Try these reads with your library card, then buy signed copies for your collection or for holiday gifts. You can meet all of these authors and 40 more at our fifth annual Great Writers Right Here Author Fair, Dec 9 from 1-4pm in Marvin Auditorium. Discover great new reads and support the literary arts in Kansas.
1. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
One of NPR‘s Best Books of 2016 and a Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell and Locus Award finalist for Best Novella
Kij Johnson’s haunting novella The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is both a commentary on a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and a profound reflection on a woman’s life. Vellitt’s quest to find a former student who may be the only person who can save her community takes her through a world governed by a seemingly arbitrary dream logic in which she occasionally glimpses an underlying but mysterious order, a world ruled by capricious gods and populated by the creatures of dreams and nightmares. Those familiar with Lovecraft’s work will travel through a fantasy landscape infused with Lovecraftian images viewed from another perspective, but even readers unfamiliar with his work will be enthralled by Vellitt’s quest. A remarkable accomplishment that repays rereading.
2. Hurt People by Cote Smith
A PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2017), The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Nominee for Longlist (2016) and a Kansas Notable Book Award winner (2017)
It’s the summer of 1988 in northeastern Kansas, an area with four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. For two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she’s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-officer father. With no one home to supervise, the boys decide to break the rules.
While blissfully practicing their cannonballs and dives, they meet Chris, a mysterious stranger who promises an escape from their broken-home blues. As the older brother and Chris grow closer, the wary younger brother desperately tries to keep his best friend from slipping away.
Beautifully atmospheric and psychologically suspenseful, Cote Smith’s Hurt People will hold you in its grip to the very last page, reminding us that when we’re not paying attention, we often hurt the ones we claim to love the most.
3. Zar and the Broken Spaceship by Dino O’Dell
Three friends walking through the park hear a strange and otherworldly sound. A spaceship has crashed and the friends meet a green, three-eyed alien named Zar. As they fix Zar’s broken ship, they pickup a bit of the space-alien language, learn a lot about teamwork, and make a new and unusual friend.
This author-performer will have two performances for children and families on Dec 9. Dino O’Dell is a former teacher who sings about science, geography and early literacy. Dino’s interactive songs and tall tales engage curiosity and inspire the imagination when he’s counting monsters, fixing spaceships or swimming in peanut butter.
4. Everyday Magic by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Everyday Magic features the best of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s blog of the same title, whic explores the mundane and miraculous unfolding around us, and how to live with greater verve, meaning and joy. Journey through whimsical, tender and fierce explorations of travel and homecoming, beloveds and the art of loving, grief and resilience, the arts and politics, spirit and being a body, and many other glimpses of being all-too-human in an astonishing world. This book, artfully designed by Tracy Million Simmons, features dozens of photos and innovative luna moth illustrations, accenting each story with greater delight, depth and surprise.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, a writer, teacher and facilitator who explores how the spoken, written and sung word can help us live more meaningful and vibrant lives.
5. Joy Again by Molly Krause
Joyce Becker appears to have moved on after the unexpected, mysterious death of her husband Andy a year ago. With her sister Maggie, she continues to run the restaurant she and Andy opened decades earlier. But keeping the secret of the details of his death is taking a toll on her relationships withMaggie and her daughter Cassie. When Cassie announces her engagement to her boyfriend Jacob, the unlikely intersections of the two families threaten Cassie’s engagement. The bonds of family prevail as they grapple with secrets, forgiveness and what it means for a person to move on with their life.
Krause’s recently published memoir, Float On, will also be available for purchase at the Dec 9 fair.
6. Weekend Surrender by Lori King
After another painful betrayal and breakup, Rachel Morgan sets out to prove to herself that she can handle a good time with a man and walk away sexually satisfied and with her heart intact. She could have never imagined she would be agreeing to the proposition of a lifetime. Every woman in Stone River, Texas, would jump at this chance, but she’s afraid she’ll leave pieces of her heart behind. Raised on their family ranch, the four Brooks brothers have always shared everything. Even women. When they find themselves face to face with the one person who could complete them all, they set out on a journey to claim her for their own. Fate can place them all in the right place at the right time, but will Rachel be able to overcome her relationship scars or is she destined to live her life alone believing that no man ever stays?
7. Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God by C.L. Wells
Fourteen-year-old Krystal’s world shatters when her parents separate. What’s worse is she and her siblings are immediately moved into the home of her mother’s new boyfriend, who she refuses to accept. As her anger turns inward, she heads down a dangerous path. Em is her only friend, but even she doesn’t know Krystal’s secret. Talked into volunteering at a shelter for the homeless, Krystal meets people who make her realize how lucky she is, if only her secret doesn’t tear her world apart.
8. Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir by Thomas Pecore Weso
In this food memoir, named for the manoomin or wild rice that also gives the Menominee tribe its name, tribal member Thomas Pecore Weso takes readers on a cook’s journey through Wisconsin’s northern woods. He connects each food—beaver, trout, blackberry, wild rice, maple sugar, partridge—with colorful individuals who taught him indigenous values. Cooks will learn from his authentic recipes. Amateur and professional historians will appreciate firsthand stories about reservation life during the mid-twentieth century, when many elders, fluent in the Algonquian language, practiced the old ways.
Weso’s grandfather Moon was considered a medicine man, and his morning prayers were the foundation for all the day’s meals. Weso’s grandmother Jennie “made fire” each morning in a wood-burning stove, and oversaw huge breakfasts of wild game, fish, and fruit pies. As Weso grew up, his uncles taught him to hunt bear, deer, squirrels, raccoons, and even skunks for the daily larder. He remembers foods served at the Menominee fair and the excitement of “sugar bush,” maple sugar gatherings that included dances as well as hard work.
Weso uses humor to tell his own story learning to thrive in a land of icy winters and summer swamps. With his rare perspective as a Native anthropologist and artist, he tells a poignant personal story in this unique book.
9. The Turtle’s Beating Heart by Denise Low
Low brings to light deeply held secrets of Native ancestry as she recovers the life story of her Kansas grandfather, Frank Bruner (1889-1963). She remembers her childhood in Kansas, where her grandparents remained at a distance, personally and physically, from their grandchildren, despite living only a few miles away. As an adult, she came to understand her grandfather’s Delaware (Lenape) legacy of persecution and heroic survival in the southern plains of the early 1900s, where the Ku Klux Klan attacked Native people along with other ethnic minorities. As a result of such experiences, the Bruner family fled to Kansas City and suppressed their non-European ancestry as completely as possible. As Low unravels this hidden family history of the Lenape diaspora, she discovers the lasting impact of trauma and substance abuse, the deep sense of loss and shame related to suppressed family emotions, and the power of collective memory.
Low traveled extensively around Kansas, tracking family history until she understood her grandfather’s political activism and his healing heritage of connections to the land. In this moving exploration of her grandfather’s life, the former poet laureate of Kansas evokes the beauty of the Flint Hills grasslands, the hardships her grandfather endured, and the continued discovery of his teachings.
10. The Fish’s Wishes written by Glendyn Buckley and illustrated by Barbara Waterman-Peters
A little fish is bored with his life in a small pond. He wishes to be a fish in the big sea! This story tells the adventures of little fish after his wish is granted.
Buckley and Waterman-Peters will also have their new collaboration, Bird, available for sale at the event.
Check out more work by Kansas authors below!