150 “Best” Kansas Books

It appears that over the years, authors have been prolific in writing about Kansas or using Kansas as a setting for their books. Nearly 300 titles were submitted as potential candidates for the Sesquicentennial-celebrating list compiled by the State Library of Kansas.

As a lead up to Kansas’ 150th Birthday, the State Library solicited recommended books throughout most of 2010. The grassroots project encouraged book title suggestions from anyone—individuals, authors, booksellers, and publishers. Criteria for nominations was simple: a significant aspect of the book must relate to Kansas, its culture, its heritage or be historical in nature; and the book must have a recognizable Kansas author. The book may be fiction or non-fiction, any genre, and suitable for readers of all ages.

“This was an interesting project for us, and unlike anything we’ve done in the past,” said Joanne Budler, State Librarian. “Nearly 300 book titles were submitted—some more than once. All titles are available through Kansas libraries, so readers may have their local library request a book through interlibrary loan if necessary.”

1. 1001 Kansas Place Names, by Sondra Van Meter McCoy and Jan Hults
2. 140 Years of Soul: A History of African-Americans in Manhattan, Kansas, 1865-2005,
by Geraldine Baker Walton
3. 83,000 Square Miles, No Lines, No Waiting: Kansas Day Trips, by Steve Harper
4. Addie of the Flint Hills: A Prairie Child During the Depression (1915-1935), by
Adaline Rogler Sorace
5. Airball: My Life in Briefs, by L.D. Harkrader
6. All Parts Together, by Tom Mach
7. The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton, by Jane Smiley
8. Annals of Kansas, by Daniel Webster Wilder
9. Artfully Done: Food, Flowers & Joy Across Generations, by Roxann Banks Dicker (ed.)
10. The Autobiography of William Allen White, by William Allen White
11. The Battle of Black Jack ‘56, by Dale E. Vaughn
12. Bird: The Legend of Charlie Parker, by Robert George Reisner
13. Bleeding Kansas, by Sara Paretsky
14. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era, by Nicole Etcheson
15. Bloody Dawn: The Story of the Lawrence Massacre, by Thomas Goodrich
16. Bluestem, by Thomas N. Holmquist
17. Border Warfare in Southeastern Kansas, 1856-1859, by G. Murlin Welch
18. The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians, by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed
19. The Bravest of Us All, by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Brad Sneed
20. Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution, by Robert Cottrol,Raymond T. Diamond and Leland B. Ware
21. Buffalo Spirits, by Elizabeth Black
22. Call the Briefing! Bush and Reagan, Sam and Helen: A Decade with Presidents and the Press, by Marlin Fitzwater
23. Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond, by Paul Shirley
24. The Center of Everything, by Laura Moriarty
25. Chaff in the Wind, by Edna Walker Chandler
26. The Changing Wind, by Don Coldsmith
27. Charlatan: The Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age Of
Flimflam, by Pope Brock
28. Climbing Kansas Mountains, by George Shannon
29. A Curse Dark As Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce
30. Ducks Across the Moon: Life on Eight Acres in the Flint Hills, by Ken Ohm
31. Dying and Living on the Kansas Prairie: A Diary, by Carol Brunner Rutledge
32. Early Days in Kansas, by Bliss Isley
33. Echoes of Kansas Basketball: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Matthew Fulks (ed.)
34. The End of Indian Kansas: A Study of Cultural Revolution, 1854-1871, by H. Craig
Miner and William E. Unrau
35. The Enduring Indians of Kansas: A Century and a Half of Acculturation, by Joseph B. Herring
36. Exodusters: Black Migrations to Kansas After Reconstruction, by Nell Irvin Painter
37. Farming in the Dark: A Discussion About the Future of Sustainable Agriculture, by
Rhonda R. Janke
38. Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-Hand Account from Kansas, by Lawrence Svobida
39. Feisty Family Values, by B.D. Tharp
40. First Dawn, by Judith Miller
41. Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie, by Jim Hoy
42. Folklore from Kansas: Customs, Beliefs and Superstitions, William E. Koch (ed.)
43. Following In His Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon, by Timothy Miller
44. Forty Years on Main Street, by William Allen White
45. Fragile Hopes, Transient Dreams and Other Stories: A Saga, by Edna Bell-Pearson
46. From Emporia: The Story of William Allen White, by Beverley Olson Buller
47. From Kaw Teepee to Capitol: The Life Story of Charles Curtis, Indian, Who Has Risen to High Estate, by Don C. Seitz; revised and expanded by Nova Cottrell
48. A Frontier State at War: Kansas, 1861-1865, by Albert Castel
49. Ghost Towns of Kansas: A Traveler’s Guide, by Daniel Fitzgerald
50. The Great Kansas Bond Scandal, by Robert Smith Bader
51. The Great Whale of Kansas, by Richard W. Jennings
52. Guide to Kansas Architecture, by David H. Sachs and George Ehrlich
53. The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots, by Bob Gress and Pete Janzen
54. Haunted Kansas: Ghost Stories and Other Eerie Tales, by Lisa Hefner Heitz
55. Hayseeds, Moralizers, and Methodists: The Twentieth-Century Image of Kansas, by
Robert Smith Bader
56. The History of Rome Hanks and Kindred Matters, by Joseph Stanley Pennell
57. History of the State of Kansas: With Biographical Sketches and Portraits, by William G. Cutler
58. Home on the Range: A Century on the High Plains, by James R. Dickenson
59. Horse of a Different Color: Reminiscences of a Kansas Drover, by Ralph Moody
60. Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains, 1859-1875, by James R. Mead
61. I Married Adventure: The Lives and Adventures of Martin and Osa Johnson, by Osa
62. The Ike Files, Mementos of the Man and His Era From the Eisenhower Presidential
Library and Museum, by Brian Burnes
63. I’ll Trade You an Elk, by Charles A. Goodrum
64. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, by
Truman Capote
65. Indian Orphanages, by Marilyn Irvin Holt
66. Irish Settlers of Kansas: Memories of the Pioneer Life, by Patricia Callahan
67. Jayhawker, by Patricia Beatty
68. The Jayhawker, by Norm Ledgin
69. The Jayhawker Book: A Book of Kansas for Little Kansans, by Emma Humble
70. John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History, Virgil W. Dean (ed.)
71. John Steuart Curry: The Road Home, by Alice S. Bertels
72. Kansa Indians: A History of the Wind People, 1673-1873, by William E. Unrau
73. Kansas: A History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000, by H. Craig Miner
74. Kansas and the West: New Perspectives, Rita Napier (ed.)
75. Kansas Archaeology, by Robert J. Hoard and William E. Banks
76. Kansas Conflict, by Charles Robinson
77. The Kansas Cookbook, by Frank Carey and Jayni Naas
78. Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils, Rex
Buchanan (ed.)
79. Kansas in Color: Photographs Selected by Kansas! Magazine, Andrea Glenn (ed.)
80. Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide, by Laura Jost and Dave Loewenstein
81. Kansas Opera Houses, Actors & Community Events, 1855-1925, by Jane Glotfelty
82. Kansas Quilts & Quilters, by Barbara Brackman and Jennie Chin
83. Kansas Wetlands: A Wildlife Treasury, Joseph T. Collins, Suzanne L. Collins and Bob Gress
84. A Kansas Year, by Mike Blair
85. Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives, by Michaeline
86. Land of the Post Rock: Its Origins, History and People, by Grace Muilenburg and Ada Swineford
87. Landscapes in Kansas, paintings by Robert Sudlow
88. The Last Cattle Drive, by Robert Day
89. The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks
90. Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland County Singer, by Chely Wright
91. Lincoln’s Little Girl: A True Story, by Fred Trump
92. Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
93. The Loose Change of Wonder, by Steven Hind
94. Lucky & Alex “Not Without a Storm”, by Mike Trost
95. The Long Journey Home, by Don Coldsmith
96. Lucky Russell, written & illustrated by Brad Sneed
97. A Matter of Chastity: The High Plains Saga of a Woman’s Revenge, by Douglas
98. Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool
99. Next Year Country: Dust to Dust in Western Kansas, 1890-1940, by H. Craig Miner
100. Not Without Laughter, by Langston Hughes
101. Oceans of Kansas: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea, by Michael J.
102. One Kansas Farmer: A Kansas Number Book, by Devin and Corey Scillian; illustrated
by Doug Bowles
103. Ordinary Genius, by Thomas Fox Averill
104. Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, by Joe Drape
105. The Peace of the Solomon Valley, by Margaret Hill McCarter
106. Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas, by James R. Shortridge
107. The Persian Pickle Club, by Sandra Dallas
108. Picnic: A Summer Romance, by William Inge
109. Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier, by Joanna L. Stratton
110. Potscrubber Lullabies, by Eric H. McHenry
111. Prairie Meals and Memories: Living the Golden Rural, by Carolyn Hall
112. PrairyErth: A Deep Map, by William Least Heat-Moon
113. Prancing Dancing Lily, by Marsha Diane Arnold
114. The Price of the Prairie: A Story of Kansas, by Margaret Hill McCarter
115. Prohibition in Kansas: A History, by Robert Smith Bader
116. Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for
Women's Rights, by Diane Eickhoff
117. Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith
118. The Rise of the Wheat State: A History of Kansas Agriculture, 1861-1986, George Ham and Robin Higham (eds.)
119. Roadside Kansas: A Traveler’s Guide to its Geology and Landmarks, by Rex C.
Buchanan and James R. McCauley
120. S is for Sunflower: A Kansas Alphabet, by Devin and Corey Scillian ; illustrated by Doug Bowles
121. Secrets of the Tsil Café: A Novel with Recipes, by Thomas Fox Averill
122. Section 27: A Century on a Family Farm, by Mil Penner
123. Seeding Civil War: Kansas in the National News, 1854-1858, by H. Craig Miner
124. Sissy!: Book One of the Jessica Radford Trilogy, by Tom Mach
125. Snow Melts in Spring, by Deborah Vogts
126. Sod and Stubble: The Story of a Kansas Homestead, by John Ise
127. Sod-House Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader, 1877-1878, by Howard Ruede
128. Spatzies and Brass BBs: Life in a One-Room Country School, by Ken Ohm
129. Speaking French in Kansas and Other Stories, by Robert Day
130. Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters
131. Starwater: Poems, by Denise Low
132. Steal Away Home, by Lois Ruby
133. Time, Politics, and Policies: A Legislative Year, by Burdett A. Loomis
134. A Time to Lose: Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education, by Paul E.
135. Title Towns!: Class BB Boys Basketball Champions of Kansas, 1952-1968, by Steven
Michael Farney
136. To the Stars: Kansas Poets of the Ad Astra Poetry Project, Denise Low (ed.)
137. Trail of the Spanish Bit, by Don Coldsmith
138. True Tales of Old-Time Kansas, by David Dary
139. The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel, by Nancy Pickard
140. A Wall of Men, by Margaret Hill McCarter
141. War to the Knife: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861, by Thomas Goodrich
142. West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865-1890, by H. Craig Miner
143. A West Wind Rises: Massacre at Marais des Cygnes, by Bruce Cutler
144. What Kansas Means to Me: Twentieth-Century Writers on the Sunflower State, Thomas
Fox Averill (ed.)
145. What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by
Thomas Frank
146. While I’m Falling, by Laura Moriarty
147. Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas: A Field Guide, by Michael John Haddock
148. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Kansas Centennial Edition, by L. Frank Baum,
Michael McCurdy, and Ray Bradbury
149. The Worst Hard Times, by Timothy Egan
150. The WPA Guide to 1930s Kansas, by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects
Administration for the State of Kansas with a New Introduction by James R. Shortridge.
(Originally published in 1939 as Kansas, a Guide to the Sunflower State.)