I spent a couple of hours last Saturday volunteering at my local library. You can find me most Saturday afternoons helping out behind the front desk. About halfway through my scheduled shift, I realized that the stack end cap across from me had changed since the last time I’d been in (see photo right). This time of year, the last two months, and the first month or so of the upcoming year, breeds lists, especially of the ‘best of’ variety. Until I saw this end cap, I didn’t realize the State Library of Kansas had been producing a curated list annually for the past ten years:
The Kansas Notable Books List is the annual recognition of 15 outstanding titles either written by Kansans or about a Kansas related topic. The Kansas Notable Book List highlights our lively contemporary writing community and encourages readers to enjoy some of the best writing of the authors among us.
A committee of academics, librarians, and authors of previous Notable Books identifies quality titles from among those published the previous year, and the State Librarian makes the selection for the final List. A medal awards ceremony honors the books and their authors.
Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library. Throughout the award year, the State Library promotes and encourages the promotion of all the titles on that year’s list at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers.
I stretched my legs and went looking for the library’s display for the 2016 Kansas Notable Books so I could read the book blurbs and thumb through some of the editions.
I discovered that some of the titles I was most interested in had already been checked out. I grabbed the copy of Notorious Kansas Bank Heists to checkout, assuming I could read it over the weekend. Other titles that I’ve tentatively put on my to-be-read list include:
- The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren
- For the Sake of Art: The Story of a Kansas Renaissance by Cynthia Mines
- Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State by Jonathan Conard and Kristin Conard
- The Madman and the Assassin: The Strange Life of Boston Corbett, the Man Who Killed John Wilkes Booth by Scott Martelle
I’m two-thirds finished with Notorious Kansas Bank Heists, which has been an interesting weekend read, sandwiched between my viewing of the first three episodes of Netflix’s new series The Crown, the latest (sixth) episode of HBO’s WestWorld, three more episodes of ABC’s Missing series (via Netflix DVD) and an avalanche of romantic comedies and dramas, most of which were forgettable and in some cases disappointing. But I’ll leave that review to a different post.
Kansas harbored some notorious and infamous characters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m constantly amazed that my home state bred such greats as Buffalo Bill Cody, Amelia Earhart and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and yet also sprouted the likes of the Dalton gang, the Fleagles, the Bloody Benders, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith (of In Cold Blood fame), and many others (see this good article courtesy of the Wichita Eagle).
Bleeding Kansas indeed!