Mercury Column

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

NoveList Plus and Summer Reading

NoveList Plus and Summer Reading

By Jared Richards, Adult and Teen Services Librarian

There is nothing like the feeling of checking out your favorite author’s latest book, but unless your favorite author is James Patterson or Danielle Steel, you’ll probably have a bit of a wait before that next book comes out. The in-between is the perfect time to branch out and discover a new author or even dabble in a new genre entirely. The world is your oyster, and anything goes while patiently waiting on your favorite author.

The Manhattan Public Library is here to help in your literary explorations. We will always encourage you to stop by the library to speak with us or just wander around, serendipitously browsing our collection, but we know this isn’t always possible. That is why we offer so many resources that are available online, one of which is NoveList Plus.

NoveList Plus can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Whether on your laptop from the comfort of your own home, or surreptitiously on your phone from the discomfort of your nephew’s latest peanut shell puppet show, a reimagining of “Flowers in the Attic.” Let NoveList Plus be your escape, your rabbit hole to a world of new authors and books.

When dipping your toes into the pool of new-to-you authors and books, one of NoveList Plus’s strongest features is their list of read-alikes, which are authors and books that are similar to what you have searched for. In the search bar at the top of the screen, type in your favorite author or book, and click on the author’s name or book title to go to that page. Along the right side of your screen, you’ll find the list of read-alikes, which also provides an explanation for why that author or book was picked.

I recently fell down this rabbit hole and discovered Daniel H. Wilson and his new collection of short stories, “Guardian Angels & Other Monsters.” Wilson has a PhD and a Master’s degree in Robotics and another Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence, so it’s not surprising that his books and short stories focus on robotics, artificial intelligence, and science in general. The stories cover topics ranging from a robot bodyguard/nanny to meteorology, to a man training a mail-delivering robotic dog. It quickly turned into a “just one more story” kind of book, and I found myself up way past my bedtime on more than one occasion.

Another great feature of NoveList Plus is that they collect several reviews for each book from reputable sources, like Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal. “Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks is a collection of short stories that has received generally positive reviews, and deservedly so. Of all the short story collections I have read, and I’ve read more than a few, “Uncommon Type” is one of the most eclectic. Hanks jumps from WWII to subtle psychic visions, to space travel and even to time travel. Given the title of the book, the cover art, and Hanks’ love of typewriters, it should be no surprise that each story mentions at least one typewriter, which leads to its own bit of fun, looking up each one to see what they look like. I recommend going with the audiobook version of this book because it is not only narrated by Tom Hanks, he also puts his Foley artist chops on full display, by performing his own typewriter sound effects when necessary.

A final aspect of NoveList Plus that I really like is the “For Fans of…” section, which provides a list of books for people who are fans of various movies and TV shows. For example, if you’re a fan of “Black Mirror” on Netflix, a show that brings “The Twilight Zone” into the modern era, you might like “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, a story that explores the potential issues of all the large internet and social media companies merging and gaining a little too much influence on our lives. You will also find recommendations for shows like “Westworld,” “This Is Us,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

NoveList Plus can help you discover a new author or get lost in a new world, whether it throws you into a fantastical past or a dystopian future. And there’s no better time than the present, because we may or may not have had a Spring, but Summer is upon us, which means the Summer Reading program at the library is just around the corner. Registration has already begun, and you can start keeping track of your minutes on June 1.

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Life After The Magic Tree House

Life After The Magic Tree House

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

If you have a child reading early chapter books, odds are, you have lost count of all the Magic Tree House books you’ve brought home. Although it may seem like the series goes on forever, eventually there will come a day when your reader reaches the end and finds themselves in a horrible plight—they have to find a new series. This is a tragedy which we have all experienced at some point in our lives, but the good news is that there are plenty of options!

If time-travel is their speed, then The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka could be just the thing. In this hilarious series, three boys are transported through time and space by a magical book which always vanishes upon their arrival–forcing the boys to search for it in order to return home. If your reader wants fairy-tale style fantasy, try The Kingdom of Wrenly by Jordan Quinn. This series is about a prince and a seamstress’ daughter who have a habit of stumbling into quests and gallivanting all over the kingdom to complete them. In Tracey West’s Dragon Masters, a group of children live and train at their local castle in order to become dragon keepers. For mythology-inspired fantasy, Joan Holub’s Heroes in Training features ten-year-old Zeus and the other young Olympians learning to use their powers. In the sci-fi vein, we have the Alien in My Pocket series by Nate Ball, which starts when a tiny alien comes flying into Zack’s bedroom. After getting over the initial fear, Zack realizes that he’ll need to protect his new friend from the hazards of life on earth. Troy Cummings’ Notebook of Doom series is about a boy who moves to a new town, only to discover that it’s infested with monsters. He fights them off while keeping a record of his encounters.

When it comes to early-grade realistic fiction, Junie B. Jones is queen. If Barbara Park’s classic series was never your cup of tea in the first place, here’s an alternative: Nikki Grimes’ Dyamonde Daniel is a spunky, smart New York City girl who speaks her mind. After her parents’ divorce, she’s adjusting to life in a new neighborhood and making friends. Dyamonde takes the time to observe and understand people and supports her friends. The Jasmine Toguchi books by Debbi Michiko Florence are about an eight-year-old Japanese-American girl and her hijinks, from searching for an activity her older sister hasn’t already done, to attempting to convince her parents to get a pet flamingo. Jaqueline Jules’ series Sofia Martinez has a big, happy family, lots of curiosity, and a little Spanish vocabulary thrown in, with a glossary in the back. Sally Warner’s series Ellray Jakes is about an eight-and-a-half-year-old boy and all the fun and friendship drama in third grade. Here’s Hank is a collaboration between Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver about a klutzy second grade boy who always tries his best. The Anna Hibiscus series by Nigerian-born Atinuke are collections of sweet, short stories set in Africa, where Anna lives with her extended family and learns life lessons as she explores the world.

Animal stories are popular at any age, and if your young reader loves creatures of all kinds, then they’ll adore Lulu, because Lulu loves animals, too. The Lulu series by Hilary McKay is about a young girl and her growing family of pets, which are all rescues. Pet Rescue Adventures by Holly Webb is an episodic series which features a new cast of characters in each book. If you’re looking for animals that talk, there’s The Lighthouse Family by Cynthia Rylant. The Lighthouse Family is a set of quiet stories about a cat, a dog and three mice who live in a lighthouse and help other animals in trouble. For animal silliness galore, try Doreen Cronin’s Chicken Squad series, about four chicks who solve mysteries in the backyard. If your child prefers animals that take themselves seriously, there’s John Himmelman’s Bunjitsu Bunny, where zen lessons and problem solving accompany martial arts prowess.

Although it’s clear by now that the library has many choices for chapter books series, we know that sometimes it’s hard to move on. If nothing can replace the beloved treehouse yet, there’s always the nonfiction Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series by Mary Pope Osborne, which provides extra historical information to accompany her fiction series.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Books for Graduates

Books for Graduates

By Mary Wahlmeier, Adult Services Assistant

It’s no secret that many people will be graduating from college (or high school) this month. Whether or not that group includes you, the clean slate of the graduate can provide a fresh perspective to all. The uncertainty which accompanied my own college graduation led me to turn to books for reassurance, guidance, and inspiration. Here are my picks for the class of 2018.

Very Good Lives” by J.K. Rowling is a beautifully illustrated version of her commencement speech to the Harvard University graduating class of 2008. It’s short and sweet and full of insight, especially regarding the cruelties of our world. I highly recommend it. “Congratulations, by the way” by George Saunders is also meaningfully illustrated, concise, and a commencement speech. Saunders gave a version of the speech on kindness at Syracuse University, where he teaches creative writing, in 2013. Reading it feels like having an intimate conversation with the author, and it certainly doesn’t take long. Perhaps it can serve as your next burst of inspiration.

Make Your Bed” is a further elaboration upon Admiral William H. McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin, his alma mater, in which he discussed the ten principles he learned during Navy SEAL training. In addition to the transcript of the speech, which is included at the end of the book, readers will gain an inside view of what it’s like to train as a Navy SEAL. McRaven’s natural storytelling charm and visceral accounts of his experiences are inspiring and true – featuring triumphs of human spirit aplenty.

Adulting” is a fun-to-read handbook on becoming an adult, organized into 468 short tips by witty reporter Kelly Williams Brown. I actually read this book during my senior year of college, and it helped me feel slightly more prepared to face the “real world.” With cute doodles throughout and an index for quick referencing, “Adulting” would be welcome in any college graduate’s hands (although, I will note that it is sometimes, but not always, geared toward women).

Another practical guide to the world is Richard Nelson Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute?,” which I happened upon because it is on the list of books that bibliophile Rory Gilmore reads on the TV show that is also one of the loves of my life – “Gilmore Girls” (but that’s a different story). “What Color is Your Parachute?,” an all-encompassing guide to job hunting and career exploration, is updated and revised annually. I read the 2017 version while researching and marketing myself to potential graduate schools, and I found it to be perfectly relevant in that context as well. It’s a great how-to book for graduates looking for a place to belong.

Arianna Huffington’s call to redefine success, “Thrive,” is filled with information about what Huffington believes makes up an extraordinary life – well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. The book is organized into four sections, corresponding to the aforementioned elements. Much of the basis for “Thrive” is the rejection of the American definition of success, which equals overwork and burnout. Huffington invites readers to find a better way to live their lives. This book is full of practical advice that I’ve already started applying to my own life, and it corresponds to Huffington’s online community – At a time when everything in their lives is changing, college graduates may be asking themselves, “How do I want to move forward?” “Thrive” is a great place to start looking for the answer.

The Opposite of Loneliness,” which is available as an eAudiobook through Manhattan Public Library’s online resource, Hoopla, is a collection of stories and essays by prominent young writer Marina Keegan, who tragically died days after her graduation from Yale University in 2012. Its introduction tells of Marina’s vibrant, outgoing personality, her hopes for constant improvement, and the heartbreaking story of her death. It seems paradoxical to think about death when one is on the cusp of new life, as soon-to-be college graduates are. However, what Marina was able to share with the world, even having had such a short life, is exciting and inspiring. Her essay “The Opposite of Loneliness,” from which the book gained its title, is particularly relevant to soon-to-be graduates. It provides a sense of oneness that college students often grieve upon graduation – a sort of “trust fall” to the universe – which, for many, is just what the doctor ordered.

My best wishes go out to all of Manhattan’s soon-to-be graduates, and to everyone – read on.

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In Praise of an Unlikely Hero

In Praise of an Unlikely Hero

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Of all the fictional heroes one could imagine, Sheldon Horowitz is one of the more unusual.  His wife is deceased and his days of repairing watches in New York are long over.  Now over 80, Sheldon is forced to live with his granddaughter and her husband in a Norwegian town, and he seems to exhibit signs of dementia.  After all, he converses with an old friend who has been dead for many years.  Sheldon refuses to go on outings and complains about the local culture and mindset.

And yet, there is much more to this character.  Flashbacks reveal his activities during World War II.  He doesn’t speak of those experiences, yet there are clear indications that he was specially trained as a sniper and earned a prestigious award for having saved a great many lives.  He also suffers from guilt.  He had shared his wartime recollections with his only son who went off to his own war in Vietnam and became a casualty.

That’s the set-up for Derek B. Miller’s masterful Norwegian by Night, a mystery that garnered the CWA John Creasey Dagger Award, as well as high praise from The Economist and Kirkus Reviews. The story opens when Sheldon’s mundane life takes an unpredictable turn.

At home one day in the apartment he shares with his family, he hears the ugly sounds of an argument.  A neighbor and her young son are being berated by the boy’s father, a Kosovan war criminal.  When the disturbance becomes physical, Sheldon pulls the boy into the apartment and flees with the child out the back door.  Meanwhile, the mother is brutally killed.

Here’s where the story gets really interesting.  Sheldon and the child, who is obviously used to mistreatment, do not speak the same language.  Our hero realizes he must make the child more comfortable, as well as keep him safe from the dangerous criminal, and so he turns the flight into a Viking adventure by fashioning a costume for the boy from supplies he steals from an unoccupied cabin.

Sheldon’s behavior also negates the suspected dementia.  He realizes he must take the boy to a safer place, and he plans to travel to his granddaughter’s summer cabin where he’s heard there are hunting weapons.  Our wily hero must outwit the thugs who want the boy, and he must make some fairly elaborate travel plans to reach the cabin.

Do the two reach the cabin?  You’ll have the read this engrossing book to find out, but I promise the story is well worth the time investment.  Sheldon’s determination to protect the boy and to calm the little guy’s fears make him truly admirable.  And these odd partners in flight make compelling heroes, as they try to outmaneuver some really nasty characters.  Sheldon’s granddaughter is also compelling: while she believes her grandfather has some dementia, she truly wants him to be happy in his new home.

And the good news?  If you like this book, you will be elated to learn the award-winning author has a new title.  American by Day involves Chief Inspector Sigrid Odegard who investigated the death of the woman in Sheldon’s apartment.  Instead of enjoying some well-earned time off (and recovering from a serious concussion), she is ordered by her father to go to America and search for her missing brother.  Like Sheldon of the first novel, she is about to experience some serious culture shock when she leaves to comfort of her Norwegian home to work in America.  And she has a delightfully dry sense of humor.

I highly recommend both books, and I sincerely hope that Derek B. Miller continues to provide us all with his well-plotted mysteries.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

YA Sci Fi and Fantasy

YA Sci Fi and Fantasy

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

There is one aspect of being a teen that has really improved over the last few decades. Fiction for teens/young adults has come a long way since I was that age. I recently found myself on a binge-read of young adult science fiction and fantasy and, apparently, I’m in good company. An article from The Atlantic by Caroline Kitchener, “Why So Many Adults Love Young-Adult Literature” shares that about 55% of today’s YA readers are actually adults. Kitchener suggests several reasons for this trend, but the one that fit my experience best is that YA books are really good books. J.K. Rowling taught us with Harry Potter that it doesn’t really matter what age a book is intended for if it’s a great story.

I first picked up Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood because she came to our library to lead a teen writing workshop. I didn’t have to get far into it, though, before I was reading it because I had to find out what happened next. Asa is the youngest daughter of the ruler of several planets that are experiencing a food shortage. She’s a dedicated sister and citizen, but also impetuous and willing to bend the rules for a good cause. In order to save her sister, she disguises herself to enter into an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir of a nearby kingdom. The bride and groom have to decide if they can trust each other enough to protect the alliance that may be the only way their kingdoms can be saved. Packed with adventure, royal intrigue, and a great story of a strong young woman coming into her own, Inherit the Stars is a binge-worthy read.

In Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Jason Reynolds has filled us in on the back-story of Marvel’s critically acclaimed black & Puerto Rican successor to Peter Parker. Miles is a typical kid in a Brooklyn neighborhood, trying to navigate the world around him and grow up into someone his parents can be proud of. He goes to a boarding school, hangs how with his friends, secretly crushes on the school poet, and sometimes puts on a spider suit and saves people’s lives. Miles was bitten by a very curious spider a few years back and ever since, has abilities and senses that he is still learning to control. He also struggles with a family history that makes him question if he is really able to always be the “good guy.” It seems that his spidey-sense isn’t working right lately, and he’s been having the strangest dreams. It doesn’t help that his history teacher is feeding his classmates a version of slavery that rewrites the ugly past. Through the novel, Reynolds explores themes of growing up, race, and identity with humor and a thrilling story-line.

In Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, Brooklyn teen Sierra Santiago is looking forward to a summer of hanging out with her friends and painting a mural on a neighborhood abandoned building, but things start to go downhill when nearby murals start to fade and shift. She has been a confident young woman that enjoys the loving surroundings of a good family and a supportive neighborhood, but now she isn’t sure whom to trust. Meanwhile her abuelo periodically seems to become more aware of his surroundings while saying things that are frightening and confusing about shadowcatchers and murals and how very sorry he is. His words cause her to rally her friends to help her find the answers to the puzzle and learn more about herself along the way.

Check out the young adult section at the library for exciting reads that can deliver you to another place or another time in your own life.

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Delightful Picture Books for Spring

Delightful Picture Books for Spring

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The spring offerings from children’s book publishers have been delighting librarians with some unusual characters paired with the perfect text and outstanding illustrations. Here are a few titles to put on your list to share with the young children in your life.

The Big Umbrella” by Amy June Bates begins with a dreary raincloud, and a sleeping red umbrella by the front door. When opened, the umbrella becomes the star of the story, smiling and spreading its arms wide as a child in a raincoat and blue boots leads it on an adventure. Children’s faces are obscured by hoods or the umbrella, but you can see interesting legs added to the umbrella’s shelter – an athlete, a ballerina, an enormous chicken? There’s room for everyone, even Bigfoot. Bates’ simple text, accompanied by sweet watercolor illustrations, gets an important message out: “Some people worry that there won’t be enough room under the big umbrella. But the amazing thing is…there is.” The story beautifully highlights our best qualities – friendliness, acceptance, generosity and positivity. It’s perfect to share with a toddler or in a group setting.

Petra” by Marianna Coppo features another unlikely main character, a rock. Petra isn’t just any rock: Petra is a “fearsome, fearless, mighty, magnificent mountain!” Until the next scene, that is, when a dog shows up and carries the gray, round, small stone away in his mouth. The rock then explores being different things – an egg, an island, or a child’s painted elephant. Who knew life for a rock could be so adventurous? This is a quietly silly story that kids can relate to, and they will probably want to go find a pet rock to paint after reading time is over.

Brendan Wenzel’s new picture book, “Hello Hello,” is an artistic gem. Vibrant animals with texture, movement and personality are displayed on every spread. Sparse text accompanies the creatures as they greet each other: “Hello Beauty, Hello Bend, Hello Neighbor, Hello Friend.” The rhythm and rhyme make it perfect for a read-aloud, but kids will want to go back to the book to check out each critter more closely. You can’t help but smile when you look these animals in the eye. Wenzel, who just received a Caldecott Honor for his 2017 book “They All Saw a Cat,” has produced another winner for kids.

Sheep 101” by Richard T. Morris, with art by LeUyen Pham, will soon become a bedtime favorite. Imagine counting sheep to fall asleep and you’ve already reached 100, but that Sheep 101 throws a wrench in the process. This story begins with Sheep 102 breaking the fourth wall, talking to the reader (who is also the sleepless sleeper), and not in a nice tone, either. “Do you see we’ve got a sheep down?..I’ve got my eyes on you, sleepyhead.” Sheep counting digresses until the Lego helicopter crew flies in to save the night. Whumpa-whumpa-whumpa. “Uh, Land of Nod, this is Sandman, over. We have a visual on 101.” If giggles give your littles ones good dreams, you will want to end with this prize every bedtime.

Honey” by David Ezra Stein is about a young bear, only in his second year, and his favorite thing: “Warm, golden, sweet, clear, slowly flowing, spicy, aromatic, sparkling with sunlight – Honey!” It is also a story about waiting, because when bear rouses from his winter sleep, it is too soon for honey. While he waits, bear experiences other pleasant things in his surroundings, which momentarily take his mind off the sweet, sticky, gold treat he desires. He dances in a rainstorm, swims in a pond, and plays in a waterfall where he was “very busy for a long time.” Finally, honey time arrives, and of course it was “just as good as he’d remembered.” This story follows Stein’s first book about the bear, “Leaves,” and I can only hope there will be more to come for this loveable character.

To receive a list of great new picture books each month, sign up for Email Book Lists from the library’s webpage at

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Have You Read These? You Should Have

Have You Read These? You Should Have

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Everybody has an opinion on the best books to read. There are hundreds of lists online of the 10 best books to read, or the 25 books everyone should read, or the 100 books you need to read before you die. But if you’re looking for a dozen great novels, look no further than the list of the Greatest Books Ever Written on the website of the “Encyclopedia Britannica.”

Anna Karenina,” by Leo Tolstoy is the tragic story of Anna Karenina, a married noblewoman and socialite, and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. Called by Dostoyevsky “flawless as a work of art,” the novel explores several topics, including politics, religion, morality, gender and social class.

To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.  Small town lawyer, Atticus Finch, takes on the task of defending a black man accused of raping a white woman in Depression era south. Despite the serious topics of rape and racial inequality, Lee diffuses her storytelling with warmth and humor.

The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story of the young, mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his obsession with the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. The novel explores the idealism, social upheaval, and excess of the Jazz Age. It is a cautionary tale of the American Dream.

One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The story of seven generations of the Buendía Family in the fictional town of Macondo, and the inevitable and inescapable repetition of history. The characters in the novel are controlled by their pasts and the complexity of time.

A Passage to India,” by E.M. Forster. The novel centers on the alleged assault of a young Englishwoman and an Indian doctor in 1920s India. It explores both the chasm between races, and between individuals struggling to make sense of their humanity.

Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison. This tells the story of an unnamed African American man whose color makes him invisible. It addresses the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans early in the twentieth century, including Black Nationalism, and issues of individuality and personal identity.

Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The story follows the adventures of a nobleman who sets out with his squire to revive chivalry and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. Don Quixote does not see the world for what it is, but prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.

Beloved,” by Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of Sethe born a slave and escaped to Ohio, who eighteen years later is still not free. She is haunted by the memories of Sweet Home, the farm where she was enslaved, and where many hideous things occurred.

Mrs. Dalloway,” by Virginia Woolf. The novel chronicles a June day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party she will host that evening. The story moves forwards and backwards in time, and in and out of the characters’ minds to construct both an image of Clarissa’s life and English society during the years between the world wars.

Things Fall Apart,” by Chinua Achebe. The novel tells the tale of Africa’s encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy Igbo warrior in the late 1800s, it explores one man’s futile resistance to the devaluing of his traditions by British political and religious forces.

Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte. The novel follows the emotions and experiences of Jane Eyre, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr. Rochester, master of Thornfield Hall. The novel contains elements of social criticism, and explores classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism.

The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker. This is the story of the life of African-American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s. An eloquent portrayal of black women’s lives supported by faith, love, and trust in the face of brutality, poverty, and racism.

The choice of what you read is up to you, but have you read these books? They are all available in multiple formats at your library. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but every one of the books on this list have been recreated on film.

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Library Resources

Library Resources

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

“I didn’t know they did that!”  When I do presentations in the community about our online resources, people always remark about the variety of online services we offer at no cost.  The Manhattan Public Library offers online access for you at home to magazines, genealogy, auto repair, e-books and audio books for adults and young people, movies, instructional videos, foreign language tutorials, and many other resources –all available with just a Manhattan Public Library card.

The library offers 22 full-text magazines online.  Better Homes & Gardens, Popular Mechanics, National Geographic, Seventeen, This Week, Ranger Rick, The New Yorker, Men’s Journal, Wired, Rolling Stone and more give our public a wonderful chance to read, just as if you were holding the magazines in your hands. No need to squint at fine print or small photos; if you are online, it’s easy to enlarge text and zoom in on images to catch every detail.

Savvy consumers still check Consumer Reports for professional reviews, and it is also available online and fully searchable through the library, with new reviews, comparisons, and articles on all sorts of products.  Yearly run-downs of the best new autos, appliances, phones, and other devices offer consistent, readable insight into which products offer solid value, and which bargains shouldn’t be missed.

For in-depth financial research and analysis, check Morningstar or Value Line. Comprehensive investment info is searchable with your library card.

As librarians, we take pride in recommending new books for patrons to read, but you can also search Novelist Plus to get recommendations, reviews, articles, and reading lists.  Hoopla is a new and very popular source for streaming or downloading music, audiobooks, movies, tv episodes, and e-books.  Download the Libby app to access e-books and audiobooks from the Sunflower eLibrary.

Many educational sites are available through the library offering chances for growth, from children’s learning to advanced technical materials for adults.

Young children can develop reading skills using a variety of excellent sites.  BookFLIX lets kids read along with videos of many classic storybooks, on any e-device.  Tumblebooks offers online picture books, ebooks, and graphic novels, along with puzzles and games for children to enjoy.

Learning Express Library includes tutoring for elementary, high school, college, and adult students.  Prepare for SAT, GRE, and other standardized tests; gain skills in computers, in math and grammar, and in office work to improve writing, business skills, resumes and more.

Mango Languages specializes in language tutoring, offering fun, conversational courses in 74 different languages, naturally including English instruction courses for those that speak other languages.

Popular provides beginning and advanced courses in business work, software, and technical and creative skills, including design, programming, graphic art, animation, and web development, all using suites like Adobe Creative Suite, AutoCAD and many others.

Car trouble?  From loose panels to engine overhauls, and all types of maintenance in between, the Auto Repair Reference Center offers repair and service information for your specific vehicle by year, make and model. There is guidance on how auto components work, and all sorts of care tips to extend the life of your car or truck.

The library site offers access to quite a few general research sources, as well.  Explora offers flexible searching for books, journals, and more.  Encyclopedia Britannica remains an authoritative work with children’s, young adults and adult reference portals. Images, videos, dictionaries, and more e-books and magazines are available.

Explore family roots.  Heritage Quest has expanded with much more information.  Genealogy Connect serves up over 600 genealogy and reference publications.  Note that our other resource, Ancestry, is only available at the library, but you can e-mail articles, save them to USB media, or print your results.

Kansas State Library Online Resources offers many more opportunities—Skill building, business, health, and history. Spanish resources are also available. You may need a Kansas Library Card which we can give you quickly with just a phone call.

You only need a Manhattan Public Library card, and a library card is simple to acquire: just bring a photo ID (like a driver’s license) and a proof of address to the library, and we will handle the rest.

To access all the resources in this article, go to and click on “Online Resources,” then log in with your library card number. If your group would like a demonstration of these resources in the library or at a meeting place, please contact Linda Henderson at  I would love hearing from you!

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Talking Teen Award Books

Talking Teen Award Books

By Rachael Schmidtlein, Teen & Tween Services Coordinator

Every winter, thousands of US librarians gather at the Public Library Association’s conference to hear rock star speakers, attend topical sessions and decide which books will win this year’s prestigious book awards. All-in-all, it’s every librarian’s dream. The Youth Media Awards are my particular favorite and are live-streamed for those poor souls who can’t make it to PLA, i.e. me. It’s always especially interesting to see what teen titles made the cut and which ones got snubbed. The whole thing is a little like March Madness: either entirely predictable or a complete surprise. This year held a pleasant amount of both.

The Michael L. Printz Award honors the best book written for teens and is named after a school librarian from Topeka, Kansas. As a girl from Topeka, I hold this as a special award, which is why when We Are Okay by Nina LaCour was announced as the winner of this year’s Printz Award, I was surprised. It’s not a book that I had heard a lot about before but many of my librarian comrades exclaimed their adoration for it after it won. How had a book this good been off my radar when apparently everyone has loved it since last spring?

The answer is, because it’s a quiet sort of story. We Are Okay isn’t about headline-gripping topics or current events. It follows Marin who moved away to college and cut ties with everyone she knows. That all changes when Mabel, Marin’s maybe more than best friend, comes to visit over winter break. LaCour’s book flips back and forth between Marin’s time in high school and present day to dissect the meaning of family, loss and friendship.

If you’re stuck on hold for We Are Okay, consider checking out I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, or The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle to pass the time. They are all highly recommended reads that take in-depth looks at loss, family and relationships from the teen perspective.

Not surprising was the award love for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book set itself apart early on and it stayed there. In addition to winning the Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/ or young adults, it earned both Coretta Scott King Book Award and the William C Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. This hot topic title is also enjoying its fifty-fourth week on the New York Times best sellers list.

You’ve likely heard something about The Hate U Give, unless you’ve been hiding in a closet somewhere, and hey, it was a bad winter, so I don’t blame you. Starr is a student at a fancy suburban prep school who lives in a poor neighborhood. She does a balancing act between these two worlds until her unarmed best friend is shot by a police officer. As a witness to the shooting, Starr is thrust into national headlines, debates and politics.

Some people loved this book and others thought it was just good. Either way, it’s definitely worth taking a look, especially since KSU just announced that it is going to be this year’s Common Read. Be prepared for lots of book discussions and events centered on The Hate U Give in the coming months. Also, if young adult fiction depicting current events is your type of read, then you might consider All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, or Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.

There are more young adult books being published than ever before and the topics are increasingly more relevant to teen readers. The award winning titles this year reflect the unique contemporary issues that teens are facing. It’s an exciting time in the teen literature world!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Read-Walk-Run: Running Books at the Library

Read-Walk-Run: Running Books at the Library

By Diedre Lemon, Adult Services Librarian

As the weather warms up, you may start to notice more people outside enjoying the weather. Many of them are walking, riding bikes, or taking their dogs for a walk around the park, but then there are those few who are running. The number of runners outside has increased with spring, and so have the number of emails in my inbox about upcoming races. But does that have to do with books?

Well, the Manhattan Public Library has an excellent diverse collection of running books. And no! All running books are not the same. One of the first running books that I have picked up, put down, picked up a few years later, read some, then put down again is Jeff Galloway’s The Run-Walk-Run Method. When I first started running, I thought that I was past this book in fitness level; however, after a couple years off from running, this was a great choice. Galloway tells runners to begin walking then run. As the days and weeks go by, you can increase the amount of time running and decrease the walking. I like the mix of information and charts to help plan workouts. He also includes running schedules.

While Galloway gives readers and runners a mix of information, personal history and charts, Matt Long and Charles Butler give readers more of a runner’s biography in The Long Run. Long writes about his life and how it was changed when he was hit by a bus while cycling to work. He talks about the healing process and running. Long had to learn to walk and run again. He talks about how running helped him heal physically and psychologically. Another great running memoir is What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami and translated into English by Philip Gabriel. Murakami talks about how the act of running has influenced and helped his writing.

For distance runners who want to read about long races like ultramarathons, the library has a few books for you. Scott Jurek’s book, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, reads like a biography with vegan recipes for ultramarathon fans. Those runners who are looking for a running cookbook and inspirational story will also enjoy Jurek’s book. Just how long is an ultramarathon? Ultramarathons are longer than the traditional marathon of 26.2 miles. Ultramarathon runners can run 50 to 100 kilometers or 50 to 100 miles for their races and training. For runners who want know and learn about traditional marathons, the library has several books specifically about running half and full marathons. One of my favorites is Dean Karnazes’ Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss. Karnazes’ book contains his running experiences when tackling 26.2 miles and other running adventures he has had along the way. I like that the chapter numbers are also mile markers: chapter 1 equals mile 1.

Run Your First Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Reach the Finish Line by Grete Waitz is the perfect book for first time marathon runners. This one is less memoir or story, as Waitz provides training plans, nutrition, and mental preparedness advice. While most running books discuss mental toughness of the sport, Waitz includes a section on self-confidence in the training section, because part of running is believing you can run the distance even before you take the first step. More advanced marathon runners might be interested in Hansons Marathon Method: Run Your Fastest Marathon by Luke Humphrey with Keith and Kevin Hanson or Vijay Vad’s The New Rules of Running: Five Steps to Run Faster and Longer for Life. These titles give runners insight on how to build up their endurance and run PR (personal record) races.

The library also has copies of Runner’s World Magazine that patrons can check out; these is a great way for patrons to decide how invested they want to get in the sport, or for those patrons who prefer a short quick read. New runners can check out Start Running!: A 5K Training Schedule for Beginners by Tony Yang. This book is available on Hoopla, one of our digital providers. Patrons can check out books on Hoopla without having to wait in line, and multiple readers can read the same title at once. Hoopla also has a number of running books for patrons to check out, too. With all these great running books, be sure to include a run to the library!