Reading local: Good reads from local authors
By Allie Lousch, community engagement lead at Manhattan Public Library
“Addiction is a compulsive condition … you are driven toward your own ruin,” Manhattan author, Mike Matson, wrote in “Courtesy Boy: A True Story of Addiction,” his story of compulsion and recovery. Published in 2021, “Courtesy Boy” is Mike’s second book and a memoir about his young adult life, how the behavioral traits he exhibited as a young man like dishonesty, lack of loyalty, cutting corners, not recognizing true friendship and not knowing how to keep friends, were “part and parcel” to his addiction.
“Courtesy Boy” was written with wit and a voice that becomes more clear as the story of his addicted life moves into sobriety and recovery. Recovery is defined as “the continuing process of regaining possession of something lost,” according to Oxford Languages online. Mike had much to recover, like his ability to be honest with himself.
“I am not unique,” Mike said. “There are people we know, we love, friends, neighbors … relatives that suffer from addiction. There is so much stigma associated with addiction. It’s seen as a moral failure. By being honest, open and no-holds-barred, I hope to put a dent in this stigma so people can help someone they know or help themselves get help.”
“140 Years of Soul: A History of African-Americans in Manhattan, Kansas 1865-2005,” is Gerry Walton’s story of the people and place in Manhattan’s Southside. Long-time library patrons may remember Gerry, who retired as the head of the reference department prior to writing her book.
“In 2005, Manhattan, Kansas, celebrated its 150th birthday and I wanted the story of my people to be included in the festivities,” Gerry wrote. “Of the 150 years Manhattan has been a community, Blacks have been a part of it for 140 years. That is something to be proud of.”
There are many people readers will meet in “140 Years” who may be familiar, including Veryl Switzer, charter member of K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, who developed university programs to support students of color, many that are still in use today. Earl Woods, father of Tiger Woods, was raised in Manhattan, graduated from K-State and served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. He is buried in Manhattan. Former Kansas City Monarchs player, George Giles, attended Douglass School where he learned to play baseball, and later operated “the only Black-owned motel ever in town.”
“140 Years” is like listening to your grandmother and her friends tell stories of growing up around MHK’s Yuma Street. Readers will meet the first Black people who came to the area as Exodusters following the Civil War and the people who came later. Some still call Southside home.
Gerry wrote of the women and men and children who lived and worked in Manhattan, contributed to the community and served internationally in the military, education and more. You’ll find “140 Years of Soul” at the library. Fun Fact: Wandean Rivers, Gerry’s daughter-in-law, now serves as the library’s technology trainer.
Folks interested in the Konza Prairie will discover more about the land they love in Jill Haukos’s “The Autumn Calf” picture book illustrated by Joyce Mihran Turley. “Autumn Calf” follows a baby bison while the calf follows its mother along their Tallgrass Prairie home. Rich in color and story, readers will discover facts about Konza Prairie’s operations.
Did you know wild bison can’t be herded? Read how bison can learn to follow cowboys into the corral for vaccinations, and how “baby” bison can weigh nearly 200 pounds and still need their mothers’ protection from natural predators.
Let your curiosity take you to the library for a copy of “The Autumn Calf” or other “local reads.” Then drive the few miles to explore the Konza Prairie. Remember to leave your pets at home, stay on existing trails and leave the bison to their peace.
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 mhklibrary.org.