Month: November 2017

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It’s All About Gratitude

It’s All About Gratitude

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Now that the Thanksgiving feasting and the shopping in its aftermath is behind you, it’s time to reflect on all the reasons you have to be thankful. After all, this is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving Day every year?

The Pilgrims celebrated what we call the First Thanksgiving in October 1621 after their first harvest in the New World. But it was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed the day (the last Thursday of November) a federal holiday at the height of the Civil War, in 1864. Usually the last Thursday was the fourth Thursday in November, but to avoid confusion when there were five Thursdays in a month, Congress passed a joint resolution officially requiring Thanksgiving to be observed on the fourth Thursday in November. And that is where it has been since December 26, 1941.

Thanksgiving Day is all about gratitude. Gratitude, defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” doesn’t always come naturally. To assist gratitude challenged, the library has several titles available on the subject.

The Gratitude Diaries,” by Janice Kaplan, recounts the author’s year of looking on the bright side, and the remarkable effects this had on her physical and mental well-being. Kaplan focuses on being thankful for her family and her career. She keeps a “gratitude journal,” and consults with experts in the fields of psychology and medicine. She also talks with friends who had beat depression after adversity. The result, Kaplan finds, is that she is a better person after a year of gratitude.

After years of research and practice, Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons discovered that grateful living transforms lives. In “The Grateful Life,” they show that grateful people are happier, healthier, and less stressed. Grateful people report more satisfaction with their relationships. This book is a guide to discovering and harnessing the power of positive attitude filled with inspiring stories about people who have exercised gratitude to rise out of adversity.

A posthumous release by a famous neurologist is a small book that explains the predominant feeling of the author’s life, namely, gratitude. “Gratitude,” by Oliver Sacks weighs in at a mere 45 pages. Within those pages, as Sacks approaches death, he explains his gratitude for life. He explores the fate of every human being, to be a unique individual, finding his own path to live his own life, and to be thankful for it.

One December, John Kralik found his life at a very low ebb, with a failing law practice, a painful divorce, and being 40 pounds overweight. On New Year’s Day, Kralik thought that maybe his life could become tolerable if only he focused on being grateful for what he had, instead of dwelling on what he didn’t have. The result, “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” follows the author’s experiment with writing thank you notes. Kralik wrote 365 thank you notes, one a day, for a year, for gifts and kindnesses he had received. On the way, Kralik realizes that his life has turned around.

In “Focus on the Good Stuff,” motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins examines the dangers of negativity in individuals and society. His simple yet powerful solution is to be grateful, appreciative, and positive. The book provides exercises at the end of each chapter to practice gratitude and to reach greater success and fulfillment.

Thanks!,” by Robert Emmons summarizes the research he and others have conducted on the subject of gratitude. His research found that subjects who kept “gratitude diaries,” listing things for which they were thankful, turned out to be happier, more optimistic, and healthier compared to those who only chronicled the daily hassles of their lives. Emmons claims that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. It is a way of life.

In addition to print books, don’t forget the library’s extensive collection of books on CD, and books and audio available for free download through the Sunflower eLibrary and Hoopla.  Also mark your calendar for Saturday, December 2. That’s the day of Food for Fines. For each nonperishable food item you bring to the library, MPL will take $1.00 off of your overdue fines up to $10.00 per library account. All food donated will benefit the Flint Hills Breadbasket. Just another thing to be thankful for.

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Looking for Some Funny, Inspiring Audiobooks? Yes, Please!

Looking for Some Funny, Inspiring Audiobooks? Yes, Please!

By Diedre Lemon, Adult Services Librarian

I have a long commute to work each day, and I have spent a great deal of time in a car traveling back to Illinois to visit family. So, I discovered audiobooks to keep going on the long hours behind the wheel. Normally I choose a fun fantasy book like the Percy Jackson series or Neil Gaiman. Since I have listened to the newest Rick Riordan book, Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead, I need some fresh audiobooks to enjoy, and after re-watching West Wing with Rob Lowe, I was ready to re-watch Parks and Recreation. Therefore it made sense to listen to Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please! After Poehler’s book came Tina Fey’s book Bossypants partly because Poehler mentioned Fey’s book.

One could quickly judge these books as nothing more than memoirs filled with reflective essays, but I would suggest listening to or reading them before jumping to such conclusions. Poehler and Fey address issues of gender, body image, comedy, being a woman and becoming a mom. Their backgrounds in comedy deliver these topics with humorous candor, so after you stop laughing or smiling, you catch how clever and talented they are as comedians. They are also not afraid to talk about how hard it can be to be a mother, a wife and to have a career. Listening to these women admit their flaws and carry on, gave me quirky pep talks each time I was in the car. For a short time, it was like driving to work with a funny cool older sister who offered advice.

Another reason to listen to these books is to hear about Saturday Night Live. I grew up watching Michael Myers, Phil Hartman, Molly Shannon and Chris Farly, and of course I enjoyed writing and performing sketch comedy in junior high and high school. Occasionally, I would catch episodes of the show with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Both women worked on Saturday Night Live as writers and performers. Fey was on from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, and Poehler was part of the show from 2001-2009 with some special guest appearances in the following years. They were the first two women to host Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Up until that point, Weekend Update had never had two female co-anchors. Listening to both of these women speak about this in their books, I could hear how proud Poehler and Fey were of their work together on the show and the boundaries they broke.

Both address what life is like as female comedians in a male driven business. Each one spoke about how the inclusion of more female comedians who could write and perform helped changed the industry. It was encouraging that both of these ladies went on to have successful TV shows after working at Saturday Night Live. Balancing work with a husband and children was also part of life after Saturday Night Live. Each one had to navigate writing scripts for weekly episodes, learning lines, filming, children, family and more. Not all of this was done successfully, either. Poehler and Fey were quick to admit life is messy, constantly changing and there is little we can control of it.

The themes and topics of the book were the same; however, the voices and humor were different. Poehler’s audio was a little flashier with guest readers, while Fey has a more understated tone and sense of humor. Fey was more reserved while Poehler was a little more emotional. Yet, both books are worth listening too. Each writer spoke about the other writer and their themes were similar. I am to finish the books.

Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me is next on my reading/ listening list for inspiring, humorous audiobooks. Additionally, male comedians also made the list: Neil Patrick Harris’ Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, and Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat and Food: A Love Story.

A majority of my audiobooks are from the Sunflower E-Library using the Libby app on my phone. Hoopla is another favorite app for audiobooks and e-books. The library also has a great books on CD collection, too. For more great titles, be sure to check out the apps and our audiobook collection at the library.

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Food for Fines 2017

photo of maize with Food for Fines logo

From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, everyone who brings a non-perishable food item to the Manhattan Public Library will receive a $1 voucher to pay library fines. Vouchers will be good throughout the month of December, with a maximum of 10 vouchers per person. All of the donated food will be given to the Flint Hills Bread Basket to help combat food insecurity in Manhattan.

Library Director, Linda Knupp, championed the idea as “a way to promote good will during the holidays and give back to the community.”

Suggested items include:
Boxed meals
Grape jelly
Peanut butter
Canned meats
Pancake syrup

The following items will not be accepted:
No expired items
No damaged items
No open packages
Ramen noodles (and other multi-pack items) will be accepted at a value of 4 packages = $1

Volunteers from the Manhattan Library Association will be in the library’s atrium to accept donations and issue vouchers. For more information, please contact the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, (785) 776-4741 ext. 100, or
The Flint Hills Breadbasket is located at 905 Yuma Street. It was founded in 1983 as a Community Food Network to collect and distribute food to those in need. Their food pantry is open Monday – Thursday from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to distribute food. To see the complete schedule for the Breadbasket, visit or call (785) 537-0730.

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Criminal Detection in the Streets of Victorian England

Criminal Detection in the Streets of Victorian England

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

If you are a reader of period mysteries, you will most likely enjoy the Gower Street Detective series by M. R. C. Kasasian.  The stories take place in a gritty London of the 1880’s which invites comparison with the great Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but there is a freshness in plot and a cast of characters unlike any found on Baker Street.  Let me give you a clue to the appeal.

Personal (not private) detective Sidney Grice is a brilliant man.  He has an excellent reputation for uncovering the truth in baffling cases, but his services do not come cheaply.  He has little compassion for others, and openly admits that fact that he doesn’t like people and they don’t like him.   He has a glass eye that causes him some irritation and some shock for other people, and he is well beyond frugal when it comes to purchasing food.  His servants are belligerent and frequently make fun of his personal habits.

The Mangle Street Murders,” the first in the series, brings sudden changes to Sidney’s household.  Always a private man, Sidney has accepted the responsibility for March Middleton, a young woman who has lost her parents.  She becomes his ward and attempts to conceal her occasional drinking and her love of smoking from her picky benefactor.  The two routinely dine on sodden, cold vegetables at Sidney’s meager table.  And they share a fondness for barely concealed sarcasm that spices up the whole story.

Mrs. Grace Dillinger calls on Sidney with a new case.  Her ironmonger son-in-law has been charged with the vicious murder of his wife.  Sidney, seeing little likelihood of collectible fees, refuses the case.  But March, who wants to become a detective in her own right, insists on using some of her own money to help the desperate mother-in-law.

To the streets of London the two detectives go, examining a battered body in the morgue and questioning witnesses who might shed some light on the crime.  During their investigation, they encounter pickpockets and bullies who complicate the case.  Ultimately, Sidney realizes that his ways may not always be the best course of action.

The second in the series is “The Curse of the House of Foskett.”  This outing involves unexplained sudden deaths among members of the Final Death Society.  Sidney and March take on the case when, to Sidney’s disgust, the first victim has the nerve to die in front of him.  As Sidney and March go about their investigation, other victims appear, each one dispatched under ugly circumstances, including one in a kill chamber.

The third in the series, “Death Descends on Saturn Villa,” is also compelling.  March is contacted by an odd gentleman who claims to be her only living relative.  When she calls on his estate, things go horribly wrong, and she finds herself charged with a murder that she may have committed while under the influence of some drug.  Of course Sidney will get involved, and the interplay between fact and illusion becomes quite complicated.

As these stories progress, other puzzling facts about characters’ backgrounds emerge.  There are allusions to March’s previous engagement that ended with the violent death of her fiancé.  There is the sense that Sidney knows more about March’s deceased mother than he cares to admit.  And there is Sidney’s background yet to be revealed.  After all, how did he lose one eye?  Too, there is a growing sense that despite his protestations, Sidney has begun to take a paternal attitude toward March.

For some riveting detection and likeable characters, I recommend the Gower Street Detective series.  A sixth installment involving a Prussian count and ladies in distress is due out in December, yet another title in a compelling series.

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Kansas Reads to Preschoolers 2017

image of the book cover for The Napping House

We are celebrating the state library’s 13th annual Kansas Reads to Preschoolers week, November 12-18.

Storytimes this week will feature the one-book/one-state selection for young children, The Napping House by Audrey Wood with illustrations by Don Wood. This beloved book first published in 1984 has delighted children for many years. It is a silly cumulative tale of a snoring granny, who is joined by a dreaming child, a dozing dog, and so on until the pile reaches far above the bed. The tiniest critter on top starts the ruckus that wakes everyone in reverse, and naptime is over. Children who attend one of the library’s nine storytimes during this week will receive a free copy of The Napping House.

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers highlights the state’s commitment to increasing reading readiness and on-grade reading while promoting reading, literacy and libraries. Help us celebrate by reading to a child this week!

For more information, visit