by Anne Mangano on February 23rd, 2016
There are so many books about Detroit. There are the books about its hardships (Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: an American autopsy). There are those about the people trying to change it for the better (Mark Binelli’s Detroit City is the Place to Be). And of course, there is the “ruin porn,” an unfortunate term, but the photographs are interesting nonetheless (Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit). But David Maraniss’ most recent book, Once in a Great City: a Detroit Story, goes back—way back—to when Detroit was an influential economic and cultural powerhouse—the year 1963.
So what was going on in 1963? The Big Three car companies are selling more cars than ever and Ford is just about to release the Mustang. Martin Luther King Jr. participates in the Walk to Freedom drawing over 100,000 marchers demanding equal wages, employment opportunities, and access to housing. He caps the event with the first version of the “I Have a Dream” speech a few months before the March on Washington. Motown is sweeping the charts with Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.” And Detroit is a major contender to host the 1968 Summer Games.
But there are small wounds beginning to fester. 1960 is the first census year that Detroit sees a decrease in population. Urban renewal is tearing down neighborhoods (mostly African American communities) in exchange for highways. 1964 sees strikes at Ford, GM, and American Motors by the United Auto Workers. And the Walk to Freedom is protesting severe discrimination in Detroit. Maraniss weaves all of these things together in his narrative, providing a great sense of the city in the early 1960’s. He also picks a pivotal moment for the city. Like many northern cities in the era, this is a decade when politicians, business leaders, and residents make decisions that lead their city to sink or swim.
by Anne Mangano on February 16th, 2016
I am a devout listener to the podcast You Must Remember This, which is quite terrific if you love classic movies and tales from old Hollywood. I highly recommend it. Last month, the podcast went on break and I was left filling a void as big as an “O” in the Hollywood sign. I filled it with fiction.
In Adriana Trigiani’s All the Stars in the Heavens, Sister Alda Ducci, forced to leave her convent, is hired to be the personal secretary of Loretta Young. The twenty-year old film star is in the middle of making Man’s Castle, but also in the middle of a relationship with Spencer Tracy. Both Young and Tracy are Catholic; Tracy is married. It doesn’t work out. Disappointment and heartbreak abound. But that only sets us up for the real drama: Loretta Young is chosen to star in The Call of the Wild with Clark Gable. The novel mainly focuses on what happens between Young and Gable as they film on location, as well as the fallout of their relationship. Trigiani individualizes each character and relationships are not portrayed as tawdry or depraved as the rumor mill at the time would make them out to be. I appreciated that Alda was a fully developed, interesting character, rather than just service as the framing for the Young/Gable vehicle. It is also a well-written, solid read and it left me wanting more.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Anne Mangano on January 16th, 2016
When it comes to holds, does it seem like all of your eBooks or audiobooks become available all at once? This happens to me all of the time. I find a few audiobooks I want to listen to, but they are currently checked out to someone else, so I place holds. Then a few days later, I receive several email notifications that all of them are ready for me to check out. Five audiobooks in three weeks for me is not happening. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our eBook and digital audiobook provider, OverDrive offers a few tools for me to manage my reading much better than just placing holds. I can save books for later.
The Wish List
The first option is using the wish list. Rather than placing holds on everything, I can just add the titles to a list. Underneath the large, red “Borrow” or “Place Hold” button is this small, tiny, gray “Add to Wish List” option. If you click on that, the book is added to your “Wish List”. There are no limits on the amount of items you can have on your wish list, you can add or delete items at any time, and best of all, you can filter the list to only see the items that are available right now. You’ll find your wish list in your OverDrive account at overdrive.icpl.org.
Suspending a Hold
So maybe you want to keep a hold, you are just not ready for the book right now. This is a great option if you’ve made it to the top of a long waiting list, but are in the middle of something else and don’t want to lose your place. You’ve waited so long! If you “suspend a hold,” you can pick a window of time (7, 14, 21, 28, 60, or 90 days) where you’ll keep your place in line for the book, but won’t actually get the book until the time period is over or you remove the suspension. During the suspension, it goes to the next user in line. This option can be found on your holds list in your OverDrive account at overdrive.icpl.org.
For more OverDrive tips, click on the “OverDrive Tips” tag below.
by Anne Mangano on December 12th, 2015
Need recipes for cookies? Need them now? Whether you need to make cookies to serve at holiday gatherings or to give as gifts, you can check out, download, and read cooking magazines on your computer, phone, or tablet from the Iowa City Public Library. You don’t have to come downtown. You don’t have to wait until the library is open. All magazines are available to you right now in your home. For more information on our digital magazines, check out icpl.org/zinio.
But to save you even more time, here’s what recipes you can find in the December issues:
Better Homes and Gardens
Dorrie Greenspan developed a vanilla cookie dough recipe with four different twists that will specifically stand up to wrapping and shipping. Find her recipes for double-ginger crumb cookies, vanilla polka dot cookies, Christmas spice cookies, and white chocolate-poppy seed cookies.
Bon Appetit has given some punch to classic cookie recipes. They’ve added green tea powder and freeze-dried raspberries to rainbow cookies, sesame seeds to the black and white cookie, and spiced brown butter to the Linzer. Nothing boring here. Also try the chocolate-nut rugelach and Danish salted-butter cookies.
You’ll find recipes for red velvet snowballs, triple chocolate hazelnut cookies, white chocolate and peppermint blondies, biscuit and jam cookies, spiced shortbread, fruitcake cookies, sugar cookies; Making sweets as gifts? Packaging ideas included.
Martha Stewart Living
Tired of the traditional chocolate fudge? Martha Stewart Living added a layer of white chocolate and peppermint.
Find these magazines and many more at icpl.org/zinio. Enjoy!
by Anne Mangano on November 25th, 2015
I am always happy when an annotated edition of a work arrives at the library. I love the stories behind the stories, the tidbits, the facts, and the history of a book. We have a number of these editions at ICPL. But I am especially excited about the newly published The Annotated Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) edited by John Matteson. Matteson is known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Eden’s Outcasts, which focuses on the relationship between Louisa May Alcott and her father. In this annotated edition of Little Women, he weaves family and personal information, photographs and illustrations, geographical and historical references, as well as recipes into Alcott’s narrative. There is an 1844 recipe for beef tea, which Jo has to fetch when Mr. March surprises the family when he returns from the war. There are a number of May Alcott’s paintings and drawings throughout, including the Greek figures she drew on the walls of her bedroom at Orchard House. And there is a great deal of background information, from the tensions between the current established society and the new Irish and German immigrants in 19th-century New England to explanations of all the Charles Dickens’ references—and there are plenty.
Aside from Matteson’s annotations, it is also a beautiful edition in its own right. I love the way the publisher’s choose to print “The Pickwick Portfolio” with columns, different typeface, and bordering some of the text, giving it the feel of a 19th-century newspaper. There is also a great biographical essay on how the March family resembles the Alcott family and what events inspired the narrative. If you haven’t read Little Women in a while or would like to read it for the first time, this edition won’t disappoint.
by Anne Mangano on November 14th, 2015
I am currently reading Sarah Vowell’s latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, which now has added relevance in light of the sad news from Paris. In a statement yesterday, President Obama said, “France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again.” And Lafayette’s shoulders were the first in this friendship; they were right there next to George Washington.
In Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Vowell focuses on Lafayette’s time in the Continental Army starting with how he got there. Lafayette, a French aristocrat, wasn’t even 20-years old when he embarked to America and had to trick his family and King Louis XVI to make the journey. He pretty much ran away. Before setting sail across the Atlantic, he went back to apologize when he heard how angry everyone was, but he wasn’t really sorry. He then “disguised himself in a courier’s get-up, made a U-turn for Spain, and sweet-talked an innkeeper’s daughter he had flirted with en route to point his trackers in the wrong direction.” Why would he do all this? It was a mix of identifying with the American cause and looking for adventure.
Vowell argues that Lafayette came to the colonies thinking he would find a united army fighting for a common cause. This assumption was far from the truth. Congress couldn’t agree on who should run the Continental Army, much less on how to pay to supply the army. The troops were in shambles, barely trained and without shoes or clothing. And there was a great deal of in-fighting among Washington’s staff. But Lafayette found a place for himself, so much so that the only thing Americans could agree on was Lafayette. He became a beloved national hero, even though he wasn’t our “national.”
Like always, Vowell is very funny. Her writing blends her love of the subject, personal anecdotes of her research process, and of course, sarcasm.
by Anne Mangano on November 6th, 2015
Nothing cheers up a room or warms the heart (and hands) like a crackling fire. And the chopping of wood, the stacking of a woodpile, and the building of a fire all bring one a great sense of accomplishment. But you are probably doing it all wrong, and just in time for fireplace season, Norway is here to help.
Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way was recently translated into English. This is the definitive firewood book in Norway, spending almost two years on the nation’s bestseller list and inspiring a television program, “National Firewood Night.” Of course, this book is filled with practical information: the best trees for firewood, the correct age of a tree for felling, as well as different splitting techniques. But there is also the philosophical, such as thoughts on the relationship between man and fire and if your woodpile says something about your character. The whole book, such length on such a topic as firewood, seems a little particular. But it is also sort of beautiful too. Mytting is passionate about fires and this book is definitely a labor of love. And why wouldn’t Norwegians take firewood seriously? In Lillehammer, the average temperature in January is 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mytting writes, “Here it comes. The cold time. The great time…Winter’s here.” Norwegians are not the only ones who experience “the cold time.” Remember, on December 1st of last year, there was a high of 15 degrees. But we get through it. And if you would like to build the perfect fire to help you through “the great time,” Norwegian Wood will coach you through it from the right tree to the best wood stove. Norwegian Wood will also help you through any winter, as any of Murakami’s novels are good company for trying times.
by Anne Mangano on October 3rd, 2015
This October is shaping up to be an exciting month for books. Not only are we currently celebrating the Iowa City Book Festival this weekend, but the list of authors who have new books this month is impressive. Want proof? Here is a selection of what’s coming out this month:
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
The Clasp by Sloane Crosley
M Train by Patti Smith
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks Read the rest of this entry »
by Anne Mangano on May 26th, 2015
I always found spring the hardest season for cooking. Fall has an abundance of squash and sweet potatoes. You can do so much with summer tomatoes and eggplant. But spring, there are lots and lots of greens. And asparagus. You eventually grow tired of both. However, one of my favorite things about the Farmers Market is exploring new ingredients, which matches nicely with one of my favorite things about the library’s cookbook collection: finding new recipes. And through both of these Iowa City institutions, I’ve learned that I am wrong about spring. There are many ingredients available and dishes to make with them.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Anne Mangano on May 7th, 2015
Erik Larson knows how to tell a story. In The Devil in the White City, he masterfully intertwines the story of the 1893 World’s Fair with that of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who thrived in the growing city of Chicago. In the Garden of Beasts follows the diplomatically unexperienced William Dodd, a professor assigned to the post of American Ambassador to Germany as the National Socialist Party rose to power. Larson’s latest book, Dead Wake: the last crossing of the Lusitania is another fascinating story told well.
There are many ways to tell this one. There’s the conspiracy angle. Did Britain let the Lusitania come along a German submarine because it believed this type of sinking would push the United States to enter World War I? There’s the negligence angle. Did Captain Turner ignore crucial information about active submarines off the Irish coast and not respond appropriately to the threat? Larson’s angle is that this story is about people. He makes individuals’ experience come alive on the page, whether it is the Lusitania’s passengers, U-20’s Captain Schweiger, or President Wilson in his courtship with Edith Bolling Galt. All of these stories are expertly woven to create a compelling and tense narrative that was hard to put down but just as hard to read. The Lusitania’s sinking was a terrible event. It sank it eighteen minutes. Almost two thousand people perished. As I began to know more and more about these individuals, the weight of their fate became heavier and heavier.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Lusitania’s sinking.