Month: March 2018

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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!

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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!

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One Woman’s Education

One Woman’s Education

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Leadership Lessons at the Library

Leadership Lessons at the Library
By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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