by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Let’s Talk About Fandoms

Let’s Talk About Fandoms

by Alessia Passarelli Library Assistant II

Everything I Need I Get from You: Tiffany, Kaitlyn: 9780374539184: Books

Fandoms may remind you of screaming fans at a concert or somebody cosplaying as their favorite fantasy character at a convention. Regardless of what comes to mind, fandoms have been around for many years because of how important they are to the entertainment industry, and they might represent more than you think. I have been part of various fandoms for as long as I can remember, from musical artists like Taylor Swift and One Direction to book franchises like “Harry Potter” and “Shadow and Bone”. Fandoms provide a unique support system, a dependable community of like-minded individuals, and possibly most importantly, they can offer an escape from reality. These three books from the Manhattan Public Library catalog illustrate an understanding of what it means to be in fandoms and how these unique communities can provide an essential support system.

Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created The Internet As We Know It” by Kaitlyn Tiffany is my favorite nonfiction book because of how appreciated it makes me feel. Tiffany explains how fans from different fandoms and backgrounds create the slang and social dynamics that we all experience on the internet today. While friends in real life have their inside jokes and jargon with each other, fandoms do as well. From memes and references to even having their own anniversaries and traditions, each fandom creates a family with its own unique subculture. The internet creates a space for people to unapologetically come together to collectively adore something without shame. Fans can become long-term friends in these online spaces, whether they meet in real life or stay as friends virtually. Tiffany is a One Direction fan, so the novel’s examples of internet culture are mostly dedicated to that fandom. However, I think this is a valuable read if you want to have a greater understanding of the rise of the internet and the role it plays in fandom culture today.

Nerd: Adventures in Fandom from This Universe to the Multiverse” by Maya Phillips is a collection of nonfiction essays written as a love letter to the fandom community. Phillips touches on multiple fandoms and her experiences as a Black woman in these communities. Philips provides a refreshing outlook comparing how different backgrounds may interact differently with other fandoms. She grew up in New York and first explored the fandom world through 90s cartoons that she watched in her childhood. These experiences catapulted her into joining many fandoms throughout her life, making her a fandom expert. Phillips also discusses important topics surrounding racism, classism, and sexism, including the portrayal of Black people and women in the media. This is a must-read that can broaden your understanding of everything that goes on in fandoms behind the scenes and on the screens. Regardless of your background, community and relatability can be found in any fandom. Phillips encourages everyone to embrace their interests, lean into being a “nerd”, and be open to all of the possibilities that can stem from it.

Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell is a beloved coming-of-age Young Adult fiction novel following Cath who writes fanfiction about Simon Snow and how she adapts to her new life in college without her sister by her side. Cath and her twin sister, Wren, live and breathe Simon Snow because it helps them cope with their mom abandoning them. In college, Wren doesn’t want to be Cath’s roommate, leaving Cath to experience the trials and tribulations of college alone with her social anxiety. Cath acknowledges how dull the real world can be, and when it is, her fanfiction is her ray of light before life gets better again. Whether your reality feels dark for days or years, your online community can be the most stable and accessible asset in your life when you need it most. For Cath, this was especially true when her life changed so drastically, but her fictitious world stayed the same and she could still call it home.

Escapism allows us to temporarily forget our reality. We escape when we wind down at night to watch a TV show or read a book. When the real world becomes too much, we can rely on a make-believe world to get us through it. Being a part of a community centered on escapism with friends aligned with our interests enhances our well-being. I’ve met some of my closest real-life friends because of fandoms and other friendships were made stronger because of it. When your real-life support system cannot provide the space to be there for you when you need it, you can bet that at least one person in the thousands of your online community can. Pursue your interests wherever they lead you. You could make new friends and learn more about yourself, and Manhattan Public Library has the books and media to get you through your dark days.


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Learn more at

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Black History Month

Black History Month

BLK ART: The Audacious Legacy of Black Artists and Models in Western Art: Ware, Zaria: 9780063272415: Books

It’s February! Beyond celebrating the wintery weather, super great for this Michigan girl, 2024’s Black History Month is being celebrated across the country in homes, schools, libraries, and museums. The theme of ”African Americans and the Arts” takes the forefront in our public spaces with The National Museum of African American History and Culture “highlighting the ‘art of resistance’ and the artists who used their crafts to uplift the race, speak truth to power and inspire a nation.” The Smithsonian is focusing on “the many impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more.” Here at Manhattan Public Library, we will have several book displays throughout the library and have created multiple booklists located in our library catalog and  the Beanstack app. Below is a summary of those lists and some of the books that will be included.


Catalog booklists can be found on our catalog page and are changed monthly. These lists are created by library staff to reflect current trends, monthly themes, and events. To explore these lists fully, visit

All information about these books has been taken from our catalog.

Adult fiction: These books can be found in our fiction section located on the first floor of the library.

The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett:

“The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a

small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white.”

My Sister the Serial Killer: A Novel” by Oyinkan Braithwaite:

“Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic.”

Adult non-fiction: These books can be found in our nonfiction section located on the second floor of the library.

BLK Art: The Audacious Legacy of Black Artists and Models in Western Art” by Zaria Ware:

“A fun and fact-filled introduction to the dismissed Black art masters and models who shook up the world. Elegant. Refined. Exclusionary. Interrupted.”

By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register” by Piper Huguley:

“A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses.”

Beanstack booklists can be found on, you guessed it, the Beanstack App. These lists are also created by staff monthly and more closely reflect the happenings in the library. You will find lists for children, young adults, and adults covering a wide range of topics both fiction and nonfiction. All information for these books has been taken from our catalog.

Picture Books: These books can be found in the Children’s Library on the picture book shelves, on the first floor of the library.

The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez; pictures by Lauren Semmer:

“B is for Beautiful, Brave, and Bright! Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.”

Maya’s Song” by Renée Watson; illustrated by Bryan Collier:

“This unforgettable picture book introduces young readers to the life and work of Maya Angelou, whose words have uplifted and inspired generations of readers…Maya was the first Black person and first woman to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, and her influence echoes through culture and history.”

Kindergarten-5th Grade: These books can be found in the Children’s Library in the children’s history neighborhood, on the first floor of the library.

Young Gifted and Black” by Jamia Wilson; illustrated by Andrea Pippins:

“Join us on a journey across borders, through time and even through space to meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in a celebration of achievement. Discover how their childhood dreams and experiences influenced their adult achievements.”

28 Days” by Charles R. Smith, Jr.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

“The 28 days of Black History Month are commemorated with descriptions of the men, women and events that have been vital in defining our understanding of African-American history. The entries move chronologically from 1770 to the present, and encompass all walks of life.”

Young Adult: These books can be found in our Young Adult section located on the second floor of the library.

Forever Is Now” by Mariama J. Lockington:

“When sixteen-year-old Sadie, a Black bisexual recluse, develops agoraphobia the summer before her junior year, she relies on her best friend, family, and therapist to overcome her fears. Not feeling safe anywhere, Sadie retreats inside herself.”

Love Is a Revolution” by Renée Watson

“Harlem teenager Nala is looking forward to a summer of movies and ice cream until she falls in love with the very woke Tye and pretends to be a social activist. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.”

If you  need instructions on how to get Beanstack or you want to sign up for our current reading challenges: Cozy Up with a Good Book (Kinder-Adult) or 1000 Books Before Kindergarten (0-Kinder), visit us at I hope you find the time to visit our displays and check out our lists.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Learn more at


# # #

by Audrey Swartz, Adult Services and Readers’ Advisory Librarian


by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

The Budget

The Budget

By Victoria Lafean, Library Assistant 2 Dear Debt: A Story About Breaking Up With Debt eBook : Lockert,  Melanie: Kindle Store

The Budget, those are two daunting words no one usually likes to hear. However, in my own life these words have recently reared their ugly head. Individuals usually are unable to plan for drastic life changes. Be that as it may, sometimes we have time to adjust and properly execute the changes needed, and sometimes we do not. Where do we start? Maybe, like me, you haven’t had the proper education or examples of good financial footing. Nonetheless, this change is fast approaching. I know my Budget needs to be modified.

In our Manhattan Public Library catalog, I found four sources to use in my budget journey: “The Money Answer Book” by Dave Ramsey, “You Need a Budget” by Jesse Mecham, “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin, and finally “Dear Debt, A story about breaking up with debt” by Melanie Lockert.

First thing that caught my eye in “The Money Answer Book,” is Ramsey’s statement, “Personal finance is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.” One behavior you can begin practicing is to be more money smart. Ramsey says to, “Say no to credit cards, make a budget, write it down, and give every dollar a name.” I did what Ramsey said. I wrote out our budget, money in and money out.

Ramsey and Lockert’s “Dear Debt” both speak about snowball budgeting. They state that this plan utilizes “small wins.” Budget the minimum payment for all your bills, then focus on your smallest debt first with your funds that are left over after all your minimums are paid. This will be the fastest payoff. The snowball budget is a great motivational tool to pay off your debts. Ramsey says, “You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped enough to completely get out of debt.” Lockert does state that with this method you will pay more interest over time, which is why she introduces the avalanche budget. This budget’s plan is to pay off the largest debt with the highest interest first. This method helps you save money because you’ll be paying less total interest and more toward the principal.

What kind of debt do you have? Is it student loans, big buys, medical, credit cards? Lockert gives us resources to find our debts, the amounts you owe, and your interest rates. Student loan information can be found at the National Student Loan Data System. If you have credit card, medical, mortgage, or automobile debt, the amount you owe can be found on your account statements. You can also contact the servicer. Figuring out your interest rates on your debts can be helpful in deciding which debt to pay first. Lockert gives this equation to figure out daily interest rate: “interest rate x principal balance / 365.” Lockert states, “Credit card debt should be priority.” Credit cards have an interest average of 15 percent. This definitely gives a lot of potential to incur a lot of interest. Student loans can be eligible for different types of repayment plans, and you can contact the servicer for these possible options. For medical debt, you can contact the provider to discuss payment plans, forgiveness options, or lower interest rates.

In “You Need a Budget,” Mecham says, “budgeting is designing the life you want.” He wants us to truly look at our expenses and see what is flexible. Mecham says, “Budgeting is a superpower for our life goals.” We need to make budgeting a positive part of our life. Robin states in “Your Money or Your Life,” “Ultimately you are the one who determines what money is worth to you. You ‘pay’ for money with your time. You choose how to spend it.”

A good financial footing isn’t only about paying off debt, it is also saving. Ramsey encourages us, “Without saving you aren’t really prepared for the future.” Have some healthy anger or fear involved to make saving important. Mecham encourages us to, “Think long, act now,” when it comes to saving.  I looked at my life. I have an elderly dog. I know that dog is going to need future care. Also, automobile tires will not last forever, have a fund set aside for that. If I look at myself, I might incur some medical debt that isn’t covered, so it is helpful to have funds set aside for that also. If it is possible, saving for home emergencies is also a good idea. To me this sounded like a lot to save for, also I didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I was encouraged that all this can happen in time. I will work on one thing at a time, so should you and we will not fret about it all at once. Ramsey states, “The bridge between success and failure is hope.”  The Manhattan Library has many resources to help you on your financial journey to better budgeting. They’ve helped me maybe they can help you.

Other financial budget books are available at the Manhattan Public Library such as: “Finance for the People” by Paco de Leon, “Rich AF” by Vivian Tu, “Pathfinders” by J.L. Collins, “Financial Feminist” by Tori Dunlap, and “The Great Money Reset” by Jill Schlesinger.


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Learn more at

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Winter Reading Challenge 2024

Winter Reading Challenge 2024

By: Audrey Swartz, Readers Advisory Librarian

The cold weather has me wanting to curl up with a hot beverage and read a book, or ten. While I normally will do this without needing any reward, we at Manhattan Public Library do want to reward you for your winter reading! If you haven’t already, head on over to our reading challenges webpage,, and join Manhattan Public Library’s Winter Reading Challenge: Cozy Up with a Good Book. Record your reading time and complete some fun activities to earn badges.

  • What are the dates? The challenge runs January 1st through February 29th.
  • Is it free? Yes, it’s free and you get prizes for signing up, meeting the halfway goal, and completing the challenge.
  • Who can join? Adults, teens, and children kindergarten & up. Younger children can join the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge.
  • Did you say prizes? Yes! All participants will receive a small prize for signing up, a winter mug for meeting the halfway goal of 750 reading points, and a free book for completing the challenge by earning 1500 reading points.
  • How do I get points? Points can be earned by reading (each minute = 1 point) and completing activities in Beanstack, such as visiting the library or having a hot drink while you read. Log the time you spend reading or listening to books. Get extra points toward the goals with repeatable activity badges. You will get 5-20 points per activity.
  • Does it matter what I read? No! You can read anything, not just library books. Magazines, graphic novels, and audiobooks also count for your reading time.


Once you have registered, you are free to start reading and recording your minutes. Take some time out and explore the activities, another great way to earn points. Several of the activities are repeatable, like writing a book review, visiting the library, and having a pajama day! There are activities that encourage us to explore nature, our community, and library resources. Did you know that we create personalized reading lists? Or that we have monthly newsletters, based on subject, that recommend books?


Personalized reading lists (PRL) are a wonderful way to access new books without having to do the legwork, and a great way to earn up to 40 points. These librarian-created lists offer the opportunity to explore new genres, authors, and even new formats. We currently have two ways to fill out your personalized reading list request: you can complete one online or in person. To locate the online form, you will need to first go to our website at Click on “Recommendations,” which is located directly under the catalog search box. This will take you to our “Books & More” page. Click on the “Personalized Reading List” option,, and begin to fill out your form. If you prefer a paper option, you’ll find physical forms located near each service desk. When you complete a physical form, write as neatly as possible and make sure to return it to the Reference Desk, located on the second floor.


Our monthly email booklists are another easy way to get reading recommendations based on topic. The sign up link is located on the same page as PRLs, you will just have to scroll down a little further to selected the “E-mail Book Lists” option,, and fill out the sign up form. There are over 20 topics to choose from including Nature & Science, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Current Events. There is no paper option for this, but we can assist you in signing up at the second-floor Reference Desk.


Still don’t know what to read? Come into the library and check out a book from one of our many displays, and also earn points for visiting the library. There will be one display in each department dedicated to winter reading, along with displays located throughout the library. We will also have displays featuring the first book in a series, what to learn in the new year, and the incomparable Danielle Steel. So grab a warm blanket, a hot beverage, and join us this winter in cozying up with a good book!


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Year In Review 2023

Year In Review 2023

By: Eric Norris, Manhattan Public Library Director

It is amazing how fast the year goes and supports the old cliché that time flies when you’re having fun!  2023 was a big year for the Manhattan Public Library—we met goals, exceeded expectations, and started making plans for the year ahead.  As we turn the last page of this year, let’s take a quick look back at just a few highlights:

  • New 2nd Floor Layout – We reconfigured the 2nd floor to add more public access computers and improve the reference area to assist patrons.
  • Friends Community Room – With the change above, we were able to able to create more space for the community to meet, and the space includes three vending machines.
  • Record-Breaking Summer Reading – Our “All Together Now” 2023 Summer Reading Program had 3,480 participants who read 2,355,338 minutes, exceeding 2 million minutes for the first time!
  • Growing Book Sales – Our Annual Book Sale raised over $10,000 to support library initiatives, thanks to strong community support. Also, book sales from Rosie’s Corner Used Book Store also help our library serve the community. The 2024 Book Sale will be held February 23-25, helping you get a jump start on your beach reading list! This sale will be held at the library.
  • Library Merchandise – We brought back popular library tees and totes this year. Adult and youth sizes are available while supplies last.
  • Robust Programming – Thanks to support from the Manhattan Library Association, who were recognized in 2022 as Kansas’s premier library friends group, we offered new programs like a Teen Zone art contest and gaming tournaments, Community Craft Night, Book Clubs, Family Dinner Book Club, AI conference partnership with K-State, new themed storytimes, and many more.
  • Sharing the Warmth – Through December 30, contribute to the Community Mitten Tree by donating new mittens, warm hats, and scarves. Your gift could make all the difference for someone this season.

And did you know, a homeowner with a $200K property in Manhattan pays less than $10 per month in taxes for access to the library’s vast wealth of resources, from over 1 million resource items to engaging programs and events for all ages and interests, all free of charge! From skills training to language learning to business development, the library empowers individuals and strengthens our community at its very core.

Important Dates to Remember:

  • Closed December 24 and 25
  • Closed December 31 and January 1
  • 2024 Book Sale: February 23-25


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at

Happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you in 2024!


Eric Norris, Manhattan Public Library Director

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Chilling Reads for Winter

Chilling Reads for Winter

By: Savannah Winkler, Public Services Supervisor

The Winter People: McMahon, Jennifer: 9781101973752: Books

Winter is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s the season for great food, spending time in good company and staying cozy indoors. In my opinion, winter is also an eerie time of year. The nights are long and the world feels a little quieter than normal. It’s no surprise that, historically, winter has been a time for telling ghost stories or other scary tales. While some may prefer putting “Home Alone” on screen, I’ve always enjoyed a good scary novel or page-turning thriller. If you’re like me, you may be looking for your next chilling read for this winter season. Here are some winter thrillers and horror titles that you can enjoy next to a warm fire or with a cup of hot chocolate.

The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon is a suspenseful novel about the strange town of Westhall, Vermont. In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea is found murdered behind her farmhouse following the tragic loss of her young daughter. The story then moves to present day, where nineteen-year-old Ruthie is living in the farmhouse with her family. Ruthie’s mother is agoraphobic, and as a result Ruthie and her sister have had a sheltered upbringing. But when her mother disappears, Ruthie sets off on a journey to find her. She then discovers Sara Harrison Shea’s old journal and the terrifying parallels between Sara’s death and her mother’s disappearance. Set in the harsh Vermont winter, this atmospheric thriller will make you happy to be home and under the covers.

If you enjoy some horror but nothing too scary, you may prefer the children’s book “Dead Voices” by Katherine Arden. Ollie, Coco and Brian are close friends. When Ollie’s dad wins a contest, the trio and their parents set off on a wintery getaway at a ski lodge. But their vacation quickly goes awry. There’s creepy taxidermy throughout the lodge and a blizzard cuts off all power. The three friends start having the same dream of a frozen girl looking for her lost bones. Then Mr. Voland, a paranormal investigator, arrives and offers to help the children make sense of these hauntings. The children aren’t sure who to trust: Mr. Voland or the voices of the dead? “Dead Voices” is the second book in Arden’s “Small Spaces” series. I recommend all four books for lightly spooky reading.

You won’t find any ghosts in “No Exit” by Taylor Adams, but you will meet some terrifying people. Darby Thomas is just trying to get home to see her mother who is dying of cancer. When a snowstorm closes the roads, Darby is forced to spend the evening at a Colorado rest stop. She meets other stranded travelers: cousins Ed and Sandi, Ashley and the off-putting Lars. Darby figures she’s in for a long and boring night with no cell service. Then she steps outside and makes a horrific discovery in another traveler’s car: a scared girl trapped in a dog cage. Surrounded by strangers and not knowing who to trust, Darby must find a way to save the young girl and escape. Her night quickly turns into a fight for survival.

If you are looking for more books to occupy you through the long winter season, the Manhattan Public Library has even more reading suggestions to offer. Stop by the library and check out some of the titles included in our book displays throughout the building. Our December book displays will feature topics such as “Cold Cases,” “If You Like Hallmark Movies” and “Holiday Party Cooking.” Library staff are also available to help you find your next great read.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at



by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Home for the Holidays: New Recipes for Old Traditions

Home for the Holidays: New Recipes for Old Traditions

By: Audrey Swartz, Adult Services and Readers’ Advisory Librarian

Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Li –  Kitchen Arts & Letters

From one feast to another, winter months are filled with reasons to cook, join with family and friends, and eat our hearts out. In my family, feasting also comes with the tribulations of food allergies and aversions. For years, I’ve struggled to find things that will satisfy everyone. You won’t find a casserole on our feast table for several reasons, most because we are picky creatures with even pickier tiny humans to feed. I am also allergic to mushrooms and according to the folks I feed, green bean casserole just isn’t the same when made with cream of chicken soup. I often resort to making copper pennies but am always on the search for a great recipe to bring green beans back to the table.


This year I’ve been consulting Manhattan Public Library’s vast cookbook collection and have found several recipes that sound delicious. To keep it simple, I choose to make the “long-cooked green beans with oregano” featured in the “Fine cooking Thanksgiving cookbook: recipes for turkey and all the trimmings.” This recipe takes about an hour to prep and fully cook. Don’t fret, these were great at room temperature and were still a hit the next day.


My only true complaint, has nothing to do with the recipe and more the amount of cooking in the kitchen at my house. My mother and I always split the cooking jobs. She handles the turkey while I handle the sides and pies. Since these need to be tended to throughout their cooking process, it made the kitchen a bit crazy for the last hour before meal time. If your house is a one-cook kitchen, one would need to make sure their time management game is strong or this would be a great dish to bring to a meal. I recommend it and will be making these again for my picky veggie kiddos.


In my house, rolls are definitely the most loved and eaten side dish. My oldest, on feast day, ate 16 rolls. She is a carb machine. Whatever recipe I was going to try this year, I needed to make a lot of them and make them ahead of time. I eventually picked the “honey-oat pan rolls” in the “Taste of Home 201 recipes you’ll make forever: classic recipes for today’s home cooks.” This recipe was incredibly easy to double and only took a few hours of my pre-feast day meal prep. Having never made rolls from scratch, I was nervous, but this recipe was easy to follow and a huge hit. I will absolutely be making it again and probably tripling it this next time if my children continue down their carb loving paths. Sides have long been my favorite part of feast day, and I am aware most people come for the pie.


In my quest to find a pumpkin pie I don’t hate, and that my pie loving family will still enjoy, I turned to Kate McDermott and her cookbook “Art of the pie: a practical guide to homemade crusts, fillings, and life.” Her pumpkin pie reflects the classic recipe you can find on any can of pie filling with the exception of switching out the evaporated milk for lite coconut milk. She concedes that you can use evaporated milk if you like, as I was trying something new, I went with the coconut milk. While this recipe didn’t change my mind on pumpkin pie, it was a major success with the family. The coconut milk added to the savory nature of the pie, which my mother appreciated, and did not take away from the apparent deliciousness. My youngest daughter is a pumpkin pie fanatic and devoured an entire quarter of pie by herself. As this creation did not add any more work to my pie-making time and is a new family favorite, I will continue to make it for our feasts and will concede I am not meant to like pumpkin pie. All the recipes I tried on my family this year were a hit and did not disappoint. I hope you had a wonderful time feasting and enjoying your time with your families, given or found.


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at

Audrey Swartz, Adult Services and Readers’ Advisory Librarian



by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Navigating Grief and Loss with Children’s Picture Books

Navigating Grief and Loss with Children’s Picture Books
By Hannah Atchison, children’s librarian, Manhattan Public Library

Death Is Stupid (Ordinary Terrible Things): Higginbotham, Anastasia:  9781558619258: BooksAll of us experience grief. We grieve people we have lost to time, unkind words and death. We grieve experiences and opportunities. This deep feeling is hard to navigate for each of us. It can be especially hard for children. Children need ways to process and understand what is going on in their bodies and those around them while grieving. Grown-ups often need tools to help their children navigate grief. Manhattan Public Library has a selection of picture books that are excellent grief resources for children and grown-ups. Here are a few of the titles I recently found.

Sarah Howden’s “The Tunnel” is about the metaphorical tunnel you pass through during the emotional process of grief and the struggle to reconnect with those you love.

There Was a Hole” by Adam Lehrhaupt explains how grief sometimes feels like a hole inside us. You may not be able to make the hollow go away forever, but there are things you can do to help patch it.

Balloons for Papa” by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia introduces Arthur and his papa who visit his mother in the hospital daily. They pass by the balloons in the park every time they visit. Arthur and the balloons help bring a little bit of color to the gray world he and his father pass through.

In “Sitting Shiva” by Erin Silver, a young girl experiences this Jewish tradition of mourning and learns about the importance of community during the grieving process.

Calling the Wind: A Story of Healing and Hope” by Trudy Ludwig is about a Japanese family who channel their grief by making paper cranes together.

Jillian Roberts has written several books about teaching difficult topics to children. “On the News: Our First Talk about Tragedy” defines tragedy and talks about a few difficult things children might see on television.

When the Wind Came” by Jan Andrews is about the struggle of pushing through a metaphorical wind and how to find joy and hope despite the damage the wind causes.

Death is Stupid” by Anastasia Higgenbotham validates negative feelings that come with death, and the unique opportunities death affords for celebration and connection. Higgenbotham has authored other teaching books for kids- all written with the same honest approach and intent.

In “The Grief Rock: A Book to Understand Grief and Love” by Natasha Daniels, grief is a rock that is heavy and doesn’t make sense. The reader learns that the rock is just filled with leftover love.

The superhero “Cape” by Kevin Johnson enters as a child’s shield of avoidance. The cape becomes a connection and comfort after the child stops ignoring their pain.

Oliver Jeffers’ “The Heart and the Bottle” introduces a girl who finds something that makes her heart sad. She protects her heart by putting it in a bottle she carries, but it grows heavier over time. The girl becomes less excited and connected to the world around her. Luckily, she meets someone full of the joy she once had who can help her take her heart back out of the bottle.

The darker months are approaching. This is a time when sometimes the light doesn’t quite reach us and we are reminded of those we said goodbye to. Remember to look for comfort wherever you can. One of my favorite places is in a good book. For more books like these or other books to bring you comfort, don’t forget to check your public library. We are here to help you find what you need.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at


By Hannah Atchison, children’s librarian, Manhattan Public Library

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

So you’re turning 40

So you’re turning 40

By Audrey Swartz, Adult Services & Readers’ Advisory Librarian

The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism

As Kansas welcome fall, I am rapidly approaching a milestone birthday. I’ve been contemplating where I am in my life, as many of us do as we reach midlife. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “midlife crisis” as “a period of emotional turmoil in middle age caused by the realization that one is no longer young and characterized especially by a strong desire for change.”


When I think about midlife change, I think about the stereotypical purchase of a red convertible, the divorce to match with a younger more attractive partner and a drastic career shift. While I researched midlife, I discovered that the red convertibles, divorces and job changes are ways men more commonly react. This begs the questions, “How do women typically react?” and “What will my experience be like?”


Women’s midlife crises look more like sleep problems, increased depression and anxiety, and physical changes related to menopause. “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis” by Ada Calhoun was an eye-opening read for me. Calhoun spoke to women across the country and listened to their stories. Women reported similar midlife challenges that can be summarized as, “We are overwhelmed, underpaid and exhausted.”


Despite being exhausted, we just can’t sleep. We can’t turn off our brains. Calhoun’s solutions echo those we hear on a regular basis: take care of your health, take time for yourself and relax–REALLY RELAX. While this advice isn’t new or revolutionary, reading the stories of hundreds of women who are feeling the same way I am, gave me a sense of community and an understanding that I am not in this on my own.


Claire Dederer’s memoir, “Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning,” tells the story of a woman who feels emotions again in midlife at an almost reckless teenage level. She, like many of us, struggles with the experience at these intense emotions. Dederer bounces between retelling the stories of her youth and her reawakening at mid-life.


She reads the diaries of her youth and carefully examines the girl ensconced in those pages as she explores her “new” powerful feelings at middle age. In figuring out her teenage self, she manages to decode her 44-year-old self. Dederer’s book is delightfully sarcastic and left me laughing. I highly recommend this read if you are looking for something different in your “Oh my goodness I’m turning 40” panic.


Menopause Confidential: A Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Thriving Through Midlife” by Dr. Tara Allmen has declared itself “not your mother’s menopause book.” While Calhoun and Dederer gift us with stories, Allmen’s book is full of credible science and practical medical advice. It covers everything from hot flashes to skin care and early signs of Alzheimers. “Menopause Confidential” manages to give us medical answers and advice with humor, sarcasm and without the anxiety of the doctor’s office. This is a great read and I’ve already started using some of her skin care advice.


In the same vein, we have “The Menopause Manifesto: Your Own Health with Facts and Feminism” by Dr. Jen Gunter. Gunter approaches menopause education as we have long approached the education around puberty. She argues that because menopause is an expected change, we should educate and prepare ourselves in similar ways we prepare in adolescence. Her work is more recent then Allmen’s, but mirrors it closely. Gunter provides up-to-date information and statistics about women’s midlife while debunking myths and being hilarious.


All of these books provide thought-provoking, funny and accurate details and stories of reaching midlife and the changes that come along for the ride. While menopause is often seen as mysterious, these books—and many more you’ll find at Manhattan Public Library—give us practical and relatable advice. Visit in person at 629 Poyntz Avenue and online at to learn more about making your way through midlife and menopause.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space.

By Audrey Swartz

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

I’ve never been in a book club.

I’ve never been in a book club.

By Rachel Cunningham

Adult Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures | Enid Monthly

There is a certain allure to discussing the triumphs and shortcomings of a work of writing while sipping drinks and munching snacks. However, my reading pace is best described as “sluggish,” and I’m afraid I’d rarely come to a book club fully prepared. I’m also stubbornly attached to the genres I enjoy and being assigned a book outside of that bubble makes me apprehensive.


In my work as circulation manager for Manhattan Public Library, I often know nothing about a book, other than its frequency of checkout and cover design. Shelby Van Pelt’s “Remarkably Bright Creatures” has passed through my hands many times. The jacket’s bright colors were inviting and it even had a sticker stating it was part of the “Read With Jenna” book club. Though I “only enjoy gritty fiction,” after hearing a synopsis and rave review, my interest was piqued. I checked out the audiobook from Libby, a reading app.


Remarkably Bright Creatures” follows Tova, a 70-year-old night shift custodian; Cameron, a wayward young adult; and Marcellus, a Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. If you’re dubious about casting a main character in an adult fiction book as an octopus, I can assure you that I was as well.


Marcellus is on day 1,299 of his captivity when the novel begins. Through his narration, we learn about the humans who wander past his tank during the day, and the woman, Tova, who methodically cleans every inch of the aquarium at night. Their lives are entwined when Tova discovers Marcellus in the staff break room, tentacles tangled in electrical cords on one of his secret nighttime jaunts. Tova disentangles his arms in time for Marcellus to hurry back to his tank. In this moment, a kinship forms.


Meanwhile in central California, Cameron is out of work and recently out of a relationship. He decides to dig into his absent mother’s past — or at least the box of things she’s left with his aunt. Among inexpensive jewelry, he discovers a high school photo of his mother with a man he’s never seen before.


The faded photo and class ring catalyze Cameron to begin a journey to Sowell Bay, Washington. Cameron hopes to find financial restitution with the father he’s never met. Things quickly fall apart upon his arrival in Sowell Bay and Cameron lands a temporary cleaning job at the aquarium, where he, too, discovers Marcellus mid-escape.


By this time, Marcellus has spent over 1,361 days at the aquarium, observing and learning about humans. As he interacts with Cameron and Tova, he begins to recall memories from his time before his captivity. Memories that may hold the solution to the questions Tova and Cameron are so desperate to answer.


But the Giant Pacific Octopus has a lifespan of four years – 1,460 days. Will Marcellus find a way to reveal the secrets to them before he’s out of time?


Through her novel, Shelby Van Pelt explores the innate desire to find meaningful connection with others. Although Tova has her knitting group and other friends, she feels adrift without her son and husband.


Cameron has struggled to maintain healthy relationships throughout his life, and Marcellus has spent most of his life in isolation. Yet through Marcellus’s wit and sharp observations of humans, readers can laugh at their own illogical behavior. He notes that “humans are the only species who subvert truth for their own entertainment. They call them jokes. Sometimes puns. Say one thing when you mean another.” Despite his snarky attitude, Marcellus becomes involved in Tova and Cameron’s lives in a way that will forever change their future.


As I mentioned earlier, this book was a “Read with Jenna” pick. Other popular book clubs include Oprah’s Book Club, Belletrist and Reese’s Book Club.


If you’re looking to make your own connections and start a book club, you can request a book discussion kit from select titles through our interlibrary loan department. Kits should be requested at least two weeks in advance. For more information, feel free to visit the Interlibrary Loan page on our website, or contact the library. Also, keep an eye out for information about our new book clubs for adults. You’ll find event information and more at


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community.


Rachel Cunningham is the circulation manager for Manhattan Public Library.