This reading list includes books that discuss our global economy from different perspectives.

By Amar Bhidé | Global economy

By Amar Bhidé

The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses
By Amar V. Bhidé
In a field dominated by anecdote and folklore, this study integrates more than ten years of intensive research and modern theories of business and economics. The result is a comprehensive framework for understanding entrepreneurship that provides new and penetrating insights. Examining hundreds of successful ventures, the author finds that the typical business has humble, improvised origins. Well-planned start-ups, backed by substantial venture capital, are exceptional. This book is essential for anyone who wants to start a business, for the entrepreneur or executive who wants to grow a company, and for the scholar who wants to understand this crucial economic activity.

Read up on women in art and comics in these books about prominent African American women artists and women cartoonists or check out one of their memoirs written in graphic novel form.

African American women artists | Women cartoonists
Graphic memoirs by women

African American women artists

Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist
By Nancy Goldstein
Jackie Ormes chronicles the life of this multiply talented, fascinating woman who became a successful commercial artist and cartoonist. Ormes's cartoon characters (including Torchy Brown, Candy, and Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger) delighted readers of newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender, and spawned other products, including fashionable paper dolls in the Sunday papers and a black doll with her own extensive and stylish wardrobe.

“Once upon a midnight dreary…” So begins “The Raven,” one of the spookiest poems by a master of the macabre and mysteries – Edgar Allan Poe. Born on January 19, 1809, this influential 19th century author of works such as the “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” celebrates his 200th birthday this week.

The U.S. Postal Service honored Poe on this occasion with a commemorative stamp. Not quite so grandly, I’ve decided to read a book for my celebration of his birthday.

The library has hundreds of books written by or about Edgar Allan Poe, but I’m going to pick up a novel inspired by his short, dramatic life. Poe left a long legacy and dozens of books depict Poe as a fictionalized character. These recent mysteries look particularly entertaining.

Explore the art of the Show-Me State in these books that showcase Missouri’s art and its artists.

Art in Missouri | Thomas Hart Benton | Other Missouri Artists

Over the past week, another (in this case, not yet published) memoir made the headlines for fabricating content. The release of the Holocaust memoir Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived was canceled by its publisher after the author Herman Rosenblat admitted he made up part of the story. A children’s book came out last fall based on his story (Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman) and its publisher is offering refunds to those who return their copy.

Sensational crimes, notorious criminal cases – these books and films depict some of the most famous “crimes of the century.” Check out one of these works in conjunction with the talk at the Library with Howard Blum, author of American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century.

Books by Howard Blum | Crimes of the Century – Nonfiction
Crimes of the Century – Fiction & Film

Books by Howard Blum

 Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century book jacket

American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century
By Howard Blum
A narrative history that vividly brings to life the original crime of the century, American Lightning shows the lasting impact that the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices had on three remarkable individuals and, through them, the country itself.

Explore books about urban education and the charter school movement in this related reading list for a series of presentations on What Works in Urban Education, co-hosted by Tom Bloch and Kansas City’s University Academy.

Urban education | Charter schools and school choice

Urban education

Stand For the Best book jacket

Stand For the Best: What I Learned After Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner-City Charter School
By Thomas M. Bloch
Twelve years ago, Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world's largest tax-preparation firm. After much soul-searching, he resigned to become a math teacher in a Kansas City inner-city school. Bloch tells what it was like struggling to make a difference to his students.

Dig into the dirty past with a few books (and films) about the mob collected to complement the Missouri Valley Speakers Series on January 18, 2009 where Bill Ouseley presented the real story of combating and prosecuting organized crime in Kansas City. Ouseley is author of Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family, 1900-1950.

Organized Crime | Union Station Massacre | F.B.I. | KC Mafia in the Movies

Organized Crime

 True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950 book jacket

Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950
By William Ouseley
This book tells the story of organized crime in Kansas City during the first half of the twentieth century from the "Black Hand" to prohibition to La Cosa Nostra. It is written by a 21-year veteran of the FBI Organized Crime Squad.

On January 14, 2009, author and historian Michael Elliott will discuss his new book Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer at the Plaza Branch. Explore these books about this famous military commander, the battle known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” or the Oglala Lakota people.

George Armstrong Custer | The Battle of Little Bighorn | Oglala Lakota

George Armstrong Custer

 The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer book jacket

Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer
By Michael A. Elliott
On a hot summer day in 1876, George Armstrong Custer led the Seventh Cavalry to the most famous defeat in U.S. military history. In this in-depth study, the author tackles the far more complicated question of why the battle of Little Bighorn retains such power for Americans today.

January 4, 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birthday. This influential inventor was blinded at age 3 and went on to develop the Braille writing system, patterns of raised dots that can be read by touch. These books for kids tell Braille’s inspirational life story and describe what life is like for those who are blind.

A Picture Book of Louis Braille book jacket

For younger children, David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Louis Braille introduces the life and work of this important Frenchman. With watercolor illustrations, the story moves from Braille’s childhood accident to his career at the National Institute for Blind Children and his development of the Braille writing system.

An ideal biography for kids in grades 3-8, Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman tells the life story of Louis Braille, as well as presents the world of the blind before the invention of Braille writing.

Discussing plays in reading groups is both rewarding and frustrating. It’s rewarding since readers can go back to the stage directions and descriptions and speeches and reread them slowly or with more focus. It’s frustrating because sometimes no matter how often a passage is reread, the only way to understand it is to see it performed.

With the snow and ice swirling outside, curl up with one of these cozy holiday mysteries.

Award-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo discussed her book The Tale of Despereaux, a delightful story of a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea, at the Plaza Branch on January 9, 2009. Discover the wonder of her acclaimed fiction for kids or check out a few literary mice scampering across the pages of other children’s novels.

The Kansas City Public Library is hosting events with three authors in January 2009 who have written cultural food histories. On January 6 at the Central Library, Ken Albala discusses Pancake: A Global History. Culinary historian Andrew Smith discusses Hamburger: A Global History on January 13 at the Plaza Branch. And on January 27 at the Central Library, Pierre Laszlo discusses his book Citrus: A History. Read one of these fascinating accounts of the pancake, hamburger, or citrus or check out another historical exploration of the food we eat.

Pancake: A Global History

Pancake: A Global History
By Ken Albala
Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crepe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.

Do your digital devices, video games, and web surfing alienate you from the world or create new connections? On January 8, 2009, Eugene Halton will discuss his new book The Great Brain Suck and Other American Epiphanies which argues that Americans know less and less as our world becomes more saturated with media messages, materialism, and mobile devices. Here are a few other books on the topic.

Digital culture | Consumerism | How we think

Digital culture

The Age of American Unreason book jacket

The Age of American Unreason
By Susan Jacoby
Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon---the addiction to infotainment, from television to the Internet, which she argues has resulted in a lazy and credulous public.

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