Many of you are fans of Scandinavian crime fiction such as Mankell’s Wallander, Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole and the girl with the dragon tattoo. But if you haven’t discovered Martin Beck, it’s time. There is a series of ten crime fiction written in the 60′s and early 70′s by a team of writers named Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö that are arguably the origin of modern police procedurals. The side stories for the characters evolve over time, so it is best to read these in order. The books are well written and have a certain melancholy timbre that a lot of these Scandinavian crime stories seem to have. They also have their own sense of time. The stories will slow down to a crawl and you feel the long agonizing wait for some clue to surface. Taking place in the 60′s, there is a Madmen-esque nature to the scenes as well. LOTS of suits and smoking. And being written in the 60′s, there is also an interesting leftist political thread that runs through the novels. If you don’t happen to be a Marxist, that’s OK, the politics don’t get in the way of the stories.
The story behind the series is also intriguing. [See this Guardian Article]. Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were lovers and formed a family though they never married. They planned and wrote all the stories together. They would trade chapters or sometimes take different characters. There were ten books over ten years, each book having thirty chapters. They envisioned the ten novels as a cohesive set that together would tell the story of a larger crime: the decay of Swedish society. The end of the series also coincided with the end of their relationship. Per Wahlöö became terminally ill and died before the final book was published.
ICPL has the entire series in print, ebook and e-audio.
The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable. I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.
So I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.
Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).
Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.
A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.
You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.
Ten years ago I fell in love with Julia Glass’ writing. It was a rainy day and I was in Positano, Italy, looking out over the aquamarine Mediterranean and delighted to have survived a white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. I curled up with Three Junes, a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and fell in love with the writing. Most notably I was pulled into the stories, loved the characters, and grieved for the one of the main characters, Malachy Burns (who was dying of AIDS) and his beloved friend, Fenno McLeod (who lovingly cared for him). I look forward to each new Julia Glass book and enjoy her storytelling and how she weaves stories, characters, and places together. It’s like canoeing down a meandering stream, encountering interesting people along the way, and enjoying the journey as much as the moment.
I was delighted when Malachy and Fenno popped up in Glass’ new book, And the Dark Sacred Night. Once again readers are taken on a journey and details are not shared until Glass is ready to share them. The book begins with the main protagonist, Kit Noonan, and a view into his stalled life. Kit is an unemployed art professor who is struggling in his roles as husband, father, and (not by choice) person designated to manage his household. When it’s obvious he must be jarred from his rut, his wife’s wish for a separation serves as the catalyst to send him on a journey of personal discovery. The journey begins in Vermont at the home of Kit’s Stepfather. From there readers are propelled through time and memories in a story woven together in classic Julia Glass style. I was sad when the story ended, but enjoyed the journey and always appreciate a great story!
Think you can’t read 5 books in 10 days? If more than 2.7 million people can attempt the 30-day Ab Challenge, then a goal that only challenges you to find leisure time rather than workout time should be no sweat.
ICPL’s Adult Summer Reading Program asks you to either read 5 books between June and August or read 3 books and attend 2 SRP events. Why take this challenge? Not only can you meet the first SRP goal and get a free book and lunch on us, you can experience books you never would have thought to read otherwise. And you can mix and match!
Find the 5-in-10 crib sheet that follows. The idea is that you books in each category shouldn’t take you longer than a day or two to read. These books are also easy to pick up and jump right in whenever, so if you have downtime with coffee in the morning, or a 10-minute bus ride home, you can squeeze some reading time in. Read the rest of this entry »
The newest installment of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Top Secret 21, is out and it’s a page-turner. While I thought the last couple Plum books were not up to Janet Evanovich standards, I though with this book she was back on target with quirky characters, humor, and more adventures for bounty-hunter, Stephanie Plum. If you are looking for a quick summer chick-lit read, this is a great option.
If you haven’t read the Stephanie Plum series, we have many of the earlier books in multiple formats including regular print, large print, spoken word, eBook and eAudiobook. The plot is easy to follow and it’s not necessary to start at the beginning.
If you are a Janet Evanovich fan and looking for similar authors, there are quite a few I would recommend including Lisa Lutz (Spellman Files), Mary Kay Andrews, and Diane Mott Davidson. These authors have books that are fast paced, funny and perfect for summer reading. If you need help finding a good book, Library staff are always happy to help. Happy Summer Reading!
Rebecca Chaperon’s new picture book, Eerie Dearies: 26 ways to miss school, is a hilariously haunting abecedarian that is not for the faint of heart or humorless. While not all of her heroines, and yes they are all female, meet their demise playing hooky, a few are already undead and others are well on their way.
“I is for Insomnia”
Each of her full color acrylic illustrations are set on old and well worn book covers with many of the titles remaining visible, interacting with and commenting on the excuse for nonattendance. With their similar melancholic expressions, elongated features and the whimsical play between page design and illustration Chaperon almost alludes to Edward Gorey’s, The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Full of excruciating detail that only multiple readings will reveal, Rebecca Chaperon has created a delightfully grim exploration of the alphabet and cutting class.
Disclaimer: I cannot recommend all of these alternatives to attending school.
“R is for Revenge”
“J is for Juvenile Delinquent”
Teens interested in writing have an opportunity to learn more about the process from local teen author Chideraa B. Okeoma.
Okeoma will share his thoughts on writing from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, in the Iowa City Public Library’s Koza Family Teen Center. He is the author of When Mystery Busters Came to Town, a mystery that centers around four teen sleuths working together to bring shine a spotlight on the underground criminal network in their hometown.
When Mystery Busters Came to Town was published in May.
The book is illustrated by Okeoma’s younger sister.
This event is free of charge and open to students in grades seventh through 12th.
For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.
Every year, visitors flock to the Johnson County Fairgrounds to partake in a summer tradition: The Johnson County Fair.
From competitions to must-see shows, the fair is home to thousands of memories; memories the Iowa City Public Library’s Digital History Project wants you to share.
Librarians will be at the Public Libraries of Johnson County Fair Booth from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to solicit audio recordings of fair memories from all fair attendees. The recordings will be added to the Library’s Digital History Project website at history.icpl.org.
Launched in 2013, the Digital History Project is an initiative to share and explore historical images and stories of life in Iowa City and Johnson County. The project’s partners include the Iowa City Public Library, the Iowa City Host Noon Lions Club, and the Johnson County Historical Society.
Everything from fair favorites and special events to earliest recollection qualifies as a fair memory. Stop by the Public Libraries of Johnson County Fair Booth to share yours.
For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.
Any new books at the Library? There’s a quick answer for that, on the front page of the catalog. Once a week–usually on Tuesday–the list of materials just added to the Library collections is updated. Not all sections will have something every week, but most do and sometimes the lists are quite long. Just click on the “New Materials Lists” link to get started.
The New Materials Lists page is easy to search and browse: it first is divided into Adult, Teen and Children’s collections, with more sub-categories listed below those headings. If you like Adult Fiction, you can limit your browsing to just Mysteries or just Large Print books. If Nonfiction is your first choice, the list is separated by the Dewey Decimal classification numbers: 100/200/300 and so on. I routinely check the 900s and Biography, because I like reading about history and travel. And then I check the DVD TV section, because I’m hooked on a number of British TV series. And then it’s on to the Mysteries…
Most formats are represented, including DVDs, music compact discs, books on disc, and eBooks and eAudio. The display of the book cover (or DVD cover, or CD cover) beside the title is helpful, and there’s a direct link to the regular catalog entry where you can place a hold if you wish.
The majority of the items on the list are newly-published, but you will also see other things new to our collection even if they were published several years ago.
It’s a great way to browse our virtual New shelves. Check back once a week!
Europe during World War II is the setting of many novels and it’s really no surprise. Such horror, fear, and devastation create an environment ripe for personal conflicts, long odysseys, and overcoming trials on an unimaginable scale. And, as with anything, there are novels that use this setting to their advantage and others that fall flat. Anthony Doerr’s latest work, All the Light We Cannot See, works with the period very well and you would do well to check it out.
For the most part, the novel intertwines the stories of two young individuals from different sides of the conflict. There is Marie-Louise, the visually-impaired daughter of the locksmith and keeper of keys for the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Her father’s position aides in her curiosity about the natural sciences and she loves to read Jules Verne. Before the occupation of Paris, she is forced to flee with her father to Saint-Malo and there is the possibility that they are carrying one of the Museum’s most prized possessions. Or is it a decoy? Marie-Louise’s story is paired with Werner’s, a German orphan with an innate understanding of radios and radio frequency. His ability opens the door for him to attend an elite military school to work on special radio projects and prepare for working with radio units in the field. Of course, this leads him to Saint-Malo on a mission to find French resistance fighters using radio transmissions, right before the allies began a bombing campaign on the port city.
There are many surprising links between Marie-Louise and Werner before this Saint-Malo connection and Doerr reveals them skillfully. I also appreciated how Doerr played with time in the narrative, starting with the bombing of Saint-Malo and weaving in the back story steadily. Many novels work this way, but his was well-paced and structured.
I recommend placing a hold on All the Light We Cannot See, but if you need something to read right now, check out some other solid World War II fiction: Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise, Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge or David Benioff’s City of Thieves.