Kansas state librarian releases 2018 list of notable books

TOPEKA, Kan.  – For the past 13 years, the statehouse’s library has selected notable books with some kind of Kansas ties.

The Kansas Book Festival celebrated all of the 15 notable books plus more. Over 100 books were submitted, but only 15 were hand-picked by the state librarian.

Tom Averill, author and a retired Washburn University professor, has had three of his previous books recognized as notable. His books, and the program, are something he holds a lot of pride in.

“It’s a real rigorous and interesting selection process,” Averill said to Topeka’s KSNT. “So it’s a real honor. I think it’s a great program. I mean the state library is really dedicated to Kansas and to Kansas authors. Every year, selecting 15 books that every Kansans should read, they’re really great books.”

The state librarian, Eric Norris, said the process takes time, but every year they look forward to shedding light on Kansas literature.

“We worked with the committee, and get a list of about 15 titles that we highlighted specifically for this event,” Norris said. “The state library’s contribution to the Kansas book festival is the Kansas notable books. And every year we take submissions of books about Kansas or by Kansas authors.”

Some of the notable authors don’t live in Kansas, but their books are Kansas based.

You can find the list below.  Links connect to the Kansas State Library.

cover image for Bad Kansas

Bad Kansas: Storiesby Becky Mandelbaum (Rockport WA), University of Georgia Press

In this darkly humorous collection, Kansas becomes a state of mind as the characters struggle to define their relationship to home and what it means to stay or leave, to hold on or let go.

cover image for Cricket in the Thicket

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugsby Carol Murray (Overland Park), illustrations by Melissa Sweet (Portland ME). Henry Holt & Co
on cloudLibrary

Playful poems highlight surprising facts about the world of insects – from familiar ants and exotic dragonflies to cringe-worthy ticks and magnificent fireflies in this picture book for children.

cover image for Dodge City

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American Westby Tom Clavin (Sag Harbor NY), St. Martin’s Press
on cloudLibrary
on RBdigital

Cowpokes, desperadoes, and lawmen: it wasn’t always easy to tell which was which. This rollicking tale of Dodge City brims with colorful characters. From frontier settlement, to cattle drives, to a railroad town, the history of Dodge City is the story of how the West was won.

cover image for Feet of the Messenger

Feet of the Messenger: Poemsby H.C. Palmer (Lenexa), BkMk Press Books

Between the horrors of the Vietnam War and the pacific silences of the Kansas prairie, these poems honor both the beauty of the English language and the ancient powers of poetry to speak experience without diminishing it.

cover image for Fireflies in the Gathering Dark

Fireflies in the Gathering Dark: Poemsby Maril Crabtree (Mission), Aldrich Press

These poems traverse landscapes, inner and outer: physical landscapes and metaphysical ones; the landscape of relationships; the landscape of age, from childhood to maturity; and the questing landscape that leads to new understandings.

cover image for Headlights on the Prairie

Headlights on the Prairie: Essays on Homeby Robert Rebein (Irvington IN), University Press of Kansas

These essays bring a storyteller’s gifts to life’s dramas, large and small. Moments of singular grace and grit encapsulate the lives of feedlot cowboys, long-haul truckers, and farm kids dreaming of basketball glory.

cover image for Ike and McCarthy

Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower’s Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthyby David A. Nichols (Winfield), Simon & Schuster
on cloudLibrary

This fast-paced account reveals President Eisenhower’s subtly clever role in the destruction of demagogue Joe McCarthy. Drawn from documents in the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Nichols presents a gripping story of a classic power struggle.

cover image for Kansas Baseball, 1858-1941

Kansas Baseball, 1858-1941by Mark E. Eberle (Hays), University Press of Kansas

The early history of baseball in Kansas is the story of towns and the ballparks they built. It was a time when baseball was adopted by early settlers, then taken up by soldiers sent west, and finally by teams formed to express the identity of growing and diverse communities.

cover image for Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers

Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorersby Marci Penner (Inman) and WenDee Rowe (Inman), Kansas Sampler Foundation

The ultimate guidebook for all things to see and do in Kansas features 4,500 attractions, 843 eateries, and more than 1,600 color photos. Counties are arranged alphabetically within six geographic regions as are the cities within each county. Entries include directions, hours and contact information.

cover image for The Man from the Train

The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mysteryby Bill James (Lawrence) and Rachel McCarthy James (Lawrence), Scribner
on cloudLibrary
on RBdigital

A baseball statistician and his daughter deliver a provocative story that aims to solve a 100-year-old mass murder case. The two painstakingly scoured thousands of newspapers and records to discover and reveal the identity of one of the deadliest serial killers in America.

cover image for Midnight at the Electric

Midnight at the Electricby Jodi Lynn Anderson (Asheville NC), HarperTeen
on cloudLibrary
on RBdigital

While the stories of three women span multiple generations and thousands of miles, their lives are intertwined. Before leaving Kansas to go to Mars, Adri discovers Catherine’s journal of the Dust Bowl and Lenore’s letters about World War I. Each story weaves a unifying thread of hope.

cover image for The Shape of Ideas

The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativityby Grant Snider (Derby), Abrams ComicArts
on cloudLibrary

What do ideas look like? Where do they come from? These one- and two-page comics have been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Kansas City Star. They are a colorful look into the creative process.

cover image for Stark Mad Abolitionists

Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Eraby Robert K. Sutton (Bethesda MD), Skyhorse Publishing

In 1854, Boston was in an uproar. Businessman Amos Adams Lawrence was inspired to put his efforts and considerable fortune toward keeping slavery out of Kansas. The town that came to bear Lawrence’s name became part of a bigger story of people willing to risk their lives and fortunes for freedom.

cover image for That Is My Dream!

That is My Dream!by Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares (Lenexa), Schwartz & Wade
on cloudLibrary

Langston Hughes’s inspiring and timeless poem “Dream Variation” comes joyously to life in a gorgeously illustrated picture book. Follow one child on a walk through his small segregated town in the 1950s. Then watch his mind take flight as he images a brighter, more inclusive world.

cover image for To the Stars Through Difficulties

To The Stars Through Difficultiesby Romalyn Tilghman (Long Beach CA), She Writes Press

Inspired by the women who built fifty-nine Carnegie libraries in Kansas, the No Guilt Quilters overcome numerous obstacles to build the Cultural Center on the Plains- proving that New Hope is more than just the name of a town.