by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

One Woman’s Education

One Woman’s Education

By Marcia Allen

Manhattan Public Library

Imagine growing up without ever attending school, without ever visiting a doctor, and without ever being issued a valid birth certificate.  While that sounds fictitious, those facts are among the many astounding realities of Tara Westover’s memoir, EducatedI was captivated by this book as soon as I began reading, and I’m sure that many others will be equally rapt.  Tara’s story will remind readers of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in that it’s an inspirational read about overcoming seemingly impossible odds.  Here’s what the story entails.

Tara was born one of several children to a fundamentalist religious father and an herbalist/midwife mother in the wilds of Idaho.  The family had little contact with the outside world, because the father distrusted the government, and he felt that his religious views were law.  His ownership of an adjacent junkyard enabled the family to have some income, but the dangers and serious injuries that the children suffered while working there were unbelievable.  Those serious injuries were routinely treated by the mother with a variety of herbal treatments.

It became clear early in the story that Tara’s dad was bipolar.  While things went smoothly in the home for some time, at other times he became unpredictable and violent.  Most family members, the mother included, learned to stay away from him during bizarre episodes.  In fact, he made elaborate plans for the millennium chaos and was deeply disappointed when nothing happened.  One of Tara’s brothers was just as troubled as the father and often brutalized Tara in an attempt to force the girl to repent for her transgressions.  These imagined sins repeatedly earned Tara violent dunkings in the toilet.

As Tara matured, she realized that things were very wrong in her household, and she decided to attend school.  She failed a first attempt at the ACT, but was determined to try again.  And so she began a regimen of self-education that gave her the opportunity to attend Brigham Young University.  There she learned about humiliation.  Having no past experience in education, she found herself woefully unprepared to deal with college issues.  During one particular class, she appalled her classmates with her lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.

But Tara was determined to succeed.  She had an older brother who broke with the family and attended college, and so she had his successful experience for a model.  Tara astounded her instructors and her classmates with her dedication to her studies, and she eventually earned a PhD from Cambridge University.

What’s to like about this book?  The author’s determination and her hunger for better things.  Her enthusiasm despite many setbacks demonstrates an incredible strength of character.  Her willingness to gain life experiences is  admirable.  She refused to perpetuate the ignorance from her upbringing and traveled to see the world.

What’s not to like about this book?  The family rift caused by Tara’s goal to make a new life.  Other family members distrusted her educational experiences.  Her brother, who had abused her when she was young, resumed his torment, until Tara realized she had to avoid all contact with him.  The fact that her parents came to one of her graduations was heartbreaking, not because they were proud of her, but because they wanted to make one last attempt “to save” her from herself.  Tara ultimately realized that there would be a permanent break with her family, one that would cause her a great deal of sadness and loss.

Though this book was released a couple of weeks ago, it has already earned a spot on the New York Times list of bestselling books.  You’ll want to read this outstanding memoir.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Leadership Lessons at the Library

Leadership Lessons at the Library
by Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager, Manhattan Public Library

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” ~ Warren Bennis, leadership expert

Most of us, at some point, find ourselves at a place in life where leadership skills are vital, whether at work, in family interactions, or as part of an organization. Developing these skills provides benefits for us individually, as well as for the entire community. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of quality literature published on the subject every year. Here are some of the best that have come our way recently.

In “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups”, Daniel Coyle explains that the key to group success is a feeling of connection, shared risk, and shared purpose. Through his research with some of the world’s most successful groups, Coyle developed a philosophy that refocuses leadership studies into the subconscious aspect of what traits cause people to work well together to achieve a goal. Using scientific data and engaging anecdotes, this book is helpful for leaders, but also for anyone that wants to be a valuable contributor to a team.

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong” by Kristen Hadeed is an entertaining and informative narrative on the benefits of failing, learning to pick back up and move on, and how the ability to be vulnerable can open up a world of opportunity. Her motivational story about her rise to success, as well as her sense of humor, teaches that we can achieve more by experimenting than we can by striving for perfection. She also has some helpful ideas on increasing cross-generational understanding.

Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow” by Joshua Spodek is the perfect place to begin if you’re new to the leadership field. Spokek lays out four goals that build on each other – understanding yourself, leading yourself, understanding others, and leading others. He encourages self-reflection and learning to understand others. With exercises and questions for reflection, “Leadership Step by Step” helps readers to go a step beyond gathering information and actually build the skills needed to successfully lead a team.

For sports fans, Sam Walker has written “The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams.” Walker focuses on effective team captains and how they’ve used their roles to carry their teams to greatness. He examines the leadership skills they used, such as determination, humility, willingness to take on unpopular jobs, commitment, emotional control, and ability to speak the truth. The clear message that comes through is that the best leaders often don’t have the most dynamic personalities or even talent; instead their abilities lie in working behind the scenes to move the team toward a goal.

In “Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times,” Nancy Koehn discusses five exemplary leaders from history. Some, such as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Ernest Shackleton, are obvious selections. Interestingly, she also includes environmentalist Rachel Carson and Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer, who was an active anti-Nazi dissident in World War II. The author clearly believes that leadership isn’t an innate trait, but one that is learned and sometimes forced upon individuals in times of crisis. This absorbing book has an informative perspective on leadership, but also reads like an adventure with its focus on goal oriented and hardy personalities with a vision.

We all have the capacity to become better leaders with a little help. Along with the wealth of books that are published each year, the library also has, which has several courses to help those just beginning to explore leadership or those that want to hone their skills.

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Romance Beyond Regency: Diverse Romance Novels

Romance Beyond Regency: Diverse Romance Novels

by Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

Like many Kansans, I took ill this winter and faced a day at home recuperating.  Fortunately, my husband had Sonali Dev’s The Bollywood Bride checked out on his Kindle, so I decided to give it a whirl.  One day later, I was feeling better and needed another book to read.  Dev effortlessly combines Indian culture with all the trappings of a great romance novel, captivating me with a book unlike any other romance novel I’d read before.  While I loved the romance, I also enjoyed reading about a different culture, and, after finishing it, I was eager to widen my reading scope and find other diverse romance novel gems.

Once I went looking, I found a variety of culturally-diverse contemporary romance to read.  For instance, Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You follows two third-generation immigrants who are torn apart by a family blood feud.  Back in her hometown after her mother broke her hip, Livvy and Nicholas find themselves drawn to each other, despite all the reasons they should stay apart.  Secondly, Latina author Priscilla Oliveras has just started a promising trilogy about three sisters, beginning with His Perfect Partner.  Yazmine Fernandez works as a dance teacher in Chicago, where she teaches Maria and clashes with the girl’s workaholic father, Tomás Garcia.  Inevitably, and oh, so sweetly, the pair are drawn to each other and the appeal of a being family together.  Finally, in Cheris Hodges’s I Heard a Rumor, both Chante Britt and Zach Harrington are running from the press and decide to hide out at a South Carolina beach.  When sparks fly, the two agree to start a fling, but feelings deepen and the press inevitably catches up with them.

When it comes to historical romance, Beverly Jenkins is the queen of writing about African American life and has been doing so for decades.  Her most recent offerings include Forbidden, first in a series about life in the Old West.  Rhine Fontaine has built up a successful life for himself by passing as White, but when he rescues a Black woman from the desert, all of his choices are thrown into question.  Is it worth giving up everything he’s worked for in order to be with the stubborn, clever Eddy Carmichael?  For a newer African American voice in the historical romance marker, look no further than Alyssa Cole.  In An Extraordinary Union, Cole combines historical romance with espionage for a delightful read.  Elle Burns and Malcolm McCall are both spies for the Union during the Civil War, and they must set aside their instant attraction in order to save their country.

When it comes to LGBTQ romances, I’ve been hearing a lot about Cat Sebastian, and it’s no wonder why.  Sebastian writes queer historical romances, starting with The Soldier’s Scoundrel.  Jack Turner is a lower-class fixer, helping people with problems that they can’t talk to the magistrate about.  When Oliver Rivington, a gentleman and a former soldier, learns that his sister has used Jack’s services, his interest is piqued and he looks in on Jack’s business.  Oliver’s interest is also piqued by Jack, and soon the two men are working to solve Jack’s newest case.  If you’re also interested in contemporary queer romance, it’s worth checking out Vanessa North, whose writing ranges across the LGBTQ spectrum, from Summer Stock’s male/male romance to Roller Girl, featuring a transgender main character.

Along with a good romance novel, I also love young adult literature, so I was thrilled to discover queer romances in that collection, as well.  Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a wondrous ‘80s-based coming-of-age novel, following loner Ari Mendoza as he meets, and eventually falls in love with, the openly-gay Dante.  In Our Own Private Universe, by Robin Talley, Aki meets Christa on a summer trip and decides to stop thinking about things so much and make the most of their time together.  I also found Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk about Love, in which asexual teen Alice struggles with whether or not she can actually find a happily ever after.  Much of Alice’s narrative involves generally-held misconceptions about asexuality, and I was pleased to see a romance that sensitively deals with the topic.

Whatever flavor of romance novel you’re interested in, the Manhattan Public Library has something for you.  If you’d like specific recommendations, feel free to stop by the Reference Desk for a chat, or request a personalized reading list!  We’re more than happy to recommend great books to read.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

New and Notable Picture Books

New and Notable Picture Books

by Laura Ransom
Children’s Services Coordinator
Manhattan Public Library

There’s nothing like cuddling up as a family around a great picture book. Picture books aren’t just for preschoolers, though; because of their rich vocabulary and vivid illustrations, even children in upper elementary school (and children’s librarians), can enjoy them. Here is a list of picture books that are sure to delight you.

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell is an almost wordless book that tells the story of a lost wolf pup and a lost human girl. A snowy night causes the characters to get separated from their respective families, but together they make their way back home safe and sound. This satisfying book was just awarded the 2018 Caldecott Medal, which is given to the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems is a sequel to his 2005 book, Leonardo the Terrible Monster. Sam is afraid of almost everything, including spiders, dogs, and raindrops. He encounters two other things to be scared of: a girl named Kerry and her monster, Frankenthaler. However, Frankenthaler just happens to be friends with Sam’s monster, Leonardo. The kids have to decide if they’ll keep being scared of each other or make a brave choice to become friends.

Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi is filled with hilarious, detailed illustrations. Lola the armadillo has a small accident at home, and she is so scared of the consequences that she runs away to the library. Along the way, all of the animals she encounters are dealing with their own disasters, and no one knows what to do. Lola and her friends ultimately learn how to start over with an apology and the reassurance that even the most disastrous accidents can be resolved.

Vincent Can’t Sleep by Barb Rosenstock tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s colorful life. With short sentences and luminous illustrations by Mary GrandPré, readers get a glimpse into Van Gogh’s beautiful imagination. Rosenstock included this quote by Van Gogh, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The book is a great introduction to his artwork and interesting life story.

La La La by Kate DiCamillo is another nearly wordless story that begins with a lonely little girl. She loves to sing and hopes that someone will join her song, but no one responds and she’s left dejected. When night comes, the moon lights up the sky, and the little girl longs to be closer to its light. In a magical scene, the moon comes down to earth and joins in the girl’s serenade. It amazes me how much an author and illustrator can communicate with just a few words and expressive faces.

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson has the same playful feel as her beloved book, The Gruffalo. Animals are too afraid to go near the rabbit’s burrow because a voice inside bellows, “I’m the Giant Jumperee and I’m scary as can be!” Rabbit and his friends try to overcome their fear of the Giant Jumperee, but only Mama Frog is able to address the thundering voice and command it to come out. Spoiler alert: it’s Baby Frog.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith describes the perfect day according to a cat, a dog, a chickadee, and a squirrel. A surprise visit from a bear turns their perfect day upside down. Now the bear is enjoying his perfect day with the squirrel and chickadee’s corn, the dog’s water dish, and the cat’s daffodils. The book provides an opportunity to look at “the perfect day” from a different point of view and maybe a challenge to make the most of a disappointing situation.

What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward invites the reader into a garden guessing game. Seeds are planted and the question is posed, “What will grow?” Lift the flaps to discover sunflowers, carrots, and pine trees, plus intricately illustrated chipmunks, goldfinches, and rabbits. The book also includes facts about the plants from the story and growing directions for your own garden.

Our library is filled with literally thousands of wonderful picture books for you to discover. Stop by and check out some memorable books today.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Great Love Stories for Valentine’s Day

Great Love Stories for Valentine’s Day

by John Pecoraro

Assistant Director

Manhattan Public Library

Why not try something a little different from the candies and the flowers this Valentine’s Day? Treat that special person or persons in your life to a night at the movies. The American Film Institute (AFI) has identified the 100 greatest love stories on the silver screen. Encompassing multiple genres, these films all feature a romantic bond between 2 or more characters. As stated on the AFI website these movies “possess a ‘passion’ which has enriched America’s film and cultural heritage while continuing to inspire contemporary artists and audiences.”

Instead of listing the top few romantic movies, we’re going to sample the entire list. That should provide a little something for everyone.

Number 1 on the AFI list is “Casablanca,” from 1942 and directed by Michael Curtiz. Everyone knows this movie. It’s Bogart and Bergman. In World War II Morocco, a weary and bitter nightclub owner helps his former lover and her Resistance hero husband escape from the Nazis.

At number 12 is “My Fair Lady,” from 1964 and directed by George Cukor. At one time “My Fair Lady” was the longest-running musical on Broadway. Adapted from the play, “Pygmalion,” by George Bernard Shaw, an arrogant professor attempts to transform a working-class London street vendor into a sophisticated lady.

King Kong,” from 1933 and directed by Merian Cooper weighs in at number 24. Captured during a moviemaking expedition, giant gorilla King Kong, falls in love with the movie’s blonde star (Faye Wray). Taken to the Big Apple, King Kong goes on a rampage, taking the woman he loves to the top of the Empire State Building.

At number 38 is “It Happened One Night,” from 1934 and directed by Frank Capra. A screwball comedy starring Claudette Colbert as the spoiled heiress, and Clark Gable as the recently fired newspaper reporter who helps her get to New York. As they travel through a series of misadventures, the gruff reporter, and the spoiled rich girl fall in love.

Sleepless in Seattle,” from 1993 and directed by Nora Ephron is number 45 on the list. Inspired by the 1957 film “An Affair to Remember” (number 5 on the list), a woman falls in love with a man sight unseen after she hears him on a radio call-in show. Deciding it must be fate, she races across the country to meet him.

Number 58 is “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” from 1967 and directed by Stanley Kramer. Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier star in this film about a young white woman who brings home her black fiancé. Both families of the young lovers are forced to examine each other’s level of intolerance and open-mindedness.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” from 1961 and directed by Blake Edwards makes the list at number 61. Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly, an eccentric playgirl who befriends her next door neighbor, a writer new to the city. Watch the romance between Holly and Paul (or Fred, as she calls him) blossom to the strains of Henry Mancini’s “Moon River.”

From 1942, it’s “Woman of the Year,” directed by George Stevens at number 74. Hepburn and Tracy again in a hilarious excursion into the battle of the sexes. Newspaper columnists both, they fall in love and marry with disastrous results. But despite their divergent personalities, they are truly made for each other, as they realize by the movie’s end.

Number 88 is “The Princess Bride,” from 1987 and directed by Rob Reiner. A tongue-in-cheek fairy tale about stable boy-turned-pirate Westley’s journey to rescue his true love, Buttercup, away from the evil prince.

Grease,” from 1978 and directed by Randal Kleiser dances in at number 97. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John star in this musical revolving around the romance between a teen-age gang-leader and his naive girlfriend, set in the 1950’s. Grease was the highest-grossing film of 1978, and the highest-grossing movie musical ever at the time (now fallen to number 11).

All of the films highlighted here, as well as dozens of other romantic films, are available at the library in DVD and/or Blu-ray format.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Short Stories and Resolutions

Short Stories and Resolutions

By Jared Richards, Adult Services Librarian

We are now fully entrenched in the new year, and I’m sure only a month or two away from not having to turn 7s into 8s when writing 2018. This is also the time of year when New Year’s resolutions begin to fall to the wayside at an astonishing rate. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, and the library can help.

I prefer to make resolutions throughout the year because New Year’s resolutions often feel forced. But New Year’s resolutions can still be a fun test of your willpower, and they allow you to be a more engaging participant in the inevitable conversations surrounding resolutions.

One of my resolutions this year is to write one short story each month. By June, I will have changed it to writing two short stories a month, to make up for not having written anything yet.  That’s the nice thing about resolutions: they aren’t set in stone and you get to make the rules.

Short stories are great because, as you may have guessed from their name, they’re a quick read. You don’t need to commit yourself to an entire book. Rather than sitting down and reading a chapter, only to be forced to put the book down to go about your life, not knowing where the story may lead until you’re able to pick the book back up again, short stories allow you to experience an entire story in one sitting. They cut to the chase and get you to the third act before bedtime.

One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut, and my introduction to him was his collection of short stories in “Welcome to the Monkey House.” It is a collection of stories written early in his career for a variety of magazines and they showcase the wit, satire, and black humor that can be found in his writing throughout his career.

Trigger Warning” is Neil Gaiman’s third collection of short stories, and in the introduction he provides commentary for each story. As someone who is trying to write my own short stories, I appreciate a glimpse behind the curtain. This collection contains stories set in the worlds of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, but my favorite is the bedtime story “Click-Clack the Rattlebag.”

When it comes to seeing behind the curtain, “The Curiosities” and the follow-up, “The Anatomy of Curiosity,” both collections by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff, provide even more commentary on the writing process as a whole. “The Curiosities” began as a blog and a way for the authors to experiment with ideas outside of their current projects. The authors introduce their stories, provide commentary throughout, and make comments on the other author’s stories.

“The Anatomy of Curiosity” expands on this idea, with each author writing a single story and providing more extensive commentary on a specific topic, like world building, in the form of marginalia. It is entertaining while also being insightful and educational. I also got to use the word “marginalia,” an opportunity that doesn’t come up as often as it should.

Another unique short story concept can be found in “FaceOff” and “MatchUp,” pairing bestselling thriller authors and bringing their characters into the same stories. I grew up reading Goosebumps books, so the most interesting pairing for me is found in the story “Gaslighted,” that pits Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast against R. L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy. “MatchUp” is the sequel that changes things up by pairing female and male authors together, like Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille or Sandra Brown and C. J. Box.

These are just a few of the books I’m looking at to find inspiration for my own short stories. And I haven’t even mentioned all of the books we have at the library on the topic of writing, like “Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence” or “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.”

It can be tempting to let your resolutions fall to the wayside as the year progresses, but there’s nothing wrong with tweaking them to fit your current needs. And regardless of your resolution, the library has books and classes to help, whether it involves exercise, preparing for retirement, or technology. We’ve even got a series on being a better adult starting on Tuesday, February 13 with a class on renting vs. buying a home, followed by classes on basic first aid, presentations by the police and fire departments, and gardening.

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Harry Potter…Still Going

Harry Potter…Still Going

By Jennifer Bergen

Youth Services Manager

Bloomsbury Publishing first published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in London in 1997.  In the U.S., we know the book as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published by Scholastic in 1998. I caught Harry Potter fever when I started working in children’s library services in 1999. I remember pre-ordering Goblet of Fire, the fourth book, from Amazon which guaranteed I would receive it on the day it came out, while throngs of kids went to bookstores for midnight parties of the book release. No one could have predicted 20 years ago how this series would change publishing, affect reading patterns, and become a part of common knowledge around the globe.

And here we are, 20 years later, still crazy about J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. At our library, you can join us to celebrate what Bloomsbury has dubbed Harry Potter Book Night on February 1st. All ages can join in the fun.

I remember the devastation some readers felt when Rowling announced there would be only seven books in the series. But of course, something this magical can’t just end. Harry Potter lovers have much to keep them occupied these days.

The Movies

The eight Harry Potter movies were extremely popular, and recently Fantastic Beasts opened up the wizard world, making it truly international. The main character, Newt Scamander, is mentioned in the original books as the author of an important textbook for Hogwarts students called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Rowling published a book with this title in 2001, but now it’s expanded into a world of its own. Newt traveled all over the globe researching his book, and while the first movie brought us to the United States, the second will be set mostly in Paris, and the following three movies will probably be in other cities, too. Offshoot books include a cinematic guide, character guide, new editions of Rowling’s original, and the screenplay of the movie.

The Play

In 2016, a play opened in London titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Jack Thorne along with J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany. You can read the script in book form, and eventually see the play on Broadway, opening in April this year. The new story focuses on Harry and Ginny Potter’s middle child, Albus Severus Potter, who is troubled by inner feelings of failure and disappointment. When he enters Hogwarts, he is sorted into Slytherin, another devastating blow to his family’s name, and becomes best friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the surprisingly likeable son of Draco and Astoria. There’s plenty here to satisfy readers in need of some Hogwarts drama, if you can get used to reading the story as a script.

Fan Fiction

Many readers have kept the Harry Potter spirit alive by reading, and by writing, fan fiction that takes place in the same world and with the same or newly invented characters. A librarian colleague of mine notes that “Harry Potter is eternally popular for ‘fanfic’.  It’s not nearly the oldest fandom, but it definitely has staying power, staying strong from message boards to listservs, and from fansites to Tumblr.”

New Illustrated Books

Bloomsbury, and to a lesser extent, Scholastic have been releasing lots of new editions lately, with new illustrations, or special house color design covers, etc.  Popular book illustrator Brian Selznick is doing the artwork for new paperback editions that will be out for Harry’s birthday in July. Jim Kay, a UK illustrator and printmaker, was given the amazing job of creating fully illustrated versions of all the Harry Potter books. The first three are out and have been captivating readers with this skilled artist’s colorful imaginings of the well-known characters and events. These illustrations provide a nice contrast to the movie images, especially for kids who saw the movies before, or instead of, reading the books. (Never ask a librarian if the book was better. The book is always better.)


Harry Potter and Harry Potter Lego video games have been very popular for years. A couple of new games coming out include a mobile Hogwarts Mystery role-playing game set in the 80s, and an app game that will be similar to Pokemon Go.

Love for Harry Potter does not seem to be fading. At the library, we have incorporated it into our Kids Book Club, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday each month. February’s meetings will feature Harry Potter books, as well as the Dragon Slayers’ Academy series, with snacks, games and crafts. Some activities include “poison ball” and “knock out the dragon’s teeth.”  The February 1st event from 6:00-8:00 will include quidditch (sort of) in the auditorium, Harry Potter trivia, Fantastic Beasts crafts and more. All muggles welcome!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

By Mary Wahlmeier, Adult Services Assistant, Manhattan Public Library

Mental illness has had its fair share of time in the limelight in recent years, but its accompanying stigma lurks in the shadows as well. The following titles include fascinating personal accounts, groundbreaking research, and professional viewpoints of just a few commonly misunderstood mental and developmental disorders. With the hope of greater understanding to come, read on.

A gripping graphic novel that I couldn’t put down, Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green primarily chronicles the author’s struggles with anorexia, but also features her experiences with binge eating disorder and dissociative amnesia. Green’s story, which is both elegant and deeply personal, illuminates the internal struggles of living with mental illness. Another autobiographical work, Scared Selfless: My Journey from Abuse and Madness to Surviving and Thriving by Michelle Stevens, is captivating and ultimately triumphant, although the story is difficult to read. Stevens splits her narrative into two parts – the first is an account of the horrendous sexual abuse she suffered as a child, the second detailing her journey to recovery. Dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), depression, and anxiety are some of the ailments Michelle experienced during her recovery. All are interesting to read about, especially for those who wish to learn more about mental illness.

Drawing Autism by Jill Mullin illustrates the artistic talents of people with autism spectrum disorder and includes intriguing interviews with the artists. Whether or not you are intrigued by the art itself, you will learn something about the unique individuals who created it and the condition they share. The humanity inside the artwork and the words of the contributors are breathtaking. For those looking for a wordier look at autism, check out Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant and Tom Fields-Meyer. Prizant’s method discourages the long-accepted approach of preventing undesirable behaviors typical of people with autism, instead suggesting that the caregivers of people with autism do the changing. He claims that the characteristic behaviors of people with autism are coping strategies for facing an overstimulating world; therefore, they should not be inhibited. In this groundbreaking book, Prizant explains how people can change their attitudes, their behaviors, and the support they provide in order to encourage more desirable behaviors and to best help people with autism thrive.

Falling into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters with the Mind in Crisis by Christine Montross explores the difficult questions which arose for the author throughout her budding career as a psychiatrist. She elaborates upon these questions by recounting stories of the patients who inspired them – patients who intentionally harm themselves or have distorted views of their bodies, patients who must be admitted or medicated against their will, patients who face the fear of misdiagnosis, and many more enigmatic and captivating accounts. Also written by a mental health professional, but with a familial narrative, Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness by Stephen P. Hinshaw aims to reduce the stigmatization of mental illness. An accomplished professor of psychology and psychiatry, Hinshaw here relays the story of his father’s severe mental illness, which he kept secret from his son for many years. Through family history and shocking statistics, Hinshaw discusses the reality that people with mental illness experience shame and discrimination and that the destigmatization of mental illness is imperative. Written with grace and understanding, Hinshaw’s book has been acclaimed by many.

If you long to learn more about mental and developmental disorders, Manhattan Public Library is a great place to start. Our collection houses resources appropriate for readers of all levels of understanding, from lighthearted memoirs to even a few professional reference titles. You can search our catalog at or ask for a recommendation at the Reference Desk.

by Maddy Ogle Maddy Ogle No Comments

Local Manhattan Student Takes First Place At Chess Tournament

MANHATTAN, KANSAS – The Manhattan Public Library hosted its first Kansas Scholastic Chess Association-rated Chess Tournament on Saturday, January 13. The tournament had 95 participants competing in K-5, K-8 or K-12 sections in the 6 Round Swiss Tournament.

Parijat Mondal, a student at Manhattan High School, took first place in the K-12 section with fellow student Jacob Grace who took 8th place. However, it was not just a day for individual wins for Manhattan High School.

The Manhattan High School Chess Team took 2nd place. The team included Parijat Mondal, Jacob Grace, Matthew Pickering, Gergely Chikan, and Austin Bender.

The tournament was organized by Tom Claman, a current marketing analyst at GTM Sportwear, and Charles Carlson, a PhD student in the Biomedical Computing and Devices Lab at Kansas State University.

Other local participants included Solon Xia, Ethan Xia and Harvey Anspaugh.

Congratulations to all who competed! Manhattan Public Library continues to connect the community to a world of ideas and information.

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by Maddy Ogle Maddy Ogle No Comments



MANHATTAN, KS – The public is invited to attend the second Talk20MHK event on Thursday, January 25, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in the Manhattan Public Library auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Six local speakers will each give a dynamic, seven-minute presentation featuring 20 PowerPoint slides. Topics at this event will range from beekeeping with Nikki Bowman to community building with Josh Hicks. The audience will have a chance to ask questions and visit with the speakers after the presentations.

Talk20MHK is a collaborative project of UFM Community Learning Center and Manhattan Public Library. The goal of Talk20MHK is to build strong community connections by giving individuals a platform to share their knowledge, stories, and skills with others in the community. Two events will take place each year, one in June and one in January.

Talk20MHK January 2018 presenters include:

Nikki Bowman– Beekeeping

Jessica Canfield – Hidden Beauty of Landscapes

Jeffrey Hicks—Math, Science and Where They Meet

Josh Hicks – Community Building

Palma Holden – Finding Beauty in Everyday Objects

Carmen Schober – Storytelling and Goal-Setting Through Film

For more information about the presenters and the event, visit Manhattan Public Library is located at 629 Poyntz Avenue in Manhattan, Kansas, (785) 776-4741.