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Saddle up for Kansas City’s American Royal, running from September through November. On September 16, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, Dr. Jim Hoy gave a presentation inspired in part by Western novelist Louis L’Amour’s legacy entitled American Icon: The Enduring Appeal of the Cowboy. Check out a few books by Jim Hoy, enjoy a few classic cowboy novels, or discover a recent award-winning Western.

Books by Jim Hoy | Cowboys | Award-winning Westerns

Books by Dr. Jim Hoy

Flint Hills Cowboys book jacket

Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales From the Tallgrass Prairie

By Jim Hoy
This 2007 Kansas Notable Book tells the story of exemplary cowboys from the rugged hills. These stories run from the late 19th through the mid-20th century and they are told by a scholar who is one of them.

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Dr. Dale Herspring discussed his book Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power at the Central Library on September 11, 2008. Learn more about the man who served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2001-06 under President George W. Bush or read a book about recent or current U.S. foreign relations.

Books by Dale Herspring | Donald Rumsfeld | Recent U.S. Foreign Relations

Books by Dale Herspring

book jacket

Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power
By Dale Herspring
Dale Herspring, a political conservative and lifelong Republican, offers a nonpartisan assessment of Rumsfeld's impact on the U.S. military establishment from 2001 to 2006, focusing especially on the Iraq War – from the decision to invade through the development and execution of operational strategy and the enormous failures associated with the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

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On September 9, 2008 at the Central Library, Steven Pinker discussed his book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Check out other books by this two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize or a few books that explore the philosophy of language.

Books by Steven Pinker | Philosophy of Language

Books by Steven Pinker

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The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
By Steven Pinker
Bestselling author Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best: language and human nature. The result is a fascinating look at how words explain human nature.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
By Steven Pinker
Widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on language and the workings of the mind, Pulitzer Prize finalist Pinker has undertaken an ambitious and controversial work – a reexamination of the concept of human nature.

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"The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out." --Voltaire

Welcome to the inaugural post of Off the Page, the Kansas City Public Library’s blog for readers. Like most bloggy ideas, this one has many mothers. It started first with, "Hey, we should have a blog! Other libraries have blogs. Can we have one, too?" No one’s really sure who said this first. The folks who make up the Readers’ Advisory Team were enthusiastic about the notion and looked at lots of other library’s blogs. We made a list of what we liked, what we didn’t and what we wanted to see in a blog of our very own and then we met the person who could make it happen for us.

The KCPL Webgoddess. She waved her magic mouse-shaped wand, translated all her web spells into this mysterious code, and presented us with a forum in which to wax prolific on all things bookish.

And get this. She has expectations. She actually insists upon timely, interesting, entertaining, edifying posts. Bwahahahahahah! No. Seriously. We’re going to do this.

At least once a week, our faithful readers can expect to see reading suggestions, musings on the book news of the day, interesting facts and tidbits about authors, books, biblio-history, beloved characters and all things literary that strike our contributors’ fancy.

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Enjoy a few novels set in the Renaissance before the Kansas City Renaissance Festival starts on August 30, 2008. From mysteries to romances to art-inspired works of fiction, authors depict this influential era to great effect in these books.

Mystery

The Savage Garden book jacket

Renaissance era Venice provides the backdrop for the novel Dirge for a Doge by Elizabeth Eyre. Signor Sigismondo, with the help of his faithful servant Benno, investigates the aristocrat Niccolo Ermolin’s murder. The list of suspects is long, more corpses appear, and a secret diary seems to hold some of the answers.

For a literary mystery that delves into the architecture and landscape of the Renaissance, try The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. Cambridge student Adam Banting travels to Tuscany in 1958 to study a famous Renaissance garden at the Villa Docci estate. He discovers a connection between the garden and two deaths: one in 1548, the other during World War II.

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The Kansas City Public Library hosted two events in September that offered a look at the influence of Zimbabwe on international art. On September 4, 2008 at the Central Library, Roy Guthrie, the owner of Chapungu Sculpture Park, talked about how the troubled country of Zimbabwe became a destination for contemporary art collectors. On September 6, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, children enjoyed the works of a master stone carver from Zimbabwe as he chiseled stone into art. Explore the country and culture of Zimbabwe through these books or take a look at some news sources to learn more about current events in this nation.

Zimbabwe culture | Life in Zimbabwe | Fiction by Zimbabwean authors | Zimbabwe in the news

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Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coco Chanel’s birthday this week. Born on August 19, 1883, Chanel transformed the fashion industry and women’s clothing in the twentieth century. Discover why in one of these biographies, learn how fashion inspires creative fiction, or sit down and watch high fashion on film.

Biographies

 Her Style and Her Life book cover

Coco Chanel comes to life in Axel Madsen's biography, Chanel: A Woman of Her Own. Madsen discusses Chanel’s personal history, business successes, affairs with influential men, and much more.

Chanel: Her Style and Her Life by Janet Wallach details the impact Coco Chanel had on fashion. She popularized the “little black dress” and women’s pants, brought us the fragrance Chanel No. 5 and men’s tailoring to women’s clothes. This book includes many photos, as well as an account of her entire life.

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On August 28, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, Tom Bloch discussed his new book, 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. Explore a few books or movies about urban education, the charter school movement, or how to make your own career change.

Urban education | Charter schools and school choice | Career changes | Movies

Urban education

Stand for the Best book cover

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 an impoverished inner-city school in Kansas City. Bloch tells what it was like struggling to make a difference to his students.

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What inventions have you concocted in your basement? August is National Inventors Month, an event launched by the United Inventors Association of the USA, Inventors Digest, and the Academy of Applied Science in 1995 to help guide new inventors, inspire creativity, and promote the image of independent inventors. Read about some of the inventions that changed history and the people who created these innovations or take a break with a few novels featuring inventions in fiction.

Inventions

The Book of Inventions book cover

With over 300 photographs, The Book of Inventions by Ian Harrison takes a trip through innovation history. Each invention receives a two-page spread and includes information about the inventor, as well as a photograph of the invention in use. The chapters are divided thematically, including “Around the House,” “At the Doctor’s,” “Eating and Drinking,” among others so you can learn all about the hair dryer, disposable syringes, and much more.

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Blue ribbons, carnival rides, cotton candy, and corn dogs... Its fair time! The Missouri State Fair takes place on August 7-17, 2008 in Sedalia. Get in the mood with these books that are fun for kids and parents alike.

Fiction

Blue-Ribbon Henry book cover

Blue-Ribbon Henry by Mary Calhoun, illustrated with watercolor and pencil, tells the story of a Siamese cat, Henry, who visits the county fair. He encounters a charging pig and helps a lost girl find her mother, winning a “Pet of the Show” award for his bravery.

A fun loving hen visits a fair for the first time, mistaking it for a farm, in Minerva Louise at the Fairby Janet Morgan Stoeke. This bright and colorful picture book depicts Minerva Louise as she explores the fairground with wonder and adventure.

Rural America and a town fair set the backdrop for That Kookoory! by Margaret Walden Froehlich. Kookery the rooster excitedly travels to the fair as a hungry weasel follows behind. Colorful pen and ink illustrations delight.

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The U.S. government established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on July 29, 1958. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of this agency with these histories, memoirs and novels that depict the work of NASA, its astronauts, and space travel.

NASA

America in Space book cover

Begin with the awe-inspiring images published in America in Space: NASA's First Fifty Years edited by Steven J. Dick. With over 400 photographs, this coffee-table sized book chronicles the history of NASA visually. You’ll see the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions of the 1960s, images from the Space Shuttle era, and much more.

The twelve robot spacecrafts launched in the 1970s by NASA yielded an amazing amount of information about our solar system. Beyond the Moon: A Golden Age of Planetary Exploration, 1971-1978 by Robert S. Kraemer details the story of those at NASA who made this happen.

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This Sunday, July 27, 2008 celebrate Parents' Day with a humorous and heart-felt memoir about parenthood or read the warm reflections of adult children writing about their mothers and fathers.

Parenthood

Operating Instructions book cover

Writer and single mother Anne Lamott candidly chronicles her first year of motherhood in Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. With humor, she shares the ups and downs of parenting with the help of her eccentric friends and family.

Daniel Glick writes about life as a single father after an unexpected divorce in Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to Witness the World's Vanishing Wonders. With his 13-year old son and 9-year old daughter, environmental reporter Glick travels the world for six months from Africa to Australia. Together, they view the natural world and cope with the changes in their lives.

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