By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
It’s nearly Kansas Day—are you ready to celebrate?
How might one do that, you ask. Well, it seems perfectly simple to me: pick up a book by a native or adopted Kansan. Often those books are set in our state, but not always. No matter; you’ll be celebrating the literary art scene of Kansas.
Want historical fiction? Try Laura Moriarty’s “The Chaperone” or “The Healer’s Daughter” by Charlotte Hinger. Looking for a mystery? Go pick up any by Nancy Pickard or Sally Goldenbaum. Westerns are easy to find—there’s Irene Bennett Brown, Don Coldsmith, and Max McCoy (who can also be found in fiction, mystery, and non-fiction). And then there’s your general fiction novels by Tom Averill, Jim Lehrer, and others.
This is a perfect time to pick up a non-fiction book, especially if you usually shy away from them. Jim Hoy has a slew of titles pertaining to cultural history and folklore of the state. I can vouch that you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Joe Drape’s “Our Boys,” about the Smith Center High School’s perfect football season in 2008. If you want a paean to small-town Kansas, this book is perfect. If poetry is more your thing, than grab “Ghost Sign,” the collaborative effort by local favorites Adam Jameson, Melissa Fite Johnson, JT Knoll, and Al Ortolani (and the library has other collections by Kansan poets, too). Travel guides to various parts of the state can help you plan weekend getaways. Marci Penner’s “Kansas Guidebook for Explorers” is the best place to start (and is must reading before the Big Kansas Road Trip in May).
And don’t pass up the opportunity to read about Kansas figures such as Bob Dole, Amelia Earhart, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Osa & Martin Johnson, and Gordon Parks. Their personal stories are also a part of the state’s history that you might not have learned in school.
If none of these suggestions catches your fancy, head to the library and take a look at our special display of Kansas books—we have quite the assortment you can choose from.
Kansas is often maligned by those living in and outside the state, and sometimes it’s deserved. But January 29th is the one day when we should proudly sing “Home on the Range,” then settle down with a Kansas book and celebrate the good within our borders.