by Beth Fisher on April 6th, 2017
There’s no short way to describe Bottomland – there are just too many sides to this story. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, this fictionalized story begins in Iowa in the years after World War I. It is a story of rural farm life in the 1900’s, an immigrants story, a story about racism, a story about a WWI soldier who comes home with invisible yet life-changing wounds, and the story of a daughter who becomes the caretaker of her father and siblings. At its heart Bottomland is a family saga you won’t want to stop reading.
Rural life was not easy at the turn of the last century, especially for German immigrants like the Hess family. Julius and Margrit Hess were raising their six American-born children on a small farm in Iowa. As anti-German sentiment grew in the years before WWI, suspicions grew and neighbors began turning on neighbors. Margrit’s unexpected death, a brutal farm accident and WWI effect them all. But the Hess family stayed close, still living together on the 140 acre farm their parents staked on arriving in America. Until the night the two youngest daughters, 14 and 16 years old, vanish in the middle of the night without a trace. Did they run away? Were they abducted? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The story is told through the voices of 5 main characters, but in a very nonlinear way that requires careful reading – or for me re-reading, as each of the narrators have their own view of the events as they occur, and may or may not actually be reliable.
A June 10th discussion of Bottomland will be part of the 2017 Adult Summer Reading program. The discussion will be led by Glenn Ehrstine, UI Associate Professor of German and International Studies. Susan Craig, ICPL Director and member of the All Iowa Reads book selection committee, will give us a glimpse of how the All Iowa Reads books are selected each year.
For more information on All Iowa Reads go to the Iowa Center For The Book website.
by Beth Fisher on March 29th, 2017
Sometimes we get questions at the Information Desk that sound more complicated than they really are. This weeks stumper was “Why is my Christmas Cactus blooming in March?” This actually has a very simple answer: Because it’s not a Christmas Cactus – it’s an Easter Cactus.
Most people see this plant and think Christmas Cactus. Late in the year you can find them anywhere – from grocery stores to big box stores – in shades of pink, red or even white.
“Christmas Cactus” has become a generic term for three different cacti in the same family. What most people think of as “Christmas Cactus” will turn out to be either a Thanksgiving Cactus, a Christmas Cactus, or an Easter Cactus. How to can you tell the difference? Is it blooming now? What month is it? Is it early November, late December, or late winter/early spring? That can give you a big hint. But the real way to tell them apart is to look closely at the leaves. Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on March 16th, 2017
Recycling is a popular topic these days, and for homeowners and gardeners composting is simple way to deal with lawn and garden waste. By combining it with a bit of water, sunlight, and time you end up with “black gold” in the form of compost you can add back into your gardens. It’s the ultimate recycling.
Composting itself is pretty simple. The hardest part is figuring out where and how you’re going to compost. Piles, pens, bins, tumblers and pits – there are all sorts of ways to corral your compost Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on February 26th, 2017
One of the things I like best about working at ICPL is how easy it is to walk through the new book sections. This week I found a book that I’ve added to my list to buy.
Written by quilt blogger Amanda Jean Nyberg No Scrap Left Behind – 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes made me almost giddy when I saw it. I love quilts made up of many different fabrics – either true scraps left over from other projects, or quarter yards of fabrics purchase just because I love the fabric.
Every quilt project produces fabric scraps, but not everyone saves scraps. Those of us who do each have our own definition of what a scrap is. For me a scrap is anything bigger than 2 square inches. Smaller than than that hits the recycle bag. (You did know you can recycle/compost cotton fabrics, right?)
No Scrap Left Behind starts with a bit about Jean Nyberg herself and her quilting, then she talks about how she organizes and stores her own scraps. She leads you through thinking about a scrap project – from deciding what fabric colors you want to use to how to decide when an individual fabric does or does not work with your project. She explains color values and how context can make or break a fabric (some fabrics just do not go together.)
There are all sorts of ways to sew with scraps, and Jean Nyberg has helped simplify scrap quilting by designing projects that focus on one basic shape: squares, strips, triangles or snippets.
A fun read with wonderful photographs No Scrap Left Behind is definitely something to check out if you like colorful scrap quilts. Nyberg is also the coauthor with Cheryl Arkison of Sunday Morning Quilts (2012) and her blog “Crazy Mom Quilts” is even more fun than her books.
by Beth Fisher on February 8th, 2017
With Valentines Day right around the corner, many people’s thoughts are turning to romance and relationships. There many different types of relationships, and ICPL has all sorts of books on them too.
Romantic relationships come in all shapes and styles, just like couples do. Young or old, straight, gay, or lesbian, there’s someone out there for everyone. (Click on the cover for more information)
There are also people who are between relationships, recovering from the end of one, or who are doing just fine on their own and are happy in their singleness. We have books for that too:
And there are people who research relationships by analyzing their own or by conducting sociological research studies in an attempt to figure out this thing called love.
Check out the display on the Library’s 2nd floor for these and lots of other books on relationships.
by Beth Fisher on January 11th, 2017
Cooking with cast-iron cookware is something you either love or you hate. Those who love it make it look so easy – their pans are a lovely shiny black and nothing ever sticks or burns. Then there are people like me – who have tried over and over to cook with cast-iron with less-than stellar results. I’m determined to learn how to use my cast-iron the right way, and a new book in ICPL’s cookbook collection may be where I start.
People all around the world have been cooking on iron or cast-iron for centuries. What makes Charlotte Bruckman’s new Stir, Sizzle, Bake – Recipes for your cast-iron skillet so different is that she has included recipes from cultures all around the world. This isn’t your basic fried chicken and biscuits cookbook.
Stir, Sizzle, Bake is laid out with the easiest recipes at the beginning so that, if you choose to, you can work your way through the book learning as you go. It’s focused mainly on forms of baking, and is divide into four main sections: No-Bake Baking; On-The-Rise Baking; Make-The-Most-Of Baking; and Condiments. The books biggest oddity (and the only thing I disliked about it) is that each section has its own table of contents for the 16 or so recipes in that section, rather than one normal table of contents at the front. However there is a complete index in the back.
Due to the international flavor of the book there are often one or more ingredients in each recipe that may be a stretch for a lot of people. How many of us have masarepa (precooked corn flour especial for arepas), green pea flour, pumpkin seeds, nigella seeds, or duck fat on hand? (or even know what nigella seeds are?)
If you’re like me, and you read cookbooks for fun, you’ll enjoy this book. Each recipes begins with a long paragraph or two about the recipe and either its history or why it was included in the book. Recipes are never created out of thin air. They are based on something – a recipe borrowed or stolen and then changed into something new. In Bruckman’s own words “What elevates each act of stealing to something noncriminal and original are the seemingly small but significant adjustments every person makes along they way.”
Most of these recipes are beyond the contents of my pantry, but I am going to try a few and see how they turn out. Wish me luck.
by Beth Fisher on November 14th, 2016
What does it mean to be transgender? Transgender people are people whose gender identity – their innate knowledge of who they are – is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. Transgender people are your classmates, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends. With approximately 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States—and millions more around the world—chances are that you’ve met a transgender person, even if you don’t know it.
Being transgender means different things to different people. Like a lot of other aspects of who people are – like race or religion – there’s no one way to be transgender, and no one way for transgender people to look or feel about themselves. The best way to understand what being transgender is like is to talk with transgender people and listen to their stories. For more information visit http://www.transequality.org/
The books below, and many more like them, can be found in the display on the first floor near the Help Desk. Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on November 8th, 2016
Today the term Veteran encompasses a wider range of people than it ever has in the past. People of different races, genders and sexual orientation, all of whom have or had one thing in common – the willingness to serve and defend our country as a member of the Armed Forces.
Valor – unsung heroes from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the home front by Mark Lee Greenblatt. Mark Lee Greenblatt interviewed Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine veterans of America’s most recent wars to gather their incredible stories in their own words. Many of these soldiers have risked their lives multiple times for their fellow solideris and their country. Until now, however their stories have largely gone unnoticed by the public.
Soldier Girls – the battles of three women at home and at war by Helen Thorpe. Journalist Helen Thorpe tells the moving story of three women in the Indiana National Guard who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on October 21st, 2016
If you’re not usually outside at night, you probably aren’t aware that something special is going at night this week. Last night and tonight are the peak nights for viewing the 2016 Orionid Meteor Shower. The Orionid meteor shower began on October 16 and ends around October 27th. It happens every year in late October when the earth passes through the stream of ice particles and rocks trailing Haley’s Comet.
Haley’s Comet has a highly elliptical 75.5 year orbit around the Sun. It last passed through the inner part of the solar system in 1986. Each time it passes the Sun a bit of the ice on the comet melts and rocks and larger chunks of ice break off and join the stream of debris following the comet.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on October 11th, 2016
Attention all crafters! Donations are now being accepted for the 5th Annual ICPL Friends Foundation fundraising bazaar. The bazaar is on Saturday, December 3rd, so you still have time to get your craft on to support ICPL. Donation forms area available online or in the Library.
If you’re looking for ideas to get your crafting juices flowing, on the 2nd floor near the Information Desk we’ve put together a display of a few of the many, many craft books from our collection. Some of the books on the display include:
Christmas Crafting in No Time by Clare Youngs Contains 50 fun holiday projects in a variety of different crafts, including paper crafting, sewing, clay modelling, papiermache, printing, candle making. Each project has easy to follow step by step instructions, and project rage from quick and simple to time consuming and more advanced. A guide to embroidery stitches in included at the end of the book.
The Big Book of Holiday Paper Crafts, by the editors of Paper Crafts magazine contains more than 500 ideas for all sorts of holidays. Focused mainly on cards, here are also ideas bookmarks, gift bags, and holiday ornaments as well. Read the rest of this entry »