Mercury Column

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Remembering Martin

Remembering Martin

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Tomorrow, January 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A federal holiday since being signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, MLK Day is observed on the third Monday of January. King’s actual birthday is January 15.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech is included in most lists of the greatest speeches in American history. Clarence Jones gives the story behind the speech in “Behind the Dream: the Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation.”  Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant of King, gives a behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, and reveals the collaboration leading to the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.

King: a Biography,” by David Lewis is a foundational biography first published shortly after King’s death. Acclaimed by historians and critics alike, this updated edition includes a new preface, as well as additional photographs of King and his contemporaries.

For a more personal portrait of Dr. King, choose “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Edited by Clayborne Carson, this history-making autobiography portrays Dr. King in his own words. Carson has utilized published and unpublished writings by King, as well as his speeches, interviews, notes, and sermons. The result for the reader is an intimate sharing in the trials and triumphs of Dr. King, including the Montgomery Boycott, the “I Have a Dream” speech, the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 12, 1963, King was arrested in Birmingham for violating a court injunction against marching in the city’s street. In response to eight white clergymen who accused him of being a violent extremist, King addressed his famous letter from Birmingham jail. In “Gospel of Freedom; Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation,” Jonathan Rieder discusses the events that led up to King’s arrest, and addresses the letter’s importance during the struggle for civil rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine motel in Memphis, where he was supporting a strike of sanitation workers. “Death of a King: the Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year,” by Tavis Smiley chronicles the last year of Dr. King’s life. The bookends of this fateful year are April 4, 1967, when King made his first anti-war speech, and April 4, 1968. Throughout his book, Smiley raises the question, “What kind of man had Martin Luther King, Jr. become during the last year of his life?”

For a comprehensive examination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, and its place in American history, select Taylor Branch’s three volume opus. The first volume in the series, “Parting the Waters,” covers the years 1954-1963, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Volume Two, “Pillar of Fire,’ looks at the years 1963-1965, while the third volume “At Canaan’s Edge,” concludes with the years 1965-1968.

There are several titles for young readers available at the library, including “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Brad Meltzer. This title is part of a series of biographies for children by an author better known for his political thrillers. In its pages, kids will learn that even as a child Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by unfair treatment of African-American people. So, when he grew up, he decided to do something about it, fighting injustice with powerful words.

Also for children, “What was your Dream, Dr. King?,” by Mary Kay Carson. This book is arranged in a question and answer format. In its pages curious readers will find the answers to their most burning questions about Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to its sheer beauty, children will also learn from “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifteen award-winning artists illustrate the words of Dr. King’s most famous speech. This title also includes a CD of the speech.

Remember to also checkout Hoopla for titles about Martin Luther King, Jr. in a variety of formats. With your Manhattan Public Library card, you can stream or download 5 titles from Hoopla every month at no charge.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Heart-warming Reads

Heart-warming Reads

by Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

These months after the bustle of the holidays, with a long wait for the warmth of spring, can feel a bit dreary. To ward off the winter blues, sitting down (preferably with an afghan and a cup of tea) to a heart-warming book can improve your outlook.

The author of the vastly popular A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman, has returned with another tale full of heart and hope, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. At seven years old, Elsa faces the loss of her beloved grandmother and her stories of the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, but she takes on the adventure of delivering her granny’s apology letters. Through her quest, Elsa learns that support can exist in surprising places and that sometimes fairy tales contain the truths of life.

In the delightful novel The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, Sara travels from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her avid-reader pen pal, Amy. When she arrives to learn that Amy has just died, she hunkers down in Amy’s house full of books. She’s eventually inspired to open a book store to share her beloved friend’s love of books with her non-reading community, starting a series of subtle changes that will touch the town and Sara forever.

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore brings to life Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. The life-long friends have met for years at their favorite local diner to eat the best food in town, gossip, and take care of one another. Full of humor and unforgettable characters, Moore’s novel affirms the value of friendship, community, humor, and a good piece of pie.

Ivan Doig takes us on a 1951 road trip in Last Bus to Wisdom. Eleven-year-old Donal Cameron is shipped off to an aunt in Wisconsin when the grandmother raising him in Montana has to have surgery. Aunt Kate is nothing like his sweet Gran, and he can’t seem to get on her good side. After Donal pushes Kate too far, she sends him back to the authorities in Montana and her hen-pecked husband, Herman the German, takes the opportunity to escape with the boy. Doig was known for his outstanding abilities as a storyteller and this humorous road novel demonstrates his mastery.

Lynne Cox was the first person to swim both the Straits of Magellan and around the Cape of Good Hope, but she faces completely new challenges in her memoir Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart. Following the deaths of her parents and her beloved dog, she is diagnosed with arterial fibrillation, which sets her back severely. Her book shares her struggle toward recovery and her recognition of the importance of her community.

Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutlin tells the story of Greg Mahle’s mission to bring dogs from Southern shelters and find loving homes for them in the North. The author traveled with Mahle and shares the tales of the road trip, including the awful conditions that some animals experience and the inspiring people who dedicate their lives to saving them.

Rabbi Susan Silverman examines the meaning of identity, faith, and family in her autobiography Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World. Silverman chronicles her childhood in a loving family that faced difficulties together. It also tells of the creation of her own family as she and her husband add to their three daughters by adopting two sons from Ethiopia. Her sharp sense of humor shines through this thoughtful perusal of a fascinating life.

Horace Mann once said “A house without books is like a room without windows.” A heartwarming read is the perfect way to open your mind and let some light into the long months of winter.

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