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Food

Food

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult and Teen Services Manager

I am one of those people who soaks up cooking shows like a Victoria sponge but doesn’t really do much in the kitchen. I sit with my family and share my very opinionated views about what flavors go together or whether the gluten has properly developed in a contestant’s bread, but I haven’t baked bread in years, and even then my expertise involved dumping ingredients in a machine and pushing buttons. But it has become clear to me lately that my health (and age) might dictate that I become less of an observer and more of a participant in the food world. Here’s what I found to help me.

The first thing that struck me about Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual was its size. At less than a ½ inch thick, this looked like a food guide that I could actually manage to read all the way through. Food Rules grew out of a phrase from one of Pollan’s former books, In Defense of Food. This phrase sums up much of his philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He gathered hundreds of rules from tradition and culture, researched to find the most helpful and valid, and boiled them down to 64 rules. The idea of 64 rules can sound a bit overwhelming, but Pollan doesn’t expect you to follow every rule. I read it with an attitude that there might be a few helpful nuggets in it, and I found that to be true. The book did not influence me to change everything about the way I eat, but I think a few of the tips will start to make an appearance in my food choices. There is an overabundance of health information available to Americans, and most of us just don’t have time to sort through all of it. Food Rules boils it down and makes it easier to navigate the grocery aisles and create a healthy diet.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan discusses the subject from a very different angle in Food: A Love Story. Gaffigan manages to fill over 300 pages with his love of food, making me chuckle throughout. He gushes about the wonders of cheese, fawns over bacon (the candy of meat!), and dotes on french fries. He explores the many facets of American food that he has experienced in his travels, sharing his map of the significant food areas of the U.S. and his recommendations for the best dishes in each, except seafood (which he calls seabugs). He has nothing good to say about seafood, which he admits could be a result of his landlocked Indiana upbringing. Gaffigan does not claim to be an expert. “What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating, I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.” His ability to laugh at himself and his ability to share a genuine love of good food blend to make an enjoyable exploration of American cuisine.

Ironically, both books inspired me to tweak my eating habits, Pollan through healthy suggestions and Gaffigan through encouraging me to laugh at myself and my eating foibles. Both authors have an appreciation of quality ingredients, and both persuade readers to savor every bite of a truly excellent meal. Our society is obsessed with food but never seems to find a place of confidence in what to eat. Pollan and Gaffigan provide guidance as we grapple with our dietary issues and, each in their own unique way, help readers to worry less and enjoy food more.

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Puberty: How to Start the Conversation

Puberty: How to Start the Conversation

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

A library customer recently came in asking for books or DVD’s to explain PMS to her 9-year-old daughter. The daughter avoided eye contact, while a male family member chuckled nervously. I immediately remembered the embarrassment of learning about puberty when I was young. Kids need to know, and trusted adults need to inform them, but the question is how to do that with sensitivity. Just bringing up puberty can lead to giggles, confusion, or all-out fear, depending on your audience. Books can help parents introduce the topic, provide facts and photos, and reassure kids that they are not alone in this journey.

Luckily, we’ve come a long way since Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,” which was still the go-to when I was kid in the 80’s. Now, children’s fiction is full of characters going through this phase of life. Additionally, I recently went through our nonfiction collection and ended up with a nice sized pile of books on my desk to review.

Girls can begin puberty as early as 8 or 9 years old, and some books are designed for these younger readers. The Care and Keeping of You from American Girl Publishing is colorfully designed with kid-friendly illustrations. It covers territory from hair care to periods. In Why Do I Have Periods?, girls will find good, concise information with more realistic illustrations or photos. The text is larger print, making it easier for younger readers to take in. The photos of some of the girls, including the one on the cover, are less happy, but that may resonate with girls who experience pain and cramping with their menstrual cycle.

The Girl’s Body Book and The Boy’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham are great choices for kids on the younger end of the puberty scale. They are longer, so kids may not read straight through, but they can easily find the topics they are interested in and read a short section to find out more about it. The books also include chapters about getting along with parents and family members, figuring out school, and friendship skills.

Lynda Madaras’s classic bestsellers What’s Happening to My Body? for boys and for girls are longer volumes packed with information. Madaras also has shorter books for younger ages, and workbooks that prompt readers to reflect on what they are learning.  For a Christian perspective, try Where Do Babies Come From and How You Are Changing from Concordia Publishing’s “Learning About Sex” series. Karen Gravelle’s The Period Book and What’s Going On Down There are slim paperbacks that some readers may find less intimidating. The text is straight-forward and full of useful Q & A’s, and the illustrations around the edges provide some comic relief. Humor helps young readers relax a little if they are stressed about the subject matter.  There are lots more options in the library collection, mostly in the Dewey Decimal 612’s, and also as downloadable e-books.

One of my favorite books is Growing Up: Inside and Out. It works for both boys and girls, and covers some sensitive but important areas in more detail than other books, such as suicidal thoughts, consent, sexual assault, and LGBTQ awareness. Author Kira Vermond doesn’t avoid difficult issues and frequently admits that it is all pretty complex and there are not always easy answers. This book is lengthy and covers a lot of territory, but the chapter titles and the index are helpful for skipping around as needed. It is the kind of resource that is handy to have available during the adolescent years.

If you think it will be a hard sell to get your child to read a book about puberty, there are some very short videos in the library’s DVD collection. Let’s Talk Puberty for Boys is animated, which helps to keep the topic light and create less embarrassment. The library also has My Changing Body for boys and for girls, and Start Smart: Puberty for Girls, all of which are only 10-20 minutes long. The videos might not give enough detail if your child is worried about something specific, but they provide a good introduction to this mysterious, transforming phase of life called puberty.

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Food

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Food

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Mexican cuisine is the second most popular menu type in restaurants in the United States? Varied menu is number one, with pizza a distant third. As of April 2017, there were more than 59,800 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. That’s 9% of all restaurants. Since we’re in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), this is a great opportunity to celebrate Hispanic heritage with food.

Of course there’s more to Hispanic or Latino cooking than Mexican food, but it’s a good place to start.

In “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico,” Diana Kennedy has combined her three best-selling books on Mexican cooking “The Cuisines of Mexico,” ”Mexican Regional Cooking,” and “The Tortilla Book.” Kennedy is the recognized expert on Mexican cuisine (the equivalent to Julia Child and French cooking), and this book is essential for anyone wanting to learn more about authentic Mexican food. Chapters in the book cover courses from appetizers through side dishes, sauces, main courses, pastries, and drinks. The author includes tips on equipment and ingredients such as cheeses, chiles, spices, and herbs. The result is a fabulous assortment of recipes from the exotic Stuffed Chiles in Walnut Sauce and Turkey in Mole Poblana to familiar tacos and tamales.

Food recipe taster and editor Marcela Valladolid explains that there is more to Mexican food than globs of orange cheese in “Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor.”  Valladolid’s book presents a broader, healthier, and more diverse version of Mexican cuisine.  She follows a looser tradition than Diana Kennedy, using recipes with ingredients that are readily available in American supermarkets. She emphasizes “weeknight” recipes that anyone can make with a minimum of effort and a few good flavors. She offers recipes not traditionally Mexican, or Mexican with non-traditional ingredients. Examples include osso bucco with lime zest and chilis, and pastel de tres leches, made with Italian (cooked) meringue instead of raw egg whites.

How did Mexican cuisine become so popular? That’s the question Gustavo Arellano answers in “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” It’s no surprise that salsa is the number one condiment found in most American kitchens, but the origin of the taco is up for debate. Arellano focuses on how the phenomenon of a simple tortilla folded over fillings made it across the border. Starting as street food, the popularity of the taco grew with the mass production of tach shells. Step in Glen Bell, the San Bernadino, California founder of Taco Bell in 1951, and the rest is history.

Mexican food is not the be all and end all of Hispanic cooking. In “The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History,” food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez demonstrates the depth of Cuban cuisine. Her book features recipes like creole fried chicken, and potaje de garbanzos (chickpea stew). Pelaez also pays attention to classic Cuban dishes like escabeche (fish in vinegar sauce), ropa vieja (shredded beef and vegetables), and the Cuban sandwich. Overall this is a good introduction to the cuisine of Cuba.

Take a whirlwind tour of Hispanic cooking with “A Taste of Latin America,” by Patricia Cartin. This book introduces readers to the culinary traditions and classic recipes of several Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, and Venezuela. The recipes for 70 dishes included are all accessible to beginning and intermediate level cooks. Ingredients like sweet potatoes, squash, corn, chocolate, and chili peppers, are all familiar, and they all originated in Latin America. While learning about the cooking of ten Latin American countries, you’ll also learn about the history and culture of our neighbors to the south.

In “Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed,” Angie Martinez and Angelo Sosa present recipes featuring lighter versions of classic Latin foods. Flan made from soy and almond milk, for example, and poached corn dumplings rather than deep fried. This is not a diet book, but rather the authors offering of the foods they cherish from their Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican backgrounds.

In between preparing and sampling some fantastic Hispanic recipes, remember to make a trip to the library. If you don’t already have one, you can register for a library card in minutes. Then you’ll find, in the words of author Marc Brown, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

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Books that Started as Podcasts

Books that Started as Podcasts

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

You may have heard of podcasts and how they’re taking the world by storm.  For the uninitiated, think of them like talk radio, but with myriad options that you can curate according to your tastes.  I’d dabbled in podcasts, but my own interest in them wasn’t sparked until I picked up the book Tiny Beautiful Things, a compendium of advice columns Cheryl Strayed wrote for the column “Dear Sugar.”  Soon afterward, I learned that Strayed was continuing her advice-giving tenure on the podcast Dear Sugars, and I promptly began listening to hours of podcasts.  Podcast interest piqued, I’ve now learned that, while podcasts come in all shapes and flavors, so do books related to those podcasts.  Allow me to take you on a brief tour of some of the many realms podcasts, and their associated books, explore.

In the world of podcasts, none is as famous as Serial, a podcast whose first season investigated the murder of Hae Min Lee.  Just about everyone I know who listens to podcasts was riveted by the slow unfurling of the story and the question of whether or not Adnan Syed is guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend.  For listeners who’d like to explore the story further, they can check out Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry.  Chaudry, a family friend of Adnan Syed, has long believed in his evidence and compiled this book as a definitive case for his innocence, partially driven by the need to expand on the story being told by Serial.

For those interested in the historical events that have inspired folklore or stuck with our cultural consciousness, give Lore a listen.  An engrossing nonfiction podcast, Lore’s episodes range from the potential origins of werewolves to more concrete events, like the murders committed by the Bloody Benders in Kansas.  The library has two books that supplement the stories told in the podcast: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures and The World of Lore: Wicked Mortals.  If you’d like something to read that’ll give you goosebumps and make you afraid to go to bed, these are a great reading choice and include much content not covered in the podcast.

WTF with Marc Maron is an enthusiastically-praised podcast with a simple premise: just two people having a conversation.  In each episode, Marc Maron invites a comedian or celebrity into his garage (which serves as his studio) and they talk.  Just “having a conversation” may sound boring, but the podcast goes in many interesting, intensely personal directions.  If you, like me, are intimidated by the high episode count (over 875 and counting!), Maron’s book Waiting for the Punch may be for you.  This book collects the best of his conversations into chapters based on topics like growing up, relationships, addiction, and mental health.  Reading the snippets of interviews with the many, many people Maron has interviewed may give you a starting point for approaching his podcast, and, at the very least, it’ll give you some wonderful reading.

Tim Ferriss’s podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, is another all-rounder where he interviews highly successful individuals to figure out how average people can use these experiences to enhance their lives.  After years of working on his podcast, Ferriss sat down to compile the highlights of his interviews into the ultimate advice book, and Tools of Titans is the result.  The interviews are divided into sections (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise) and presented as fragments, so you can browse through the book until you find something relatable to you.  Even though this book looks intimidating with 673 pages, its construction is simple and intuitive, making it a great resource for finding quick inspiration to pull you out of a rut or get you pointed in a new direction.

There are, of course, many other podcasts and related books out there, with subjects ranging all the way from esoteric nonfiction topics to telling original fiction narratives.  Even if your favorite podcast doesn’t have a book out, I’m sure we can find you a similar book you’d like, so please stop by the Reference Desk and tell us about what you’ve been listening to.

While you’re stopping in, make sure to celebrate Library Card Month with us!  We’re currently holding a bookmark contest, and submissions are due on September 28 by 5 PM.  Winners will have their bookmarks printed out and distributed throughout the library.  You can also make sure all your friends have a library card and share the gift of free books, movies, storytimes, and classes with everyone you know.

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Dialogic Reading

Dialogic Reading

By Jill Keegan, Library Assistant Children’s Services

Early literacy, what children know about reading and writing before they actually read or write, is of the utmost importance. The best activity to develop early literacy is to read aloud to children, especially during their preschool years, according to the study Becoming a Nation of Readers sponsored by the National Institute of Education. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.

Early literacy is at the forefront of storytimes presented at the Manhattan Public Library. Dialogic reading, an early literacy tool, is utilized during these storytimes. Dialogic reading essentially uses questions around the pictures in books. Using questions when reading helps to develop children’s knowledge, comprehension, imagination, and enjoyment of books. Saroj Ghoting, an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and national trainer, created the acronym PEER to use during dialogic reading. This offers a great way to remember the different steps.

P is for prompt. Prompt the child to tell you something about the book by asking a question. You may ask “What kind of animal is that?” when looking at a picture in a book. Or ask, when looking at the cover of a book, “What do you think this book is about?”

E is for evaluating the child’s response. “Yes, that’s right. It’s a horse.”

E is for expand. Expand the child’s response by repeating, rephrasing, and adding information. “It’s a baby horse, called a foal.”

R is for repeat. Repeat the new word or phrase and allow the child time to repeat it back to you; help guide them if needed. “It’s a foal. Can you say foal?”

One can always expand on the details of the picture, as well. “It’s a brown foal with white spots. What does a horse say?” The more words you speak to a child, the bigger their vocabulary knowledge will be, which will help them when learning to read.

Books that have pictures, are not too long, and that are of interest to your child are excellent choices for dialogic reading. Children often like to have the same book read to them over and over again. Dialogic reading assists in diversifying the reading of a story by simply asking different questions each time.

One of my favorite books to use dialogic reading with is Stuck by Oliver Jeffers.  This book is overflowing with items to discuss on each page and the story is hilarious. Seriously, if this is the book that you have to reread, like I did, you will be ever grateful for all of the different images to discuss together.

I also love encouraging children to guess what will happen next in every book that is read to them. This opportunity allows them to comprehend what has already happened in the book and also opens the door to expand their imagination. Little Red Riding Hood: A New Fangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst is an amazing book to read aloud and discuss together.  You and your audience will enjoy the different take on this classic tale.

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski is a magical book and perfect for dialogic reading. It is a wonderful story where a young girl starts trying to come up with her own stories.  Dipping her mind and imagination into something new and challenging brings great joy to her by the end of the book. We each can bring something different to the same story with use of dialogic reading.

September is also National Library Card Sign Up Month! This is a swell time to get your child a library card.  A Library Card Day party for kids will be from 10a.m.-6p.m. Friday, September 21, 2018. Visit the library for read-alouds, games, prizes, and an opportunity to meet Elephant and Piggie, two lovable characters from Mo Willems’ beginning reader series.

The library is a great place to expand on early literacy.  Nine storytimes are offered per week at the Manhattan Public Library, along with other programs for children that are free to the public. Please come join in the fun and the gathering of community while we work together to instill a lifelong love of reading to the children of this area!

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Young Adult Graphic Novels

Young Adult Graphic Novels

By Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian

With school in full swing, everyone’s “to-read” lists are getting filled with assigned texts so sometimes you need something short and fun for leisure reading. Graphic novels fit that bill perfectly and cover a variety of genres.

In Brave by Svetlana Chmakova, Jenson is just trying to get through middle school without drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn’t enjoy the kind that he usually gets from his classmates. Jenson wouldn’t mind getting the attention of the newspaper team, though. He really wants them to publish his article on sunspots–he just hasn’t written it yet. Speaking of sunspots, he really wants to work for NASA someday, but failing math doesn’t seem like a promising start to a career in the sciences. Meanwhile, the newspaper team is trying to interview him for an exposé on bullying. But Jenson isn’t being bullied…Sure, everyone is mean to him, but…they’re just joking, right? Chmakova writes strong characters with quirky personalities, and draws facial expressions that bring the conversations to life. If you like realistic fiction and school stories, you’ll enjoy this.

Set in an alternate Victorian Paris, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, is about a young prince with a secret passion for beautiful gowns. He manages to hire a talented seamstress, Frances, to create custom designs just for him. At night they go out on the town together, and it isn’t long before Lady Crystallia (Prince Sebastien’s other name) is the fashion icon of Paris. Frances and Sebastien are the best of friends, but as Lady Crystallia becomes increasingly famous, they reach a crisis point. In the end though, the decisions they’re forced to make will help them lead their best lives. If you like fairy tales and gender fluidity, you’ll love this.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff opens with Selim. Selim is a brilliant man who speaks multiple languages and loves to make—and drink—delicious tea. Unfortunately for him, those kind of skills aren’t worth much in his line of work–the Turkish army. So when a prisoner escapes and a misunderstanding leads to Selim taking the blame, he’s more than willing to escape with the prisoner, the danger-loving Delilah Dirk. Delilah is an Englishwoman who roams the world stealing things, rescuing people and generally getting into a lot of sword fights. Roped into her life of swashbuckling, Selim eventually finds that the excitement of travel and danger has ruined his taste for quiet and calm –but not tea. The art effectively conveys a sense of action and will make you want to travel, but the real highlight of the book is the snarky tone of the conversations. If you like adventure, be sure to read this.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a collection of horror stories. Girls stranded in a farmhouse during a snowstorm keep disappearing, one a day. A bride arrives at her new husband’s mansion to find the ghost of his first wife. A man murders his brother in the woods, but three days later, that brother reappears. Two best friends pretend to be clairvoyant until a real spirit gets involved. A girl visits her brother and his wife for summer vacation only to discover that her new sister-in-law is not human. The art adds a gruesome quality without being graphic, and the vague endings heighten the sense of suspense. If you’re into horror or suspense films, you’ll enjoy this.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin begins when teenagers Hazel and Mari meet at a bingo game in the 1960’s and fall in love. When their parents realize that the girls are romantically involved with each other, they are quickly separated and Hazel is married off. Years later after raising families and having grandchildren, they meet again. The spark is still there. Once again, their families oppose their love but for different reasons this time around. This a sweet love story featuring queer women of color. If you like historical fiction and rainbow pride, you won’t want to miss this.

For more great graphic novels, check out the list “2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens” on the Young Adult Library Association’s website.

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The American Push for British Marriages

Image result for husband hunters anne de courcyThe American Push for British Marriages

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Anne De Courcy’s latest book, entitled Husband Hunters, is the perfect read for the many devoted fans of Downton AbbeyThe book is a nonfiction account not of one individual, but of the many wealthy young ladies who married into British aristocracy during the 19th century.   Some have referred to those marriages as “Cash for coronets,” but the factors that played into those unions are more complex than the phrase suggests.  Here are a few insights to be gained from this fascinating account.

Most such marriages took place during a period that extended from 1870 to 1914.  For one thing, many British landowners had experienced an extensive agricultural depression in the late 19th century, brought on by repeated droughts and harsh winters.  Fortunes were depleted, and estates needed other sources of income if they were to remain intact.  For another thing, society in major urban cities, like New York City, was tightly controlled by the wealthiest of the citizenry who selected and rejected which families would be allowed into their social circles.  Such circles often rejected enthusiastic newcomers, who looked for other ways to attain status, hence the desirable interactions with the British.  Third, among the wealthiest of American families, it was often the mothers who dominated social interactions, and those same mothers felt a responsibility for arranging impressive marriages for their daughters, if not with other prominent Americans, then with British aristocrats.  As arranged marriages were quite acceptable at the time, such unions came as no surprise.   Thus, over 450 young American heiresses wed titled European men during that time period.

Of course, not all such unions were happy ones.  American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of Alva and William Vanderbilt, may have been educated in French, German and English languages, but she was also very strictly supervised.  Her mother banned her from contact with the opposite sex and even kept her daughter imprisoned in her Newport estate,   Marble House.  Consuelo managed to evade her mother’s control and fell in love with a young admirer, but her mother ended that relationship and bartered a marriage with the Duke of Marlborough through a hefty dowry.  Neither member of the couple was ever happy, nor did the marriage survive.

Another such marriage led to certain fame.  Jennie Jerome, one of three well educated American sisters, traveled to Europe with her mother and was instantly attracted to Lord Randolph Churchill.  Despite opposition to the union by Randolph’s father, the Duke of Marlborough, the happy couple made plans to wed.  Married in 1874, they resided at Blenheim Palace where Jennie became a noted hostess, entertaining dignitaries while wearing one of her many fine Worth gowns.  A friend of the Prince of Wales, she also led social circles in London.  While her marriage failed, she was the mother of Winston Churchill, and she continued a very social public life, in addition to working for improved hospital care.

The end of the hunt for British spouses came suddenly.  While ostentatious social balls had been hosted in New York and in Newport for decades, an 1897 affair met with social outcry.  Cornelia Bradley-Martin arranged for a great affair at the Waldorf Hotel in New York.  Chosen guests, some 86 people clad in elaborate historical costumes, attended an event that would have cost 7 million in today’s terms.  But the lavish decorations and the exquisite food that the press used to fawningly compliment caused great protest.  There was much poverty and need during these times, and people were horrified by the excess of that single night.

Another factor that brought about an end to the husband-hunting was the changing times.  Educational trends and the rise of women’s rights were major influences opposing arranged marriages.  The average person was no longer impressed with showy spending; such a show was regarded as vulgar.  In addition, the grand houses became more and more expensive to maintain and repair, something which not even American fortunes could sustain.  And finally, there was the fast approaching conflict of World War I which changed the face of Europe.  The rush for English connections was over.

This book is a riveting tale of various romances against a backdrop of Gilded Age wealth.  Downton Abbey aficionados won’t want to miss the stories of those who inspired the popular drama series.

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Vacation Resolutions

Image result for Woodworking from the Scrap Pile derek jonesVacation Resolutions

By Jared Richards, Adult & Teen Services Assistant Supervisor

My theme for 2018 has been resolutions. To say my New Year’s resolution to write a short story each month never really took flight would be an understatement. It never even taxied to the runway, but that’s okay. Resolutions are a long-con, and sometimes you just need to throw a bunch at the wall and see which ones stick.

To that end, I am always looking for a good opportunity to resolve myself to something, and following a recent vacation, I was introduced to the idea of vacation resolutions. These are resolutions that you make while on vacation, for things you want to do after a vacation. When you find yourself on vacation, away from the stress of daily life, it is easier to put things in perspective, and vacation resolutions can help maintain that perspective, keeping you focused on the things that are important to you. Those things that have a tendency to be buried beneath bills, work, and just maintaining the illusion that you are an adult and know what’s going on (Spoiler: We’re all making it up as we go).

My first resolution is to make things out of wood. I have tools, the plans for a workbench that I will build someday, and access to a large selection of woodworking books at the Manhattan Public Library. We have books about small projects, like “How to Build Birdhouses and Feeders” by Stephen Moss or “Woodworking from the Scrap Pile” by Derek Jones, and bigger projects, like “Illustrated Cabinetmaking” by Bill Hylton or “Shaker Furniture Projects” by Glen Huey. We even have “Dream Treehouses” by Alain Laurens, for those of us who aspire to the level of housing featured in the Disney classic “Swiss Family Robinson” but maybe don’t need all of the pirates.

My second resolution is to ride my bicycle more. After a twenty year hiatus, it turns out that riding a bike is just like riding a bike, although it’s a bit more wobbly than I remember. To help build my confidence, I’ve been doing a lot of research, which includes reading library books, because I’m a librarian. The two standouts so far have been “The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual” by Eben Weiss and “Just Ride” by Grant Petersen. Both are quick reads that cover a broad range of information with humor and plain language. “The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair” is a good start for those interested in performing their own repairs, and if you’re interested in the history of bicycles, there is the aptly titled “Bicycle: The History.”

My final resolution is to get better at meal prep, the practice of preparing most of your meals for the week at one time and then storing them in the freezer or fridge until you need them. According to Google Trends, “meal prep” had a surge in popularity at the end of 2017, so I’m a little late to the party, but it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon. The library has hundreds of cookbooks that can be useful for achieving my meal prep dreams. “The Casserole Queens Cookbook” has several good recipes, and they note which ones are good for freezing, and tell you to freeze them right before the baking step in the recipe.

I’m always a bit wary of bringing a cookbook into the kitchen, however, especially a borrowed one, because cooking can be a messy endeavor. Flour can find all the nooks and crannies, and I have yet to sauté something without oil going everywhere. One solution to this is to use an ebook instead. Pull up an ebook on your smartphone or tablet, open a cabinet, and prop your device up against your dishes. This will free up some counter space and keep the book at eye level so you won’t spend half your time in the kitchen bent over a book. I recently used Hoopla, one of the library’s free online resources for digital books, movies, music, and comics, to check out “Fix, Freeze, Feast,” which is filled with great recipes and instructions on how to freeze each one.

The best part of picking a resolution, is all of the potential that a resolution holds. The hardest part, is sticking to it. And the worst part, is writing about it in a public forum, and then not following through. So this time, I’ll enjoy the potential of my resolutions, revel in the challenge of sticking to my resolve, and then I’ll definitely follow through.

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Romance for the End of Summer

Image result for the kissing quotientRomance for the End of Summer

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult and Teen Services Manager

Summer is fading quickly, so grasp what little is left by settling in on the screen porch, dipping your feet in the pool, or stretching out on the hammock to enjoy a delicious romance.

Kristan Higgins has established a sterling reputation as a writer of humorous contemporary romance. Her last few novels have dug a bit deeper into other aspects of women’s lives without losing her reliable ability to deliver a memorable story. In Now That You Mention It, Dr. Nora Stuart is starting to question her life in Boston as a successful gastroenterologist and her relationship with her boyfriend, when an accident clarifies that she needs to do something different. She heads home to small-town Maine even though she knows that she will not be welcomed by everyone. Coming to terms with her past and finding connections in unexpected places open up new possibilities for a fresh start on life.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang tells the story of Stella Lane, an autistic statistician who doesn’t appreciate many aspects of dating, especially kissing. Bowing to pressure from her mother’s nagging, Stella decides to take a practical approach and hires a male escort to teach her how to date. She soon realizes that there’s more to the gorgeous Michael than a pretty face and patience with her awkward ways.  The author is autistic herself and enjoyed the opportunity to add some authenticity to depictions of autism in fiction. This sweet and spicy romance is a delightful read.

In An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole takes readers back to the Civil War. Freed slave Elle Burns risks her freedom by spying for the Union Army in the South. Disguised as a mute slave in a Southern senator’s home, she discovers that her contact from the Pinkerton Agency is a dashing Confederate officer paying court to the spoiled daughter of the house. Working together in secret to serve the Union cause, they develop mutual respect and trust. Cole has a talent for developing rich characters and doesn’t shy away from the complications of an interracial romance in Civil War South. An Extraordinary Union will keep readers captivated while also educating about a critical point in our history.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory starts off with the classic meet-cute of getting stuck in an elevator. Drew is dreading the wedding of his former girlfriend and his best friend when he is trapped with Alexa. In desperation, he asks her to fake a relationship with him and be his date for the wedding. The farce becomes real when they realize they can’t stop thinking about each other. Alexa is smart and resourceful woman dealing with a difficult family history. Drew is a pediatrician avoiding the ghosts from his past. Guillory infuses their story with humor and heart to create a truly enjoyable story.

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky is an inspirational story of Isabella Grayson, an aspiring news writer whose father just wants her to marry well, and James Drake, a pilot working to be the first man to fly across the English Channel. When James crashes on the Grayson estate, he is enraptured by Isabella and the status of her family. Disaster brings them closer to each other and strengthens their faith. Packed with adventure and gentle allure, this thoroughly-researched Edwardian Christian romance is a good read-alike for fans of Downton Abbey.

It wouldn’t be a proper romance fiction list without at least one Regency title. Tessa Dare provides an enchanting and humorous twist on Beauty and the Beast entitled The Duchess Deal. When seamstress Emma Gladstone goes calling on the Duke of Ashbury, wearing the bridal gown that his former fiancé refuses to pay for, little does she know that she will receive an offer of marriage. The duke needs an heir and any bride will do. Her ability to stand up to him and his hidden honorable kindness transform a marriage of convenience into a love match. Strong characters and Dare’s trademark wit make for a vibrant novel.

You can find out about all the latest and greatest fiction by subscribing to email newsletters from our website, www.MHKlibrary.org. Choose from your favorite genres or bestsellers to find your next great read.

by Luke Wahlmeier Luke Wahlmeier No Comments

How My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

Image result for genius files mission unstoppableHow My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

My summer vacation included taking advantage of my fourth grader’s access to National Parks. The U.S. National Park Service program “Every Kid in a Park” is a fabulous opportunity for families. If you have a fourth grader this year, just go to everykidinapark.gov and have your child complete their simple adventure diary game online. Print out their free pass, which allows the whole family a full year to see national lands and waters. With Wyatt’s help, we planned a trip that included two national parks and some other interesting sites along the way.

Our first stop was Cawker City, Kansas. You know the spot – the legendary home of The World’s Largest Ball of Twine. How did I live in Kansas this long without making this pilgrimage? My youngest son Owen even got to add one “round” of twine, about 43 feet, with the help of a local twine volunteer.  The ball of twine is famous enough to make it into movie scenes, cartoons, pop culture references, and even a few books at the library. Using Hoopla, you can download a free documentary about Cawker City’s number one tourist attraction. For fun, pick up the first book in Dan Gutman’s middle grade series, “The Genius Files: Unstoppable Mission.” As twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald try to solve a mystery while being chased by “murderous lunatics,” they stop in Kansas at Lebanon (the geographic center of the U. S.) and Cawker City. In fact, Gutman’s book is practically a catalog of weirdest tourist attractions in the states, so your kids might get some quirky ideas of where to visit next.

As we continued, we were impressed when the giant heads of Mount Rushmore National Memorial first came into view. We had checked out books on places we planned to visit, including “Mount Rushmore” by Joanne Mattern, so we knew a few things about it when we arrived. In the Children’s Geography Neighborhood, you can find great nonfiction to stir your child’s curiosity, like this series, “Symbols of Freedom,” which also includes “The White House,” “Statue of Liberty,” “St. Louis Gateway Arch” and more.

Maybe your family went to one of these other national hot spots. If you didn’t visit the library before you left, it is still fun afterwards to bring home a pile of books based on the places you’ve visited. “Discover America State by State” is a popular series that goes through a state or region with large, colorful illustrations on each page. It can be read aloud to younger kids using the larger text, or read in detail with 1-2 paragraphs of facts in each sidebar. In “M is for Mount Rushmore: A South Dakota Alphabet,” the book explores a variety of topics from native peoples, to specific towns and lakes, to Wall Drug, the world’s largest drug store.

We were finally able to use Wyatt’s cool park pass at our next two destinations and saved more than $100. We traveled first through Grand Teton National Park, where we discovered a beautiful landscape with namesakes for me and Owen – Lake Jenny and Mount Owen. It was as serene a moment as one could share with two lively boys. They were amazed by the clear, pure water of the lake. We had been looking at titles from the “Visitor Guides” series – “Welcome to Grand Teton National Park,” and “Welcome to Yellowstone National Park.” The books showed my kids what to be on the lookout for and gave some history, geology and wildlife background about the area. A section about the 1988 Yellowstone fire helped us understand what we were looking at when we came across hillsides of black and gray trees. Nothing quite prepared us for the stench of Mud Volcano, but now we know about hydrogen sulfide, which will lead us to another library trip to learn more about that.

As we left town through Cody, Wyoming, we checked out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and found even more to pique our curiosity about the animals of the area, Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, and the Plains Indians.  And yes, that meant more books again. The History Neighborhood is full of tie-ins to all the places we visited where famous and infamous events took place and people made their mark. I’m just finishing Andrea Warren’s “The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing up Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas.” Our final stop was the Buffalo Bill statue in Oakley, Kansas, which was beautiful and impressive, and also meant we were close to home. One more trip to the library meant getting final summer reading prizes, and a few more days of lazy reading before school begins.

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