Mercury Column

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Horror Authors to Read for Fall

Horror Authors to Read for Fall

By Amber Hoskins, Adult Services Librarian

With fall rapidly approaching and Halloween around the corner, now is a good time to discuss my preferred genre, horror. Since there are so many books to choose from, I would like to share some of my favorite authors who have mastered this category, and have more than one good book to offer.

I will start with Joe Hill, who has seen several of his stories be turned into movies and another into a TV series. There is not one book I have read from this author that I did not like, and that is a rarity for me. I loved his debut novel, “Heart Shaped Box,” and have continued to enjoy anything he publishes, including the short story collections. Hill is an author that can keep a fast pace and be creepy without getting too gory with the details, so this is a good author for someone who wants horror but doesn’t enjoy anything too graphic. I usually always prefer the book to the screen, but if you want to skip reading, you can check out the “Black Phone” movie or watch the “NOS4A2” series, which were both good adaptations, in my opinion.

Another author to look into would be Paul Tremblay. I must admit that I am not a fan of his short story collections, but I have enjoyed his novels. Tremblay just released a new book, “The Pallbearers Club,” this past July which has received positive reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. I would also recommend “The Cabin at the End of the World” and “Survivor Song” if you are into apocalyptic horror. In the former, the characters are forced to consider sacrificing their own fate for the rest of the world, while “Survivor’s Song” portrays the desperation of withstanding a doomsday caused by a disease outbreak. Both are fast-paced page turners that I found hard to put down.

I would like to point out one more author who is great at writing about haunted places without getting into grisly details. Jennifer McMahon has been compared to Shirley Jackson when it comes to her ghost stories. I have read several of McMahon’s novels, and none have been disappointing. This year, she released “The Children on the Hill.” In this book, McMahon gives us an eerie novel inspired by “Frankenstein,” which fans of gothic horror are sure to love. This story follows a timeline from 1978 to the present and involves a psychiatrist grandmother who takes a patient into her home where she is also raising her two grandchildren. This book will keep you guessing until its climactic ending.  I would also suggest her novel “The Invited,” which follows the story of a married couple who decide to build a house on haunted land, and find out there are consequences for that.

If historical fiction is your wheelhouse, and you would like to read something spooky in that genre, check out Alma Katsu. Katsu recently penned “The Fervor,” which follows the story of a mother and daughter who are sent to a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII. As always, Katsu blends this history with paranormal twists and turns, which never ceases to entertain. You can also look into her other stories which blend history with the supernatural. “The Hunger” follows the story of the Donner Party and “The Deep” conveys a story about survivors of the Titanic.

For my final recommendation, I have an older book to endorse. This one is for those who want something really unnerving. “The Troop” by Nick Cutter is one of the creepiest books I have ever read, and that is because I find parasites terrifying. If you want to read about a bio-engineered, government experiment gone wrong, this is your book. Cutter does not side-step any of the gory details about this insatiable, horrific parasite, so be warned. If you are not bothered by this kind of thing, then read this book; you will not forget it, or regret it.

I hope these recommendations give you an excuse to curl up with a blanket and read something thrilling. If horror is not your thing, you can still enjoy the cooler weather while being wrapped up with a gentler read.  The ways in which you wish to enjoy your fall reading is strictly up to you, so do what makes you happy this season!

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Books and Mooncakes

Books and Mooncakes

By Stephanie Wallace, Library Assistant 2

Picture this: leaves, just beginning to change color, glimmering gold, silver, and bronze under the light of the full moon. Countless paper lanterns in every color, many in the shape of rabbits, illuminating walkways and windows. The sounds of music playing and people laughing drifting from dining rooms and backyards. The smell of fresh mooncakes mixing with the scent of noodles and roasted duck. In countless homes across China and many East Asian countries, these snapshots showcase just a few ways the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated. This year, it’s on September 10.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Every country that celebrates it has their own unique traditions, but for everyone, it’s an opportunity to visit home, reconnect with friends and family, and appreciate their blessings.

If you and your family want to learn more about the Mid-Autumn Festival, a great place to start is to learn about the folktales associated with the holiday. “Mooncakes,” written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renné Benoit, is a picture book about a young girl who celebrates the holiday with her parents. While they eat mooncakes together, an iconic pastry shared on this day, the girl’s parents tell her the stories of Chang’e and her husband, Hou Yi; the Jade Rabbit; and the Woodcutter, Wu Gang.

The story of Chang’e, the Lady in the Moon, is particularly popular, and different versions exist. “The Shadow in the Moon: A Tale of the Mid-Autumn Festival” by Christina Matula and “Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival” by Sanmu Tang are two other picture books with their own unique retellings of the story. As an extra bonus in both of these books, the authors share their own recipes for mooncakes.

Children who are beginning to read independently may enjoy “Autumn Festival Fun,” adapted from an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” television show by Tina Gallo. In the story, Po the panda must help Mr. Ping, the owner of a popular restaurant, make thousands of mooncakes in time for the celebration.

Intermediate readers who are comfortable with chapter books may appreciate “The Dreamweavers” by G.Z. Schmidt or “Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend” by Katie Zhao. In “The Dreamweavers,” a pair of twins must save their grandfather from the Emperor’s prison after the mooncakes which he meant to give to the prince as an offering are tainted by a mysterious darkness. In “Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend,” the titular protagonist, Winnie Zeng, accidently awakens both evil spirits and her own shamanic powers after using her family’s magical cookbook to make mooncakes for her school’s bake sale.

Anybody who loves young adult graphic novels will adore “Mooncakes” by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. In the book, a young witch named Nova and her childhood crush, a werewolf named Tam, grapple with their magical responsibilities. As they prepare for the mid-autumn season, Nova and Tam must battle demons sent by a cult seeking to harness Tam’s powers and learn what makes their abilities special in order to succeed.

My favorite recommendation on this list is the adult fiction series “Heaven Official’s Blessing” by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. The translated series follows the adventures of Xie Lian, crown prince of a kingdom that has since gone to ruin following his ascension to godhood. “Heaven Official’s Blessing” is part of two unique Chinese genres, danmei and xianxia. Danmei focuses on romance and relationships between men, and xianxia is historical fantasy, which focuses on ancient China, achieving immortality, and the crossover between the three realms of heaven, the ghost kingdom, and beyond. The Mid-Autumn Festival is featured prominently in the third volume, but the series is a wonderful place to start if you are interested in learning more about Chinese culture.

If all of these books have gotten you interested in hosting your own party inspired by the Mid-Autumn Festival, consider using the recipes in “Mooncakes + Milk Bread: Sweet & Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries” by Kristina Cho. It showcases a wide variety of crowd-pleasing snacks, drinks, and appetizers you can make for your guests.

No matter how you choose to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival, I hope this selection of books will deepen your appreciation of East Asian cultures. When you gaze upon the moon tonight, remember: anything well-loved deserves its own holiday.

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Dark Academia

Dark Academia

By Alex Urbanek, Collection Services Librarian

Ever since I was young, the start of school has meant that it is time for Fall to begin. However, since we’re still dealing with 90-degree days that refuse to let me wear comfy sweaters and drink hot cider, I have to get my autumnal fix from books. Over the last year or so I’ve found an interesting niche of books that have been labeled under the sub-genre “dark academia.” Dark academia originally began as an aesthetic, with photo collages, music, and fashion choices donning the label. Think, college library with stone and gargoyles on a rainy day, and sometimes murder or psychological horror mixed in. It is worth noting that while I adore this genre, it is not for everyone. I highly suggest checking trigger warnings before reading any dark academia or horror books to be sure you’ll enjoy the title.

One of my favorite authors, Erin Morgenstern, came out with the book “The Starless Sea,” a fairly whimsical adaptation of the genre. Zachary Ezra Rawlins was working on his graduate degree at a school in Vermont when he found an unlabeled book in the library. Within the book, he finds a story about an experience he had with a disappearing door as a child, as well as a key. He also finds a drawing of a bee, key, and sword, which lead him to a masquerade party in New York. All of this leads him to find an ancient, secret, underground library within its own realm.  As he explores this underground world, he learns about the societies of people who have risen and fallen trying to protect it, or hide it. Morgenstern does an incredible job of world-building and fully immersing you within this secret library’s world.

Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson begins a 5-book young adult series, with the latest book slated to come out in December. Stevie Bell loves true crime: she listens to all of the true crime podcasts and is obsessed with coming to her own conclusions. When she gets accepted to Ellingham academy, Stevie is elated. Ellingham Academy is a one-of-a-kind school that was founded in the 1930s by truly-eccentric billionaire Albert Ellingham to create a space where children could learn through play. Unfortunately, within the school’s first few years, Albert’s wife and young daughter were kidnapped, a puzzle of a ransom note was found, one of the new students was found murdered, and, while his wife was returned home, they never found his daughter. Thus, began an investigation that, at the time of Stevie entering Ellingham, has still not been solved. Stevie is determined to solve the Ellingham murder and find out what truly happened during that first year.  Johnson makes sure that readers are on the ride with Stevie, discovering clues when she does and making their own assumptions before the final verdict is declared.

When an author gives up on a story, where does the unfinished tale go? A.J. Hackwith has created a world in which all unfinished stories end up in the Unwritten Wing, based in Hell. In “The Library of the Unwritten,” Claire, the head librarian of the Unwritten Wing, has been enjoying her death spent cataloging and keeping track of unwritten stories. She also must make sure that any characters who materialize out of their stories either make it back to their book or take up residence in her wing. They definitely cannot make it up to the human world to upset or confuse their would-be authors. Unfortunately, one of the characters does indeed gets out, and when Claire and her former-muse-turned-assistant Brevity follow him up to the land of the living, they end up learning about a much more disastrous lost book, the Devil’s Bible. Now they must race against time and the angel Ramiel to find and retrieve the Bible before either Heaven or a lesser demon get ahold of it.

If you’re wanting more books with spooky vibes, or something completely different, you can always get a personalized reading list from the Manhattan Public Library. Our librarians are excited to help you find the perfect book to get you ready for autumn and the impending holiday season.

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ReadMHK and Past K-State First Books

ReadMHK and Past K-State First Books

Jennifer Jordan, Adult Services Librarian

With classes started, swarms of people walking through campus, and Aggieville being in full swing, we get to welcome back K-State students. As the class of 2026 joins the Manhattan community, they also join their fellow classmates in reading this year’s K-State First Book, “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley. Her book investigates the people who survive disasters and tragedies with stories of survivors and research of how the brain works.

K-State First Book’s success helped inspire Manhattan Public Library’s ReadMHK program, which begins Sept. 1st. ReadMHK will kick off by encouraging our patrons and the community to join K-State students in reading “The Unthinkable,” or other books about disaster preparedness and survival. Another option is to read a past K-State First Book. There are 13 books to choose from since K-State began doing this in 2010. To see the full list and learn more about their program, visit the K-State First Book website (k-state.edu/ksbn).

Last year’s choice, “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline, of the Métis Nation of Ontario, is a dystopian novel that follows Frenchie, a Métis protagonist. The world is nearly destroyed by global warming, and most of the population lost the ability to dream. Frenchie and other Indigenous people try to survive as they are hunted by the Recruiters. Deployed by the Canadian government, the Recruiters find and take Indigenous people, against their will, to residential schools to find a cure for the loss of dreaming by extracting their bone marrow. Dimaline highlights Indigenous identity and pride, the devastating effects of climate change, and the current and historical oppression of Indigenous people.

A major theme in “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, the 2018 choice, is the struggle for survival in the U.S., whether it be because of the color of your skin, where you live, or your socioeconomic background. The 16-year-old main character, Starr Carter, tries to balance her life where she lives and her life at the mostly-white, suburban prep school she attends. Starr goes to a party with her friend Kenya in their community, Garden Heights. After there are gun shots at the party, Starr and her childhood friend, Khalil, leave the area. Starr and her friend get pulled over because of a broken tail light, and Khalil is shot and killed by a white police officer. Starr faces many challenges when her father tries to protect her from the police and the weaponization of stereotypes against black people. Starr explores her identity and blackness, and deals with the grief and trauma of losing her friend.

Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers is not only another K-State First Book, chosen in 2011, but another read related to disaster preparedness. This non-fiction book reads like a novel and follows Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a U.S. citizen from Syria and small business owner in New Orleans. In 2005, Zeitoun’s wife and their four children left for Baton Rouge as Hurricane Katrina approached the city. He stayed behind to watch over the properties, job sites, and family home, and he ferried others to higher ground in a canoe. Eggers tells the story of Zeitoun during this natural disaster, his survival and perseverance through Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Islamophobia, and the unjust imprisonment he and many other Black, Indigenous and People of Color faced in the weeks following the storm.

ReadMHK is a 9-month library reading program for adults, teens and kids (K+) aimed at building connections through books, shared experiences, and conversations within our community. Each month has a different topic with reading suggestions for all age groups. We will use these topics as a springboard for reading challenge activities, reading lists, podcasts featuring local citizens, and special events that bring our community together.

Everyone is invited to join the ReadMHK online reading challenge on Manhattan Public Library’s reading app, Beanstack. Visit mhklibrary.org/readmhk to get started. The program is designed so individuals can choose how they would like to participate. By reading at least one book on the topic or finishing at least one activity option per month, participants have a chance to win a prize drawing of gift cards to local businesses every 3 months. Look for future library columns featuring more recommended reads for each topic.

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New Adult Genre Showcase

New Adult Genre Showcase

By Gwendolyn Sibley, Librarian 1 Children’s services

In the past decade, there has been a rising genre catering to those whose high school years are behind them. The “new adult” genre aims to encompass the humor, emotional development, and realization of autonomy many 18-to-20-somethings discover. More importantly, the genre exists as a more grown-up young adult novel, and also reflects darker, spicier, and more introspective narratives. Discussed below are some examples for those who love the vibe of young adult content, but are hoping for an older lens.

Nora Sakavic’s 2013 “All for the Game” series may not be new, but certainly fits into the new adult genre. In the first book, “The Foxhole Court” Neil Josten has just entered college as a new striker for the Foxes, a fantasy sports team at Palmetto State University. Here he plays a game called Exy, an evolved version of lacrosse that takes place in an enclosed glass arena. However, Neil is not your average rookie freshman. He has a fake name, a backstory of half-truths, and is on the run from a mafia family who created the sport he loves.

The series emphasizes LGBTQ relationships throughout and presents a narrative of layered secrets, complex trauma, and frightening actions of morally gray characters. These actions include physical abuse, abandonment, use of drugs and alcohol, intimidation, and slang that is racist and homophobic. This content may not be suitable for all readers, but anyone with a love of layered mystery and sports will find a new set of books to binge.

A brand-new release is “The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah. The book tells the tale of Loulie al-Nazari, a night merchant, whose primary trade is magic and secrets in a world inspired by the stories of the classic “1001 Arabian Nights.” Loulie and her jinn friend happen upon an undercover prince, Mazen, and upon saving his life are rewarded with a mission from the sultan himself. Abdullah provides an epic for the new adult that is rich with language and culture. It is challenging to find non-Eurocentric fantasy and magic, and this book will immerse the reader in the beauty and terror of storytelling.

This book has young adult pacing and suspense with characters that are in the early years of adulthood. Loulie is a driven and capable female lead that knows her worth and is not afraid to fight for herself. Anyone eager to balance their love of young adult stories with grown-up characters will find a gem in this book.

If you are feeling for more of an eccentric read, then Abbi Waxman’s “Adult Assembly Required” is a good place to start! Follow the interweaved lives of Laura (a newly-single but determined graduate school student), Nina (who loves books, vintage clothing, and obscure facts), Polly (an eclectic cupid who treats her pug to fine dining), and Bob (an impossibly handsome baseball/animal lover). These likeable housemates’ combined flaws and passions create a dynamic emotional journey in learning what it means to be an adult, especially in learning how to listen and take care of one’s own body and mind.

This book is Waxman’s fifth title. Even so, Waxman’s amusing writing allows for this book to be a stand-alone title. Check out the other books by the author if you like this one.

To finalize this showcase is a new adult’s own story. Immerse yourself in Amy Dong’s “Twenty-One Years Young,” series of personal essays that detail the coming-of-age musings of an almost adult. Dong presents raw and honest commentary on experiences new adults encounter in themselves or their friends: putting one’s health on the backburner to reach college goals, getting stolen from, experiencing the loss of a pet, and finally feeling the weight and glory of the expanse of life left for new adults. It is rare to find a book so deeply ingrained in life for the new adult age groups, but this rich storytelling does include depictions of depression, eating disorders, parent death and pet death. Dong’s dark humor surrounding such topics may not be right for every reader.

These are just a few titles that encompass the stories of being a new adult. More books can be found in both the library’s YA and Adult collection at the Manhattan Public Library. Feel free to ask a librarian for recommendations of more books for the new adult audience!

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Librarians love graphic novels!

Librarians love graphic novels!

By Jan Johnson, Teen Librarian

If you don’t get why graphic novels are so popular, you’re not alone. As a librarian, I see first-hand how fast these books fly off the shelf, and I know they are fantastic for getting reluctant readers, reading. But I never picked one up until last year. One book was all it took to get me hooked! I know that kids and teens love them, but they are increasingly becoming popular with adults. Graphic novels, or comics, are increasing in popularity daily, and librarians love them! Ok, we don’t necessarily like to shelve them (think lots of very thin paperbacks all falling over every time you try to put one away-arghhhhh).

But I digress. Why do we love them? Well, it’s pretty easy. They get kids reading, and they keep them reading! Of course, there are other great reasons we love them. They help kids decipher nonverbal and facial clues to interpret a character’s feelings or meaning. The use of illustration, text, color, and line movements, all force us to slow down and focus. The use of rich graphics and text also accesses different areas of the brain; in little kids, especially emerging readers, that right- and left-brain stimulation helps to solidify those early learning skills. They are a fabulous way to help struggling readers strengthen their vocabulary, increase their reading confidence, and understand the complexities of storytelling. Hearing “Mom, I just finished another Dog Man!” from my then-fourth-grader, struggling to reach the next reading level in class, is priceless!

With the popularity of graphic novels and comics on the rise, the breadth of their topics are increasing in both fiction and non-fiction form. Graphic novels can do more than just tell an entertaining story, they have the power to teach us something new. We can glimpse someone else’s life, and the power of words and pictures coming together creates a wonderful medium to give life to non-fiction stories and events that might be more accessible and powerful to readers. You can learn about the Civil Rights movement with John Lewis’s “March,” experience what moving from South Korea to Alabama is like in “Almost American Girl” by Robin Ha, or learn about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, in Jim Ottaviani’s “Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier.” I know that my experience reading non-fiction graphic memoirs engages me to the heart of the story.

The first graphic novel I ever picked up was “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. With several people I know and love being non-binary, I went into it hoping to understand and empathize with them. The book did just that and so much more. Maia’s intensely personal memoir opens our eyes to eir (Maia uses e/em/eir pronouns) coming of age and trying to navigate the realm of eir self-identity. Maia tells us eir stories that take us on eir journey of self-discovery.

They Called Us Enemy” is written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. This book is Takei’s first-hand account of living in Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII. From the early age of four years old, Takei takes us through his family’s four-year experience of life in the camps, with stories of happiness and heartbreak. The history is laid out and beautifully woven through the pages of this story, bringing to life the 120,000+ Japanese Americans who lived through this horror, and the trials they suffered for simply being Japanese.

One of my favorite middle grade graphic novels is “New Kid” by Jerry Craft. When new kid Jordan Banks starts at Riverdale Academy middle school, he’s worried he won’t make friends, be too different from everyone else, and not have any art classes (which is where he wants to focus). It takes a while, but eventually Jordan gets into the groove of his new middle school. We follow Jordan as he navigates microaggressions, pressure from his parents, and the need for friends and time for his sketches. This book brings a real-world focus on the differences that culture, finances, and race have on a very real, very timely school situation.

There are many ways to enjoy graphic novels. Of course, the good old-fashioned book is a tried-and-true favorite, but many are available digitally with your library card on Hoopla and Sunflower elibrary. ComicsPlus is a fantastic new resource available from the State Library of Kansas. Stop by the second floor reference desk to learn more.

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Reign of Terror

Reign of Terror

By Audrey Schwartz, Adult Services Librarian II

Today’s story in crime history happens south of our border in Oklahoma—the Osage Indian murders, also known as the Osage Reign of Terror (1921-1926), lasted from 1918-1931 in Osage County, Oklahoma. But first some housekeeping. I am an Indigenous woman, so while this isn’t part of my personal history, it is part of the collective history and memories of Indigenous folk. I am Miami from the Banks of the Wabash River, and my people were removed to Miami, Oklahoma.

Back to the Osage. In 1897, oil was discovered on Osage Reservation land, and the federal government allotted over 600 acres of mineral rights to each Osage who was on the 1907 tribal rolls. In the 21 years between discovery and the first murders, the oil market had grown considerably. This rapid growth brought substantial wealth to the Osage, who were deemed, according to Grann “the richest nation, clan or social group of any race on earth, including the whites, man for man.” The majority of the murders were connected to a scheme to inherit Osage land, the mineral rights, and thusly the wealth. Few of the crimes were prosecuted, but some were convicted and sentenced. William Hale was one of the few caught and tried for ordering the murder of his nephew’s wife and other family members. After 5 years of pinpointed killing and 13 total years of incidents, the U.S. Congress changed the law to exclude non-enrolled family from inheriting the land and rights.

In 1994, Dennis McAuliffe, Jr wrote “The Deaths of Sybil Bolton,” which is the true story of how his Osage grandmother died. McAuliffe had always been told his maternal grandmother died of kidney disease in 1925, at the age of 21. McAuliffe’s curiosity, as a reporter, got the best of him. In doing further research he discovered, 66 years later, that her death was recorded as suicide. He kept digging and began using the rarely-accessed FBI files on the “Osage Reign of Terror.”  As he continued to look into his grandmother’s death, he discovered the awful truth: she was shot and murdered. His grandmother had been targeted during the Osage murders for her land and mineral rights. Throughout the book, McAuliffe uses the FBI investigation files, family interviews, and help from the Osage to primarily focus his quest.

David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” was released in 2016. Grann’s book relies heavily on the FBI files and storytelling from tribal members to paint a story of devastating loss and betrayal. Grann’s book thoroughly follows the story, presenting evidence and explaining the connections and reasonings behind the murders. In doing this, readers are presented with this grand picture of the strategic and purposeful “phenomenon” of wealthy Osage with oil rights being murdered by their White “guardians” to take away their wealth. These “guardians” formed relationships with corrupt doctors and local politicians specifically to murder people for oil rights. In 2021, Grann released a young adult version of his award-winning tome. This version is trimmed down to be more approachable.

In 2021, Martin Scorsese began production of a movie based on Grann’s book, which is set to be released in 2023. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who also serves as producer is cast in the role of William Hale’s nephew alongside Robert De Niro as William Hale, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone and Brendan Fraser. Scorsese traveled to the Osage Nation and spoke with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in order to determine how the Osage would be involved in the film. He tells this story on the land it occurred on and with people who were involved. Osage members make up a mixture of the actors in the film and were, of course, used as cultural advisors.

These books and the movie serve as a reminder of the generational trauma that just one tribe experienced. They are great and accurate resources of a tragic, forgotten, and purposely-buried story and how the Osage survived and thrived through the events.

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Light Romance for Summer

Light Romance for Summer

By Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

Summer is a great time for a light read, so I’ve gathered up some of my favorite recent romance novels.

In “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by Sophie Cousens, Laura is a writer for an online magazine. She heads off to Jersey Island to write her parents’ romantic story. Things don’t go as planned, though, starting with her grabbing the wrong suitcase at the airport, followed up with a grumpy taxi driver. It looks like the switched suitcase might be fate leading her to her true love when she looks through the contents and finds her favorite book, piano music by her favorite singer, and a sweater that fits her ideal of what the perfect man should wear. The grumpy taxi driver, Ted, helps her in her quest to find the owner of the suitcase, and he turns out to be more than he first appears. By the time she meets the suitcase owner, she’s starting to question if true love is about “destiny” or something else. This is a fun romantic comedy set in the beautiful scenery of the Channel Islands, a perfect summer escape.

The launch of the “Would-Be Wallflowers” series, “How to Be a Wallflower” by Eloisa James, is a historical novel set in Regency London. Miss Cleopatra Lewis doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a debutante. She spent her childhood following theater troupes around England with her unconventional mother, and is the powerful owner of a manufacturing firm that specializes in the latest commode technology. When she meets unpolished American investor, Jacob Astor Addison, she is not impressed. As they both compete to purchase the most renowned costume emporium in England, they come to respect each other’s business acumen, along with other attributes, and are soon questioning the motivations that had them competing in the first place. James has delivered another delightful story that delivers love and laughs.

In “It Happened One Summer” by Tessa Bailey, influencer and socialite Piper Bellinger pushes her stepfather’s patience too far when she is arrested for an unauthorized rooftop party. She is sent off to rural Washington state to gain some self-control and attempt to run her late father’s run-down bar. Her kind (and more responsible) sister accompanies her, and they are greeted by a disaster of an apartment, and a group of local fishermen who have taken over the bar as their own. Through learning more about her father and his family, putting some elbow grease into the bar and apartment, and spending time with Brendan, the gruff fisherman who doesn’t want to get involved but can’t resist her charm and liveliness, Piper changes her perception of herself and where her gifts and passions lie. “It Happened One Summer” is a light-hearted romance with heart, a great read for fans of “Schitt’s Creek.”

Amanda Elliot’s “Sadie on a Plate” gives a glimpse into the wild world of cooking competition reality TV shows. When we meet Sadie, she’s still reeling from unjust accusations that seem to have destroyed her career as a chef. In a last-ditch attempt to save her future, she tries out for Chef Supreme, and makes it onto the show. While travelling on the plane to the show, she meets the perfect man for her, only to find out that he’s one of the judges for the show. While she tries to focus on showcasing her unique take on traditional Jewish cooking, and also hiding that one of the judges may hold a bias, she forms lifetime friendships with fellow contestants and learns a lot about herself along the way. Sadie has moments of being a difficult character to like, so it is very satisfying to watch her develop as a chef and as a human being at the same time.

Find a great mix of genre and formats (print, digital, and more!) at Manhattan Public Library or mhklibrary.org.

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That’s Too Funny! What Kids Read for Fun

That’s Too Funny! What Kids Read for Fun

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Look at some of the most popular books for kids and you will see recurring themes of comedy accompanied by humorous illustrations in the likes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and Dog Man series. Even Garfield has stood the test of time. The NYT Bestseller list for children’s picture books last week features titles like “Not Quite Narwhal,” “The Day the Crayons Quit,” “Grumpy Monkey,” and “Dragons Love Tacos.” This is fun reading that will make grown-ups smile, too.

I believe kids are drawn to humor for some of the same reasons as adults. Life can be pretty heavy, and lots of things can go wrong. We all need a reason to smile and laugh, and we need a way to poke fun at life to lighten things up. However, the type of humor enjoyed by adults and kids can be quite different, and it may be hard to get excited about your child reading the Fart Quest series (yes, that really exists), but do not despair. This doesn’t mean your child will never enjoy classic literature. It just means that right now, your child is seeking a way to feel lighthearted and forget about their troubles, and bodily function jokes might just do the trick.

Here are a few series and titles on the LOL radar you may want to try:

The Planet Omar series by Zanib Mian with illustrations by Nasaya Mafaradik and Kyan Cheng – Omar’s big imagination can cause crazy nightmares, but it also helps him find solutions and get out of bad situations. As Omar makes friends in a new school, deals with a bully, and endures his annoying siblings, he finds humor in every day situations at home and school. Being Muslim is part of his daily life, which is both routine and different from most of his friends, bringing out themes of acceptance, understanding and celebrating diversity. Fans of “The Terrible Two” by Jory John and Mac Barnett will likely see eye to eye with Omar.

The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton – Australian creators Griffiths and Denton go totally farcical with their ever-growing treehouse where anything crazy can, and does, happen. “The 13-Story Treehouse” is the starting point, and with each book it grows another 13 stories, so the latest release, book 11, is “The 143-Story Treehouse.” Readers “can expect the unexpected,” says Griffiths, such as the treehouse being abducted by a giant flying eyeball and flung through space. And it keeps getting better and better. Kids who enjoy “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” by Louis Sachar will love this wacky treehouse.

The Cranky Chicken series by Katherine Battersby – This hilarious graphic novel was recommended by a young reader who says Chicken is way high on the crank-o-meter, and the only one who can talk her down is Speedy the worm. First, they have to find something to eat that doesn’t upset Chicken. For example, food that is jiggly or food with holes. “Where has the food from the holes gone? Holes raise too many questions.” If you loved and laughed at “Narwhal and Jelly” by Ben Clanton, Cranky Chicken might be your next best thing.

Mister Fairy” by Morgane de Cadier – Many fairies live in the forest, illustrated here as tiny animals with wings, but “then, there’s Mister Fairy,” a scowling elephant fairy who cannot seem to make any magic.  Upset and disappointed, he leaves his home and discovers a gloomy city that sure could use some happiness. Perhaps Mister Fairy will also discover something new about himself.

Off Limits” by Helen Yoon – This picture book explores a kids very favorite place to be…a room that is off limits! When Dad leaves his office door open, the child finds amazing things like scotch tape, paperclips and sticky notes. What could be more fun?

Goldie’s Guide to Grandchilding” by Clint McElroy, illustrated by Eliza Kinkz – You may have never thought about the big responsibility of handling your grandparent, but Goldie knows all the rules. Keep toys simple, do not introduce video games, and do go out to eat together. Also, watch out for unannounced toots! In fact, Goldie and her grandpa are pretty perfect companions.

Enjoy some silly reading time together this summer with books that make you laugh out loud. And don’t forget to stop by the library to get your summer reading prizes this week.

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

Take a Trip and Embrace the Journey

Take a Trip and Embrace the Journey

by Jared Richards, Learning and Information Services Supervisor

When it comes to train travel, the most on-the-nose saying is that life is about the journey, not the destination. My family recently went on a train trip that started with a seven-hour delay, then we broke down in the desert, then we were overly-polite (or just a stickler for the rules) and let every freight train go by, and finally we arrived over twenty hours late. But I would still highly recommend the experience, assuming you don’t need to get somewhere in a timely manner. The actual journey consisted of hanging out with my family, eating good food, and taking in the scenery as it rolled by, all of which is much harder to do behind the wheel of a car.

Although I am a fan of trains, I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time reading about them, despite my dream of one day getting into model railroading. But there are plenty of good books not involving trains that focus on the journey.

One of the more literal ones is “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne. Professor Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew, find a coded note that tells them that the center of the earth can be reached via the volcanic tubes found beneath a volcano in Iceland. They enlist the support of an Icelandic guide to help them discover the wonders hidden beneath the earth’s crust. This includes a large ocean, giants, and prehistoric animals. As a kid I was enthralled by Jules Verne. His books featured epic journeys to the moon, under the ocean, into the earth, and around the globe. These stories were written in the 1800s, which makes them all the more interesting.

Also in the 1800s, we have “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome. Jerome intended to write a travel guide, which is why there are historical bits spread throughout the book, but it’s really just a funny book about the misadventures of three friends traveling on the Thames by boat. It’s one of the few books that has actually brought me to tears from laughter.

For a slightly-more-recent adventure, there is “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green. Colin and his friend Hassan set off on a road trip after graduating high school, following Colin’s most recent breakup from a girl named Katherine. This is Colin’s nineteenth relationship with a girl named Katherine, hence the title. Starting in Chicago, they end up picking up a summer job in Tennessee interviewing the locals for an oral history project, while also maybe kindling a relationship with someone not named Katherine.

Bill Bryson is known for his humorous travel books. My favorite Bryson book is “A Walk in the Woods,” which features his attempt, with a friend, to hike the Appalachian Trail. I’ve had enough experience hiking that this book is very relatable. With modern forms of transport, it is rarely necessary to walk long distances anymore (speaking for myself, obviously). This means that long hikes are purely for the sake of the journey. It allows you to slow down, focus on your steps, listen to the world around you, and hopefully ignore the annoying traits of your hiking companions, like their inability to maintain an even pace, or not securing their gear so it’s banging and clanging all over the place.

To be fair to my initial anecdote, I feel compelled to at least mention a couple train books that are now in my queue because spending over fifty hours on a train has piqued my interest into other experiences. The first is “Off the Rails” by Beppe Severgnini, in which he talks about various train trips he has taken in his life around Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States.

And lastly, we have Paul Theroux’s “The Great Railway Bazaar.” This book, first published in 1975, recounts his journey from the UK to Japan and back, over the course of four months. I am intrigued to find out if my experience was unique or relatively commonplace when it comes to train travel.

It would be hard for you to throw a rock and not hit a book that was all about the journey and not the destination. I know this. You know this. It’s a cliché for a reason. But also, don’t throw stones. If you need help finding a new book and going on a journey, just ask a librarian. We’re all over the place at the library, and we’re here to help.

 

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