy of Ian McEwan’s Nutshell. This suspenseful and comedic spinoff of Hamlet, casts Hamlet as a fetus overhearing the plans to murder his father.

“Still Dreaming”
6:30 p.m., Friday, March 10
Meadowlark Retirement home
Watch the documentary film “Still Dreaming,” then join the discussion about an amateur, retirement home production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Shakespeare Now” Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Research Symposium
Saturday, April 22
KSU and Hale Library,
Teaching interdisciplinary knowledge, early literature, and culture.

Shakespeare Display
Saturday. April 22
Hale Library
Student Posters/Display, roundtables, and presentations.

To check out the books and learn more about the event series, visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue or Hale Library on the K-State Campus. Information is also available through the K-State Department of English website at https://www.k-state.edu/english/.

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Self-Help for Non-Gurus

By Vivienne Uccello, Public Relations Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Contemporary Immigration and Children’s Books

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don’t Ditch Those Resolutions

By Gigi Holman, Adult Services Librarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remembering Martin

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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