Young Adult Dept

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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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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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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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Library Staff Favorite Reads in 2016

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

The War that Saved My LifeWhat makes a great reading experience?  Is the author, the subject matter, the style?  For most of us, it’s some combination of factors that makes a book truly memorable.  We all have favorites, and while others may not understand our enthusiasm for a particular book, we recall that certain title that really touched us.

I spoke with several staff members at the library, asking for their 2016 picks for top book.  Some suggested newer titles, but others found choices among some of the older titles in our collections.  What follows are their picks and their reasons for their selections.  With a little luck, you might find your own next treasure among their favorites.

Here are ten titles the staff encourage you to read:

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley was a first choice.  This work is children’s historical fiction that takes place in London during World War II.  Young Ada, who has a twisted foot, is neglected by her mother, but the girl flees her mother and follows her brother to a safe home outside the town.  Our reader notes that the girl had to go through a lot of different stuff before the book turns toward a more hopeful ending.

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado is an adult nonfiction title that forces the reader to think in a different perspective.  Author Tirado experienced poverty first hand, but she also developed a sense of humor that is admirable.  Our reader noted that the author made some wrong decisions, but they were not always a personal choice.

Feel like some science fiction?  One reader spoke highly of The Golden Son by Pierce Brown, the second volume in the Red Rising Trilogy.  Why a favorite?  It is something of a Hunger Games tale for adults, a story that demonstrates how a singular event can affect so much.  Then, too, there is so much action that makes this book appealing.

And that wasn’t the only science fiction title.  Another reader had warm praise for Iain Banks’s Consider PhlebasThis tale concerns a galactic war in which ships are creations of artificial intelligence.  The reader describes the book as a very different take on humanity.

Another reader is an admirer of Patti Smith and had the great fortune of seeing her perform in Kansas City in the 1980s.  Her choice of title?  Smith’s M Train, an adult biographical meditation.  Our reader noted that Smith in a unique thinker who very creatively discussed her own life throughout the book.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is another favorite.  This fiction title is an adult story of an elderly Canadian woman who has never seen the ocean. And so, she decides to walk across the country to see it, a trip which husband Otto comprehends because he, too, once traveled a great distance.  Our reader enjoyed the great prose the book offered, the way the language flowed.

One of our readers highly praises Small Great Things by perennial favorite Jodi Picoult.  This well written tale concerns a fictional encounter between a white supremacist and an African American nurse.  What follows is a tragedy during which the reader sees both complex points of view.

Another newer favorite is Paulette Jiles’s News of the WorldOne reader described the story as another take on True Grit by Charles Portis.  In fictional 19th century Texas, an older gentleman accompanies a young girl on her return to relatives after she was kidnapped some years earlier by the Kiowa.  Despite the fact that the girl speaks no English, the two travelers bond during a perilous journey that leads to an uplifting finish.

A young adult selection that gained great praise from a reader is David Levithan’s Two Boys KissingThe book is about gay teenagers, but it is also about so much more.  Our reader said the book had an incredible impact and left her with a sense of raw emotions.

Let’s end on another science fiction title.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is the story of a character kidnapped by his alternative self from a parallel universe.  His task becomes the struggle to return to his home.  Why the appeal?  Our reader said it was a story like he’d never encountered before.

Whatever your choices, please visit the library.  All of the staff wish you years of fulfilling reading.

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BOOK TALK: Literature in Kansas

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

HarborMark your 2017 calendars – This spring, Manhattan Library Association will partner with the Kansas Humanities Council to bring a series of  BOOK TALK discussions to Manhattan, with experts helping to immerse readers in captivating stories. This spring’s topic is “Contemporary Immigration.”

America is a nation of immigrants.  Each new wave of immigration brings their own traditions, cuisine, styles, artistic traditions, and cultural histories, all of which feed into the complex mosaic of American life.  New immigration has deeply enriched the range of American literature.

Our first selection is Caramelo, or, Puro Cuento by Sandra Cisneros, a semi-autobiographical novel describing the experience of a Mexican-American family.  Cisneros weaves themes of family and identity into a sweeping tale of American naturalization in which a young girl, Lala Reyes, navigates a web of family pride and practicality in the 1960s. The caramelo reboso – candy shawl – is Lala’s sole memento of her dead mother.  Like the weave of that shawl, Lala’s tale recounts the complex life of a family always striving to put its best foot forward.

Nicolas Shump will lead the discussion on Caramelo on February 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Groesbeck Room at Manhattan Public Library.  Nicolas teaches history and English at the Barstow School in Kansas City, Missouri.  He received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of Kansas, where he has also taught courses on Humanities and Western Civilization and American Studies.  He was a volunteer coordinator of Adult Education in Lawrence.

Harbor, the stunning first novel by Pulitzer-winning journalist Lorraine Adams, is the March selection. Aziz Arkoun arrives in America as a stowaway aboard a tanker, swimming to shore in Boston harbor without money, English, or any connections, except the phone number of a shady cousin.  One illegality leads to another as Aziz finds himself caught in the web of an anti-terrorism investigation.

Gene T. Chavez will lead the discussion for Harbor on March 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Gene is the founder and president of Chavez and Associates.  He received both his M.A. in cross-cultural counseling and his education degree focusing in the philosophical foundations of education from Arizona State University.  Gene consults with groups throughout the country on bilingual education and cultural diversity.

Our April choice is Typical American by Gish Jen. Jen’s delightful first novel follows the lives of three young Chinese immigrants. A great deal of humor and sympathy accompanies this tempestuous novel.  Yifeng (also known as Ralph), his older sister Theresa, and his friend Helen find themselves trapped in America by the rise of Communism back in China.  The three hopeful immigrants strive to build new lives that work in an unfamiliar land.  Their stories take them from rags to riches, from city to suburb, from academic ivory towers to “Ralph’s Chicken Palace.”

Michaeline Chance-Reay will be leading the discussion on “Typical American” on April 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.  Dr. Chance-Reay teaches women’s studies and education at Kansas State University, and received her PH.D. in Humanities Education and Master’s in Social Work from Ohio State University. In 1998, her research resulted in an exhibition at the Riley County Historical Museum and an accompanying book, Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives.

Our partner in providing these talks, The Kansas Humanities Council, is a non-profit organization promoting understanding of the history and ideas that shape our lives and strengthen our sense of community.

Everyone is welcome to attend these free discussions, and no registration ahead of time is required.  These books will be available for patrons to check-out in December at the Manhattan Public Library.

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Italian Mysteries

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The Dogs of RomeSay Italy, and people think beautiful women (ala Sophia Loren), great food, and romance. Oh, and one more thing, mystery. Mysteries by Italian authors, or taking place in Italy, have all the pleasant things one associates with Italy, plus a healthy dose of murder. If you’re ready to experience the allure of Italy, while feeding your hunger for compelling mysteries, checkout some of the many Italian mystery novels available at Manhattan Public Library.

How does a police commissioner maintain law and order in a fascist state, especially if he possesses the uncanny ability to see dead people? This is the dilemma Commissario Ricciardi faces in the series by Maurizio De Giovanni. In “I will have Vengeance: the Winter of Commissario Ricciardi,” the title character investigates the brutal murder of a world famous tenor. Can the unrestful spirit of the tenor give Ricciardi a clue as to the identity of his killer? Ten titles in this series taking place in Naples have been translated into English.

Donna Leon brings the serene city of Venice to life through the thoughts and actions of Commissario Guido Brunetti in a series that now encompasses 26 titles. In “Death at La Fenice,” Brunetti investigates the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor, poisoned with cyanide during an intermission at the famous Venice opera house. As the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture of Nazi sympathies and revenge begins to take shape.

Travelling down the length of the boot, Sicily is the scene of the Inspector Salvo Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Camilleri. Over the course of 24 titles to date (20 translated into English), Inspector Montalbano polices the small fictitious town of Vigata. In “The Shape of Water,” a local politician has been found dead in his car with his pants down. The victim of a heart attack? The car was parked in a field frequented by prostitutes. While Montalbano’s superiors want a quick resolution to the case, Montalbano is cynical enough to smell a setup.

Michael Dibdin authored 11 titles in the Aurelio Zen series before his untimely death in 2007. In “Dead Lagoon,” Zen returns to his hometown of Venice to work on a minor case, while at the same time earning cash on a side job investigating the disappearance of a rich American. While in Venice, Zen observes changes in the town itself and in the people he knew as children. Being mistaken by old men for his father who vanished mysteriously years before is just one of the personal issues Zen has to deal with in solving the case of the missing American.

Returning to Rome, we can follow the exploits of Nic Costa, as reported by David Hewson. In “A Season for the Dead,” Costa, all of 27 years old and a connoisseur of the painter, Caravaggio, is hunting for a serial killer who uses his victims to create representations of famous martyr portraits. As if this wasn’t problem enough, Costa also has to contend with a corrupt cardinal, the Mafia, and the secrecy of the Vatican.

Also taking place in Rome are the Commissario Alec Blume mysteries by Conor Fitzgerald. In “The Dogs of Rome,” Blume, an American expatriate who has been living in Italy for over 20 years, investigates the murder of an animal-rights activist whose wife is an important politician and whose mistress has ties to the Mob.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try the Milano Quartet by Giorgio Scerbanenco. First published in 1966, “A Private Venus,” is an arresting noir novel whose antihero, Duca Lamberti, is a disbarred doctor who has just been released from prison for assisting a terminally ill woman to end her life. Lamberti is no stranger to making bad choices. His latest is accepting the proposal of a rich industrialist to babysit his son, a chronic alcoholic. Alcoholism, Lamberti discovers, is the least of the young man’s troubles.

Other authors of Italian mysteries you should sample include “Lost Girls of Rome,” by Donato Carrisi. There’s also the Inspector Bordelli mysteries by Marco Vichi, including “Death in August.” Don’t forget Magdalen Nabb, whose protagonist, Marshal Guarnaccia, features in such titles as “Vita Nuova, or Michele Giuttari, whose Michele Ferrara investigates murder in “A Death in Tuscany.”

 

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Comics for the Non-Comics Reader

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

How to Fake a Moon LandingNever been into comics? Don’t worry—I wasn’t, either. I’d always felt there was a barrier between me and comics, like you had to be part of an “in club” to understand them, and there was no way I had enough nerd street cred to manage it. This feeling held true for me all the way into adulthood, until I took a class on comics and stumbled into the amazing world of alternative comics. At last, here were comics I could read without knowing decades of arcane DC backstory. Here were comics that explored serious topics, from science and geopolitics to relationships and identity. Here were comics that became art.

The term “alternative comics,” strictly speaking, refers to comics that offer an alternative to the mainstream superhero comics published by Marvel, DC, and other major publishers. Alternative comics come in a wide variety, including your standard fiction offerings, but also venture into nonfiction through memoir, biography, and even explanatory scientific texts. The art can range from all-black outlines to delicately painted watercolor panels, and the art styles can be deceptively simple, ragged and sketchy, or blisteringly complex. There’s a wide, diverse world of alternative comics out there, and I believe it holds something for everyone and every reading taste. Allow me to introduce you.

For me, the most thought-provoking alternative comics feature international affairs, exploring how people interpret and respond to major international crises. The comics format takes politics and makes it understandable; instead of being a complex, distant issue, politics becomes human and relatable through the lenses of comics creators. In Rolling Blackouts, Sarah Glidden details her travels through the Middle East with a team of journalists. As they travel, Glidden learns about the lives of refugees and the effects of war, while also exploring the ideas behind journalism. In The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, Igort depicts the horrors of life under Soviet rule, while Amir and Khalil’s Zahra’s Paradise brings haunting life to the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election in Iran.

Biographies are another group I was pleasantly surprised to find within comics, and there are always more intriguing biographies to choose from. Steffen Kverneland’s Munch is the most impressive comics biography I’ve seen this year, pulling from many sources to craft an exquisitely bizarre and nuanced portrait of Edvard Munch, the artist best known for “The Scream.” In The Imitation Game, by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis, you can explore the life and science of Alan Turing, the man who cracked the German Enigma code during World War II. For mystery fans, Anne Martinetti’s Agatha depicts the life of Agatha Christie, beginning with her mysterious ten-day disappearance and traveling throughout her life from there.

Comics also can explore the more technical side of nonfiction, in that they combine explanatory text with detailed drawings in order to explain complex ideas to non-scientists. Andy Warner tackles science humorously with Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, looking at everything from toothbrushes and vacuum cleaners to instant ramen and ice cream cones. Darryl Cunningham explains how to tell science myth from science fact in his books How to Fake a Moon Landing and Science Tales. Finally, Philippe Squarzoni’s Climate Changed combines memoir and documentary as Squarzoni researches climate change in an effort to be knowledgeable about this major issue.

On the fiction end of things, comics also excel as a medium for exploring dramas both interpersonal and internal. Moyoco Anno confronts eating disorders in her work In Clothes Called Fat, as her main character Noko struggles to find what she really wants in a world that dictates how she should feel about her body weight. Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor goes the magical realism route, following David, a sculptor who decides to die early in exchange for being able to sculpt anything with his bare hands. Needless to say, trading life for art is harder than David had originally bargained for. For science fiction fans, Daniel Clowes’s Patience offers a psychedelic thriller love story that doesn’t let up till the last mind-blowing page.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest about the alternative comics we have to offer here at Manhattan Public Library, especially since we have a strong collection to choose from. If you’d like any help picking out comics, feel free to stop by the Reference Desk on the second floor, or request a personalized reading list on our website. We’d love to help you find some comics that resonate with you.

 

 

 

 

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Romance with a Twist

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Two AcrossI am an unabashed romance reader. In the midst of a crazy world, romance novels can offer a bit of escape, or even reassurance. I love how author Kristan Higgins put it in Publishers Weekly, “Our books affirm faith in humanity and preach the goodness and courage of the ordinary heart. We make our readers laugh, we make them cry, and we affirm our belief in the enduring, uplifting power of love.” Sometimes I find myself wanting something different, though. Fortunately I’ve found that there are some amazing genre crossovers that have eased me out of my comfort zone: still uplifting, but with a very different perspective than one typically gets in a romance novel. The following reads are good for a change of pace or for those romance doubters among you.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis mixes science fiction, intrigue, and humor with a dash of romance thrown in. Sometime in the near future, Briddey Flannigan and her boyfriend decide to get implants in their brains that allow them to sense what each other is feeling. Something goes wrong and Briddey is connected to the weird guy who works in the basement instead. A light-hearted exploration of the question of how connected and informed we really want to be, Crosstalk is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Two Across by Jeffrey Bartsch is about Stanley and Vera, two teens who meet when they tie for first place in the 1960 National Spelling Bee. Both of them are brilliant but have difficult homes and end up plotting a sham wedding to change the course of their lives. Years of awkward exchanges, missed opportunities, and crossword puzzle communication create a sometimes bittersweet but hopeful story.

For historical romantic suspense, Lauren Willig serves up The Other Daughter. When her mother dies, governess Rachel Woodley stumbles across a magazine clipping dated only three months before with a picture of her supposedly long-deceased father. With the assistance of her cousin’s associate, Simon Montfort, she seeks revenge against the father she never knew and his replacement family. An insightful plunge into 1920s London and all of the social divisions of the time, The Other Daughter also reveals a woman forced to reevaluate who she is while playing a dangerous game of deception.

I am particularly a fan of modern retellings of classics. It amuses me to discover how the author weaves the original tale into something completely new. One of the better ones I’ve read lately is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern interpretation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Magazine writer Liz Bennett rushes home to Cincinnati to help her family during her father’s health crisis. In Sittenfeld’s version, Jane is a yoga instructor, Mary is addicted to online education, and Kitty and Lydia have an unhealthy obsession with CrossFit. They meet reality show star Chip Bingley and his friend the neurosurgeon, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Navigating the challenges of life at home and an uncertain future, Liz approaches the world with a biting wit and unfailing self-assurance. I have often been told that Pride and Prejudice is just about a bunch of women seeking husbands, but Eligible emphasizes that this is really about growing up enough to see the complexity of the world and the fascinating creatures we encounter in it.

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler manages to hold onto the humor from the original but adds a more contemporary view of relationships. Kate is an exceptionally blunt preschool teacher who fills her days with gardening and taking care of her widowed father and teenaged sister. Her father comes up with a scheme for her to marry his lab assistant Pyotr to help him with a green card. Kate’s lack of tact, combined with Pyotr’s language limitations, lead to some hilarious scenes and a level of honesty not often achieved in contemporary relationships.

Come visit us at the library to find your next great read!

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Dehumanized Dystopias

By Brian Ingalsbe, Children’s Library Assistant

UgliesOctober is – in my humble opinion – one of the best months of the year. The weather is consistently cool, the leaves are changing colors, and the full anticipation of Halloween is in the air. For me, enjoying this month means snuggling up with a pumpkin spice chai and reading a great book. With Halloween so close, what better way to prepare than with a YA staple: the dystopia?

Dystopias are some of my favorite reads because they are fast-paced, action-oriented, and feature a skewed world, alarmingly similar to our own. Beyond The Hunger Games, The Giver, and The Maze Runner, the young adult collection has hundreds of other dystopian novels, just waiting to be discovered!

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

In a world where higher education is a privilege, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale dreams of being chosen for “the testing” – a program geared at further educating the best and the brightest of the Five Lakes Colony. Cia is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate, eager to prove her worthiness as a future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies: trust no one. Can she trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? To survive, Cia must choose love without truth or life without trust. In this thrilling story, Joelle Charbonneau tells a tale that is as enticing as it is flawed, begging readers to turn page after page. Anyone who enjoyed the Books of Ember or The Maze Runner trilogy is sure to love this book.

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June is an elite – born with the highest family status, groomed for success in the Republic’s most prestigious military circles. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. They are polar opposites in every way. But when Metias – June’s brother – is found murdered, and Day is named the main suspect, all bets are off. Forming an unlikely duo, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its terrible secrets. In this exhilarating story – much like The Hunger Games – Marie Lu transforms two “average” characters through the most terrifying experience imaginable. The result will not disappoint!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the not-so-distant future, the Second Civil War – fought over reproductive rights – has left a country that is fearful and rash. As a result, life is deemed sacred, but only from birth to age thirteen. For the next five years, parents can choose to have their children “unwound” by which their organs are harvested for alternative use, therefore deemed “a continuation of life.” During this horrific age, three children face being unwound: Connor, an out of control child, Risa, a ward of the state, and Lev, a tithe –a child conceived only to be unwound. Separate, they are powerless, but together they may be able to survive. In Unwind, Neal Shusterman creates a chilling world dominated by the effects of population control. Readers who enjoyed The Giver or the Shadow Children are sure to devour this series.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

What can be wrong with a world full of pretty people? Wouldn’t you want to be pretty? For sixteen-year-old Tally, becoming pretty is the end all. In the weeks preceding her operation, Tally can think of little else besides the carefree pretty lifestyle, in which her only real job is to have fun. But when Tally’s new best friend – Shay – rebels from society and flees, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty lifestyle, and it isn’t very pretty. Now Tally must make a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty herself. What will she choose? Her choice will change her world forever. In this well-crafted novel, Scott Westerfeld expertly creates a shallow world of external beauty. Ridden with its own vernacular and relatable characters, Uglies is a story that is sure to hit close to home. Readers who enjoy the writing style of Lauren Oliver will definitely love these books.

No matter what resources you are looking for, Manhattan Public Library has them. Our staff is always willing to help you find your next great dystopia and answer any questions you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department at (785) 776-4741 ext. 400 or kidstaff@mhklibrary.org.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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