News & More...

Posts Tagged Nonfiction

Learn about Thanksgiving with these titles!

The holiday season is upon us and we’re counting down to Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving; for a major holiday, it remains relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. It’s comparatively free of the cumbersome traditions, frenetic activities, and crippling expenditures that come with some holidays (I’m looking at you, Christmas!), big stressors that can get in the way of fundamental enjoyment, not to mention spiritual gratification.

Granted, Thanksgiving does have its own daunting potential for stress – travel and logistical chaos, inter-personal and family drama, intensive food prep and consumption, hours of digestive recovery, and overwhelming kitchen clean-up! But the day can also be celebrated with a simple shared meal, quiet reflection and rest, even solitude or a private getaway, and when it all comes together well, Thanksgiving can be deeply meaningful and spiritually strengthening.

Our celebration of the Thanksgiving feast as a national historical event also has its baggage, a mythology of Pilgrims and Native Americans that is rooted in history but that has grown over time to barely resemble the actual event. As is nearly always the case with history, the truth turns out to be far more complicated and vastly more interesting than the myth. This year, pick up one of the following books to help you sort out the real story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and broaden your understanding of our country’s fascinating history.

philbrick   “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick details the history of the Pilgrims as religious Separatists in England and as political refugees in Holland, then follows them through their voyage on the Mayflower, the settlement and early years of the Plymouth colony, and the meeting of European settlers and Native Americans. Philbrick adds depth to what we know of familiar historical figures like William Bradford, Chief Massasoit, Squanto, Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, Edward Winslow, and numerous secondary characters, revealing unexpected and surprising historical details.

In “Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World,” another richly detailed history, author and Englishman Nick Bunker writes about the Mayflower Pilgrims as Englishmen themselves, and places them in the context of the political world in which they lived. An exhaustively detailed recounting of the first years of settlement, this book tells a stirring tale of “indomitable courage, religious faith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics” (Publishers Weekly).

indexH4IDI2ML   If you only have time for a short read and want a more condensed recounting of the Mayflower Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, Glenn Alan Cheney has hit the high points and given a broad overview in his well-researched and -organized history of 1620-1621, “Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America.” An easy-to-read and enjoyable page-turner, it is nevertheless written in evocative, descriptive prose. As one reviewer said, the book is “full of surprising information, and sympathetic to the humanity of all the participants.”

“The Mayflower Papers: Selected Writings of Colonial New England,” edited by Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick, is a compilation of 17th century primary source material about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, and the founding of the Plymouth Colony. It contains “Of Plymouth Plantation” by Governor William Bradford, the seminal first-person account of the early days of the settlement. Written in the Elizabethan English of the times, it is not easy reading but it nonetheless is a detailed, emotional recounting of an enterprise that took immense courage, devotion, and fortitude. In addition, this anthology contains “Mourt’s Relation,” an account of the colony’s first year in New England and the original story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in autumn 1621, and “Good News from New England,” a continuation of the history, both by Edward Winslow.

times     “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony” by leading Plymouth archaeologist James Deetz is a social history that is especially strong in its descriptions of the daily lives and society of the colony. Drawing on the archaeological evidence, it touches on crime, food, sexual and social relationships, legalities, and material culture, and upends many of our misconceptions about Pilgrim society.

 

 

 

 

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrating All Things Pasta

by John Pecoraro,  Assistant Director

Nothing says Italy like pasta. Some historians believe that Marco Polo introduced noodles to Italy after his journeys to China. There is evidence, however, that the Romans used durum wheat to make a pasta-like noodle called “lagane.” By the 1300’s, dried pasta had gained popularity for its nutrition and long shelf life, but it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that pasta met the tomato. The rest, as they say, is history.

October 25 was World Pasta Day, but it’s not too late to cook up a plate of this versatile food. Check out one of the many pasta cookbooks available at Manhattan Public Library.

The perfect shape plus the perfect sauce equals “The Geometry of Pasta,” by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy. This book features 100 recipes arranged by the name and shape of the pasta, from agnolotti to ziti. In between, you’ll find recipes for cappelletti (little hats), orecchiette (little ears), torchio (torch-shaped), and many more.

giadaIn “Everyday Pasta,” bestselling author and cooking show host, Giada de Laurentiis, presents her favorite pasta recipes for every occasion. Giada makes the most of the many varieties of pasta with recipes for those looking for a lighter dish, as well as quick and easy fixes for the weeknight rush. She also features pastas for special occasions. Most of the pasta dishes included are all-in-one meals, but Giada also supplies recipes for her favorite appetizers, side dishes, and salads.

Want to cook pasta like they cook it in Italy? Look no further than “Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way,” by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen B. Fant. This book continues and complements Zanini de Vita’s “Encyclopedia of Pasta.” The authors first introduce readers to ingredients and equipment before delving into recipes for both novice and experienced cooks.

Rushed for time? Check out Giuliano Hazan’s “Thirty Minute Pasta,” for 100 quick and easy recipes. Aspiring cooks can make most of the recipes featured in under 30 minutes, with fewer than 10 ingredients. This book includes recipes for pasta soups, vegetarian dishes, as well as meat and seafood sauces. It also provides hints on stocking your pasta pantry, and the five simple rules for perfectly cooked pasta.

artisanSupermarket shelves are stocked with a dizzying selection of pastas to choose from, but for some it’s not pasta unless it’s homemade. “Making Artisan Pasta,” by Aliza Green, introduces the adventurous cook to the world of handmade linguine, ravioli, lasagna, and other styles of pasta from Italy. Green also includes instructions on making dozens of other pastas from around the world.

If I had to choose one variety of pasta over all others, it would have to be lasagna. “The New Lasagna Cookbook,” by Maria Bruscino Sanchez offers a crowd-pleasing collection of lasagna dishes from around the world. Tips on ingredients and equipment, and easy-to-follow recipes make this book perfect for beginning lasagna cooks, while the wide variety of classic and new recipes will challenge the experienced.

What’s pasta without the sauce? To avoid the embarrassment of naked pasta, read Pamela Johns’s “50 Great Pasta Sauces.” The rich photographs of pasta smothered or gently caressed by beautiful sauces will make your mouth water. Johns divides her sauce recipes by vegetable (classic tomato), dairy (browned butter & sage), meat (Bolognese), and seafood (pepper & anchovy).

macMacaroni and cheese is the most popular pasta dish in America. It would be a shame to only equate mac and cheese with the packaged varieties from the supermarket. In “Mac & Cheese,” Ellen Brown offers 80 classic and creative variations of the ultimate comfort food. Mascarpone lobster mac and cheese, anyone?

Finally, there are some among us who love the pasta, but don’t love the gluten. “Gluten-free Pasta,” by Robin Asbell presents more than 100 gluten-free and low and no-carb pasta recipes. The recipes fall into three categories: homemade pastas, store-bought brands, and veggie pastas. Store brands include white and brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, potato, and corn pastas. Veggie alternatives include pastas made from spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, collards, and cabbage.

You can call it pasta, you can call it macaroni, or you can call it noodles, but whatever you call it, the result is usually delicious. Enjoy a dish today.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

October means Pumpkins!!

by Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

PumpkinsFall brings us apple and pumpkin harvest. There is nothing better than fresh apples and the aroma of any pumpkin dessert baking not to mention the joy of eating them. It’s a great time for caramel apples, pumpkin pie, and jack-o-lanterns. You’ll find books for recipes as well as pumpkin carving at the library.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

How to Become a Lifelong Learner

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

Wikipedia tells me that lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” To me, it means becoming your own teacher, which I think is a wonderful and worthy thing to do.

But why would a person subject herself to teaching and learning after schooling is finished? Doesn’t “finishing” mean that you don’t have to read, write, or do arithmetic anymore?

Absolutely not! Even if you haven’t made a concentrated effort to bring learning into your life, you’ve been learning every day. You’ve made new discoveries and found new topics to excite your senses.

Learning is a vital part of being human; that’s why we aren’t born knowing how to do everything. So why not be proactive and teach yourself something that’s always piqued your curiosity? Also, the National Institute on Aging sites “engaging in social and intellectually stimulating activities” as an important part of preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Plus, it feels really good to learn!

So, now that you’ve decided to try something new, the first thing you have to do is pick a subject. Have you always wanted to paint, make fire with sticks, or speak French? Start with something exciting and see where it leads you.

Next, it’s time to visit the library. You will find resources to study, as well as information about classes offered by local organizations, like UFM and the Manhattan Arts Center, and clubs and groups you can join.

But what if you can’t pick a topic or aren’t familiar with the library’s resources? Just talk to a librarian: we can help point you in the right direction. You can even get a customized list of titles to explore, on any subject you can imagine, with our reader’s advisory service.

Now here’s a secret weapon you might not have considered: the children’s library.  When I’m looking for something completely new, I start there because some of the very specialized research material can be a little dry and intimidating. I don’t necessarily want to read an esoteric paper about cumulonimbus clouds; I just want to know more about the weather. So, I slyly pretend I’m gathering books for children I don’t have and get an armful of fun subjects to explore.

Visiting the library is like building your brain muscles. No one ever says “I wish I hadn’t learned how to _______,” so spend a few minutes daydreaming about new subjects, then take the first steps to becoming your own teacher.

The library is also hosting a trial of the digital service Lynda.com from September 17-27, which offers thousands of video courses on topics ranging from Managing Stress to Responsive Web Design that you can explore on your own. To participate in the trial, call the library at 776-4741 ext. 120 and make an appointment.

There’s a whole world of ready information within your reach!

Posted in: Mercury Column

Leave a Comment (0) →

Lambda Awards

The Lambda Awards, celebrating excellence in LGBT Literature, were awarded in June. Manhattan Public Library has several of the award-winning titles, including:

  • my educatiobMy Education by Susan Choi    Warned about the womanizing activities of Professor Nicholas Brodeur before her arrival at his prestigious university, graduate student Regina Gottlieb is nevertheless captured by his charisma and good looks before falling prey to his volatile wife.
    An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster. Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty– or his charismatic, volatile wife. Regina’s mistakes only begin in the bedroom, and end– if they do– fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge. (more…)

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

World War I

John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library
One hundred years ago on July 28, 1914, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, started in Europe. By the time of the armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918, the conflict was worldwide, and over 9 million soldiers, sailors, and Marines had been killed. This is the war we now refer to as World War I.

By now the participants in the conflict are history. The last remaining United States veteran of the war, Frank Buckles, died in 1911, at the ripe, old age of 110. In a strange footnote to history, Buckles was captured by Japanese forces during World War II while working in Manila, and was imprisoned for over 3 years.

gunsSelected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, “The Guns of August,” by Barbara Tuchman is a classic history of the early days of World War I. Tuchman traces each step during those 30 days in August 1914 that inevitably lead to all-out war. Why inevitable? Because all sides involved had been plotting their war for a generation.

In “Harlem’s Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I,v” Stephen Harris tells the story of one of the few American Army units to serve under French command. The volunteers of the 369th, mostly from New York, faced racial harassment from civilians and white soldiers alike while training in the South. First sent to France as laborers, they later proved themselves fighting valiantly beside French Moroccan troops. The French government awarded the Hell Fighters the Croix de Guerre, their highest military honor. German soldiers gave them the nickname “Hell Fighters” because of their toughness, and the fact that they never lost ground to the enemy.

Imagine a battle raging over nearly a year, devouring hundreds of thousands of men. This is battle Paul Jankowski recounts in “Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War.”  Beginning on February 21, 1916, Verdun ended on December 18. Casualty estimates range between 714,000 and 976,000. It was the longest and one of the costliest battles in terms of human lives lost. The battle accomplished little; the town and its fortifications had limited strategic value to either France or Germany. So, “Why Verdun?,” Jankowski asks. As in so many things about war, there is no definite answer. (more…)

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. With almost $200 Billion in damage resulting from the storm, it was the most expensive disaster in US history. The human toll was unfathomable and the effects continue to be felt in that region today.

Manhattan Public Library has several titles about Hurricane Katrina and it’s effects:

  • Not just the levees broke : my story during and after Hurricane Katrina /Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. 976.044 Phyllis Montana-Leblanc gives an astounding and poignant account of how she and her husband lived through one of our nation’s worst disasters, and continue to put their lives back together. New Orleans Hurricane Katrina survivor Phyllis Leblanc reveals moment by moment the impending doom she and her family experienced during one of the greatest disasters in contemporary American history. The initial weather forecast, the public warnings from officials, and then the increasingly devastating developments — the winds and rain, the rising waters — Not Just the Levees Broke begs the question, What would you do in a life-and-death situation with your family and neighbors facing the ultimate test of character? Not Just the Levees Broke is a portrayal of the human spirit at its best — the generosity of family, neighbors, and strangers; the depth of love that one can hold for another; the power to help and heal others.
  • The great deluge : Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast / Douglas Brinkley.  976.044  An account of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it left in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast documents the events and repercussions of the tragedy and its aftermath and the ongoing crisis confronting the region.
  • Breach of faith : Hurricane Katrina and the near death of a great American city / Jed Horne.  976.044  “Hurricane Katrina shredded one of the great cities of the South, and as levees failed and the federal relief effort proved lethally incompetent, a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe. As an editor of New Orleans’ daily newspaper, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times-Picayune, Jed Horne has had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama of the city’s collapse into chaos and its continuing struggle to survive.” “Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weaver a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense – all of these lives collide in a chronicle that in harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.”
  • Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital / Sheri Fink.  362.11  Fink provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina– and a suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Fink unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

Classic reading for lovers of English gardens, village life, and country houses

index4LBRRIONIn the 1930s, Englishman Beverley Nichols wrote about his adventure buying and restoring a dilapidated country house and garden, including his introduction to village life and the various neighbors who helped, hindered, and critiqued his efforts. 

His writing is lively, hilarious, and inspiring – perfect summer reading.  In 2006 upon the reissue of these books, Home and Garden described Nichols as being “as observant as Jane Austen, as witty as Oscar Wilde, and as sentimental as James Herriott.  He also happens to be as funny, timely, and un-P.C. as Jon Stewart.”

Get to know Beverley Nichols through his gardening trilogy – Merry Hall; Laughter on the Stairs; Sunlight on the Lawn  – and through the Allways trilogy, which includes Down the Garden Path; A Thatched Roof; A Village in a Valley.  Or try a new compilation of his writings, Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverly Nichols.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

This is the day! Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day!

imagesWhat a great year for gardening with the rain in June and the moderate temperatures.  We can imagine there are zukes hiding under those huge leaves in your gardens.  Take a chance and sneak them into your neighbors yard before they become the size of baseball bats. Since it is also Happiness Happens Day, you will have succeeded in killing two birds with one stone.

You can find great savory recipes for next weeks crop in The Kitchen Garden Cookbook edited by Caroline Bretherton, Vegetables by James Peterson and Cooking from the Garden edited by Ruth Lively.  I plan to try Briami, a Greek dish of mixed garden-fresh vegetables, layered, seasoned and baked like a gratin. (page 172 in Cooking from the Garden)

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Women

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Learning about other people’s lives can be endlessly fascinating, particularly if they are people who inhabit another place or time very different from your own. In my case, I love to read about the domestic and personal lives of ordinary women in American history as told through their journals or letters, the artifacts of their lives, or the evidence of historical sources and documents. Here are some outstanding books from Manhattan Public Library about the lives of American women.

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Martha Ballard, the subject of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, was a housewife, midwife, and healer in Maine in the 18th century. Her diary is compelling reading, an intimate, personal view of the daily concerns and events in Ballard’s own life and the lives of the women she served, as well as happenings and social dynamics in the communities she traveled.

perfectionPerfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, by Laura Shapiro, recounts the development of the Domestic Science reform movement in the Progressive-era U.S. between 1880 and 1930. The movement was an ambitious plan to improve the lives of American women and their families by applying “modern” scientific knowledge to common domestic activities, thereby boosting efficiency, promoting better health and sanitation, and improving food and nutrition. The impact of this movement on American homemakers and its legacy up to the present time include both positives and negatives. This is an enlightening and entertaining book.

Never Done: A History of American Housework, by Susan Strasser. Using plentiful illustrations and primary sources, this book offers a comprehensive overview of housekeeping and women’s work in U.S. history, from colonial and pioneer households through the industrialization of America to the consumer culture and time-stressed lifestyles of the 20th century.

No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald. Great fun for knitters as well as armchair historians, this book chronicles the role of “the womanly art of knitting” through our national history. “From the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin to her Victorian counterpart who enjoyed knitting while visiting with friends, from the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort to the modern woman who knits as a creative and artistic outlet, this book offers a unique perspective on American women’s changing historical roles.

The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, follows 14 handmade artifacts of American domestic life through their history and the lives of the people who made and used them. An engaging combination of women’s studies, history, and the study of museum artifacts, this book guides the reader through American material culture of colonial times, Revolution, frontier life, the growth of commerce, and the Industrial Age in America.

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860, by
Jane C. Nylander. The image of the early American home has been idealized over time and infused with great nostalgia. In “Our Own Snug Fireside”, author Jane Nylander draws from the journals of four women to discover the truth about the customs, traditions, friends, families, and work of the historical New England household, and creates a “fine social history of forgotten routines.”

Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930, by Marilyn Irvin Holt. Studying the Domestic Science movement and the resources and programs it offered to the lives of rural women in America (home economics education, Extension Home Demonstration Units, etc.), this is a very readable, well-illustrated history of changing roles for women in agriculture that is significant in its inclusion of African-American and Hispanic American farm women.

somethingSomething from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Laura Shapiro. The story of how post-war overcapacity in the food manufacturing industry intersected (collided?) with the needs of 1950s housewives to produce dramatic changes in American kitchens, women’s lives, and family life. Characters in this entertaining history include modern marketing and food science, the advent of television advertising, advances in the American kitchen and diet, changing race relations in America, and the appearance of homemaking and cooking icons, both fictitious and real, from Betty Crocker to Julia Child to Freda De Knight. Close enough to present day to strike the chords of memory for many of us, this is fun and fascinating social history.

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 6 12345...»