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Relax at Your Stress-free Library

John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library

Stress is everywhere in our lives. It seems that the world has grown smaller, time has grown shorter, we try to do more with less, and the stress piles up. What can we do about it? Techniques for relieving stress run the gamut from diet to yoga, from exercise to meditation. With income taxes due on April 15, it’s not surprising that April is Stress Awareness Month. Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), Stress Awareness Month is a national effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.

If you’re feeling the pinch of stress, check out some of the titles available at the public library.  “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living,” by Amit Sood, for example, is based on the Mayo Clinic’s popular stress management program. Dr. Sood explains that it is the human mind’s instinctive restlessness and shortsightedness that causes stress. He offers insight into skills that will help you reduce the stress in your life, such as practicing gratitude, compassion, acceptance, and nurturing relationships. Visit Dr. Sood’s website at (more…)

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A Childhood in Africa

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collections Manager

What seems to be a simple memoir of a youth spent in Africa is so much more.  Boyd Varty’s “Cathedral of the Wild” recounts some incredible tales of encounters with wild animals and a sometimes harsh environment, but that’s just the beginning of this beautiful book.  Readers willing to venture into this story have lots of surprises in store.

The story takes place in Londolozi Game Preserve in South Africa, in what the author’s ancestors envisioned in 1926 as a hunting compound.  Over the years, Varty’s parents and uncle restored a wetland and brought back populations of elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, etc., thus creating a very successful game preserve.  Varty and his younger sister, Bron, grew up amidst splendid wildlife populations, but they also learned a healthy respect for the ever-present dangers that wildlife can pose.  The book, for example, opens with a horrifying encounter that he and his father shared with a deadly black mamba. (more…)

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Dr. Who Read Alikes

Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

Doctor Who just celebrated its 50th  anniversary last year and is still going strong. If you or your teens are Dr. Who fans, here are some YA books you might enjoy:

“TimeRiders” by Alex Scarrow       Liam, Madeline, and Saleena were each saved from imminent death by a mysterious time traveler from the future named Foster. They are brought to New York City in the year 2001 to bring their talents and skills to the TimeRiders, a group created to stop time travel from destroying the world. This is the first in the series of the same name.

“Bzrk” by Michael Grant       Conjoined twins Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, evil and twisted owners of Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a master plan to take over the world and turn it into their version of Utopia. Opposing them is a secret organization, code name BZRK, in which members take the names of the famously insane. This is no ordinary war, however. Here, the weapons of choice are nanobots the size of dust mites, and the battlefield is inside the human brain. The price of war to combatants is often insanity, loss of memory or free will, and even death. Atrocities are committed on both sides, and it is often impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. This is the first book in a planned trilogy. Check out book number two “Bzrk Reloaded” after finishing the first one. (more…)

Posted in: Mercury Column, News, Young Adult Dept

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Foyle’s War — Don’t Miss It!

Mary Newkirk, Adult Services Librarian

Recently, my husband and I have been spending quite a few hours in front of the television watching “Foyle’s War,” a fascinating look at life in Britain during World War II.  This series, which began on British television in 2002, has continued to produce new programs that just keep getting better.  Detective Chief Superintendent, better known as DCS Foyle, is played by Michael Kitchen, a well- known British actor.  This quiet, honest widower has been rejected from war duty, so reluctantly continues in his position as chief detective in the small town of Hastings, a seaside town south of London.  Foyle is admired for his intellect. He has high moral standards, is scrupulously honest and doggedly determined. His speech is rather straightforward in manner, but combined with a dry wit. The murders that occur in each episode are set against the background of World War II and its misery, which results in less emphasis on the murders when bombs are falling and telegrams are informing many of war casualties.  Each episode gives an insight on just how different the war years were for the English as compared to Americans.

Several episodes include Foyle’s son Andrew, an RAF pilot, whom Foyle worries about.  Actor Julian Ovenden, who plays Andrew, remarked, “I’ve enjoyed being a part of “ Foyle’s War”. I think the series has done so well because it celebrates British characteristics like courage, stubbornness against overwhelming odds and that sense of community spirit with everyone soldiering on and pulling together. It focuses on the domestic situation, not just the war, and (creator) Anthony Horowitz is extremely deft at finding episodes that are warm and strong in the domestic area alongside a good war story.”  DCS Foyle has a loyal female driver, Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks), who is grateful to have this job and serves with great enthusiasm.  Her zeal for police work is rewarded, as the series progresses, and her unsolicited advice becomes more important, especially her ability to overhear bits of important conversations.

Foyle’s War”- Series 9 is in production now in Liverpool.  Foyle is in a new role as a senior intelligence officer in MI5, immersed in the dangerous world of espionage in post-war Britain.  Anthony Horowitz says this season will probably be his last. “I’ve written 22 episodes. That’s an awful lot of crimes, clues, bodies, suspects, mysteries and chases.”  Many of us sincerely hope he changes his mind.  You can find all of the series in our 791 Suspense DVD collection.

The stories in “Foyle’s War” are all inspired by historical truth.  Many other books and movies at Manhattan Public Library also give a picture of life during the harsh war years of the twentieth century.

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve tells the story of a volunteer ambulance driver and nurse in France who has run away from her abusive husband in America.  She suffers a memory loss after a shelling incident and must rediscover who she is and whom she loves.

The Wind is Not a River” by Brian Payton is a top-notch WWII historical novel about the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run when his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives and must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.

Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein is the compelling story of a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France who writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture.  This book has been out for a couple years but shouldn’t be missed by adults and teens.  It has won the Michael Printz Award for best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.

1940 House” is a documentary show which has a modern family trying to live as if they were experiencing wartime conditions in 1940’s London.  They live with no tv, telephone, or car and experience baths once per week and food rationing. Find this in our 070 Documentary DVD section.



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Book Sale

spring book sale logoFriday, February 28th, is a very important date at Manhattan Public Library. That’s the scheduled kick-off for the Manhattan Library Association’s annual book sale. For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s a three-day sale of gently used books, dvd’s, audiobooks, and more.  With hardcover books going for $1.50 and dvd’s  for $2, browsers are sure to discover stacks of treasures destined for home shelves.

Where and when does the sale take place?  The library auditorium holds a majority of the materials, while the Groesbeck Room houses paperbacks, cd’s, lp’s and dvd’s.  Hundreds of children’s books can also be found on tables near the auditorium.  The sale is open to Manhattan Library Association members only from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday’s kick-off night, but memberships (starting at $10) are available at the door for those who wish to purchase on that first night.  Saturday, March 1st, is open to all shoppers, and materials can be purchased from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday’s sale is highlighted by the Teen Library Advisory Board’s Annual Bake Sale from 10:00 to 2:00, so shoppers can also select some fantastic snacks.  Sunday’s sale on March 2nd runs from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m., with last-minute markdowns on remaining materials.

Why attend?  Beyond the fact that shoppers can locate some terrific buys, there’s the angle of replenishing resources for the library.  Manhattan Library Association collects materials, either those donated by library users or those removed from the library’s many collections, all year long.  Rosie’s Corner, which is located near the library’s Tech Center, offers sale materials throughout the year, and next week’s annual book sale attracts hundreds of shoppers.  The beauty of the sale process is that all proceeds go right back to the library, whether offsetting program expenses, paying for library fixtures, or funding collection purchases.  Library users who have enrolled in summer reading or TALK book discussions have benefitted from MLA’s efforts.  Library users who have admired the Aesop’s Fables Trellis or who have relaxed on the library’s lovely wooden benches have enjoyed MLA’s largesse.   Manhattan Library Association’s role in library enhancement is crucial, and staff members are grateful for the ongoing support.

Elaine sorting through books at the 2013 book sale

Who makes the arrangements for the sale?  Some might think that this is an effort by library staff, but that would be wrong.  A selfless group of MLA volunteers makes the event possible.  Gary Jeffrey, who has been a devoted friend of the library for many years, is the chairman of the library sale.  Gary goes far beyond ordinary volunteer efforts as he plans the layout of the sale, organizes a full staff of other volunteers to work during the three-day event, and answers any questions people might have.  Wilma Schmeller and her crew of volunteers sort donations and price items, in addition to keeping Rosie’s Corner stocked with fresh materials all year long.  And other kind friends, like Carol Oukrop, Cindy Jeffrey and Rosalie King, donate countless hours of work to this event.

Please plan to join us for some browsing at this year’s sale.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful bargains.

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Winter Escapes for the Armchair Traveler


Suffering from cabin fever? Losing your fight with this winter’s weary dismals? It’s a perfect time to dream of exotic destinations and distant adventures and to imagine the trip of a lifetime. Armchair travelers and bucket list makers are invited to plan their great winter getaways with travel books from Manhattan Public Library.
Readers can jumpstart their travel dreaming with super-sized, lavishly-illustrated overviews like “The World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places” and “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips” from the National Geographic Society, or with books like “Great Adventures” and “Great Escapes” by the publishers of the popular Lonely Planet guides. Travelers in search of cultural and world heritage destinations can explore “The World’s Must-See Places: A look Inside More Than 100 Magnificent Buildings and Monuments” from DK Publishing or “The World’s Heritage: A Guide to All 981 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”

If you enjoy travel as a gateway to history, your choice of great reading is almost limitless. In “Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train,” author Ina Caro guides readers on 25 day-trips out of Paris, exploring over 700 years of French history one locale at a time. In “Shadow of the Silk Road,” Colin Thubron recounts his voyage from the heart of China through Central Asia and the Middle East to Turkey, re-exploring an ancient world in modern times. “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” by Mark Adams is an entertaining travelogue that one reviewer called “serious (and seriously funny); a smart and tightly written history; and an investigative report into the greatest archaeological discovery of the last century.”

Reviewers called “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia” by Rebecca West “a masterpiece,” and “one of the great books of our century.” First published in 1941, it is a travelogue and journal of West’s trips through the Balkan region during the turbulent 1930s. Passing years and subsequent events have only reinforced the reputation of West’s book as a brilliant study of the region’s ethnography, history, myth, and legend whose relevance persists in the present.
The Tao of Travel: Enlightenment from Lives on the Road,” edited by “the dean of travel writers” Paul Theroux, is a collection of great travel writing that is part philosophical guide, part miscellany, and part reminiscence. It includes selections from a surprisingly diverse group of authors – J. R. R. Tolkien, Eudora Welty, Charles Dickens, Freya Stark, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway. In his own writing, Theroux assumes a very personal viewpoint and interprets travel as an exterior and interior experience. His many bestselling books include “The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas,” “The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean,” “The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train through Asia,” and “Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.”

Culinary travelers will savor “Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Places to Eat Around the Globe” from National Geographic, or “A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure and Discovery,” an anthology by chefs, foodies, and travel writers. “The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France” by John Baxter is a charming memoir that is part tour of France and part history, and part culinary adventure. “On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta,” is the recounting of author Jen Lin-Liu’s travels from Western China into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and across the Mediterranean to trace the historic migration of food and culture along the ancient Silk Road.

And if you haven’t yet read “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle, “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes, or “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, all three bestselling travel memoirs of recent years, take the opportunity to go back and catch up with them now, and discover why millions of delighted readers loved these charming and inspiring books.

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Using the Library From Home


We always love to see your faces at Manhattan Public Library, but we know that sometimes people want the convenience of accessing our resources from the comfort of their own homes (especially with the weather we’ve been having lately!), so we continue to expand what we have available online. I want to highlight three new services we offer online so that you can get magazines, community information, and book recommendations while wearing your pajamas.

Zinio for Libraries allows you to read the latest magazines for free, cover to cover, in full color, on a variety of devices. North Central Kansas Library System is providing this service for 2014 as a pilot project that offers 65 popular magazines such as Good Housekeeping, ESPN, and Runner’s World. To get started, bring your library card to the Information Desk at the library and we’ll give you a Zinio card and some instructions. Once you have your account set up, you can check out as many issues you want and keep them as long as you like. The library has long served the purpose of being a welcoming place to meet and interact with others. We’ve been fulfilling this goal by providing meeting rooms and tables and comfortable places to sit. We’re taking that a step further now and providing online resources to nurture our community. Within our library catalog, you can now search for community non-profits, service organizations, and other agencies by clicking on the “Community” tab. This provides a place for service organizations to find partners for projects, for citizens to find volunteer opportunities, or for newcomers to find activities. Information for more than 250 area agencies are now available, but there is always room for more if you know of an organization or club that we’ve missed. Within each record, you’ll find contact information, services offered, links to agency websites, and much more.

To help you find your next great read, we’ve added a service called Novelist Select. You don’t have to remember the name, though, because this handy tool is embedded in something you use all the time and are already familiar with, the library catalog. Search the title of a book you’ve enjoyed reading in the past. When you get a list, click on the title you’re looking for. This full record looks the way it’s always looked, with a summary of the plot and listings of what is checked in, but if you scroll down you will find a treasure trove of reading ideas. Down below we have a Reader Rating from Goodreads with the ability to click and read reviews. Next is a list of other books in the same series, then “You Might Also Like These . . .” with suggestions for other books that have similarities to the book you liked.

While we’re discussing new online services, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to go check out our new web site, which is now simply As always, this is the place to see what we have and what is going on at the library, but we’ve added several more services that are available online as well as in person. You can do research online, sign up for technology classes, suggest new materials that you think the library should have, check out ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, or request a book from another Kansas library. We are continually improving and adding to our web site so keep an eye out for new and exciting resources.

To explore these new resources or find more details, go to the library web site at You can also email us at or call at 785-776-4741.


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Talk About Literature in Kansas

Print TALK Schedule

Winter days getting to you? If so, there’s an upcoming library tradition that can get you past the bleak cold days we’ve yet to face. Whether you’ve participated in the TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) series before, or you’re just curious about the monthly events, you are cordially invited to check out books in the series which are being held at the library’s Information Desk. Then you can attend as many or as few of the scheduled discussions as you please. Like so many other programs at the library, these events are free for the public.

The TALK series has been a regular part of library events for some years now. Because of the generosity of the Manhattan Library Association (with the TALK program chaired by Heather Lansdowne) and the Kansas Humanities Council, participants are able to read and discuss four different novels each year. Those two nonprofit organizations supply the books and arrange for guest discussion leaders for the series.

This year’s series is entitled “Community: The Way We Live.” Selected novels will highlight different values and beliefs as they relate to our idea of community. Books will offer differing views of small towns and urban groups. We will note lifelong friendships, as well as random connections with strangers. We will realize the many different ways in which ordinary people function as parts of diverse communities.

Who leads the discussions? Humanities Council scholars who have a specific interest in the readings. On January 30th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Groesbeck Room of the library, for example, Ann Birney, an independent scholar of American Studies and the co-director of “Ride into History,” will moderate a discussion of “Bailey’s Café” by Gloria Naylor. Touted as a mix of equal parts fortitude and suffering, the book is a rich slice of everyday life in a mediocre diner. The diner setting allows regular attendees the chance to offer glimpses of both their hardships and triumphs.

The novel for the February 27th discussion, to be held in the library’s lower level atrium at 7:00 p.m., is the perennial favorite, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg. Who can resist? This award-winning novel was made into an equally appealing film starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates. Marilyn Klaus, a lecturer with Religious Studies and African and American Studies at the University of Kansas, is the evening’s leader.

“The Milagro Beanfield War” by John Nichols is scheduled for discussion on March 27th in the Groesbeck Room at 7:00 p.m. Yet another book made into a splendid film, Nichols’ story follows the travails of a small village threatened by developers. The evening’s discussion leader will be Nicolas Stump, a teacher of history and English at the Barstow School in Kansas City.

The final discussion, offered on April 24th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Groesbeck Room, will concern “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson. Both a bestseller and an award-winner, this novel concerns the 1950s, at a time when the memory of Japanese internment camps foments distrust. The evening’s discussion leader, Nancy Hope, is the associate director for the Kansas Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Interested in learning more about the events? Please come to the library’s Information Desk where you can select particular novels, or call (785) 776-4741 for more details. You may also wish to visit the library’s homepage at, where you can view the full schedule and a related video about the series. You’re bound to find a wonderful story in this season’s offerings that you may have overlooked.

For more information about the Kansas Humanities Council, visit , and if you are interested in the Manhattan Library Association, take a look at

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One Book Leads to Another

Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

The saying goes “One thing leads to another,” and so it is with reading: “One story leads to another.”  When reading a book, I find topics that intrigue me and instill a hunger for more information.  This leads me to discover other books about the topic that has piqued my interest.

all standingThis particular journey began as I was thinking about the New Year.  I discovered it was on New Year’s Day in 1892, that Ellis Island was first opened to immigrants.  “All Standing: The True Story of Hunger, Rebellion, and Survival aboard the Jeanie Johnston” by Kathryn Miles, was the first leg of my excursion.  Miles tells the story of emigrants who suffered greatly leaving Ireland because of the Irish Famine.  The book’s main focus is on one ship, the “Jeanie Johnston.”  I found it astonishing that the mortality rate of most ships leaving Ireland at that time was seventy percent, giving them the nickname, “coffin ships.”  Not so with the “Jeanie Johnston”: she was the only ship known to have a zero percent mortality rate.  Captain James Attridge and Dr. Richard Blennerhassett were attributed with the success of sixteen voyages over seven years, transporting twenty-five hundred emigrants in very cramped quarters, yet no life was ever lost.  This story made me want to know more about emigrant travels across the sea and life after their arrivals.

Then I turned to, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You” by Peter Troy.  This historical fiction set in the mid 1800’s introduced me to Ethan McOwen, a ten-year-old boy who left Ireland because of “The Hunger,” as they called the devastating result of the Irish Famine.  This book gave me more insight into the conditions on board ship and the situations the immigrants found themselves in after they docked.  Ethan arrived in New York with his health intact only because of a shipman’s intervention.  Peter Troy’s intriguing story was also about slavery, thus leading me to the topic of abolition.


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More Movie Viewing for Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Susan Withee, Adult Services Department Manager 

Whether you’re hosting a house full of company or hoping for some welcome time to yourself this holiday season, consider watching one of these endearing but often-overlooked popular films with Christmas or New Year’s Eve themes.  Modern comedies, sublime romances, and forgotten classics, they’ll help keep everyone cozy and entertained through the winter holiday season.   Oh, and P.S., they would also make great last-minute gifts.

 5th avenueIt Happened on 5th Avenue (1947).  This delightful screwball comedy from the post-WWII era is reminiscent of Miracle on 34th Street and stars Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Gale Storm, and Charlie Ruggles.

The Shop around the Corner (1940).  A forgotten Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic that was later remade as “You’ve Got Mail,” this film is a sometimes bittersweet romantic comedy set in a shop in Budapest, and co-stars Margaret Sullavan and a host of wonderful supporting characters.


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