December 9, 2008 is the 400th anniversary of English poet John Milton’s birthday. Born in 1608, Milton wrote the epic poem Paradise Lost and had an enormous impact on English literature. Explore some of Milton’s work firsthand, read a biography of this influential man, or check out some fiction inspired by him.

By John Milton

Paradise Lost book jacket

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, is considered by many to be the greatest in the English language. Originally published in 1667, this poem depicts the biblical story of the war between God and Satan and the fall of Adam and Eve.

Part of the Everyman Library Pocket Poets series, Milton: Poems contains a concise selection of his work, including sonnets and parts of Comus and Samson Agonistes.

At over 600 pages, The Portable Milton edited by Douglas Bush reprints a large portion of Milton’s work. It contains his epics Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, as well as sonnets, prose works, and early poems.

About Milton & his work

 Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot book jacket

A recent biography by Anna Beer, Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot, examines Milton’s complete life from his childhood to his politics and writing. Beer also discusses his personal life, which included three marriages, and places this monumental literary figure in historical and cultural context.

Eden Renewed: The Public and Private Life of John Milton by Peter Levi draws on earlier scholarship to discuss Milton’s life and extensive writings with an opinionated and entertaining style.

For a concise examination of Milton’s work, try John Milton: A Short Introduction by Roy Flannagan. This brief book is organized chronologically and covers Milton’s major works of poetry and prose.

Fiction inspired by Milton

Sporting with Amaryllis book jacket

Peter Ackroyd imagines a history for John Milton that could have happened (but didn’t) in the novel, Milton in America. Milton – blind and middle-aged – flees England to go to America in 1660. The ship crashes and Milton ends up in Puritan colony where over time he becomes more intolerant and repressive, leading to war.

Novelist Paul West creates a fictional and allegorical tale of John Milton as a young man and student at Cambridge in Sporting with Amaryllis. On holiday, Milton meets a woman who becomes his muse, sexually and creatively, affecting him for the rest of his life.

His Dark Materials, a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman that includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, is in part a retelling and reinterpretation of Paradise Lost by Milton. Two children wander between parallel universes that are populated with daemons, witches, armored bears, and angels and engage in an epic battle.

Author Willa Cather, born on Dec 7, 1873, is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. Explore some of her novels, read more about this influential author, or check out some “read-alike” books if you enjoy her writing.

Novels by Willa Cather | About Willa Cather | Read-Alikes

Novels by Willa Cather

O Pioneers! book jacket

O Pioneers!, Willa Cather’s second novel, depicts the life of Alexandra Bergson, the daughter of Swedish immigrant farmers. A strong woman, she struggles to save her farm in Nebraska in this realistic portrayal of prairie life at the turn of the 20th century.

Another classic, My Ántonia tells the story of Ántonia’s life on the Nebraska prairie as told by her childhood friend, Jim. An immigrant, Antonia matures into a strong and courageous woman with the pioneer spirit, surviving hardship and betrayal.

One of Ours won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. This novel by Cather explores the life of Claude Wheeler, a Nebraska farm boy alienated from his family. He enlists during World War I and ends up on the bloody battlefields of France.

Willa Cather wrote other novels, short stories, and poetry. Find more of Cather's books in the library.

About Willa Cather

 A Pictorial Memoir book jacket

Willa Cather: A Pictorial Memoir by Lucia Woods and Bernice Slote depicts Cather’s life through images. Over 160 illustrations and photographs are here, including original photos commissioned for this book, family pictures, and archival materials.

In Willa Cather: Double Lives, Hermione Lee writes about Cather’s life and work, exploring the complexities and conflicts in these two realms.

Janis P. Stout places the author in cultural context in Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World. The author combines biography with textual analysis to examine this important writer.


The Living book jacket

If you like to read Willa Cather’s work, check out some of these novels with similar themes.

Set in the Pacific Northwest during the late nineteenth century, The Living by Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Dillard depicts two pioneer families struggling to survive frontier life.

In The Country of the Pointed Firs, published in 1896, Sarah Orne Jewett tells the story of a female writer seeking seclusion in a small coastal town in Maine. Vibrant in its depiction of the culture and dialect of New England at the time, this book is considered Jewett’s masterpiece.

Kent Haruf depicts modern small-town life on the prairie in Plainsong. This New York Times Notable Book covers the lives of seven residents of Holt, Colorado – two high school teachers, two young brothers, a pregnant teenage girl, and two bachelor farmers. Over the course of one year, these people face their problems, from school bullies to separation to loneliness and undergo great changes.

We’ve all used this phrase, but do you know why it’s significant?
The Spanish Ministry of Culture is making certain readers the world over don’t ever forget. The most recent Cervantes prize was awarded to Spanish novelist Juan Marse for his body of work.
Marse has focused many of his books on the rifts in Spanish society under the rule of Franco.
In addition to the laurels, Marse will take home 125,000 euros on April 23, 2009, the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. Best known for his masterpiece, The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Cervantes is widely recognized for writing this modern novel that serves as a foundation for subsequent Western literature.
Nothing unwinnable about this battle for immortality, Cervantes holds one of the most lauded positions in the literary world.

On December 9, 2008 at the Central Library, editorial cartoonist Lee Judge reflected on his 27 years at The Kansas City Star and shared some of his favorite unpublished cartoons in his presentation, Cartoons We’re a Little Afraid to Show You. These books explore the history of political cartoons in America, reveal cartoons that were never printed, and take a look at specific editorial cartoonists’ work.

The Art of Ill Will book jacket

The Art of Ill Will: The Story of American Political Cartoons
By Donald Dewey
The Art of Ill Will is a comprehensive history of American political cartooning, featuring more than 200 illustrations from the colonial period to contemporary cartoonists like Pat Oliphant and Jimmy Margulies. These artists had an uncanny ability to encapsulate the essence of a situation and steer the public mood with a single drawing and caption.

Killed Cartoons: Casualties from the War on Free Expression
Edited by David Wallis
This collection of 100 cartoons--banned for being too controversial--is both surprising and shocking, and elicits outrage that a fearful editor kept them from being seen.

All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't): Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page
By Jerelle Kraus
In 1970, The New York Times launched Op-Ed art, a tool designed to add intellectual resonance and emotional impact to the paper's prose. This book reveals Op-Ed's story from its conception to today while recounting the stormy confrontations between artist and editor.

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons book jacket

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons
Edited by Robert Mankoff
This collection contains 110 of the very best cartoons on politics from The New Yorker from the 1930s to the year 2000.

Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists
Edited by Ted Rall
Here's the next generation of artists out to save the world: political cartoonists who run in your local weekly alternative paper, uncensored and in the raw. This book includes cartoons and interviews with: Tom Tomorrow, Peter Kuper, Ruben Bolling and many others.

Them Damned Pictures: Explorations in American Political Cartoon Art
By Roger A. Fischer
In this pungent climate, and with well over 100 cartoons as living proof, Roger Fischer - in a series of lively episodes - weaves the cartoon genre in to the larger fabric of politics and thought of the Guilded Age, and beyond.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War book jacket

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel
By Richard H. Minear
For decades, readers throughout the world have enjoyed the marvelous stories and illustrations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. But few know the work Geisel did as a political cartoonist during World War II, for the New York daily newspaper PM. Dr. Seuss Goes to War features handsome, large-format reproductions of more than two hundred of Geisel's cartoons, alongside commentary by the historian Richard H. Minear that places them in the context of the national climate they reflect.

Mission Accomplished: Wicked Cartoons by America's Most Wanted Political Cartoonist
By Khalil Bendib
In an increasingly geopolitical world, Bendib happens to be both "Us" and "Them," American and Muslim, a walking oxymoron--a "Clash of Civilizations" made flesh. He is an American political cartoonist with an in-your-face, non-Eurocentric perspective, a voice of the voiceless.

Why Do I Feel Uneasy?: More Cartoons
By Pat Oliphant
The author, a widely-circulated political cartoonist, has ferreted out the hypocrisy and absurdity in Republican and Democratic administrations alike for nearly thirty years. In this book, he takes aim at the Clinton administration.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

The Kansas City Public Library and the Center for Practical Bioethics hosted an all-day bioethics symposium called Controversial Bodies: How to View Plastinated Corpses on December 5, 2008 at the Central Library, spurred in part by the Bodies Revealed exhibit at Union Station this year. These books cover bioethical issues and the field of medical ethics.

Bioethics | Medical ethics | Plastinated bodies


Challenging Nature book jacket

Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life
By Lee M. Silver
In Challenging Nature, Silver offers a provocative look at the collision of science, religion, pseudoscience, and politics.

In the Wake of Terror: Medicine and Morality in a Time of Crisis
Edited by Jonathan D. Moreno
The war on terrorism and the threat of chemical and biological weapons have brought a new urgency to already complex moral and bioethical questions. In the Wake of Terror presents thought-provoking essays on many of the troubling issues facing American society, written by experts from the fields of medicine, health care policy, law, political science, history, philosophy, and theology.

Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics
By Leon R. Kass
Grappling with the moral meaning of new biomedical technologies, a doctor meditates on cloning, embryo research, the sale of organs, and the assault on mortality itself.

The Future Is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics
Edited by William Kristol and Eric Cohen
This book looks both to the past and the future of the genetics debate. It includes articles, essays, speeches, and testimony from genetic enthusiasts and critics, scientists and moralists, politicians and scholars.

The Double-Edged Helix: Social Implications of Genetics in a Diverse Society
Edited by Joseph S. Alper
The Double-Edged Helix explores the impact of genetic discoveries on both different population segments and society as a whole. The authors address the medical and ethical implications of the new technologies, outlining potential positive and negative effects of genetic research on minorities, individuals with disabilities, and those of diverse sexual orientations. Presenting a wide array of perspectives, this book emphasizes the need to ensure that research into genetics research does not result in discrimination against people on the basis of their DNA.

Medical ethics

Embracing Our Mortality book jacket

Embracing Our Mortality: Hard Choices in an Age of Medical Miracles
By Lawrence J. Schneiderman
While we would all prefer to die at home, quietly and peacefully, in fact most of us will die in a health care facility, many of us hooked up to machines and faced with tough alternatives. In Embracing Our Mortality, Dr. Lawrence J. Schneiderman captures medical decision-making in action at the end of life, a time when the physician's and patient's choices are the most difficult – and the most heart-wrenching – to make.

The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients
By Sonia Shah
This book reveals the unethical drug-testing practices of the multinational pharmaceutical industry. In its quest to develop lucrative new drugs, Big Pharma has quietly exported its clinical research business to the global South, where ethical oversight is minimal, and sick, poor, and desperate patients are abundant.

Do We Still Need Doctors?
By John D. Lantos
Exploring such issues as the structure of medical education, the corporatization of health care, and the increasing constraints upon the private doctor-patient relationship, John Lantos, a pediatrician, teacher, and and bioethicist at the University of Chicago, reveals how changes in our health care system are fostering new ways of understanding and responding to illness.

Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts
By Michele Goodwin
Offering a contemporary view of organ and tissue supply and demand, Goodwin explores the legal, racial, and social nuances of black market procurement.

The Pursuit of Perfection: The Promise and Perils of Medical Enhancement
By Sheila M. Rothman and David J. Rothman
What does it mean to live in a time when medical science can not only cure the human body but also reshape it? How should we as individuals and as a society respond to new drugs and genetic technologies? Sheila and David Rothman address these troubling questions with a singular blend of history and analysis, taking us behind the scenes to explain how scientific research, medical practice, drug company policies, and a quest for peak performance combine to exaggerate potential benefits and minimize risks.

The Lazarus Case: Life-And-Death Issues in Neonatal Intensive Care
By John D. Lantos
In this book, John D. Lantos weaves a compelling story that captures the dilemmas of modern medical practice. The Lazarus Case begins with a fictional malpractice case -- an amalgam of typical cases in which Lantos has testified as an expert witness -- and uses it as the framework for addressing the ethical issues surrounding neonatal intensive care. Lantos draws on his experience in neonatal medicine, pediatrics, and medical ethics to explore multiple ethical dilemmas through one poignant representative situation.

Plastinated Bodies

"The Body as Interactive Display: Examining Bodies in a Public Exhibition" by Dirk vom Lehn
Sociology of Health & Illness 28.2 (Mar. 2006): 223-251.
Library card required from home.

"Plastination for Display: A New Way to Dispose of the Dead" by Tony Walter
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10.3 (Sep. 2004): 603-627.
Library card required from home.

"Anatomy's Full Monty by John Bohannon
Science 301.5637 (2003): 1172-5.
Library card required from home.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

Author Vicki Myron discussed her best-selling book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, on December 3, 2008 at the Plaza Branch. Dewey hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in November. Check out this bestseller or other books that feature the unique connections humans have with cats and other animals.

Our cats | Animals & humans

Our Cats

 The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World book jacket

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
By Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter
The charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa, starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the library. For the next 19 years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

James Herriot's Cat Stories
By James Herriot
An ideal match of author and subject: James Herriot and the adorable felines that delight so many millions of pet fanciers around the world. This warm and joyful volume of stories collects some of the Yorkshire vet's favorite tales about one of his favorite animals--each memoir as memorable and heartwarming as the last.

The Cat Who Covered the World: The Adventures of Henrietta and Her Foreign Correspondent
By Christopher S. Wren
Over 17 years and tens of thousands of miles, Henrietta the cat became a plucky companion to foreign correspondent Christopher S. Wren. This is his hilarious and poignant account of their adventures over four continents, and also the tale of an American family coping with chaos in faraway places with the help of their resourceful cat.

The Cat Inside book jacket

The Cat Inside
By William S. Burroughs
Burroughs is best known for the wild, phantasmagoric satire of Naked Lunch, but he has another side. America's leading literary outlaw writes with unexpected tenderness and signature intensity about his, and our, "animal others"--a meditation on the long, mysterious relationship between cats and their human hosts.

The Cat Who Came For Christmas
By Cleveland Amory
It was the night before Christmas when a bedraggled stray white feline entered the home, and heart, of Cleveland Amory. At first the relationship seemed a clash of two stubborn wills, but despite the battles, Polar Bear did finally recognize his new name, while he settled into a comfortable friendship. This book is a delightful true tale for anyone who has ever been owned by a cat or any pet.

Cat People
By Margaret and Michael Korda
Beginning with Margaret Korda's passion for cats, and her husband's reluctant transformation into a cat person, the Kordas introduce readers to a hilarious assortment of people whose lives revolved--often to an extraordinary degree--around their cats.

Animals & humans

 The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl book jacket

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl
By Stacey O'Brien
Written with the same heartwarming sentiment that made the memoir Marley & Me, biologist and owl expert Stacey O'Brien chronicles her rescue of an adorable, abandoned baby barn owl--and their astonishing and unprecedented 19-year life together.

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
By Ted Kerasote
A deeply touching portrait of a remarkable animal, Merle's Door explores the issues that all animals and their human companions face as their lives intertwine. Author Ted Kerasote presents the latest research into animal behavior as well as the origins and evolution of human-dog interaction. Kerasote's adopted Labrador mix, Merle, showed the author how dogs might live were they free; the author suggests how they should be allowed to live and the doors that should always remain open to them.

Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
By Irene M. Pepperberg
From Alex's first words to his sudden death, Alex & Me tells the story of a delightful and mischievous parrot who rocked the scientific establishment. Yet his real story can't be found in any science journal--the story of a relationship, with its affection, jealousy, and lifelong rewards.

Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale
By Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff
By turns funny, moving, tender, and inspiring, Gracie's tale is a treat for every dog lover. There is Gracie's first morning, racing around Dan in the snowy yard. Gracie's first determination to prove to her step-sisters, Dottie the Dalmation and Sarah the Black Lab, that she's one of the girls. Gracie's defiant romance with a pint-size charmer named Byron, a Boston Terrier from the wrong side of the fence. Then born of necessity, the eureka moment: When Gracie's delicate constitution starts turning into anorexia, Dan teaches himself how to cook, and in three days is baking her the cookies that will spur her appetite, launch Three Dog Bakery, and transform their lives forever.

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
By John Grogan
In this funny, poignant memoir about a wildly neurotic Labrador retriever named Marley, Grogan relates how he and his wife came to understand what really matters in an unforgettable tribute to the lessons Marley taught them about loyalty, exuberance, and passion.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

It wasn’t an easy task, but the dedicated and determined readers taking part in the Waldo Library’s Jewish American Literature book group, Demons, Golems, and Dybbuks: Monsters of Jewish Imagination took on the award winning novel, The Puttermesser Papers by respected essayist and literary critic, Cynthia Ozick.

For starters, readers tried to decide if the collection of connected stories was truly a novel or merely a mishmash of chapters that featured the same character. They then moved onto the writing style and language. Quite a few participants mentioned the deliberately obscure vocabulary and felt the tone was a bit patronizing in using that style and language. Others felt the overuse of pretentious terminology disrupted the flow of the story and contributed to the distance between the reader and the character of Ruth Puttermesser. Readers interested in further information on this topic might do well to consult HebrewTalk: 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories They Tell by Joseph Lowin as reviewed by Jerome A. Chanes of The Jewish Daily Forward.

Readers grappled with the intent the author had for her novel/collection. They were looking for the “meaning” behind each chapter, the golem, and Ruth’s perception of her life and the outside world. Finally, one attendee piped up that it’s quite possible the discussion of “meaning” was pointless as there were certain aspects to life that are without meaning and might this story be reflecting that?

Another reader asked the members of the group to look at what wasn’t visible in the novel. Ruth had no husband or children and he wondered if the author wanted the discussion to revolve around Ruth’s life choices and was she living a worthy life? Attendees weren’t certain the author had the answer but felt certain the author was asking that question.

Everyone was charmed by the variety of reactions of the other readers and agreed that a book that generated that much conversation was a good book for discussion. No one went so far as to say the book itself was good.

We’re satisfied with that ending to the evening.

Michael Knight and Allen Wier, Southern novelists, joined moderator Steve Paul for the December talk in the Library’s Writers at Work series on December 4, 2008 at the Central Library. Check out the work of these authors or discover more Southern fiction at the Library.

Books by Michael Knight & Allen Wier

The Holiday Season book jacket

The Holiday Season
By Michael Knight
Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, "The Holiday Season" and its companion piece, "Love at the End of the Year" are tender ruminations on the nature of family, the power of love, and a particularly complicated time of year.

Goodnight, Nobody
By Michael Knight
This luminous collection of stories astutely explores rediscovered love, reconciliation, and peace amid the trials of everyday life. In each story, characters are surprised by their mettle even as they recognize their fallibility; they are convinced of the power of love, family, and trust even as they experience the danger of obsession, anger, and simple accident.

Dogfight, and Other Stories
By Michael Knight
In this collection, Michael Knight delivers ten tales of ordinary people whose attempts at human connection often result in false starts, misunderstandings, or heavy silence.

Divining Rod
By Michael Knight
Simon Bell returns to his childhood home in Alabama, haunted by the deaths of his parents and begins an illicit affair with married Delia Holladay. Their liaison will bring about a final reckoning no one could have anticipated.

Tehano book jacket

By Allen Wier
African American freedmen and slaves, Native American warriors and their women, Confederate and Union veterans, immigrants, and a host of other citizens enact their destinies in Comanche territory in Texas during the final years of the nineteenth century.

By Allen Wier
Wier’s first novel takes place in a small town in Texas during the late 1950s. A disconnected family is at the center of this book featuring themes of love, loneliness, and violence.

Things About to Disappear: Stories
By Allen Wier
This early collection of eight stories displays Wier’s craftsmanship as a writer.

More Southern Fiction

Best of the South book jacket

Best of the South: From the Second Decade of New Stories from the South
Edited by Shannon Ravenel, selected and introduced by Anne Tyler
Like the venerable Best American Short Stories series, each volume of New Stories from the South collects the best stories published in the previous year's magazines and literary journals. From the 186 stories found in the ten volumes from 1996 to 2005, Anne Tyler has picked her favorites and introduced them with warmth, insight, and her own brand of quiet literary authority.

Mermaids in the Basement
By Michael Lee West
The bestselling author of Crazy Ladies tells a funny and poignant tale that explores the complex bonds between a daughter and her father.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
By Carson McCullers
McCuller's classic American tale of deaf-mute, John Singer, who becomes the confidant of various misfits in a small Georgia town in the 1930s.

Down River
By John Hart
Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, this heart-pounding thriller tells the story of a river whose banks are filled with lies and murder, and the man whose destiny lies deep below its surface.

The Last Girls: A Novel
By Lee Smith
The Last Girls centers around four middle-aged Southern women who, as students at an idyllic Blue Ridge women's college thirty years before, were inspired by Huckleberry Finn to take their own raft trip down the Mississippi River. Now a tragedy brings them back together for a repeat voyage under very different circumstances--aboard a luxurious cruise steamboat.

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
By Eudora Welty
This complete collection includes all the published stories of Eudora Welty. There are forty-one stories in all, including the earlier collections A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, The Golden Apples, and The Bride of the Innisfallen, as well as previously uncollected stories.

Find more Southern fiction in the library.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

Forget the 10k and the bronze statue. What these authors really want is for people to read their books.

 An American Family book jacket

Well, last night, they all got their wish. The National Book Awards were bestowed at a ceremony hosted by playwright Eric Bogosian. The nonfiction winner, Annette Gordon-Reed, received a pretty nice birthday present when she became the first African-American woman to win the award for her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.

Peter (or should I say “repeater”) Matthiessen took home an NBA prize for the second time in his career for his novel Shadow Country. In 1991 he won the nonfiction prize for The Snow Leopard. That’s a nice matched set for his mantel.

One of the most eagerly anticipated NBA awards in library land is the Young People’s Literature award. This year Judy Blundell is going home with the prize for her bleak novel, What I Saw and How I Lied.

Respected and popular poet Mark Doty won the poetry award for his collection, Fire to Fire.

Other luminaries of the literary world were Maxine Hong Kingston who received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Barney Rosset earned the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. He won a hardfought battle to publish Henry Miller’s modern classic, Tropic of Cancer.

Who needs a tchotchke and a couple of ducats? These folks are writers who deserve to feted and read. Grab a copy now.

November marks the beginning of scholarship application season with National Scholarship Month. Get a jump on finding the best scholarships and colleges with these books.

Scholarship guides

 The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College book jacket

Get started with Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College by Kimberly Stezala. This book is written for all students and their parents with steps for them to follow starting in the student’s freshman year. It contains tips on finding the best scholarships based on the student’s profile, information on creating a successful application, sample essays, and more.

The College Board, a not-for-profit organization, covers more than just scholarships in Getting Financial Aid 2009. It includes a “financial aid picture” for 3,000 colleges and schools while providing advice on the FAFSA form and more.

A hefty book, The Scholarship Book: The Complete Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for the Undergraduate has over 700 pages. In addition to its comprehensive listings, it also provides tips on essays, cover letters, and finding the best awards.

Another good resource, The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2009: Billions of Dollars in Scholarships, Grants and Prizes by Gen and Kelly Tanabe contains detailed information about thousands of awards, all comprehensively indexed. It includes lists of scholarships for high school, college, graduate school, and adult education.

The 2007-2009 African American Scholarship Guide for Students & Parents presented by Dante Lee lists grants, scholarships, fellowships and internships from private, federal, state, and institutional sources for African American students and students of color.

Colleges & universities

Fiske Guide to Colleges 2008 book jacket

What college or university is the best for you? The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2008 is a good place to begin. In this book, each institution gets an essay describing the school, backed up with selective statistics on things like SAT scores, acceptance rates, and more.

The Best 368 Colleges by Robert Franek provides college rankings on more than just test scores and acceptance rates. Here, you’ll find schools rated on the quality of their dorms, professors, campus food, class discussions, college newspapers, and more.

If you’re looking for a school close to home, try Peterson's Colleges in the Midwest 2008. This book covers 4-year and 2-year institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.


Fiske What to Do When For College book jacket

The Fiske What to Do When For College: A Student and Parent's Guide to Deadlines, Planning, and the Last Two Years of High School by Edward B. Fiske & Bruce G. Hammond provides a chronological approach to getting ready for college with monthly overviews and weekly planners. It covers deadlines for college admissions, scholarships, financial aid, tests, and more.

For help on staying organized during your senior year, check out Get It Together for College: A Planner to Help You Get Organized and Get In! From tests to recommendation letters to interviews, this book has checklists, worksheets, calendars and tips on preparing for college.

Adult Students: A Painless Guide to Going Back To College by Gen and Kelly Tanabe contains information on scholarships, distance learning, applications, and more with plenty of tips written with adults in mind.

Online scholarship resources

Find more information on scholarships and financial aid with these resources:

Physician, historian, and ethicist Robert Martensen discusses his book, A Life Worth Living: A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era, on November 20, 2008 at the Plaza Branch. Read Dr. Martensen’s book or check out some others in the Library written by physicians about illness, the end of life, or their thoughts on medicine.

Illness & end of life | Doctors’ reflections

Illness & end of life

A Life Worth Living book jacket

A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections On Illness In a High-Tech Era
By Robert Martensen
Martensen, a physician, historian, and ethicist, draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness, from diagnosis to end of life.

How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter
By Sherwin B. Nuland
Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction In an age when death occurs in sterile seclusion and is cloaked in euphemism and taboo, How We Die is a vital revelation. Clearly, frankly, yet compassionately, it tells us how most of us are likely to die--and in doing so, suggests how we may live more fully and meaningfully. Written by a distinguished surgeon, this succeeds in restoring death to its ancient place in human existence.

The Measure of Our Days: New Beginnings at Life's End
By Jerome Groopman
Why does the knowledge of having a life-threatening illness ennoble some people, yet defeat others? How can we apply to our own lives the lessons learned during this extraordinary time? In The Measure of Our Days, Jerome Groopman, a physician and staff writer for The New Yorker, explores these central human questions through portraits of eight patients who have gazed into the face of death.

Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality
By Pauline W. Chen
From her first dissection of a cadaver to the first time she pronounced a patient dead, Chen combines personal experience with clinical expertise in this riveting, deeply nuanced critique of the medical profession.

Doctors’ reflections

The Uncertain Art book jacket

The Uncertain Art: Thoughts on a Life in Medicine
By Sherwin B. Nuland
Long-time physician Sherwin B. Nuland presents a provocative and stimulating collection of stories illustrating the vagaries of medical practice over the years.

Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine
By Andrzej Szczeklik
The ancient Greeks used the term "catharsis" for the cleansing of both the body by medicine and the soul by art. In this inspiring book, internationally renowned cardiologist Andrzej Szczeklik draws deeply on our humanistic heritage to describe the artistry and the mystery of being a doctor. Moving between examples both ancient and contemporary, both mythological and scientific, Catharsis explores how medicine and art share common roots and pose common challenges.

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
By Atul Gawande
In gripping accounts of true cases, surgeon Atul Gawande explores the power and the limits of medicine, offering an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge. Complications lays bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is – uncertain, perplexing, and profoundly human.

How Doctors Think
By Jerome Groopman
A New Yorker staff writer, bestselling author, and professor at Harvard Medical School unravels the mystery of how doctors figure out the best treatments – or fail to do so. This book describes the warning signs of flawed medical thinking and offers intelligent questions patients can ask.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
By Atul Gawande
The New York Times bestselling author examines the complex and risk-filled medical profession and how those involved progress from merely good to great. Gawande provides rare insight and offers an honest firsthand account of his own life as a surgeon.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

Book designer and author Chip Kidd explored The Secret History of Batman in Japan on November 19, 2008 at the Plaza Branch. Check out Kidd’s works, the world of Batman, or the art of the book cover in these books.

By Chip Kidd | Batman | Book cover art

Written, Designed, or Edited By Chip Kidd

 The Secret History of Batman in Japan book jacket

Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan
By Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and Saul Ferris
The two hottest genres in comics gleefully collide head-on, as the most beloved American superhero gets the coolest Japanese manga makeover ever.

The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days
Written and selected by Les Daniels; designed and selected by Chip Kidd
From the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, DC Comics introduced the fantastic characters that became everyone's favorite super heroes: Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Shazam! This brilliantly illustrated volume features entirely new, large-format photography of the original comic books, showcasing this fabulous visual world.

Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross
Art direction, design, text, by Chip Kidd
Mythology brings together the best-loved comic characters in the world, brought to life by one of the most astonishing young artists working in the medium today, Alex Ross.

 A Novel in Two Semesters book jacket

The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters
By Chip Kidd
This novel in two semesters follows the narrator through his first year at the ubiquitous State U. In the first semester, he meets Himillsy Dodd, a precociously brilliant fellow art major with a great disdain for art, and takes Introduction to Drawing. Then they take graphic design with the enigmatic William Sorbeck, and life changes forever. Sorbeck shines in three dimensions on the page, a living representation of the larger-than-life professor that luckier college students have a chance to know. This is a fascinating, funny, and wonderfully written novel of graphic design that manages to deepen the reader's appreciation for the artistry and wonder of design without a single drawing.

The Learners: The Book after "The Cheese Monkeys"
By Chip Kidd
Fresh out of college in the summer of 1961, Happy lands his first job as a graphic designer (okay, art assistant) at a small Connecticut advertising agency populated by a cast of endearing eccentrics. But when he's assigned to design a newspaper ad recruiting participants for an experiment in the Yale Psychology Department, Happy can't resist responding to the ad himself. Little does he know that the experience will devastate him, forcing a reexamination of his past, his soul, and the nature of human cruelty -- chiefly, his own.

Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits
By Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd
Pulitzer-prize winning writer and illustrator Spiegelman joins forces with designer Kidd to pay homage to the comic book hero Plastic Man, and his creator, Jack Cole.

Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz
Edited and designed by Chip Kidd
This beautiful album will dazzle fans of Charles M. Schulz and his art, providing an unprecedented look at the work of the most brilliant and beloved cartoonist of the twentieth century. More than five hundred comic strips are reproduced, as well as rare or never-before-seen items. The book features an introduction by Jean Schulz and has been designed and edited by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, who also provides an informed and appreciative commentary.

Wonder Woman: The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess: The Complete History
By Les Daniels; art direction and design by Chip Kidd
Filled with a fascinating array of archival comic book art, photos and paraphernalia, and designed by Chip Kidd, Wonder Woman follows on the heels of the successful Batman and Superman histories to complete this popular superhero series.


The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes. Vol. 1, Featuring Batman book jacket

The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes. Vol. 1, Featuring Batman
By Michael L. Fleisher, assisted by Janet E. Lincoln
Everything you ever wanted to know about DC's Dark Knight -- and so much more -- can be found in this amazing volume, brought back into print for the first time in 30 years! Originally published in 1976, this comprehensive volume includes every piece of information from the Dark Knight's early days through the seventies, covering everything you could want to know about Batman, his allies and enemies, weapons in his war on crime and his adventures across the decades!

Batman Unmasked: Analysing a Cultural Icon
By Will Brooker
Pinpointing four key moments in Batman's history, the author illuminates the debates over Batman's significance by shining a light on the cultural issues of the day.

Batman Chronicles, Volume 1
By Bill Finger and Gardner Fox
The Batman Chronicles Vol.1 begins with the very first appearance of the Dark Knight in Detective Comics #27, and continues with every subsequent appearance in sequence. Created by Bob Kane, Batman is featured in adventures written by Bill Finger, with art by Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and others. This volume reprints Detective Comics #27-37 and Batman #1.

Book cover art

Chip Kidd book jacket

Chip Kidd
By Véronique Vienne
This richly illustrated book--the first critical selection of the book designer's work--looks closely at this contemporary visual pioneer. Vienne presents a full and nuanced view of Kidd, discussing how he has developed celebrity status as a designer, design critic, lecturer, and editor. She also relates how Kidd is greatly influenced by popular culture, noting his vast collection of Batman memorabilia. Vienne concludes by examining Kidd's editorial involvement with books on cartoonists as well as his own first novel, The Cheese Monkeys.

Wendell Minor: Art For the Written Word: Twenty-Five Years of Book Cover Art
Edited by Wendell Minor and Florence Friedmann Minor
Bringing together a rich selection of pieces from Wendell Minor's extraordinary body of jacket art, this volume features commentary from authors and others on the relationship between a book's cover and what's inside. The book includes over 100 full-color reproductions of artwork from the jackets of bestselling books by Ray Bradbury, Mary Higgins Clark, Pat Conroy and others.

The Look of Love: The Art of the Romance Novel
By Jennifer McKnight-Trontz
Swashbuckling sailors, dashing dukes, naughty nurses, and sexy stewardesses caught in webs of love, passion, betrayal, and intrigue: these are the raw materials of the romance novel – and the lusty covers that advertise them. In The Look of Love, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz provides a rollicking history of the covers and stories that have captivated millions of readers worldwide. More than 150 of the most sensational covers from this venerable if venal literary form are shown in color, focusing on the period from 1940 to 1970, romance design's most fertile era.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

Celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month in November with some fiction by acclaimed American Indian authors.

Ceremony book jacket

In Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, a young World War II veteran returns to the Laguna Pueblo reservation where he feels estranged and alienated. Tayo, the veteran, searches for meaning and resolution to the despair he feels and learns of the value of ceremony in life.

James Welch’s novel Fools Crow depicts the Lone Eaters clan of the Blackfeet Indians in the time after the Civil War. Slowly, the Napikwan, white people, encroach upon these people and their way of life.

From the River's Edge by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn follows a trial in the 1960s over stolen cattle. Sioux John Tatekeya presses charges against a white man and the trial comes to represent a greater loss representative of their history.

House Made of Dawn book jacket

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday depicts a young Navajo man, Abel, caught between two worlds after he returns to the reservation after fighting in World War II.

A woman who has lived as a man, Father Damian fears discovery at the end of his life in Louise Erdrich’s novel The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Nominated for the National Book Award, this book spans over fifty years to tell the story of Father Damian’s life and the Ojibwe.

For a collection of short stories, check out The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. This darkly humorous collection of linked stories paints the complexity of modern life on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Love Medicine book jacket

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine depicts life for several generations of families on a fictional reservation. Comprised of related stories, Erdrich captures contemporary life.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan takes place in Oklahoma during its 1920s oil boom. Grace Blanket, owner of oil-rich land and an Osage Indian, is murdered and Stace Red Hawk, a government official, comes from Washington, D.C. to investigate.

Acclaimed novel and New York Times Notable Book, The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich follows the passage of a rare Ojibwe drum through time, both forward and backward, after a woman discovers it while appraising an estate.

Finally, check out Truth & Bright Water by Thomas King for a magical coming-of-age story. This ALA Notable Book follows two young cousins through one summer in Truth, Montana and the Bright Water Reserve across the river in Canada.

American Indian Authors

Find more books in the library by these American Indian authors:

Louise Erdrich

On November 11, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, Jill Tietjen discussed her book, Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. Read more about women in American history in these books at the Library.

U.S. Women’s History | Biographies | Kansas City Women

U.S. Women’s History

 A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America book jacket

Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America
By Charlotte S. Waisman & Jill S. Tietjen
This one-of-a-kind illustrated timeline highlights the awesome, varied, and often unrecognized contributions of American women since the 1500s. The result is a captivating look at champions that will resonate with women and men alike.

Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present
Edited by Lisa Grunwald & Stephen J. Adler
These letters offer fresh insight into the personal milestones in women's lives. With more than 400 letters and over 100 stunning photographs, Women's Letters is a work of astonishing breadth and scope, and a remarkable testament to the women who lived--and made--history.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances
By Laura Schenone
Filled with classic recipes and inspirational stories, this stunningly illustrated book celebrates the power of food throughout American history and in women's lives.

 Women in the Struggle for America's Independence book jacket

Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence
By Carol Berkin
America's women played a vital role throughout the Revolutionary War, and Carol Berkin's study takes readers into the ordinary moments of their extraordinary lives. Erudite, wholly accessible, and fascinating, Revolutionary Mothers is a wonderful addition to our understanding of the birth of our nation.

The Boundaries of Her Body: The Troubling History of Women's Rights in America
By Debran Rowland
This book provides a detailed survey of the history of women's rights and how the biology of a woman has controlled her legal rights for centuries.

America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines
By Gail Collins
America's Women tells the story of more than four centuries of history. It features a stunning array of personalities, from the women peering worriedly over the side of the Mayflower to feminists having a grand old time protesting beauty pageants and bridal fairs. Courageous, silly, funny, and heartbreaking, these women shaped the nation and our vision of what it means to be female in America.

Find more books about U.S. women's history in the library.


 The Lives of America's Suffragists book jacket

Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists
By Jean H. Baker
Baker interweaves the private lives of Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, and Alice Paul with their public achievements, presenting these revolutionary women in three dimensions--humanized, and marvelously approachable.

Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters
By Nancy Pelosi with Amy Hill Hearth
When Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House, she made history. Now she continues to inspire women everywhere in this thought-provoking collection of wise words--her own and those of the important people who played pivotal roles in her journey.

Wild Rose: A Civil War Spy
By Ann Blackman
From the Maryland plantation where her drunken father died allegedly at the hands of his personal slave, to her own violent death at sea, Rose Greenhow led a life filled with tragedy, drama, and passion. This is a superbly researched and wonderfully readable story about an influential woman who played an extraordinary role as a Civil War spy.

 The Women Who Raised Our Nation book jacket

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation
By Cokie Roberts
In Founding Mothers, Roberts tells the fascinating yet overlooked story of the women who helped create a new nation. While the men were debating the merits of revolution, these women were living it even as the Redcoats landed on their doorsteps.

American Women Scientists: 23 Inspiring Biographies 1900-2000
By Moira Davison Reynolds
For most of the 20th century, American women had little encouragement to become scientists. In 1906, there were only 75 female scientists employed by academic institutions in the entire country. Despite considerable barriers, determined women have, distinguished themselves. Of the 23 American women scientists covered, six were awarded Nobel prizes.

The First American Women Architects
By Sarah Allaback
By 1920, there were over two hundred women practicing architecture in the United States, actively working on major design and building projects before they were even given the right to vote. These women designed thousands of buildings nationwide. In this book, Sarah Allaback chronicles the lives and careers of more than seventy pioneering female architects practicing in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Find more biographies of American women in the library.

Kansas City Women

Kansas City Women of Independent Minds
By Jane Fifield Flynn
This book profiles 92 women, such as Jean Harlow and Julia Lee, who were born or lived in Kansas City. Photographs accompany the short biographies covering their careers and accomplishments.

Show Me Missouri Women: Selected Biographies (Volumes 1 and 2)
Illustrated with many photographs, these books feature biographies of hundreds of women from Missouri, including many from Kansas City, who have made significant contributions in some way.

Missouri Legends: Famous People from the Show Me State
By John W. Brown
Brown profiles over 125 politicians, scientists, authors, artists, and more in this book about famous people from Missouri.

Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time
By Terence Michael O'Malley
A companion to the film documentary of the same name, this biography examines Nelly Don, a Kansas City woman who built a national dress design and manufacturing empire.

Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest
By Arnold Berke
Mary Colter, a resident of Kansas City for over 25 years, may well be the best-known unknown architect in the world: her buildings at the Grand Canyon National Park-which include Lookout Tower, Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge, and many others. This book weaves together three stories – the remarkable career of a woman in a man's profession during the late 19th century; the creation of a building and interior style drawn from regional history and landscape; and the exploitation, largely at the hands of the railroads, of the American Southwest for leisure travel.

Some book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

Tuesday night the local AAUW met at the Waldo Community Library for their monthly book discussion. In keeping with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's current exhibit, Art in the Age of Steam, this month's selection was Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland.

Luncheon of the Boating Party book jacket

Many of the attendees had already viewed the exhibit and eagerly applied some of that knowledge to the discussion. Readers pointed out the rise in leisure time for the working class in late 19th century Paris. How much easier it was now to spend the day in the country, having a leisurely lunch after a morning of rowing on the Seine! Observe the mix of dining companions--boaters, aristocracy, bourgeousie!

Readers were also enamoured of the many different characters depicted in the painting and their fictional backstories in Vreeland's novel. The evening's talk was supplemented by factual biographies of many of the models in Renoir's masterpiece and other Renoir paintings of his friends.

Much conversation revolved around the idea that the painting itself is a character in Vreeland's novel that undergoes a dramatic change. This astute group of readers always find something unusual to discuss in their books.