Month: May 2018

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

New Books for the Outdoor Cooker

New Books for the Outdoor Cooker

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Summertime is right around the corner. Time to get out of the house and fire up the Weber, because this is the start of the grilling season.

In 2016, sales of grills and barbecues in the U.S. topped 1.47 billion dollars. Over 79 million Americans have grilled out at least once during the past year. While the majority of grill owners (63%) use their grills or smokers all year, summer is the season that most comes to mind with the word cookout.

The library has dozens of cookbooks about the art of grilling and barbecuing, but I’d like to highlight some of the newest additions to the collection.

When you think barbecue, you usually think meat. Well, think again. “VBQ: the Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook,” by Nadine Horn and Jörge Mayer, includes over 80 recipes for grilling without meat. Concise instructions and plentiful photographs present such delights as eggplant gyros with tahini and yogurt sauce, and grilled butternut squash tacos topped with a cashew queso. One drawback to this book by German food bloggers is their mixed use of metric and U.S. measurements.

Weber has been a recognized name in barbecue grills and barbecue cookbooks since 1952. “Weber’s Greatest Hits,” by Jamie Purviance presents the best from the Weber Company archives. Arranged in course and ingredient based chapters, each recipe is accompanied by a full-page color photo. Recipes range from the unexpected, such as a grilled peach and blue cheese bruschetta, to the expected. There are recipes for three types of hot dogs, six burgers, and numerous steaks. This title is also available as a downloadable eBook from Hoopla.

For chef and food writer Matt Moore, pork butt is the cornerstone of good barbecue. In “The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection,” Moore collects stories and recipes from acclaimed barbecue joints throughout the South. Moore is the reader’s guide and mentor, explaining the proper use of ingredients and demonstrating the most effective smoking techniques. While the pork is smoking, Moore offers recipes for fantastic sides and appetizers, such as dry-rubbed smoked chicken wings, grilled potato salad, jalapeño creamed corn, and beer-batter fried pickles.

Self-professed weekend griller, Paula Disbrowe, presents a collection of recipes from the Food 52 website ( in “Food 52 for Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire up a Dinner (and more).” Disbrowe avoids lengthy marinades and low-and-slow cook times, favoring quicker methods so that the simple pleasures of a grilled meal can be enjoyed any night of the week. Using the author’s uncomplicated instructions, grillers of all skill levels will be able to prepare dishes such as crackly rosemary flatbread, porchetta-style pork kebabs, and sweet and smoky drumsticks.

How to Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food,” by Mark Bittman contains a whopping 1,000 recipes without overwhelming the reader.  Instead Bittman concentrates on variations of main ingredients, such as chicken breast (salt-and-pepper boneless chicken, crunchy breaded cutlets, and lemon chicken scaloppini with asparagus and feta) and steak (stuffed flank, and carne asada tacos).  Bittman’s book explores the infinite possibilities of grilling, with recipes for every part of the meal from appetizers, through main courses (including vegetarian main courses), to desserts.

Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue,” by Mike Mills and Amy Mills is a book of recipes and wisdom from the country’s foremost pitmaster. Mike, “The Legend,” is a barbecue Hall-of-Famer and four time barbecue world champion. Amy, his daughter, runs the barbecue consultancy, OnCue ( Their book includes nearly 100 recipes from the family archives, such as Ain’t No Thang but a Chicken Wing, Pork Belly Bites, and Prime Rib on the Pit.  Mike and Amy offer advice on achieving barbecue excellence at home, revealing a trilogy of secrets: right wood, right smoking, and right timing. This title is also available as a downloadable eBook from Hoopla.

Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades – Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, Too,” by Steven Raichlen is available as a downloadable eBook from Hoopla. This is a revision of Raichlen’s bestselling encyclopedia of the flavor-boosters giving grilled food its character, personality and depth. In its pages you’ll find an international selection of flavors, such as Mexican, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and of course America’s own.

Whether you’re an expert grill master or a novice in the ways of the flame, the library has the barbecue books you’re looking for in both print and digital formats.

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

NoveList Plus and Summer Reading

NoveList Plus and Summer Reading

By Jared Richards, Adult 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.

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

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 MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff 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.