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A Fable for Our Times: The Buried Giant

by Marcia Allen,  Collection Development

I just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant, and I was stunned by the superb quality of the writing and the subtle levels of meaning within the story. I am sure that I will return to this book again and again, because I know I missed some of the nuances the author has so carefully woven throughout the story. This seemingly simple little tale has much that is hidden.

The story concerns Axl and Beatrice, an older Briton couple living in a rough village long after the fall of Rome, who have decided to attempt a walking journey to visit their son. The two are lovingly devoted to each other, and Axl always addresses his wife as “Princess.” But something is amiss: Despite their eagerness to visit their son, they have little memory of the boy and are not quite sure where he actually lives. Like everyone else in their village, their memories have been clouded by the presence of an obliterating mist.

Nevertheless, off they go on their quest during which they will have all kinds of adventures. Among other events, they will encounter ogres and mysterious boatmen. They will meet treacherous monks and hostile Saxons. They will encounter odd-behaving children and a slumbering dragon. As they travel, it becomes clear to the reader that the one constant in their lives is their love for each other.

Buried GiantLike the travelers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, they are joined by others seeking their own quests. They meet Wistan, a well-trained Saxon knight, who seeks something that will change the course of British history. They meet Edwin, a young boy accompanying Wistan, who bears an unusual wound. And they meet Gawain, a knight once dedicated to the service of King Arthur, whose quest brings him into brutal conflict with that of Wistan.

So, what is this delightful book telling us about humanity? It says much about the nature of memory. While we readers are appalled that the main characters have forgotten their son and don’t recall much about their own lives, we soon realize that their failing is not their fault. As Axl grasps at shadowy recollections of his past experiences, we come to understand that there was a deliberate plan for mass forgetfulness, one that robs the soul of individual memory but also averts some of the evil in the world. If memory returns, so, too, will forgotten grudges and hurt feelings that have long been buried.

The book also has much to say about death and the way the dying are conveyed from life. Both Axl and Beatrice are frail older people, and this journey they have undertaken will bring terrible stress to them. Troubled by both rough terrain and terrifying creatures, they will struggle valiantly to complete their quest, discovering as they go that their beliefs about their lives are far from fact. The final passages of the book are a poignant reminder of the uncertainty of life and a testament to the ability of letting go.

To whom will this book appeal? To anyone who treasures tales of the distant past. To those who love a bit of fantasy in their stories. To folks who appreciate symbolic meaning in everyday events of ordinary people. To anyone who loves a story of exquisitely worded language. This book will appeal on many different levels, and readers lucky enough to sample it will surely feel that they have been enthralled by a master storyteller.

 

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Monarchs Baseball History at MPL

by Janet, Adult Services Librarian

14541-illustration-of-a-baseball-pvMost people have heard of Jackie Robinson, some have heard of Satchel Paige and many have heard of the Kansas City Monarchs – but few know how connected they were to the Manhattan community. In honor of the 90th Anniversary of the Monarchs’ first World Championship in 1924, author Phil S. Dixon will be speaking in cities where they played to present the team’s unique history as well as discuss the history of African-American ball players from our community who participated in the Negro Leagues. Help us and our co-sponsor, the Riley County Historical Society, welcome Mr. Dixon to the Manhattan Public Library on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. For more than thirty years Mr. Dixon has recorded African-American sports topics with a vast array of in-depth skill and historical accuracy. He is widely regarded for his expertise on baseball history. He has authored nine prior baseball books and won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992. Join us for this fascinating program about Manhattan and Baseball history!

monarchs

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The History of Baseball

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With spring just around the corner, that means it is once again time for baseball, the all American pastime. To get yourself ready, or just to impress your friends with your vast knowledge, why not read up on the history of the sport?

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the Negro Leagues, we have several books on the subject. Here are just a few to get you started.

monarchs“The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball” by Janet Bruce:   This book traces the story of the Kansas City Monarchs from their beginning as a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 until their demise in the mid 1950’s due largely to the integration of the sport. The Monarchs were a powerhouse in their league and employed some of the great stars of that era, such as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Did you know that the Monarchs were the first team to regularly play night baseball? They brought a portable lighting system with them which they quickly assembled at each new location when they travelled on the road. Bruce fills the book with many other interesting anecdotes as well as over 90 photographs of various players or scenes.

“Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams” by Robert Peterson:   Originally published in 1970, this is a classic book that thoroughly covers Negro league baseball from start to finish. There is detailed history about the league and some of its greatest players. There are also biographical sketches of many great players who never had the chance to play in the major leagues. Peterson manages to capture the heart and soul of Negro league baseball, while underscoring the tragedy of the lost opportunities of Negro league players because of segregation.

jackie“Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy” by Jules Tygiel:   No baseball history would be complete without the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Tygiel, through interviews with players, newspaper accounts, and personal papers, recounts how Jackie Robinson influenced not only baseball, but American society as well.

 

 

 

For a general look at baseball history, the library has many books to offer. Here are a few of my picks:

boys“The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn:   Many are of the opinion that this is the best baseball book ever written, or at least somewhere on the list.  Kahn describes his youth  growing up in the 30’s and 40’s near Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his time as a beat writer covering the Dodgers in the early 50’s. In a very poignant section, Kahn then recounts what happened to these great players long after their baseball days were over. Even non-baseball fans should appreciate this book.

“Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond” by Jonathan Weeks:   For a lighthearted look at baseball, give this one a try. Weeks takes you chronologically from baseball’s earliest days up to the present day, recounting the strange, bizarre, and little-known events that happen on the field of play. For instance, in 1957, while a woman was being carted from the game on a stretcher after being hit in the face by Richie Ashburn’s foul ball, she was hit in the leg by another Ashburn foul ball during the same at bat.

baseballwomen“Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball” by Barbara Gregorich:   The story of women in baseball is a fascinating one. I had no idea that there were a number of barnstorming “bloomer teams” that travelled across the U.S. playing against men’s teams. Or, that during the 1930’s in an exhibition game, one woman, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Gregorich’s book is an entertaining account of this little known piece of baseball history.

These are only a fraction of the baseball books that MPL has to offer, so be sure to stop in and see what we have. Also, don’t forget to come hear Phil Dixon speak at the library on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. Mr. Dixon is an African America sports historian, author of nine baseball books, and co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Mr. Dixon will be discussing the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, games the Monarchs played in Manhattan, and the history of African American baseball players from this community.

 

 

 

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March Events at the Library Include Baseball and Charles Dickens

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager 

What do Internet safety, the Kansas City Monarchs, Manhattan history, Charles Dickens, and great books for sale all have in common? They’re all at Manhattan Public Library in the month of March.

Last weekend, the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of the Library) annual book sale was a huge success, in spite of the snow, and the effort raised thousands of dollars to support summer reading and other library programs for all ages. The tremendous generosity and support of our Friends and the tireless year-round efforts of book sale volunteers are truly appreciated. Thanks, also, to all those in the community who donate so many wonderful books each year for our library sale. It’s a gift that benefits us all.  If you didn’t get a chance to stop by and browse the thousands of books for sale, don’t worry! You can find great deals on gently used books all year long at Rosie’s Corner Book Store on the first floor of the library.

Mark your calen20monarchsdar for Sunday, March 29, for a fun and informative program that’s sure to appeal to fans of baseball, local history, and African-American history. Author and historian Phil Dixon, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, will present “The Kansas City Monarchs and Our Home Town,” a program about the Monarchs’ unique history, with special emphasis on their connections to Manhattan and on the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. Mr. Dixon has authored nine books and will offer his books at the program for sale and signing. Join us at 2:00 p.m. in the Library Auditorium. This program is appropriate for all ages and is co-sponsored by the Riley County Historical Society.

Join us for tea, cookies, and Brit Lit on Thursday, March 26th, 7:00 p.m., when our monthly book series will continue with a discussion of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” We’ll meet in the Groesbeck Room and our discussion leader this month will be KSU Professor Michaeline Chance-Reay. “Great Expectations” is the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman. Drawing on the his frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, Dickens weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagining scenes rich in comedy and pathos and introducing a succession of unforgettable characters. This TALK series of programs is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council and the Manhattan Library Association.

book discussionThe Tech Tuesday series at Manhattan Public Library continues in March with two different technology programs. On Tuesday, March 10th, at 2:00 p.m., members of the Riley County Genealogical Society will lead a workshop on “Intermediate Ancestry and Kansas Resources,” a look at more advanced techniques for using the online resource Ancestry.com and at unique genealogy resources for the state of Kansas.

Our second March workshop will discuss privacy and security in the digital world of the 21st century. On Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m.,  we will feature “Online Privacy and Security,” led by Lucas Loughmiller, Director of Library Services at USD 383, who will focus on ways in which adults can get the most out of the online world while maximizing the safety and security of their own personal information. Tech Tuesday programs are held in the library’s Groesbeck Room. You can register for Tech Tuesdays on the library’s website at www.mhklibrary.org or by calling us at 785-776-4741 Ext. 141.

Hope to see you in the library this month!

 

 

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Iditarod–“The Last Great Race”

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Get ready for the “Last Great  Race.”  The Iditarod starts on March 7.  Lots of good information is available on the Iditarod website:  videos, plans, maps and insider stories and meet the races for 2015.

iditarodThe Alaskan Iditarod is an annual 1180-mile dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome that generally takes two to three weeks to complete. If you’d like to experience the race without the dangers, Manhattan Public Library has a number of good books available.

You might begin with Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is a popular YA writer who participated in the race in 1983 and 1985. He was training for a third race when a heart condition forced him to retire. Winterdance, is primarily an account of Paulsen’s first Iditarod and its frequent life-threatening disasters, including wind so strong it blew his eyelids open and blinded his eyes with snow, cold so deep matches would not strike, and packages of lotions kept next to his skin that froze solid.

I had the pleasure of sharing supper with Paulsen years ago,  just after he published his young adult novel Hatchet.  Hatchet is about a youngster surviving alone in the wilderness and I asked him how he came to write with such detail.  He told me of his experiences in northern Minnesota, his dog races  and his own love of the wilderness.

Bill Shernowitz’s Iditarod: The Great Race to Nome, recounts the history and past three decades of the Iditarod and looks forward to its promising future, while photographer Jeff Schultz provides thrilling new photos, from the arctic landscape to the competitors and the dogs they rely on.

Just for fun, you might try Sue Henry’s fiction story:  Murder on the Iditarod Train or Cherry Adair’s On Thin Ice.

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Peace Corps Day

peaceMarch 3 is celebrated as Peace Corps Day. The organization was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

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As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps Volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service—at the same time becoming global citizens and serving their country. When they return home, Volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—that enriches the lives of those around them.  The mission of the Peace Corps is to promote peace by fulfilling three goals:

  • To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
  • To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
  • To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans

For information about the Peace Corps, check at the KSU Peace Corps office.

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Celebrate E-Book Week!

sunflowerToday begins National Read an E-Book Week. E-Books are easy to download and read on your mobile device, tablet, e-reader or computer. Just go to the Sunflower E Library,  whose link is on our home page. Have your MPL library card handy to log-in, then search for books. There are also several sites for free e-books, such as Project Gutenberg.  E-books downloaded to a mobile device or reader are handy–you’ll always have reading material while waiting in line at the DMV or at a doctor’s office! Check out the Sunlower E Library today!

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Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Thursday, February 26th is Tell a Fairy Tale Day. There are many reasons to read fairy tales. To begin, fairy tales are important transmitters of cultural history. Although contemporary versions of fairy tales have been altered over the years from their originals, they still contain a great deal of historical information about culture, psychology, and morality of years past. Fairy tales also are powerful stimulators of imagination. Just ask one of the most imaginative (and intelligent) scientists of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. According to Einstein, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

However, no one says that fairy tales are just for kids. Reading fairy tales as an adults, especially the original versions, gives you a whole new appreciation for this complex form of literature. There are also many contemporary retellings of fairy tales. Here are a few titles that you just might enjoy:

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