Month: August 2018

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Vacation Resolutions

Image result for Woodworking from the Scrap Pile derek jonesVacation Resolutions

By Jared Richards, Adult & Teen Services Assistant Supervisor

My theme for 2018 has been resolutions. To say my New Year’s resolution to write a short story each month never really took flight would be an understatement. It never even taxied to the runway, but that’s okay. Resolutions are a long-con, and sometimes you just need to throw a bunch at the wall and see which ones stick.

To that end, I am always looking for a good opportunity to resolve myself to something, and following a recent vacation, I was introduced to the idea of vacation resolutions. These are resolutions that you make while on vacation, for things you want to do after a vacation. When you find yourself on vacation, away from the stress of daily life, it is easier to put things in perspective, and vacation resolutions can help maintain that perspective, keeping you focused on the things that are important to you. Those things that have a tendency to be buried beneath bills, work, and just maintaining the illusion that you are an adult and know what’s going on (Spoiler: We’re all making it up as we go).

My first resolution is to make things out of wood. I have tools, the plans for a workbench that I will build someday, and access to a large selection of woodworking books at the Manhattan Public Library. We have books about small projects, like “How to Build Birdhouses and Feeders” by Stephen Moss or “Woodworking from the Scrap Pile” by Derek Jones, and bigger projects, like “Illustrated Cabinetmaking” by Bill Hylton or “Shaker Furniture Projects” by Glen Huey. We even have “Dream Treehouses” by Alain Laurens, for those of us who aspire to the level of housing featured in the Disney classic “Swiss Family Robinson” but maybe don’t need all of the pirates.

My second resolution is to ride my bicycle more. After a twenty year hiatus, it turns out that riding a bike is just like riding a bike, although it’s a bit more wobbly than I remember. To help build my confidence, I’ve been doing a lot of research, which includes reading library books, because I’m a librarian. The two standouts so far have been “The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual” by Eben Weiss and “Just Ride” by Grant Petersen. Both are quick reads that cover a broad range of information with humor and plain language. “The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair” is a good start for those interested in performing their own repairs, and if you’re interested in the history of bicycles, there is the aptly titled “Bicycle: The History.”

My final resolution is to get better at meal prep, the practice of preparing most of your meals for the week at one time and then storing them in the freezer or fridge until you need them. According to Google Trends, “meal prep” had a surge in popularity at the end of 2017, so I’m a little late to the party, but it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon. The library has hundreds of cookbooks that can be useful for achieving my meal prep dreams. “The Casserole Queens Cookbook” has several good recipes, and they note which ones are good for freezing, and tell you to freeze them right before the baking step in the recipe.

I’m always a bit wary of bringing a cookbook into the kitchen, however, especially a borrowed one, because cooking can be a messy endeavor. Flour can find all the nooks and crannies, and I have yet to sauté something without oil going everywhere. One solution to this is to use an ebook instead. Pull up an ebook on your smartphone or tablet, open a cabinet, and prop your device up against your dishes. This will free up some counter space and keep the book at eye level so you won’t spend half your time in the kitchen bent over a book. I recently used Hoopla, one of the library’s free online resources for digital books, movies, music, and comics, to check out “Fix, Freeze, Feast,” which is filled with great recipes and instructions on how to freeze each one.

The best part of picking a resolution, is all of the potential that a resolution holds. The hardest part, is sticking to it. And the worst part, is writing about it in a public forum, and then not following through. So this time, I’ll enjoy the potential of my resolutions, revel in the challenge of sticking to my resolve, and then I’ll definitely follow through.

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Romance for the End of Summer

Image result for the kissing quotientRomance for the End of Summer

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult and Teen Services Manager

Summer is fading quickly, so grasp what little is left by settling in on the screen porch, dipping your feet in the pool, or stretching out on the hammock to enjoy a delicious romance.

Kristan Higgins has established a sterling reputation as a writer of humorous contemporary romance. Her last few novels have dug a bit deeper into other aspects of women’s lives without losing her reliable ability to deliver a memorable story. In Now That You Mention It, Dr. Nora Stuart is starting to question her life in Boston as a successful gastroenterologist and her relationship with her boyfriend, when an accident clarifies that she needs to do something different. She heads home to small-town Maine even though she knows that she will not be welcomed by everyone. Coming to terms with her past and finding connections in unexpected places open up new possibilities for a fresh start on life.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang tells the story of Stella Lane, an autistic statistician who doesn’t appreciate many aspects of dating, especially kissing. Bowing to pressure from her mother’s nagging, Stella decides to take a practical approach and hires a male escort to teach her how to date. She soon realizes that there’s more to the gorgeous Michael than a pretty face and patience with her awkward ways.  The author is autistic herself and enjoyed the opportunity to add some authenticity to depictions of autism in fiction. This sweet and spicy romance is a delightful read.

In An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole takes readers back to the Civil War. Freed slave Elle Burns risks her freedom by spying for the Union Army in the South. Disguised as a mute slave in a Southern senator’s home, she discovers that her contact from the Pinkerton Agency is a dashing Confederate officer paying court to the spoiled daughter of the house. Working together in secret to serve the Union cause, they develop mutual respect and trust. Cole has a talent for developing rich characters and doesn’t shy away from the complications of an interracial romance in Civil War South. An Extraordinary Union will keep readers captivated while also educating about a critical point in our history.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory starts off with the classic meet-cute of getting stuck in an elevator. Drew is dreading the wedding of his former girlfriend and his best friend when he is trapped with Alexa. In desperation, he asks her to fake a relationship with him and be his date for the wedding. The farce becomes real when they realize they can’t stop thinking about each other. Alexa is smart and resourceful woman dealing with a difficult family history. Drew is a pediatrician avoiding the ghosts from his past. Guillory infuses their story with humor and heart to create a truly enjoyable story.

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky is an inspirational story of Isabella Grayson, an aspiring news writer whose father just wants her to marry well, and James Drake, a pilot working to be the first man to fly across the English Channel. When James crashes on the Grayson estate, he is enraptured by Isabella and the status of her family. Disaster brings them closer to each other and strengthens their faith. Packed with adventure and gentle allure, this thoroughly-researched Edwardian Christian romance is a good read-alike for fans of Downton Abbey.

It wouldn’t be a proper romance fiction list without at least one Regency title. Tessa Dare provides an enchanting and humorous twist on Beauty and the Beast entitled The Duchess Deal. When seamstress Emma Gladstone goes calling on the Duke of Ashbury, wearing the bridal gown that his former fiancé refuses to pay for, little does she know that she will receive an offer of marriage. The duke needs an heir and any bride will do. Her ability to stand up to him and his hidden honorable kindness transform a marriage of convenience into a love match. Strong characters and Dare’s trademark wit make for a vibrant novel.

You can find out about all the latest and greatest fiction by subscribing to email newsletters from our website, Choose from your favorite genres or bestsellers to find your next great read.

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

How My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

Image result for genius files mission unstoppableHow My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

My summer vacation included taking advantage of my fourth grader’s access to National Parks. The U.S. National Park Service program “Every Kid in a Park” is a fabulous opportunity for families. If you have a fourth grader this year, just go to and have your child complete their simple adventure diary game online. Print out their free pass, which allows the whole family a full year to see national lands and waters. With Wyatt’s help, we planned a trip that included two national parks and some other interesting sites along the way.

Our first stop was Cawker City, Kansas. You know the spot – the legendary home of The World’s Largest Ball of Twine. How did I live in Kansas this long without making this pilgrimage? My youngest son Owen even got to add one “round” of twine, about 43 feet, with the help of a local twine volunteer.  The ball of twine is famous enough to make it into movie scenes, cartoons, pop culture references, and even a few books at the library. Using Hoopla, you can download a free documentary about Cawker City’s number one tourist attraction. For fun, pick up the first book in Dan Gutman’s middle grade series, “The Genius Files: Unstoppable Mission.” As twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald try to solve a mystery while being chased by “murderous lunatics,” they stop in Kansas at Lebanon (the geographic center of the U. S.) and Cawker City. In fact, Gutman’s book is practically a catalog of weirdest tourist attractions in the states, so your kids might get some quirky ideas of where to visit next.

As we continued, we were impressed when the giant heads of Mount Rushmore National Memorial first came into view. We had checked out books on places we planned to visit, including “Mount Rushmore” by Joanne Mattern, so we knew a few things about it when we arrived. In the Children’s Geography Neighborhood, you can find great nonfiction to stir your child’s curiosity, like this series, “Symbols of Freedom,” which also includes “The White House,” “Statue of Liberty,” “St. Louis Gateway Arch” and more.

Maybe your family went to one of these other national hot spots. If you didn’t visit the library before you left, it is still fun afterwards to bring home a pile of books based on the places you’ve visited. “Discover America State by State” is a popular series that goes through a state or region with large, colorful illustrations on each page. It can be read aloud to younger kids using the larger text, or read in detail with 1-2 paragraphs of facts in each sidebar. In “M is for Mount Rushmore: A South Dakota Alphabet,” the book explores a variety of topics from native peoples, to specific towns and lakes, to Wall Drug, the world’s largest drug store.

We were finally able to use Wyatt’s cool park pass at our next two destinations and saved more than $100. We traveled first through Grand Teton National Park, where we discovered a beautiful landscape with namesakes for me and Owen – Lake Jenny and Mount Owen. It was as serene a moment as one could share with two lively boys. They were amazed by the clear, pure water of the lake. We had been looking at titles from the “Visitor Guides” series – “Welcome to Grand Teton National Park,” and “Welcome to Yellowstone National Park.” The books showed my kids what to be on the lookout for and gave some history, geology and wildlife background about the area. A section about the 1988 Yellowstone fire helped us understand what we were looking at when we came across hillsides of black and gray trees. Nothing quite prepared us for the stench of Mud Volcano, but now we know about hydrogen sulfide, which will lead us to another library trip to learn more about that.

As we left town through Cody, Wyoming, we checked out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and found even more to pique our curiosity about the animals of the area, Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, and the Plains Indians.  And yes, that meant more books again. The History Neighborhood is full of tie-ins to all the places we visited where famous and infamous events took place and people made their mark. I’m just finishing Andrea Warren’s “The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing up Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas.” Our final stop was the Buffalo Bill statue in Oakley, Kansas, which was beautiful and impressive, and also meant we were close to home. One more trip to the library meant getting final summer reading prizes, and a few more days of lazy reading before school begins.

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

Just About Time to Hit the Books Again

Just About Time to Hit the Books Again

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Summer vacation is melting quickly away. The new school year is looming ahead. Are the kids prepared? Are the parents prepared? The library has the resources budding students need to excel at school.

Eighteen video files always available for free download from Hoopla shows your child “How to Become a Superstar Student.”  These videos are packed with information about skills vital to carry your student through high school and into college. The advice, tips, tricks, and resources will transform your student’s education.

In “Painless Study Techniques,” Michael Greenberg provides helpful information on topics including time management, homework organization, note taking, creating outlines, studying for tests, and writing a research paper. Every chapter features “Brain Ticklers,” activities to help students practice their new skills. The book is intended for secondary school students, but the information could be useful to students of any age and to their parents and teachers.

Cal Newport reveals the proven study secrets of real straight-A students in “How to Become a Straight A Student.” Combined into a practical system, he shares secrets on maximizing study time, conquering procrastination, absorbing material quickly and effectively, and discerning which reading assignments are critical and which are not.  This is a study guide written by students for students.

Available as a free downloadable audio from Hoopla, “The Student Success System: How to Get an A on your Test!,” by Howard Berg teaches students how to study more effectively. He offers techniques to master getting the most out of reading assignments, maximizing reading comprehension and speed, learn and comprehend complex principles of science, physics, and math, and even how to compute math problems in your head.

How to Study Program,” by Ronald Fry is another downloadable audio from Hoopla. Some of the topics covered in this audio include organizing your studying, reading comprehension, organizing your time, efficient use of the library, writing better papers, and studying for tests.

If your student is struggling with math, you’ll want to show them “A Mind for Numbers,” by Barbara Oakley. This book equips students with the tools to excel at math and science. In this short book, the author discusses how to toggle between creative and analytical thinking, both of which are required to learn math. She utilizes exercises, photographs, and diagrams to teach students to redirect their brains for more effective learning.

The library has a collect of study guides in book format covering the entire alphabetic array of test abbreviations. You’ll find everything from the GED to the GRE, from the ACT to the SAT. Additional study guides are available as free downloadable eBooks from Hoopla and the Sunflower eLibrary.

The library is much more than books when it comes to helping you with your education. “Learning Express,” for example, is a one-stop online shop for a variety of resources. You’ll find test prep guides for the ACT, SAT, and others, along with tutorials, and downloadable eBooks. There are also skill building resources for elementary, middle, and high school students in match, social studies, and English language arts. If you’re already in college, take advantage of skill building resources in math, reading, and science. You’ll also find materials on study skills, skills to help you succeed in the classroom, information literacy and research techniques, and computer skills. If you setup a free account with “Learning Express,” you’ll to keep track of the resources you’ve used, and where you left off.

If you’re interested in getting a head start on learning another language, or you just need a refresher, try “Mango Languages.” This free online resources features lessons in 71 languages. Learn French, Spanish, Italian, or Russian with ease. There are even specialty language courses, such as Spanish for those in business or in the medical field.

Students needing help with Word, Excel, and a host of other software, can view thousands of instructional videos through the library’s subscription to Each video tutorial is divided into short segments for easy viewing.

Your library card is your entry ticket to thousands of resources, from books and audios to downloadable eBooks to databases and more. Let the library help you prepare for a stellar school year.