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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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editorial cartoonist Lee Judge reflected on his 27 years at The Kansas City Star and shared some of his favorite unpublished cartoons in his presentation, Cartoons We’re a Little Afraid to Show You.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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Forget the 10k and the bronze statue. What these authors really want is for people to read their books.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month in November with some fiction by acclaimed American Indian authors.
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.
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.
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.