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BRUSH UP YOUR SHAKESPEARE

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

  Brush up your Shakespeare

Start quoting him now

Brush up your Shakespeare

And the women you will wow

 

 Just declaim a few lines from Othella

And they’ll think you’re a hell of a fella

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kowtow

 

As Cole Porter advised in his lyrics for the 1948 Broadway musical “Kiss Me Kate,” this fall may be a good time to brush up on your Shakespeare.

A new academic year is here with so much in store, and a particular high point will be the special exhibit coming to KSU in February 2016, “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” This nationwide traveling exhibition honors the 500th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and has been organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association, and supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kansas State was selected as the sole exhibition site for the state of Kansas and the KSU English Department, K-State Libraries, and the Beach Museum are co-hosts. Plans are being made for many on-campus events and performances, and community groups and organizations are also planning their own activities to celebrate the occasion.

So where does that leave those of us who may be a little rusty on our Shakespeare, or who’ve had little exposure to him in the first place? Well, we have five months to get up-to-speed for this winter’s events and Manhattan Public Library has plenty of books and DVDs to help you “brush up your Shakespeare.”

A great place to start might be with a weighty copy of the complete works like the Complete Pelican Shakespeare or the Riverside Shakespeare. Maybe you’d rather check out a smaller collection of just the comedies, the tragedies, etc., or you may want the portability and ease of individual plays in paperback or on E-book. Just be sure to look for books with great notes to help you understand the cultural context of the plays, the inside jokes, and the language of Shakespeare’s time.

Long years ago, I made it through my first college Shakespeare course by reading along in my Pelican Shakespeare as I listened to performances of the Royal Shakespeare Company on LP records checked out from our own Manhattan Public Library. That proved to be a great way to learn to love Shakespeare, and though MPL no longer has LP records, it does have magnificent performances on DVD that allow you to hear Shakespeare’s words as they were meant to be delivered and to give you a complete theater experience.

So, hie thee to the Library where the following books and DVDs await you, along with many more.

Companions and Handbooks provide historical context, biographical notes, interpretation, etc.  Look for these: “Shakespeare after All” by Marjorie Garber; “Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Plays” by A. Cousins; “The Essential Shakespeare Handbook” by Leslie Dunton-Downer; “The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare’s Life and Times: These books can help you understand the history and political climate of the times, as well as what we know of Shakespeare’s life: “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare” by Stephen Greenblatt (a National Book Award finalist) ; “Shakespeare: The Biography” by Peter Ackroyd; “All Things Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s World” by Kirstin Olsen; “A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599” by James Shapiro; “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” by Ian Mortimer.

Shakespeare Lite: “The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard” by Norrie Epstein; “Shakespeare for Dummies” by John Doyle; “Shakespeare Basics for Grown-Ups: Everything You Need to Know about the Bard” by Elizabeth Foley.

And for Added Fun and Interest:  “The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio” by Andrea E. Mays; “Coined by Shakespeare: Words and Meanings First Penned by the Bard” by Jeff McQuain; “Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook” by Francine Segan; “Shakespeare’s Songbook” by Ross W. Duffin; “Shakespeare Saved My Life:  Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard” by Laura Bates.

Documentary DVDs (performance DVDs also available):

Shakespeare Uncovered,” produced in association with the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe; “In Search of Shakespeare,” presented by Michael Wood and the Royal Shakespeare Company; “How to Read and Understand Shakespeare,” a 12-hour lecture series from The Great Courses.

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Adventures in Technology

Betty is a library patron who is legally blind and has some hearing loss. She loves to read, has an active social life, walks in the park as often as she can, and she loves her new iPhone and iPad. You may be wondering how all of this is possible for someone with hearing and vision limitations. Thankfully, Betty has a brave spirit, and she also has an advocate in the Manhattan Public Library’s Assistive Technology Center.

Wandean Rivers has been working at the library for 14 years. She specializes in training people to use adaptive equipment such as talking books, screen readers, and iPads, but she also helps connect people with resources.

When Wandean identifies a grant opportunity, she will help qualified patrons fill out the online application. She also provides much-needed moral support. She tells her clients “All they can say is no. We’re going to keep knocking on the door until they flat-out refuse us.”

Betty has applied for grants and subsidies to help purchase adaptive equipment. She was refused, applied again, and now she is the proud owner of her very first cell phone, an iPad, and a CCTV that is also a screen reader.  Betty is no longer at the mercy of strangers to make calls for her when a ride is late. When mail arrives, the CCTV will read it to her. She can even download new books that will be read aloud by an app on her iPhone and iPad.

“She was a little timid at first. Now, she just says ‘well, let me check my phone.’ It’s the difference between having to ask someone to do it for you and being able to do it for yourself. It means independence.” says Rivers.

People are often intimidated by technology.  We’re afraid to push the wrong buttons or break things. With her easy laugh and positive spirit, Wandean has helped people learn to use Word, check their email, try out screen readers, and now she has taken primary responsibility for one-on-one technology training for anyone at the library who needs help.

If you would like help with the basics of computer use, make an appointment with Wandean by calling (785) 776-4741 ext. 202.  She will help you accomplish specific goals and let you know if you might benefit from adaptive technology.

The library offers many ways for people to learn new technology.  For people who are a little more familiar with basic computer functions, Tech Tuesday classes start in mid-September.  Librarians will provide training on a specific topic for beginning and intermediate users. You’ll learn as a group and have plenty of opportunities to ask questions. This season’s schedule includes topics such as: Microsoft Word, Basic iPad, and What is Social Media? For a complete schedule or to sign up for a Tech Tuesday class, visit the library’s online events calendar at www.MHKLibrary.org, call Janet at (785) 776-4741 ext.141, or visit the library.

Online resources through the library’s website offer the next level of training.  If you’re comfortable with basic functions but want to get more adept at using a computer, try Learning Express on the Research page of the library’s website. The Computer Skills courses can help you learn how to use Windows and Mac operating systems, practice with popular software applications such as Excel, Word, and Outlook, or learn the basics of navigating the Internet. Visit the library’s Reference Desk on the second floor for help signing up.

If you’re a professional interested in learning new software, lynda.com is the perfect program for you. Through the link on the library’s website, you can access all of the online training courses and practice files available through lynda.com with your library card and password. Develop advanced skills to master common office programs, learn web design, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, video game design, video editing, and much more.

Betty was brave enough to try something new and her life has been improved. If you’re intimidated by technology, or are simply interested in learning something new, the library is the best place to visit. You will be surprised how easy it can be to explore the world of technology and librarians are more than happy to help you on your journey.

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Electronic Devices and Resources for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Tired of your child making off with your iPad, tablet or phone?  Soon the library will have kids’ tablets available for check out, preloaded with fun and engaging learning apps for children as young as 3 years old. Playaway has come out with a new product called the Launchpad, a tablet created for libraries to circulate. While many tablets or devices for kids work fine at home, Launchpad touts durability and security as top qualities that make it possible for libraries to lend them out.

The library will eventually have 30 Launchpads available for check out this fall, each with a different theme and various apps for a target age group of 3-5 years, 5-7 years or 8-10 year olds.  The state library has also acquired some Launchpads for a “floating collection” throughout the state, which will be available through interlibrary loan to all libraries in Kansas.

“Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom” is the theme for a Launchpad that will be available at Manhattan Public Library. It includes apps for ages 3-5 for learning letters and numbers, exploring colors and solving puzzles with games featuring cars, trucks and other vehicles. The “Little Picasso” tablet for ages 5-7 encourages imagination and creativity with artistic games and stories.  For older kids, “Math Planet” will challenge their math skills as they explore the galaxy.

Science, reading, cooking, problem-solving and many other areas are covered in apps on different tablets, making each one unique and fun. You can place a request on a specific title if it is checked out.  Take one home for a week and see what the kids can do!

Library account holders also have access to two excellent online learning and literacy databases for kids: BookFlix and TumbleBooks.  Both resources are available through the library’s webpage with a valid library card number and password.

BookFlix is Scholastic’s read-along database with the wonderful Weston Woods video adaptations of popular children’s books.  You can choose “read-along” mode so the words will show up along with the video, highlighting each word as it is read.  They stay completely true to the storybooks, just enhancing the illustrations to create movement, and often well-known actors are the narrators.  “All the World” is favorite picture book of mine, and Scanlon’s poetic text is heightened with narration by Joanne Woodward and the perfect background music touches.  My kids’ favorite is Kate & Jim McMullan’s “I’m Dirty,” the muddy story of a busy backhoe, narrated by Steve Buscemi. Each of their high-quality videos is paired with a nonfiction book that relates to the topic. Kids can try out links to simple games related to story comprehension, a Meet the Author link, and more web pages that are approved by Scholastic.

TumbleBooks is similar to BookFlix and has been around for a while, with many of the local schools using it to enhance language arts and reading skill building.  It also has created videos by animating picture books but still retaining the book-like quality of the stories. You can let the story play in read aloud mode, or adjust the pacing to “manual” so your child can choose when to “turn the pages,” or even mute the narration so your child can read the story on his or her own.  Lots of popular titles are available including “Scaredy Squirrel,” “Mercy Watson” and all of Robert Munsch’s humorous stories narrated by the author. Longer chapter books are available for more advanced readers, including some classics such as “The Wind in the Willows.”  The interactive features make these literacy databases enjoyable for parents and children to view and play together.

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Summer’s the Time for Blockbusters

by John Pecoraro,  Assistant Director

Movie buffs always look forward to summer anticipating the release of major motion pictures.  Summer blockbusters have often been record-breakers in terms of revenue generated for movie studios, but that’s not why the movie-going public loves them. For the chronic movie fanatic, the habitual Netflixer, or the active DVD and Blu-ray borrower, these movies are about pure entertainment.      The term “blockbuster” first made its appearance in the American press during World War 2 in reference to bombs with the power to destroy entire blocks of streets. The term was later applied to successful theater plays, then hit movies, best-selling novels, and computer games.  Movies such as “The Ten Commandments,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “Ben-Hur,” were the blockbusters of their times. In terms of summer blockbusters, however, and the concept of the blockbuster as a film genre, we have to look no further than Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit “Jaws.” After the success of “Jaws,” Hollywood producers attempted to create similar “event films” with wide commercial appeal. The 1974 novel, “Jaws,” by Peter Benchley, was also a blockbuster, spending 44 weeks on the bestsellers list and selling millions of copies.

The summer blockbuster for 1977 was George Lucas’ “Star Wars” (the title we now know as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”). The Star Wars saga also reached summer blockbuster status in 1980 with “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1983 with “Return of the Jedi,” 1999 with “The Phantom Menace,” and 2005 with “Revenge of the Sith.”   “The Amityville Horror,” was the hit of 1979. Based on the 1977 book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story,” by Jay Anson, it tells the story of Lutz family and the hauntings they endured in their house in Amityville on Long Island in New York.

Other successful books have made the transition to summer blockbusters. “Jurassic Park,” for example, was the hit of 1993. “Jurassic Park,” by Michael Crichton, was published in 1990, and spawned a series of books and movies. Is the latest installment, “Jurassic World,” the summer blockbuster of 2015? At grossing over a billion dollars worldwide already, it’s a pretty safe bet. Who can forget “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the summer hit of 1982? Steven Spielberg again. In fact if you look at the list of top grossing films from 1975 to 2014, a third of them can be attributed to Lucas, Spielberg, or both.

It’s not a surprise that summer mega-movies are often of the action-adventure variety. There have, however, been exceptions. “Grease,” a musical, was the summer hit of 1978, while the romantic ghost story, “Ghost,” took those honors in 1990. Family rated movies have also made the summer splash. Disney’s “The Lion King,” made it big in 1994. “Shrek,” another hit based loosely on the book of the same title, by William Steig, was the blockbuster for 2001, followed by “Shrek II,” in 2004. In between, during the summer of 2003 we were watching “Finding Nemo.” While “Toy Story,” and “Toy Story 2,” were popular Pixar films, only “Toy Story 3” made it to top grossing summer movie status in 2010.

Superheroes have been popular with summer audiences. “Batman,” was the top grossing movie of 1989. “Batman Returns” took that honor in 1992, “Batman Forever” in 1995, and “The Dark Knight” in 2008. But the Caped Crusader wasn’t alone. “Spider-Man” made it big in 2002, and “Spider-Man 3” in 2007. The last few years of summer hits have belonged to Marvel comics: “Marvel’s The Avengers” in 2012, “Iron Man 3” in 2013, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014.

Other films that made the summer blockbuster list include “The Omen” (1976), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Ghostbusters” (1984), “Independence Day” (1996), and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

You can find the complete list of the top grossing summer films from the past forty years at http://parade.com/398513/parade/what-movies-were-summer-blockbusters. Don’t forget that most of these titles are available in DVD and/or Blu-ray at your Manhattan Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall Films Based on Books

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

The question always asked about books made into movies is—which was better…book or film? And which should come first—read the book, then watch the film, or watch the film then delve into the written word? Personally, I enjoy reading a book prior to seeing the film adaptation—the film rarely portrays characters, in looks or in actions, in the way that I imagine them as I read. There are several films being released in the next few months that are based on popular books. If you haven’t read them yet, pick up a copy soon—when a film is released, the book usually is in demand at the library! The following films are due to be released this fall, and all are adaptations of books that have been very popular at the Manhattan Public Library.

Paper Towns” is based on a novel by John Green. Released July 24, the film tells the story of Quentin “Q” Jacobsen as he tries to find Margo—a girl he has loved from afar and who has vanished, leaving clues just for him.

“Dark Places” is based on the book by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the blockbuster book and film “Gone Girl”. Libby Day was seven years old when her mother and sisters were murdered—and her brother convicted of the crimes. This film is reported to be filled with suspense, twists and turns—catch it in the theater on August 20.

“A Walk in the Woods” is based on author and humorist Bill Bryson’s story of his journey on the Appalachian Trail. He chronicles the travails of hiking the trail by two inept hikers—himself and his hiking partner–with humor and with details of the animal life, scenery and the various characters they encounter along the way. Robert Redford stars as Bryson in the film, due in theaters on September 2.

The Scorch Trials” is the second installment of the “Maze Runner” series, based on the book series by James Dashner. This dystopian thriller provides plenty of action as 16-year-old Thomas and the rest of the Gladers discover that their escape from the maze is just the beginning of their attempts to survive “the Scorch”. “The Maze Runner” has been a very popular teen series here at the library.

Into Thin Air” Author Jon Krakauer was on assignment to write a magazine article about expeditions on Everest a storm caused the deaths of nine climbers on a horrific day on the mountain in May of 1996. His first-hand account of the heart-wrenching stories of life and death, and of the difficult choices that had to be made by climbers and sherpas is gripping and haunting. The film is titled “Everest”–be prepared for an intense experience, either in watching the film or reading the book!

Brooklyn” is based on the novel by Colm Toibin. It tells the story of Ellis, a young Irish woman who leaves her family behind in order to find work in Brooklyn. She embraces her life in American but must return home when tragedy strikes. The film is said to be both heartbreaking and powerful.

Mockingjay” by Susan Collins is the final installment in the “Hunger Games” and is sure to be a blockbuster film, as the revolution led by Katniss, spreads.

“”The Martian” by Andy Weir tells the story of a NASA crew member’s struggle to survive on Mars after being stranded alone. Starring Matt Damon, this SciFi film is sure to be as popular as the book.

In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathan Philbrick is the terrifying, true account of the sinking of the whaling ship Essex in 1820 by a sperm whale, and the hardships encountered by the crew as they try to survive months at sea in small boats.

The Revenant” by Michael Punke is a novel based on a true incident in 1823, when mountain man Hugh Glass was attacked by a grizzly bear and was left for dead by his partners. His desire for revenge pushes him to survive a harrowing journey through the wilderness. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this film will be released July 25.This is a great selection of both books and films—read the books and watch the films and decide which you like best!

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Promising Books from New Authors

by Marcia Allen, Collection Development Librarian

We all know that Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is the book to read this summer.  We’ve seen the reviews, both good and bad, that make the title very tempting, and the high number of requests at the library attests to the demand for this newly published tale about Maycomb, Alabama. We’ve also seen the latest by perennial favorite authors such as Daniel Silva, Mary Higgins Clark, and Stephen King.   The newest spy thrillers, puzzling mysteries, and shocking tales of horror are readily available from those old favorites. But there are also lots of promising new stories from authors who may not be so familiar to readers looking for something different.  A sampling of fiction titles just received at the library reveals the following potential hits:

 

  • The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. This one’s a nice selection for those who are fans of the Nevada Barr series.  Special Agent Ted Systead, who works for the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, is one of few trained to investigate crimes committed in parks in the western half of the U.S.  He has a particular interest in homicides, like the one that has just brought him to Glacier National Park.  His trouble is that he witnessed the mauling and death of his own father during a grizzly attack some years ago.  This recent murder would also seem to have the same savagery of that long ago grizzly attack, but the victim is found tied to a tree.  Ted will have to deal with his own nightmarish memories, as well as the reticence of the locals.  Author Carbo has a clear talent for realistic descriptions of the Glacier setting, so this mystery’s rich with atmosphere.

 

  • Buell: Journey to the White Clouds by Wallace J. Swenson.  In the Idaho territory of 1873, young gunman Buell Mace has become something of an outcast and heads off to the gold fields to offer protection to those whose claims are threatened.  Buell is hired by Emma Traen to protect her gold interests, but there are lots of others willing to seize her claims in desperate ways.  Buell has new friends on which to rely, but they, too, are in danger, and he will learn what loss is.  This is a violent western, depicting a young man’s struggle in an untamed country.

 

  • The Lost Concerto by Helaine Mario.  Here’s a thriller from a debut author.  The book  opens with the doomed flight of a mother and her small son.  Their brutal follower  manages to kill the mother to regain the boy, but in the confusion and mist of the mountain shrine where the runaways are cornered, the youngster disappears.  The        boy’s godmother, Maggie O’Shea was a famed pianist, but recent losses of loved ones have sidetracked her career.  The discovery of a photo of the missing boy leads her on a journey that will reveal lost artifacts as well as another chance for a fulfilling life.  Romance, intrigue, and new discoveries make this an unforgettable read.

 

  • The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka.  Eric Argus is a quantum physicist with a serious problem:   He was at the top of his game as a university research physicist, but the work dragged him through a serious breakdown.  Now he’s been given another opportunity to do research with an old friend.  In the course of his experiments, he discovers impossible truths:  until an observer notes results, the result remains only probability.  Hence, we have terms like “retrocausality” that are of major concern.  This is a thoughtful work of science fiction, one that questions the nature of the real and the role of human understanding in the universe.

 

  • One final title worth mentioning is Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.  This lovely piece of fiction has made various bestseller lists,  and it has to be among the most heartwarming books of the summer.   It concerns one Monsieur Perdu, the proprietor of a floating bookstore, who helps customers select purchases based not on wants but on what he feels  those readers need in their lives.  A remarkable book.

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Audiobooks for the Whole Family

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

The use of audiobooks is on the rise for all ages, and Manhattan Public Library has a lot to offer, both digitally and in CD format.  With an MPL card, you can check out five physical audiobooks at one time.  After registering the card with the Sunflower eLibrary, you can check out five titles on digital format as well.  Digital audiobooks can be downloaded to any mobile device or tablet via the free Overdrive app.  For help with downloading digital audiobooks, view the tutorials online or speak with a librarian.

The physical and online collection include audiobooks for children and adults.  If your child wants to follow along with the text, MPL has book bags that include a picture book and the audiobook on CD.

Audiobooks offer many benefits to readers of all ages, including the introduction of new vocabulary, critical listening, and a model for good interpretive reading and reading aloud.  When listening to audiobooks, a person can “read” at a higher level than usual and connect with the story in a more visceral way.  Since summer is the season of vacations and long road trips, stop by the library and check out these recommended titles that your whole family will enjoy.

 Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     If you are going to have a lot of listening time on your hands, this is the series to start with.  Jim Dale is the master of audiobook narration, using multiple voices to bring the characters to life.   If you are unfamiliar with the series, be advised that, as the series progresses, there tends to be more violence and mature content.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, narrated by Katharine Kellgren     A teenaged Penelope Lumley is hired as a nanny for a family who just adopted three children who were raised by wolves. As she helps them adjust to human life, they come across many mysterious situations and have to problem-solve their way to safety and understanding.  Maryrose Wood’s writing is whimsical and hilarious, and Katherine Kellgren’s narration is filled with entertaining voices and the necessary animal sound here and there.

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, narrated by Tim Curry     A 13-book series filled with quick wit and extraordinary circumstances, this series will have everyone rooting for the Baudelaire children as they endure through a. . . series of unfortunate events.  Parents can appreciate the puns and seemingly unbelievable events, while kids will appreciate the individual characters and their strengths.

The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, narrated by Stockard Channing     This classic series follows young Ramona Quimby through struggles with her family, school and just simply growing up.  Everyone will be entertained by her crazy antics and quite literal take on life.  Ramona learns life lessons in a way that is accessible to children and laughable to parents. Stockard Channing reads in a matter-of-fact way as Ramona faces life head-on with occasional confusion.

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry, narrated by Jim Dale     A prequel to J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan, this series follows the adventures of Peter and his friends on the high seas.  Because the story is full of action and entertaining characters, each person in the family is sure to have a favorite villain or orphan boy in each of the storylines.

If you have younger children in your family who would like to follow along with the book, here are a few series that can be enjoyed by the parent-driver and child alike:

Henry and Mudge series and Annie and Snowball series by Cynthia Rylant     Cynthia Rylant has been writing early chapter books for kids for decades and still amazes readers with each publication.  The above series follow, respectively, a boy and his dog, and a girl and her rabbit.

Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great audiobook.  Stop by any service desk to get a great recommendation for your road trip or other activity in need of a story in your ears.

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The Best of YA in 2015

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is more than half over already! It’s a good time to review some of the hottest YA books of the year so far. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but here are a few books generating a lot of buzz:

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah Maas

the court of thorns and roses coverThe human world is in danger. After generations of hostility, faeries and humans live apart, separated by a wall. One day, 19-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods near her home hoping it will help her family survive the harsh winter. Instead, a monstrous creature shows up at her door demanding her life in exchange for killing the wolf. Feyre returns with him to the Fae realm as payment, and she soon realizes that the Fae are not what she expects. This book is a good choice for fairy tale fans. For similar books try “Cruel Beauty” and its sequel, the recently released “Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge.

“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey coverThis is Kinsella’s YA debut after her popular “Shopaholic” series for adults, and it is a winner. Audrey is struggling with depression and an anxiety disorder. She has recently been released from the hospital and refuses to leave her house or interact with others outside of her family. With the support of her therapist, comically dysfunctional parents, two brothers, and a new love interest, Audrey begins to heal. This book is an excellent choice for fans of Jenni Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” or her latest book, “P.S. I Still Love You.”

“Ghosts of Heaven” by Marcus Sedgwick

Ghosts of Heaven coverPrintz award-winning author Sedgwick creates another winner. This unique novel is told in four separate stories over a span of centuries. The stories are linked by one single element, the spiral, and can be read in any order. If you are looking for a haunting and thought-provoking choice, this one is for you. Also, try “More Than This” by Patrick Ness, or my favorite by Marcus Sedgwick, “Revolver.”

 

 

“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places coverSeniors Theodore and Violet run into each other at the top of their school bell tower where both are contemplating suicide. “Theodore Freak, “as he is known to classmates, is impulsive, unpredictable, and eccentric. Bullied by classmates and his own father, suicide is on his mind a lot. Violet, a popular cheerleader, is grief stricken after the death of her sister in a car crash. The two teens, who tell their stories in alternating chapters, form an unlikely relationship. Read this if you liked “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green.

 

“The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us coverAt first glance, Amber and Violet have nothing in common. Amber is an inmate at Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center. Violet is a ballet dancer bound for Julliard. Orianna is the one who ties their two lives together. Ori, Violet’s friend and also a dancer, is sent to Aurora Hills after committing murder to protect Violet. The suspense builds as all the girls’ secrets are gradually revealed. This is a great read alike for “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart.

 

“Ink and Bone: The Great Library” by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone coverIn a near future world, the library at Alexandria still exists, and the Great Library controls the flow of all knowledge. In this world, you can read books, but it is illegal to own them. Individuals can be fined, jailed, or worse if found with an original book.  Even though Jess comes from a family of black market book dealers, he still believes in the value of the Library. But when Jess begins training to become part of the Library, he uncovers sinister secrets that endanger his life. Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will devour this new series.

There are many other excellent new YA books, as well. Check out the New Books Display in the YA area, or ask a librarian for more ideas. If you missed last year’s outstanding titles, choose a book from the Teens’ Top Ten Display or the Award Winners Display.

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Books for Word Nerds

Alphabetical by Michael Rosenby Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Many avid readers are also fascinated by the use of language and the development of the written and printed word – the history, evolution, techniques, challenges, and sheer beauty of speaking and writing done well. For word nerds, type geeks, and logophiles, Manhattan Public Library has several recent books that will entertain and delight.
Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth. The art of rhetoric has been around since classical Greeks created principles and rules for speaking or writing effectively. In his clever and fast-paced book, author Forsyth, who blogs as “The Inky Fool,” using short chapters to explore a variety of rhetorical devices that can help make your reading more meaningful and your writing more elegant. Illustrated throughout with examples from sources like the Beatles, William Shakespeare, the Bible, Katy Perry, Bob Dylan, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickenson, Jane Austen, and Sting, this book is hilarious and great fun to read.

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. Who knew that punctuation marks have a long and lively history with interesting cultural and social roots? And for that matter, how many of us knew they have names like pilcrow, octothorpe, dagger, manicule, ampersand, and interrobang? In this short and lively book author Houston has written with humor and scholarship about the surprising history of ancient writing and the intriguing development of punctuation symbols.

Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Mark Rosen is a history of the alphabet in 26 chapters, filled with fascinating tidbits and oddities including “disappearing” letters lost to history, schemes to rationalize spelling, development of codes and cyphers, the explanations for silent letters, and more. Publishers Weekly called this “a beguiling journey through the alphabet [that] will entrance anyone interested in the quirks of language and its history.”

One of Amazon’s Best Books for 2015, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris has been called “pure porn for word nerds” (Allan Fallow of The Washington Post). This brief but very funny book is a memoir of her years as a copy editor at “The New Yorker” as well as a discussion of grammar and punctuation, #1 soft lead pencils, the two-hole pencil sharpener, the use of profanity, the reason Moby-Dick is hyphenated, and the future of the apostrophe and the word “whom.”

For more reading fun, here are some older books that may also appeal to grammar and type geeks:

Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. If you’re a person of a certain age, you may remember diagramming sentences on the blackboard in school. It was a standard technique for teaching grammar and sentence structure in American schools, utilized from the mid-19th century through most of the 20th before being largely abandoned. Still an illuminating and effective visual way to learn grammar, sentence diagramming is a cross between puzzle-solving and graphic design, and for many it’s an oddly satisfying mental exercise. In this charming book, author Florey revisits this forgotten skill and her own memories of sentence diagramming. It’s a fun way to test your memory and refresh your skills.

Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield. For centuries, the printed word has surrounded us, usually without our appreciating the artistry and graphic nuances of the typefaces we see. But with the arrival in 1961 of the IBM Selectric typewriter and its revolutionary changeable typeballs, this changed. Suddenly, an ordinary person was able to change the typeface on a document at will and our creative sensibilities were collectively piqued, although at the time the choices were limited. Then in the early 1980s, Steve Jobs marketed the first MacIntosh computer with a selection of typeface choices and suddenly “font” became a household word. Now there are fonts for every emotion and message. This amusing and enlightening book will introduce you to the social history of type design and the words we see all around us.

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The Taller the Better: Bigger-than-life American Folk Heroes

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Is there anyone who doesn’t know the legend of Paul Bunyan? How it took five storks to deliver him, and how he formed the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe along behind him as he walked. The Paul Bunyan myth also explained the Great Lakes, formed as a watering hole for Paul’s Blue Ox, Babe.

Bunyan’s character originated in tales circulated among lumberjacks in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, possibly as early as the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. Michigan journalist, James MacGillivray, published the first Bunyan stories in 1906. William Laughead reworked the stories for a logging company’s advertising campaign in 1914. The 1922 edition of Laughead’s tales inspired a host of imitators and spread the Paul Bunyan legend far and wide.

Today young readers can learn about Paul Bunyan in several books including “Paul Bunyan: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg; and “The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan,” by Martin Powell. In “The Story of Paul Bunyan,” Barbara Emberley tells the tall tale of the legendary woodsman, the biggest man who ever lived. His shirt buttons were wagon wheels, and his double-edged axe took an entire town a whole month to build.

Pecos Bill is another big man among American folk heroes. Pecos Bill was said to have fallen out of a covered wagon near the Pecos River in Texas. He was raised by coyotes, used a rattlesnake as a lasso, and his favorite food was dynamite. He rode a horse named Widow-maker, when he wasn’t riding a mountain lion, and he had a girlfriend by the name of Slue-foot Sue (who Pecos was smitten with when he saw her riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande). Pecos Bill was actually the creation of Edward O’Reilly, who first published stories of the larger-than-life cowboy in 1917.

Young readers who want to know more about Pecos Bill should check out “Pecos Bill: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg, or “Pecos Bill, Colossal Cowboy,” by Sean Tulien.

John Henry was more powerful than a steam-powered hammer. This African-American steel-driver may have been based on a man who worked on and died at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad’s Big Bend Tunnel around 1873. It could be that John Henry was based on a 20-year-old New Jersey-born African-American freeman, John William Henry. Henry drifted down to Virginia to work on the clean-up of the battlefields after the Civil War. Henry was arrested and tried for burglary, and released by the warden to work as leased labor on the railway. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books and novels. In “John Henry, Hammerin’ Hero,” by Stephanie True Peters, the bigger-than-life folk hero challenges a steam-powered steel driver to prove that he is the match for any machine.

Our own Johnny Kaw is younger than most other big men of American folklore. His legend was created in 1955 by George Filinger to celebrate Manhattan’s Centennial. He might be younger, but Johnny Kaw is no slouch. He dug the Kansas River Valley, planted wheat, invented sunflowers, and grew giant potatoes. Johnny Kaw chopped the tops off tornadoes and ended droughts by wringing out clouds. His pets were a wildcat and a Jayhawk (what else?), who caused the dust bowl with all their fighting. You can read more about this Kansas hero in several books including “Johnny Kaw: a Tall Tale,” by Devin Scillian, “Johnny Kaw: the Pioneer Spirit of Kansas,” by Jerri Garretson, and George Filinger’s own “The Story of Johnny Kaw: the Kansas Pioneer Wheat Farmer.”

Finally, editors David Leeming and Jake Page have gathered together the great myths and legends of America in “Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: an Anthology.” Beginning with the creation stories of the first inhabitants, the editors reveal how waves of immigrants adapted their religion and folklore to help make sense of a new and strange land. This collection illuminates the myth making process, and sheds light on what it means to be American.

Today is Paul Bunyan Day, but the giant lumberjack and his big blue ox aren’t the only larger than life heroes in American folklore. “Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme of this year’s summer reading program. Visit Manhattan Public Library to read about your favorite hero.

 

 

 

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