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Kansas Notable Books

The Kansas Notable Books List is the annual recognition of 15 outstanding titles by Kansas authors or about Kansas. It is the only honor for Kansas books by Kansans, highlighting our lively contemporary writing community and encouraging readers to enjoy some of the best writing of the authors among us.

A committee of KCFB Affiliates, Fellows, and authors of previous Notable Books identifies these titles from among those published the previous year, and the State Librarian makes the selection for the final List. A reception and medal awards ceremony honor the books and their authors and illustrators.

Throughout the award year, KCFB promotes all the titles on that year's List electronically, at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers.

Please view the current year's list below; prior years' lists (2006-2012) can be seen here. For downloadable copies of the press release, poster, and bookmarks, scroll to the bottom of this page.


The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader

Tucker MacBean would love to be a superhero. Unfortunately, he wasn't born with anything resembling a superpower. What he has instead is a talent for drawing comic book heroes. This middle-grade novel is about looking past conventional ideas of strength and finding your own superpower.


beyond cold blood

Beyond Cold Blood: The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK by Larry Welch

Ma Barker and Pretty Boy Floyd once shot their way across the state, and Bonnie and Clyde were known to travel within its borders. From bank robbers to cattle rustlers to serial killers, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has played a key role in the pursuit of some Kansas' most infamous criminals.



Blackbear Bosin: Keeper of the Indian Spirit by David Simmonds

Blackbear Bosin was the self-taught Kiowa-Comanche artist best known for his majestic sculpture in Wichita, Keeper of the Plains. This book, written by his stepson, explores his life as well as his award winning paintings and murals.


the chaperone

The Chaperone: A Novel by Laura Moriarty

A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922. Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and icon of her generation,  fifteen-year-old Louise and her thirty-six year old chaperone, Cora, spend five weeks together that will change their lives forever.


the dust bowl

The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History by Dayton Duncan

In this riveting chronicle, which accompanies the documentary, the authors capture the profound drama of the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Terrifying photographs, along with firsthand accounts, bring to life this heart-wrenching catastrophe of the Great Plains.



Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

Drawing on a wealth of untapped primary resources, author Jean Edward Smith begins in Abilene with Eisenhower as a young man and proceeds to his appointment to West Point, World War II, and provides the inside story of the 1952 Republican convention, ending with Ike's years in the Whitehouse.


frontier manhattan

Frontier Manhattan: Yankee Settlement to Kansas Town, 1854-1894 by Kevin G. W. Olson

When six New Englanders arrived at the junction of the Kansas and Big Blue rivers in March of 1855, they pitched a tent and launched a town. Kevin Olson's lively history of Manhattan's founding draws on town records and personal papers to illuminate the challenges settlers faced and the drama of building a town from scratch on the Great Plains Frontier.


kansas bestiary

A Kansas Bestiary by Jake Vail, Doug Hitt, and illustrated by Lisa Grossman

In the Middle Ages, a bestiary (pronounced bes-Chee-airy) was a guide to the animals that populated the land. Published in collaboration with the Kansas Land Trust, this charming book presents 15 portraits of animals native to Kansas. Each entry, accompanied by exquisite watercolor illustrations, is equally informative and amusing.

may b

May B.: A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose

May is helping out on a neighbor's homestead-just until Christmas. But when a terrible turn of events leaves her all alone, she must try to find food and fuel-and courage-to make it through the approaching winter.  This Young Adult novel in verse will transport you to the endless Kansas prairie, and to the suffocating closeness of the sod house where May is stranded.

the ecstasy

This Ecstasy They Call Damnation: Poems by Israel Wasserstein

In this wide-ranging collection, Israel Wasserstein tells and retells the stories of myths, legends, the Bible, and his own personal journey down Highway 54. Both the physiological and psychological effects of the prairie are in evidence here. This book of poetry asks for reading after reading to uncover what is there.


time's shadow

Time's Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas by Arnold J. Bauer

Arnold Bauer grew up on his family's farm in Clay County. This coming-of-age memoir set in the 1930s and '50s, blends local history with personal reflection to paint a realistic picture of farm life from a now-lost world. He shares the trials of the Depression and drought, experiences the coming of electricity, and finds wonder in the commonplace of going to town on a Saturday night for a walnut ice cream cone.


to the stars

To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

A "renga" is a collaborative poem based on the Japanese haiku form. In this book of poetry, each poet begins with the seed of an idea from the poem before, writes, and leads the way for the next poet, resulting in a poetic conversation. The words of each poet, gathered from the center and edges of Kansas, show us not just the parts, but an expansive skyscape of language.


voice for kanzas

A Voice for Kanzas by Debra McArthur

Kansas Territory in 1855 is a difficult place to settle, particularly for a thirteen-year-old poet like Lucy Thompkins.  Along with her trusted friends, Lucy helps a runaway slave girl to freedom and fights swollen rivers and the Border Ruffians. In a dangerous situation, Lucy makes a choice that proves to herself (and others) that poems are meaningless without action behind them.

wide open

Wide Open by Larry Bjornson

Based on actual events, Wide Open is a novel of family and coming of age set in 1871 Abilene, a place where good and evil are so evenly matched that no one knows which will triumph. Will Merritt finds himself torn between the Texas cowboys he and his friends idolize and the migrant settlers whose farms threaten to crowd out the cattle.  Recently hired marshal, Wild Bill Hickok, struggles to control the streets of Abilene.


the yard

The Yard by Alex Grecian

Victorian London is a cesspool of crime and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives, known as the Murder Squad, to investigate countless murders every month. No one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own ... one of the twelve. With masterful storytelling and meticulous attention to period detail, Grecian weaves multiple narratives that converge in a heart stopping climax.


2012 Notable Book Authors...

"It is my great pleasure that BENT ROAD has been selected by my home state of Kansas as a 2012 Notable Book.  I hold dear my memories of growing up in Kansas and am proud to be among the writers selected to receive this designation."
-Lori Roy

"I'm delighted that my novel, The Door in the Forest, is being honored as a notable book. Its characters struggle with my usual obsessions: love, death, and the magic that underlies what we think is ordinary life."
-Roderick Townley

"As a relatively new Kansan, I am honored to have my book chosen as a Kansas Notable Book for 2012.  This citation puts me in distinguished company, authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, books for children and adults, and emphasizes the healthy impulse for creativity throughout the state."
-Katy Karlin

It's so gratifying that the novel DOC has been recognized in the place where Dr. John Henry Holliday had the best year of his adult life. In his memory: thanks so very much!
-Mary Doria Russell

"Not only am I honored to have rode selected as a Kansas Notable Book, but I am honored to be among so many fine writers.  Kansas literary culture is thriving, and I thank the Kansas Center for the Book for helping to bring these books and authors to the state's attention."
-Tom Averill

"I am thrilled to receive the Kansas Notable Book Award and am very grateful for the generosity toward and interest in this book in particular, which tells the story of a forgotten president who deserves to be remembered."
-Candice Uhlig

"Because I live so far away from my home state, the Kansas Notable Book selection has been especially sweet. I feel both honored and grateful. And the book festival gives me a delightful reason to come home!"
-Tracy Seeley

"It's an honor to be selected and to be connected to other Kansas authors through this program.  We all shout a big thanks to the State Library of Kansas for having this notable books program."
-Marci Penner

"I was honored and delighted to have been selected for the Kansas Notable Book award for a second time. It is a tribute to the state that everyone cares so much its authors. It makes me proud to have been raised in Kansas."
-Matthew Polly

"It is a great privilege to have one's work recognized beside these luminaries.  The prairies of Kansas have inspired deep riches in literature, history, art, poetry, and all the cultural expressions that define the human experience.  This award recognizes not only the writers who capture that experience but the landscape which provides the stage. Many thanks for including me in this honor."
-Jim Leiker


Download bookmarks (.pdf)

Download poster (.pdf)

|     Last modified: Oct 24, 2013