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Thank Charles Dickens for Christmas

Thank Charles Dickens for Christmas

by John Pecoraro

Assistant Director

Manhattan Public Library

Mention Christmas and “A Christmas Carol” is sure to come to mind. Charles Dickens published his classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and a trio of spirits, for Christmas 1843. “A Christmas Carol” has been adapted for both the large and small screen dozens of times over the years, and is as familiar as Christmas cookies. But what some people may not know is that Dickens wrote several Christmas stories.

For Christmas 1844, Dickens wrote “The Chimes.” This is the story of Toby Veck, a poor working class man who has lost his faith in humanity, believing that his poverty is the result of his unworthiness. On New Year’s Eve he is visited by spirits to help restore his faith and convince him that nobody is born evil, but rather that crime and poverty are things created by man.

Dickens wrote “The Cricket on the Hearth” for Christmas 1845. The cricket of the title acts as a barometer of life at the home of John Peerybingle and his much younger wife Dot. The cricket chirps when things go well, but falls silent when there is sorrow. After Tackleton, a jealous old man, poisons John’s mind about Dot, arousing his jealousy, the cricket restores John’s confidence in his wife.

Dickens wrote “The Battle of Life” for Christmas 1846. The setting is a village on the site of an historic battlefield. The characters are two sisters in love with the same man. Dickens’ message is that in every person’s live there is a battle being fought. The battle can be won either peacefully or by hurting others. This is a choice each of us has to make.

Dickens’ final Christmas book was “The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain,” written in 1848. Professor Redlaw is a teacher of chemistry dwelling on his past sorrows and mistakes. A spirit haunts him and proposes a way to escape his painful recollections of the past by erasing his memory. Instead of easing his mind, the absence of memory makes Redlaw an empty man devoid of emotions. At the story’s end, Redlaw regains his memories, and is a changed and better man.

In addition to these book length stories, Dickens produced Christmas-themed issues of his two penny journal, “Household Words,” between 1850 and 1858, collaborating with writers such as Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell.

To learn more about Charles Dickens and his connection to Christmas, read “The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits,” by Les Standiford. Standiford tells the story of how and why Dickens, whose career was on a downward track in 1843, wrote the classic Christmas story. Its publication didn’t solve Dickens’ financial woes, but it did jumpstart his flailing career, and continues to give the world joy every season.

You might also enjoy “Inventing Scrooge: the Incredible Story Behind Dickens’ Legendary A Christmas Carol,” by Carlo DeVito.  DeVito uncovers the real-life inspirations from Dickens’ own world that led to his creation of “A Christmas Carol.” By understanding how much of his own past and present Dickens wove into the characters and themes of his story, we may gain a deeper appreciation of this holiday classic.

Among the many derivations and variations of “A Christmas Carol,” are several available at the library. For example, “The Annotated Christmas Carol,” with notes by Michael Patrick Hearn.  Hearn begins with a history of the story, including background information about Dickens’ life. He includes quotes from contemporary reviewers, authors, friends, and other sources.  He also provides photographs and illustrations, many from the several illustrators who worked with Dickens.

A Christmas Carol and Other Stories,” includes “The Chimes,” and “The Haunted Man,” in addition to “A Christmas Carol.” “The Complete Christmas Books of Charles Dickens,” is available for free download from Hoopla.

Dickens’ classic Christmas tale on the silver screen is available in several versions at the library.  “Greatest Classic Films Collection. Holiday,” includes “A Christmas Carol” from 1938, starring Reginald Owen. Other versions include “A Christmas Carol,” starring Alastair Sim, 1951; the musical “Scrooge” from 1970; George C. Scott as Scrooge in the 1984 “A Christmas Carol;” “The Muppets Christmas Carol” of 1992; “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” featuring the voice of Jim Carrey as Scrooge from 2009; and even “The Smurfs. A Christmas Carol” from 2013.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Heartwarming Reads from Local Authors

Heartwarming Reads from Local Authors
by Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager, Manhattan Public Library

I know it’s the season to be jolly, but sometimes that’s difficult. Sometimes the world is overwhelming and it seems like hope is futile. I have found that often a good story can change my outlook and help me to believe in the good in the world. Luckily I have found two local authors who have shared their stories of community and family connections guaranteed to warm the heart.

It’s probably not a surprise that is nearly impossible for me to resist a book about Carnegie libraries, let alone one that has a picture of the original Manhattan Public Library on the inside cover, but I enjoyed “To the Stars Through Difficulties” by Manhattanite Romalyn Tilghman even more than I expected to. This delight of a novel is centered around the old Carnegie library in fictional New Hope, Kansas. The building was repurposed as an arts center when the library moved into a newer building, but it still acts as the heart of the community. The story focuses on a collection of women who meet there for the “No Guilt Quilters Guild.” Angelina comes to town to finish her dissertation on Carnegie libraries and to connect to memories of her beloved grandmother who had lived in the town. Traci escapes an overwhelming situation back east to take a job providing educational opportunities at the arts center, even though she really isn’t qualified. Gayle comes to the quilting group for something to force her to get out while she recovers from the destruction of her home in a nearby town. These women, along with a host of other engaging characters, work through challenges and kindle a spirit of community that spreads far beyond the limestone walls of the center.

Tilghman’s story contains history and a bit of romance, but is really the story of women getting things done. From the women in the early 1900’s working to get a Carnegie library in their community to the current day women saving their community centers, the characters use their strength and talents to accomplish what seems to be impossible. They are very different from each other, and don’t always get along, but they work together and support each other along the way. This is a good selection for those who have enjoyed Jan Karon’s Mitford series or for anyone with a passion for Kansas communities and history. Or if you love libraries, obviously.

In “My Little Valentine: The Story of a Mother and Daughter’s Lost Love,” local author KelLee Parr tells the true story of his search for his mother’s birth mother. Although she had lived a happy life in a loving family, Wanda June always wondered about the woman who gave birth to her. When Parr visits the Kansas State Historical Society to do some research for his 3rd grade class, he had the spark of idea for another angle to help with his mother’s search and started a meandering journey toward answers that changed the lives of his entire family.

The account of his search warms the heart, but when he flashes back to his newfound grandmother’s tale, I was not able to put the book down. The struggles she faced in her life and the agonizing decision she had to make add a complexity to the book that causes it to linger long after the last page is turned. Sprinkled with colorful characters and stories of small-town life, this touching narrative gives reason for optimism in the midst of situations that seem hopeless.

If your spirits need a bit of a boost this holiday season, some authors with strong connections to our very own community have provided just the right medicine – stories of community and family working through life’s challenges together.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Middle Grade Reads

Middle Grade Reads

by Rachael Schmidtlein

Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Manhattan Public Library

Ah, December. Tis the season when parents and kids swarm the library looking for material to entertain them during long trips and endless family togetherness. December is also one of my favorite times of the year to give out book recommendations because it’s the month when the middle grade readers come-a-calling.

Middle grade books are typically aimed at the interests of 8-12 year olds, also known at tweens or preteens. Some parents fear this time in their children’s lives because it is the beginning of the end, or at least the beginning of teenage angst. What most parents and kids alike don’t realize is that middle grade books are the perfect for families to read, or listen to, together.

Don’t let the fact that you’re not between the ages of 8-12 stop you. In my opinion, middle grade titles are the absolute best for every age. I listen to them when I need to inject some life into my 45-minute commute to work, and they never fail. They’re packed with adventure, vibrant imagery and humor without any of the messiness that comes with the romance that you’ll find in YA and adult titles. Middle grade titles are, in essence, the richest books out there.

Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer Holm is quickly becoming my go-to suggestion for readers looking for a medium length historical fiction. It also has the added bonus of taking place on the beaches of Key West for those of us who can’t actually vacation in a warm sandy location over the holidays. Turtle, yes that’s actually her name, is a smart and tough 11-year-old growing up in 1935. Her mother works as a housekeeper, and Turtle usually tags along until her mother starts working for an employer who doesn’t like kids. At this point, Turtle is sent to Key West to stay with the family she has never met. Key West is sandy, hot and filled with buried treasure and difficult boy cousins. Jennifer Holm is an incredible author and this book is one of my favorites of hers.

In a completely different direction, The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis is a high seas adventure on the ocean of time. Carrie Ryan is known in the YA world for her post-zombie apocalypse love series but changed direction when she teamed up with her husband to write this middle grade fantasy adventure. In The Map to Everywhere, Fin is a master thief looking to find his mother, and Marrill is a regular school girl who gets stranded on the Pirate Stream. The unlikely two, along with their colorful crew, forge a friendship while trying to outrun a sinister ghost ship. The Map to Everywhere does a great job of exploring family relationships, friendships and the far reaches of the imagination.

My final recommendation is one that many may be familiar with, but it’s just so good and worth mentioning anyway. The False Prince is the story of Sage, an orphan chosen by a nobleman of a civil war-torn court to impersonate the king’s long-lost son. Sage and three other orphans compete to be installed as a puppet prince. The competition is fierce, and Sage has his own secrets, which add surprising twists and turns throughout the entire story. Jennifer Nielsen is a rock star middle grade author whose writing typically twists history and fantasy together in a rich and satisfying way. Any of her titles are worth reading, but The False Prince is definitely where you should start.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

It’s All About Gratitude

It’s All About Gratitude

by John Pecoraro

Assistant Director

Manhattan Public Library

Now that the Thanksgiving feasting and the shopping in its aftermath is behind you, it’s time to reflect on all the reasons you have to be thankful. After all, this is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving Day every year?

The Pilgrims celebrated what we call the First Thanksgiving in October 1621 after their first harvest in the New World. But it was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed the day (the last Thursday of November) a federal holiday at the height of the Civil War, in 1864. Usually the last Thursday was the fourth Thursday in November, but to avoid confusion when there were five Thursdays in a month, Congress passed a joint resolution officially requiring Thanksgiving to be observed on the fourth Thursday in November. And that is where it has been since December 26, 1941.

Thanksgiving Day is all about gratitude. Gratitude, defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” doesn’t always come naturally. To assist gratitude challenged, the library has several titles available on the subject.

The Gratitude Diaries,” by Janice Kaplan, recounts the author’s year of looking on the bright side, and the remarkable effects this had on her physical and mental well-being. Kaplan focuses on being thankful for her family and her career. She keeps a “gratitude journal,” and consults with experts in the fields of psychology and medicine. She also talks with friends who had beat depression after adversity. The result, Kaplan finds, is that she is a better person after a year of gratitude.

After years of research and practice, Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons discovered that grateful living transforms lives. In “The Grateful Life,” they show that grateful people are happier, healthier, and less stressed. Grateful people report more satisfaction with their relationships. This book is a guide to discovering and harnessing the power of positive attitude filled with inspiring stories about people who have exercised gratitude to rise out of adversity.

A posthumous release by a famous neurologist is a small book that explains the predominant feeling of the author’s life, namely, gratitude. “Gratitude,” by Oliver Sacks weighs in at a mere 45 pages. Within those pages, as Sacks approaches death, he explains his gratitude for life. He explores the fate of every human being, to be a unique individual, finding his own path to live his own life, and to be thankful for it.

One December, John Kralik found his life at a very low ebb, with a failing law practice, a painful divorce, and being 40 pounds overweight. On New Year’s Day, Kralik thought that maybe his life could become tolerable if only he focused on being grateful for what he had, instead of dwelling on what he didn’t have. The result, “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” follows the author’s experiment with writing thank you notes. Kralik wrote 365 thank you notes, one a day, for a year, for gifts and kindnesses he had received. On the way, Kralik realizes that his life has turned around.

In “Focus on the Good Stuff,” motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins examines the dangers of negativity in individuals and society. His simple yet powerful solution is to be grateful, appreciative, and positive. The book provides exercises at the end of each chapter to practice gratitude and to reach greater success and fulfillment.

Thanks!,” by Robert Emmons summarizes the research he and others have conducted on the subject of gratitude. His research found that subjects who kept “gratitude diaries,” listing things for which they were thankful, turned out to be happier, more optimistic, and healthier compared to those who only chronicled the daily hassles of their lives. Emmons claims that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. It is a way of life.

In addition to print books, don’t forget the library’s extensive collection of books on CD, and books and audio available for free download through the Sunflower eLibrary and Hoopla.  Also mark your calendar for Saturday, December 2. That’s the day of Food for Fines. For each nonperishable food item you bring to the library, MPL will take $1.00 off of your overdue fines up to $10.00 per library account. All food donated will benefit the Flint Hills Breadbasket. Just another thing to be thankful for.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Looking for Some Funny, Inspiring Audiobooks? Yes, Please!

Looking for Some Funny, Inspiring Audiobooks? Yes, Please!

Diedre Lemon

Adult Services Librarian

I have a long commute to work each day, and I have spent a great deal of time in a car traveling back to Illinois to visit family. So, I discovered audiobooks to keep going on the long hours behind the wheel. Normally I choose a fun fantasy book like the Percy Jackson series or Neil Gaiman. Since I have listened to the newest Rick Riordan book, Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead, I need some fresh audiobooks to enjoy, and after re-watching West Wing with Rob Lowe, I was ready to re-watch Parks and Recreation. Therefore it made sense to listen to Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please! After Poehler’s book came Tina Fey’s book Bossypants partly because Poehler mentioned Fey’s book.

One could quickly judge these books as nothing more than memoirs filled with reflective essays, but I would suggest listening to or reading them before jumping to such conclusions. Poehler and Fey address issues of gender, body image, comedy, being a woman and becoming a mom. Their backgrounds in comedy deliver these topics with humorous candor, so after you stop laughing or smiling, you catch how clever and talented they are as comedians. They are also not afraid to talk about how hard it can be to be a mother, a wife and to have a career. Listening to these women admit their flaws and carry on, gave me quirky pep talks each time I was in the car. For a short time, it was like driving to work with a funny cool older sister who offered advice.

Another reason to listen to these books is to hear about Saturday Night Live. I grew up watching Michael Myers, Phil Hartman, Molly Shannon and Chris Farly, and of course I enjoyed writing and performing sketch comedy in junior high and high school. Occasionally, I would catch episodes of the show with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Both women worked on Saturday Night Live as writers and performers. Fey was on from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, and Poehler was part of the show from 2001-2009 with some special guest appearances in the following years. They were the first two women to host Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Up until that point, Weekend Update had never had two female co-anchors. Listening to both of these women speak about this in their books, I could hear how proud Poehler and Fey were of their work together on the show and the boundaries they broke.

Both address what life is like as female comedians in a male driven business. Each one spoke about how the inclusion of more female comedians who could write and perform helped changed the industry. It was encouraging that both of these ladies went on to have successful TV shows after working at Saturday Night Live. Balancing work with a husband and children was also part of life after Saturday Night Live. Each one had to navigate writing scripts for weekly episodes, learning lines, filming, children, family and more. Not all of this was done successfully, either. Poehler and Fey were quick to admit life is messy, constantly changing and there is little we can control of it.

The themes and topics of the book were the same; however, the voices and humor were different. Poehler’s audio was a little flashier with guest readers, while Fey has a more understated tone and sense of humor. Fey was more reserved while Poehler was a little more emotional. Yet, both books are worth listening too. Each writer spoke about the other writer and their themes were similar. I am to finish the books.

Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me is next on my reading/ listening list for inspiring, humorous audiobooks. Additionally, male comedians also made the list: Neil Patrick Harris’ Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, and Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat and Food: A Love Story.

A majority of my audiobooks are from the Sunflower E-Library using the Libby app on my phone. Hoopla is another favorite app for audiobooks and e-books. The library also has a great books on CD collection, too. For more great titles, be sure to check out the apps and our audiobook collection at the library.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Food for Fines 2017

photo of maize with Food for Fines logo

From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, everyone who brings a non-perishable food item to the Manhattan Public Library will receive a $1 voucher to pay library fines. Vouchers will be good throughout the month of December, with a maximum of 10 vouchers per person. All of the donated food will be given to the Flint Hills Bread Basket to help combat food insecurity in Manhattan.

Library Director, Linda Knupp, championed the idea as “a way to promote good will during the holidays and give back to the community.”

Suggested items include:
Boxed meals
Grape jelly
Peanut butter
Cereal
Pasta
Canned meats
Pancake syrup
Oatmeal

The following items will not be accepted:
No expired items
No damaged items
No open packages
Ramen noodles (and other multi-pack items) will be accepted at a value of 4 packages = $1

Volunteers from the Manhattan Library Association will be in the library’s atrium to accept donations and issue vouchers. For more information, please contact the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, (785) 776-4741 ext. 100, or www.MHKLibrary.org.
The Flint Hills Breadbasket is located at 905 Yuma Street. It was founded in 1983 as a Community Food Network to collect and distribute food to those in need. Their food pantry is open Monday – Thursday from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to distribute food. To see the complete schedule for the Breadbasket, visit www.breadbasket.manhattanks.org or call (785) 537-0730.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Criminal Detection in the Streets of Victorian England

Criminal Detection in the Streets of Victorian England

By Marcia Allen

Manhattan Public Library

If you are a reader of period mysteries, you will most likely enjoy the Gower Street Detective series by M. R. C. Kasasian.  The stories take place in a gritty London of the 1880’s which invites comparison with the great Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but there is a freshness in plot and a cast of characters unlike any found on Baker Street.  Let me give you a clue to the appeal.

Personal (not private) detective Sidney Grice is a brilliant man.  He has an excellent reputation for uncovering the truth in baffling cases, but his services do not come cheaply.  He has little compassion for others, and openly admits that fact that he doesn’t like people and they don’t like him.   He has a glass eye that causes him some irritation and some shock for other people, and he is well beyond frugal when it comes to purchasing food.  His servants are belligerent and frequently make fun of his personal habits.

The Mangle Street Murders,” the first in the series, brings sudden changes to Sidney’s household.  Always a private man, Sidney has accepted the responsibility for March Middleton, a young woman who has lost her parents.  She becomes his ward and attempts to conceal her occasional drinking and her love of smoking from her picky benefactor.  The two routinely dine on sodden, cold vegetables at Sidney’s meager table.  And they share a fondness for barely concealed sarcasm that spices up the whole story.

Mrs. Grace Dillinger calls on Sidney with a new case.  Her ironmonger son-in-law has been charged with the vicious murder of his wife.  Sidney, seeing little likelihood of collectible fees, refuses the case.  But March, who wants to become a detective in her own right, insists on using some of her own money to help the desperate mother-in-law.

To the streets of London the two detectives go, examining a battered body in the morgue and questioning witnesses who might shed some light on the crime.  During their investigation, they encounter pickpockets and bullies who complicate the case.  Ultimately, Sidney realizes that his ways may not always be the best course of action.

The second in the series is “The Curse of the House of Foskett.”  This outing involves unexplained sudden deaths among members of the Final Death Society.  Sidney and March take on the case when, to Sidney’s disgust, the first victim has the nerve to die in front of him.  As Sidney and March go about their investigation, other victims appear, each one dispatched under ugly circumstances, including one in a kill chamber.

The third in the series, “Death Descends on Saturn Villa,” is also compelling.  March is contacted by an odd gentleman who claims to be her only living relative.  When she calls on his estate, things go horribly wrong, and she finds herself charged with a murder that she may have committed while under the influence of some drug.  Of course Sidney will get involved, and the interplay between fact and illusion becomes quite complicated.

As these stories progress, other puzzling facts about characters’ backgrounds emerge.  There are allusions to March’s previous engagement that ended with the violent death of her fiancé.  There is the sense that Sidney knows more about March’s deceased mother than he cares to admit.  And there is Sidney’s background yet to be revealed.  After all, how did he lose one eye?  Too, there is a growing sense that despite his protestations, Sidney has begun to take a paternal attitude toward March.

For some riveting detection and likeable characters, I recommend the Gower Street Detective series.  A sixth installment involving a Prussian count and ladies in distress is due out in December, yet another title in a compelling series.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers 2017

image of the book cover for The Napping House

We are celebrating the state library’s 13th annual Kansas Reads to Preschoolers week, November 12-18.

Storytimes this week will feature the one-book/one-state selection for young children, The Napping House by Audrey Wood with illustrations by Don Wood. This beloved book first published in 1984 has delighted children for many years. It is a silly cumulative tale of a snoring granny, who is joined by a dreaming child, a dozing dog, and so on until the pile reaches far above the bed. The tiniest critter on top starts the ruckus that wakes everyone in reverse, and naptime is over. Children who attend one of the library’s nine storytimes during this week will receive a free copy of The Napping House.

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers highlights the state’s commitment to increasing reading readiness and on-grade reading while promoting reading, literacy and libraries. Help us celebrate by reading to a child this week!

For more information, visit https://kslib.info/prek

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

May the Odds Be Never in Your Favor: Contemporary Classics of Dystopian Fiction

May the Odds Be Never in Your Favor: Contemporary Classics of Dystopian Fiction

by Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

Dystopian fiction has seen a resurgence lately, with people eagerly checking out classics like 1984, Brave New World, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Clearly, dystopian stories are as relevant as ever, but what do you read after you’ve hit all the classics? The following are some contemporary classics of dystopian fiction that are worth taking a look at. Some you’ll most certainly have heard of, and some you may not, but all of these books make us think a little more about the uncertain future of humanity.

Let’s start with the most obvious: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Collins posits a future where North America has become the totalitarian Panem, and every year 24 teenagers are sent into a battle to the death, broadcast on live TV so eager audiences can watch the ensuing bloodbath. The Hunger Games critiques society’s obsession with reality TV and over-the-top violence all while mixing in good, old-fashioned love triangles and teen angst, resulting in a book that’s almost impossible to put down.

With technology entering every facet of our lives, it’s no surprise that other books also ponder the relationship between humans and technology. Dave Eggers’s The Circle looks at the technological ideal: a world where everything done online runs through one company, creating a seamless experience for users. In this thriller, Eggers explores the modern tendency to give up privacy for convenience and the possible ramifications of allowing a single company to know everything about you. M.T. Anderson’s Feed addresses similar concerns, taking place in a future where everyone has a “feed” implanted in their brain from infancy, telling them what to think about and even what to think. For a lighter read, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One mixes social commentary with video game culture and ’80s nostalgia, creating a plausible dystopian future that’s also fun to read about.

Large-scale catastrophes are another favorite plot device in dystopian fiction, with authors speculating across the board at how different catastrophes could affect society. In Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, global warming has led to drought and massive water shortages, and the Southwestern states have become dried-out, dusty, and flat-out dangerous places to live. Bacigalupi sets a cutthroat thriller in the midst of this societal collapse, creating a story so compelling and exciting that you’ll forget the entire thing revolves around water rights. Margaret Atwood, on the other hand, looks at an altogether different kind of man-made disaster in Oryx and Crake. Told alternately before and after this catastrophe, Oryx and Crake looks at the murky side of morality and what obligations humanity has to each other and to the planet.

Totalitarian governments are an old standby of dystopian fiction, allowing authors to imagine the different ways that society could be reshaped and controlled. In Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, everyone is ugly until they turn sixteen, when they undergo an operation to become a pretty. But the operation, while getting rid of all your flaws, has more insidious roots than just making people physically perfect. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown, presents another society hiding secrets, in a world where society is stratified by caste and by color. Darrow is a miner gladly giving his life up in hopes of making Mars habitable, until he discovers that the surface is already colonized, and he and his fellow Reds are nothing but slaves working for the upper class of Golds. With the help of a resistance group, Darrow infiltrates Gold society in hopes of bringing down the system from the inside.

Finally, some books defy all attempts at categorization, and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is one of them. Area X, an uninhabited area that’s been cut off from humanity for decades, seems like a perfect, unspoiled forest wilderness; unfortunately, it has strange effects on humans. Eleven research teams have entered Area X, and all have met their ends in disparate, bizarre ways. Annihilation follows the 12th expedition as they set out, record what they see, and try not to be contaminated by Area X. VanderMeer creates a world that’s impossible to describe, both incredibly detailed and difficult to pin down, making for a fascinating reading experience.

Manhattan Public Library is joining the dystopian discussion with our Brownbag Book Club, which will be discussing The Handmaid’s Tale on November 2 at noon. If you still need a copy of the book, stop by to pick one up from the Reference Desk. And if you’re looking for more dystopian fiction to read, we’ve got even more recommendations for you!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Audiobooks for the Family

Audiobooks for the Family

By: Amber Johnson

Adult Services Assistant

October 22, 2017

Having books read to you can be one of the most delightful experiences.  Ask any adult what they loved to do before bed as a child, and the answer will most likely be listening to their parents read them a story.  As children get older, that ritual might change into reading on their own before bed, but the excitement of being read to doesn’t always fade along with it.  Audiobooks are a great resource for children and families to quench this thirst for more books in their lives.  Audiobooks give children (and adults!) the opportunity to engage with a book that is above their reading level.  They also help readers develop a sense of prosody, or using expression as they read.  The library gives you access to thousands of audiobooks, both in CD format and digital.  The following are a few titles and series that I would recommend for the whole family to enjoy together.

The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

This classic series follows sisters Ramona and Beezus as they try to navigate through sisterhood, silly business, and family struggles.  Ramona is the obnoxious little sister, prone to shenanigans and honest words.  Beezus is the put-together older sister, trying to figure out life and its intricacies.  The Ramona books offer opportunities to talk with your kids about family dynamics and making positive decisions.  This series is available on CD, Hoopla and Sunflower eLibrary.

All the Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket

Alleged to be an autobiographical account of his life, Lemony Snicket describes his experience as an apprentice to an investigator in this quirky series.  Snicket uses the usual gloomy, sarcastic tone throughout this series and gives readers the chance to meet a crew of very unusual characters.  If you liked the Series of Unfortunate Events, this is definitely the series for you.  This series is available on CD and Hoopla.

I, Funny series by James Patterson

Middle schooler Jamie wants desperately to be a standup comedian.  This series follows his quest for comedic greatness among the unfortunate trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  From contests to TV shows to comedy classes, Jamie tells his story in such a hilarious way, it’s sure to have everyone laughing out loud.  This series is available on CD and Hoopla.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

When a strange boy appears in her life who seems to resemble her grandfather in stature and character, Ellie is faced with truths about immortality, science and her family.  Filled with facts about science and funny quips from the boy, this book is lovable and entertaining.  This book is available on CD and Sunflower eLibrary.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is the king of writing books about children making an environmental impact.  When main character Roy discovers a building site underneath which owls have made their home, he sets his mind to sabotage the building plans.  Through quick wit and quirky characters, Hoot will surely cause you and your kids to think about the way you view the world around you.  This book is available on CD.

Any books by Andrew Clements

Children love reading about other children accomplishing great feats.  In his stories, Andrew Clements introduces numerous situations in which children want to change their world.  From inventing a new word to starting a class newspaper, his characters are determined to make an impact.  Adults listening to these books might just feel empowered as well.  This author’s books are available on CD.

If none of these titles sounds intriguing to you, or if you’ve already listened to them, a member of the Youth Services staff would be more than happy to recommend different audiobooks to you.  If you are new to audiobooks and would prefer to listen to them digitally, stop by any reference desk to get help in setting up your Hoopla or Libby account.

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