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K-State Today

March 10, 2011

K-Staters write their way onto 150 Best Kansas Books list

By Emily Vietti

This year Kansas blew out 150 candles on its birthday. The Kansas State Library celebrated the state's birthday by compiling the 150 Best Kansas Books list.

Many in the K-State family were honored on the list. The 150 Best Kansas Books list features at least eight books written by people with K-State ties.

There were two main criteria used to select books for the list. A significant portion of the book had to relate to Kansas, and the book had to be written by a recognizable author who was a Kansas resident at some point in his or her lifetime.

Books on the list penned by authors with K-State ties include:

* "Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas: A Field Guide" by Michael John Haddock, assistant dean of K-State libraries. His guide contains 325 color photographs and descriptions of native wildflowers, grasses, sedges and rushes.

"I feel highly honored that my book was selected for the list," Haddock said. "It is particularly meaningful to me as an academic librarian that my book was selected for this recognition by peers at the State Library of Kansas."

* "Call the Briefing! Bush and Reagan, Sam and Helen: A Decade with Presidents and the Press" by Marlin Fitzwater, a K-State alumnus. His book highlights his time as White House press secretary for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

* "The Rise of the Wheat State: A History of Kansas Agriculture 1861-1986" was compiled and edited by George Ham and Robin Higham. Ham was a K-State professor of agronomy, and Higham is a professor of military history.

"We are both delighted to be on the 150 Best Kansas Books list," Higham said. "It's a rewarding honor and recognition of our past work."

* "Guide to Kansas Architecture" co-authored by David Sachs, professor of architecture at K-State. The guide highlights hundreds of diverse homes, businesses, schools, churches, courthouses, theaters, bridges and barns throughout all 105 counties of Kansas.

* "Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State Presidential Wives" by Michaeline Chance-Reay, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and women's studies at K-State. Her book describes the lives and contributions of the 12 K-State first ladies from 1863 to 2009.

"I am thrilled to have the book recognized as an important contribution to Kansas history," she said. "Works devoted to women are few on the list, so this honor is especially meaningful."

Chance-Reay is working on a new chapter of the book about K-State's current first lady, Noel Schulz, which will be included in the next edition.

* "Land of the Post Rock: Its Origins, History and People" co-authored by Grace Muilenburg, former K-State professor.

* "Farming in the Dark: A Discussion About the Future of Sustainable Agriculture" by Rhonda Janke, associate professor in horticulture, forestry and recreation. Her book is based on 20 interviews with farmers, many of them Kansans.

"I’m very pleased to be on a list with some of my favorite Kansas authors and books," she said. "'Farming in the Dark' is both a metaphor and a reality. We are farming without enough information about the factors that control markets and prices, but also many farmers are working day jobs and literally farming at night."

* "Folklore from Kansas: Customs, Beliefs and Superstitions" by William E. Koch, a former K-State professor. The book captures a sliver of Kansas culture based on topics such as marriage, birth, illness, luck, the weather and more.

 More information is available at the State Library of Kansas website.