State Library of Kansas celebrates Kansan authors with 2023 Notable Books List

Fifteen authors either from Kansas or writing about Kansas were recognized by the State Public...
Fifteen authors either from Kansas or writing about Kansas were recognized by the State Public Library of Kansas. In September, they will attend a medal ceremony at Washburn University.(WCAX)
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:32 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The State Library of Kansas announced its 2023 Kansas Notable Books list, which recognizes 15 books written last year by Kansan authors or highlighting Kansas people, places and events.

To qualify, each work must have a Kansas focus and also “be of high quality in research and writing” with a wide audience appeal and a “strong current interest.”

The books are selected by a committee of academics, librarians and authors of the previous years’ notable books who identify a number of “notable titles” published the previous year. The State Librarian then selects the books that will appear on the finalized list.

The 2023 Notable Books will be promoted by the State Library at literary events, among librarians and to local booksellers. The program’s website said this publicity often leads to increased book sales, author appearances and book signings.

“The authors of the 2023 Kansas Notable Books not only help us gain a deeper understanding of our world but also encourage empathy for others and reflection on our own life experiences,” State Librarian Ray C. Walling said in a statement. “Written by Kansans or about Kansas and Kansans, these fifteen books explore wanderlust, transformative collaboration, hidden struggles, inspiring resilience, and the power of love.”

The authors will be recognized by the Walling at the Kansas Book Festival Sept. 16 at Washburn University, where the authors will be awarded medals. The event is free and open to the public.

From poetry to T-Rex discovery to a captivating escape from WWII-era Ukraine, here are the Kansas books who made the list:

  • Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt by Kathleen Wilford, Blue Bronco Books
  • Easy Beauty: A Memoir by Chloe Cooper Jones, Simon & Schuster
  • Hell’s Half-Acre: The Untold Story of the Benders by Susan Jonusas, Viking
  • Justa’s Escape: A Journey from WWII Ukraine by Justina Neufeld with Russell Binkley, Wipf and Stock
  • Kansas Speaks Out: Poems in the Age of Me, Too edited by Dennis Etzel, Jr and Jericho Hockett, An Actual Kansas Press
  • Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy by Randal Maurice Jelks, Lawrence Hill Books
  • The Monster’s Bones: The Discovery of T. Rex and How It Shook Our World by David K. Randall, W. W. Norton & Company
  • Native American Stories for Kids: 12 Traditional Stories from Indigenous Tribes Across North America by Tom Pecore Weso, Rockridge Press
  • A New Guide to Kansas Mushrooms by Sherry Kay, Benjamin Sikes, and Caleb Morse, University Press of Kansas
  • Nothing but the Dirt: Stories from an American Farm Town by Kate Benz, University Press of Kansas
  • One Boy Watching by Grant Snider, Chronicle Books
  • River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard, Doubleday
  • The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis, Hyperion
  • The Vagabond’s Way: 366 Meditations on Wanderlust, Discovery, and the Art of Travel by Rolf Potts, Random House
  • Winfield’s Walnut Valley Festival by Seth Bate, The History Press

To submit a book for next year’s list, reach out to the State library by email at, or mail a submission to the State Library of Kansas by Jan. 31. More information can be found here.