Month: March 2023

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Young Adult Books from Queer Authors

Young Adult Books from Queer Authors

Alex Urbanek, Collections Librarian, They/them

Lakelore: 9781250624147: McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books -

Manhattan Public Library’s April ReadMHK prompt is to read titles written or starring LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. April is the perfect month to focus on these stories, as Manhattan, Kansas celebrates Little Apple Pride, one of my favorite celebrations. For this month, I’m focusing on books in the library’s young adult collection written by queer authors and featuring queer protagonists.

Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) is one of my favorite queer writers. They tend to mix magical realism with gender and sexuality struggles, as well as young love. Their latest book “Lakelore” is a story of two non-binary, neurodivergent teenagers who are the only people to interact with the rumored world under the lake. Bastian has been exploring the world under the lake for most of their life, but has avoided it since they’ve begun releasing their alebrijes, brightly colored Mexican folk-art animal sculptures, into the world as a way to regulate their emotions. Lore moved into town after visiting several years ago and interacting with the world, which they thought was only a dream. As the world under Lakelore threatens to come to the surface, the teens find friendship and companionship with each other, working through their problems together instead of alone.

Magical Boy” by The Kao, also known as Vincent Kao (he/him), began as a webcomic and now has two volumes in print. Max is a transgender boy dealing with typical problems: coming out, dealing with parents and schoolmates dead-naming and mis-gendering him, and the family “blessing” of being a “magical girl.” With the help of his friend Piper, Max has to come to terms with his birthright and fight evil in the world. This comic does a great job of showing the highs and lows of transitioning, with a twist on the magical girl trope. If you’re interested in more of The Kao’s work, he also has a web series “Mondo Manga” that he updates regularly.

Meredith Russo (she/her) writes from her transgender femme experience in both her books, “If I Was Your Girl” and “Birthday.” In “Birthday,” we follow two friends from their thirteenth to sixteenth birthdays, switching character perspective in each chapter. Morgan is starting to come to terms with her trans female identity, while still struggling with her mother’s passing. She is terrified of ruining her friendship with Eric and her relationship with her very masculine father. Meanwhile, Eric is worried about his friendship with Morgan, while also worrying about the future and his changing sexuality.  Russo does a fantastic job of writing trans stories that aren’t as focused on the trauma aspect, instead focusing on the coming out narrative and young love in high school.

Magdalena “Maggie” Gonzalez has put any quest for love on hold. She’s decided just to focus on her photography career and her friends. However, with her sister’s quinceañera around the corner, Maggie needs to find a date. Picking from three different people proves difficult when she has to come to terms with the feelings she harbors for each of them. “Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster” by Andrea Mosqueda (she/her) is a fun love story that turns the love triangle trope on its head with the bisexual conundrum.

Bingo Love” by Tee Franklin (they/she), among others, is a quick graphic novel showcasing the love story between Hazel and Mari. They meet at church bingo in 1963 and quickly fall in love. Their families and social pressures push them apart, and they both end up marrying men and having families. Years later in their 60’s, Hazel and Mari run into each other at, yet again, church bingo. With full families and adult responsibilities, these sweet grandmothers have a big decision to make.

If sci-fi stories are more your thing, “The Sound of Stars” by Alechia Dow (she/her) follows the tale of human Janelle “Ellie” Baker and M0Rr1S, one of the invading Ilori. Dow utilizes her own experience being asexual to easily discuss Ellie’s asexuality without it being a big deal. When the Ilori first invaded, human kind responded with violence, making the Ilori believe that any form of emotional expression by humans should be outlawed, including books and music. When M0Rr1s finds Ellie’s illegal library, and gets introduced to music, an unlikely friendship develops.

If none of these titles called out to you, you can access one of our many resources to find some new titles. Our librarians are well versed in finding just the book for you. Happy Pride!

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Books for Women’s History Month

Books for Women’s History Month

By; Amber Hoskins

From the beginning of time, women have been contributing to the world’s history in various ways. Often times overlooked, more recent years have led to a surge in books that explore the achievements and struggles of women throughout the ages. Since it is Women’s History Month, this is a great time to explore some of what Manhattan Public Library has to offer. As I was looking through our catalog, I found that there is are myriad of books to choose from, but luckily, I somehow found a way to narrow it down to five books for this session.

The first book, “Lady Killers” by Tori Telfer and with illustrations by Dame Darcy, caught my eye right off the bat. As a fan of true crime and psychology, this is probably the book that I found most entertaining of them all. Telfer challenges the stereotype of the male serial killer by showcasing the stories of women who have committed gruesome murders. The book examines the motivations and psychological makeup of these women, shedding light on a subject that is often sensationalized in popular culture. This book is a great reminder that all humans are equally capable when it comes to committing evil deeds.

Because I am also a fan of medical science, I wanted to make sure I got a book on this topic as well. In the past, women have faced exclusion when it comes to medicine and research. “Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine,” by Olivia Campbell, tells the stories of pioneering women in the medical field. This book explores the difficulties that were faced in a male-dominated field and celebrates the achievements of those who persevered. From Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States, to Mary Edwards Walker, who became a surgeon during the Civil War, this book highlights the impact that these women had on the future of curative arts and society.

If you are a fan of graphic novels, “Wake, The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts” by Rebecca Hall with illustrations by Hugo Martínez, might be something of interest to you. Hall, who is a granddaughter of slaves, gives us insight on how black women were key players in the fight for freedom. From the journey of slave ships through the Middle Passage, to the revolts in colonial New York, these brave women are celebrated for their courage to fight back against those who constrained them. Hall’s research through historical court records and slave ship captains’ logs allows her to bring the story to vivid life alongside the images in the book.

Similarly, “The Light of Days” by Judy Batalion is another riveting account of defiance. This story revolves around the Jewish resistance in Poland during World War II, with a particular focus on the role that women played in the movement. This book came about through extensive research and interviews with surviving members of the resistance. Known as “Ghetto Girls,” some of them only teenagers, these heroines built underground bunkers, smuggled bread and guns, and ultimately saved countless lives.

Finally, in “History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives They Don’t Want You to Know” by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams, with illustrations by T.S. Abe, we are presented with a collection of stories about women from different eras. Sarkeesian and Adams cover a broad range of fields, from science to politics, and from rebels to scholars. This book has good illustrations and includes short biographies. I really enjoyed this one for its entertaining way of presenting information. I also liked that it had several people that I knew of but had not found in a book before.

For me, these five books are essential reading for anyone interested in the stories of women who have made a significant impact in various fields. However, we do have a vast collection of books on the subject of women’s history that is sure to entertain anyone interested in learning more. If you are into history dating back to the Middle Ages, we recently added a couple of books that reevaluate how women were treated during this era. They are “Femina” by Janina Ramirez, and “The Once and Future Sex” by Eleanor Janega. This article is only covering a tiny fraction of what MPL has to offer on the subject of women, so I hope you feel encouraged to browse our collections for something you will enjoy.

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Books about Bicycling

Books about Bicycling

by Crystal Hicks, Collection Services Manager

As the weather slowly warms up, my thoughts turn inexorably towards biking. You might’ve seen my family biking around town—my husband’s bike looks like it was crossed with a wheelbarrow, and our toddler rides contentedly in front. We splurged on our electric bikes last spring, and they’ve brought us all the joy and none of the pain of bicycling. Now that I’m back into biking, it’s almost my favorite activity—second, of course, to reading books. Fortunately, the Manhattan Public Library has books about biking, so I can pursue both interests simultaneously.

It seems best to start with the books most useful for bicycling: repair manuals.  DK’s “The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual” uses DK’s signature image-heavy style to walk readers through basic maintenance and repair, like fixing a flat tire. For a more thorough look at bicycle maintenance, check out “The ‘Bicycling’ Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes” by Todd Downs. Downs goes beyond the basics, with tips for adjusting seat position, chain repair, and more. Both books cover a variety of bicycles, so most riders should find them useful.

Jody Rosen, who commutes by bike in New York City, combines bicycle history with memoir in “Two Wheels Good.” Bicycles are a revolutionary force, both loved and hated in equal measure. Rosen explores how the bicycle, which should be considered antiquated, endures through its simplicity and versatility and is currently enjoying its biggest boom yet. For a more specific look at the history of bicycles on American roads, check out James Longhurst’s “Bike Battles.

The library also has books on cycling history in our children’s collection. Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome’s “Major Taylor, Champion Cyclist” brings to life the story of Marshall Taylor, a Black cyclist who raced from 1896 to 1909. Warm oil paintings depict Taylor’s journey, from trick riding through his professional debut to his 1901 win against Edmond Jacquelin. Allan Drummond’s “Pedal Power” turns to Europe, showcasing how Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world following a grassroots push. In the early 1970s, Amsterdam teemed with both cars and bicycles, making the roads unsafe. After public outcry over the number of deaths from accidents, Amsterdam decided to prioritize bicycles over cars, creating a city where bicycling is the norm.

For children who prefer fiction, there are a few books that center on cycling. Christina Uss’s “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” follows Bicycle, a quiet girl who was taken in by the Mostly Silent Monastery and named after the bicycle shirt she was wearing. When Sister Wanda decides Bicycle needs to make friends, Bicycle pedals off across the United States instead, heading for the San Francisco Blessing of the Bicycles to meet her cycling idol. In “Sarai and the Around the World Fair,” by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown, Sarai comes to a crossroads when she outgrows her first bike. Her Tata offers to patch up an old bike for her, but will it turn out like the new bike she dreams of? In Haifaa Al Mansour’s “The Green Bicycle,” ten-year-old Wadjda longs to ride a bike like her friend Abdullah, but it’s frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. Despite the obstacles in her way, Wadjda enacts a plan to earn enough money to buy the bike for herself.

Picture books can also help generate excitement in kids new to biking or making the transition from a tricycle to a bicycle. Elizabeth Verdick and Brian Bigg’s “Bike and Trike” features a rivalry between trusty-old Trike and shiny-new Bike. When they race to determine the Winner on Wheels, they discover that they both have their purpose and do their best work together. In “Together We Ride,” by Valerie Bolling and Kaylani Juanita, a young girl learns how to ride a bicycle under her father’s careful guidance. Though she falls at first, slowly she gets the hang of it, and the book ends with a joyful bike ride with the whole family. “Biking with Grandma,” by Chris Santella and Vivienne To, follows Grandma Rose and Sam as they bike across the world, visiting national parks and more. Told via postcards to Sam’s parents and accompanying images, this book will make anyone itch to jump on a bike and get traveling.

Whatever your mode of conveyance, I hope you stop by Manhattan Public Library to check out some books, or visit us online at We’ve got plenty of books to satisfy every reader, whatever you may be looking for.

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Building Better Bridges and Communities

Building Better Bridges and Communities

by Allie Lousch, Community Engagement Lead

Most weeks I share a meal with some of my favorite people. We laugh, break bread, discuss life in depth, listen and talk smack about each other’s politics. I love these people. Over time and with some fits and starts, we have discovered how to vehemently disagree while committing to our cherished relationship. This is one reason why the audiobook “Conversations with People Who Hate Me: 12 things I learned from talking to internet strangers” caught my attention while scrolling through the Libby audiobook app available with a Manhattan Public Library (MPL) card.

In “Conversations,” Dylan Marron describes how he began his award-winning podcast, “Conversations with People Who Hate Me,” after reading noxious messages directed to his inbox. Marron invited several hate-mailers to join him for a conversation. He connected with high school seniors approaching graduation, senior citizens, folks identifying as conservative and liberal, straight, gay and representing a variety of experiences. The one thing all participants had in common was they had sent hateful messages through the internet to Marron. And many talked with him.

“This podcast is not a search for common ground,” Marron said in an interview with USA Today. “It’s an experiment to see what happens when two people with very different views on the world talk to each other.”

Marron asked, “Do you hate me?” during conversations. Most of the people responded “No.” One middle-aged man said, “I no longer hate you, Dylan … because you’re willing to listen. I’m listening to you. You’re listening to me and I no longer hate you.”

“Conversations” participants, including Marron, discovered the jerks on the other side of the screen were “just people.” I’ve been thinking on this audiobook since last year and how I can learn to listen and to discuss hard things. Listening to ideas other than our own appears to be the tipping point toward building healthy relationships and communities.

Another take on bridge- and community building comes in a powerful novella for young adults called “Seedfolks” by Newbery-winning author, Paul Fleischman. It begins in a trash-strewn vacant lot in wintry Cleveland. We first meet Kim, an elementary-aged immigrant girl, planting lima beans in the still-frozen soil to honor the father who died before she was born.

Watching her is Ana, an older Romanian woman who is among the dozen accented voices you’ll encounter in this book. What begins as a futile gesture of memory among discarded tires becomes a vibrant garden where “many grew plants from their native land – huge Chinese melons, ginger, cilantro, a green the Jamaicans call ‘callaloo’, and many more.”

The growth from the first six lima beans to a rich community garden is not an easy one. There are misunderstandings, assumptions and failure in the garden’s and community’s growth. As the garden takes root and branches out, so does a vibrant community once seen as blighted as the buildings it inhabits.

Why “Seedfolks”? Florence, a teacher who joins the garden, describes the first generations of gardeners-who-rooted-a-community as her father described their descendants, as “‘our seedfolks’, because they were the first of our family there.”

You’ll find “Seedfolks” available at MPL in print and on audiobook.

Originally, I had planned to finish with another book but discovered “Them: Why we hate each other and how to heal” by former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse. In “Them,” he writes of loneliness and isolation as a loss of essential “social infrastructure” and the root of society’s disconnection.

Published in 2018, “Them” attempts to explain the anxiety, distraction and rootlessness Sasse sees in today’s America. Instead of connecting with one another, Sasse explains Americans isolate from potentially meaningful relationships. In this isolation grows anger and fear, which affects how people see themselves and the world they’re in. “We need to be needed … to have roots and belong,” Sasse writes. “Them” is a research-rich encouragement to emerge from isolation and into community for our individual and collective wellbeing.

What do you think? Has American culture fractured? Is it rooted in loneliness and isolation? MPL hosts events for neighbors of every age and many interests, in a warm and welcoming place regardless of their bank statements, pronouns or political leanings.

Visit MPL online at to preview our events calendar and look through our catalog of available resources. We hope to see you in person among MHK’s growing library community.