Author Archive for Beth Fisher



Themed Book Lists for the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 30th, 2017

booklist-covers-wide

Are you a fan of book lists?  Are you looking for some book suggestions for the 2nd half of the Adult Summer Reading Program?  One of the neat features of our Summer Reading Program software is that it lets us create book lists on any topic we want.

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is “Build a Better World” which lends itself to all sorts of lists. Some were created by ICPL staff, and other lists we borrowed from other sources because they were really good lists.

To find the book lists, log into the software at srp.icpl.org and click on the Recommendations tab at the top.  There you can choose from the Book Lists or the list of  Adult SRP Events.

booklists

Here are the book lists you’ll find:

All Iowa Reads – 2003 -2017   (14 books)

Best Summer Reads 2017 from Publishers Weekly  (13 books)

Books Becoming Movies in 2018  (9 books)

Build a Better World: Volunteer!  (8 books)

Can One Book Change Your Life? (7 books)

Environmentalists Trying To Make A Difference  (10 books)

Explore Iowa (17 books)

Gardening with Native Plants (7 books)

National Park Guidebooks (11 books)

NPR’s Book Concierge 2017 Best Biographies & Memoirs (21 books)

Top 10 LGBTQ Books – The 2017 Over the Rainbow List   (10 books)

We Can Build It Better (12 books)

Women in Science (11 books)

 

 

 

 

Summer Reading is for Adults too!

by Beth Fisher on June 7th, 2017

build-a-better-world

ICPL’s Summer Reading Program “Build A Better World” began on June 1st and runs through August 11th.  And it’s just not for kids – adults can participate too!  To get entered in the grand prize drawing, all Adults have to do is read 5 books between now and August 11th.  Or read 3 books and attend 2 of the special SRP events.  The events are listed in the ICPL calendar, found on the back of the SRP game card, and listed below.

There are two ways you can participate:  online through our SRP website or with a paperbased game card.   You can pick up a game card at any service desk in the library and you can register for the online version here too or by going to  srp.icpl.org and clicking the Register Now button.

By participating online you’ll also be able to see a variety of book lists made especially for this years Adult SRP and information about the upcoming special Adult Summer Reading Program events:

The Front Porch Music Festival

Wednesday June 7, 7pm, Meeting Room A

The Longfellow neighborhood’s Front Porch Music Festival is a celebration of music-making, inspired by the Water Hill Music Fest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Now in its third year, the festival includes musicians of all ages and experiences, performing in a wide range of musical styles and traditions, including jazz, classical, folk and rock. Trevor Harvey, Ph.D., Lecturer in Ethnomusicology from the UI School of Music, and one of the co-founders of the Front Porch Music Festival will share the Front Porch story, discussing the value of music in building and sustaining communities. He will be joined by other festival organizers and neighborhood musicians to get us in the mood for the 2017 Festival happening this weekend!

 

All Iowa Reads Book Discussion: Bottomland by Michelle Hoover

Saturday, June 10  10:30am, Meeting Room B

The 2017 All Iowa Reads selection is Bottomland by Michelle Hoover. Glenn Ehrstine, UI Associate Professor of German and International Studies will be here to lead a discussion of Bottomland and Susan Craig, ICPL Director and member of the All Iowa Reads book selection committee, will tell us how the AIR books are chosen each year. Based on the real life story of the author’s grandmother, Bottomland begins in Iowa in the wake of World War I. It follows the Hess family as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. When the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their live on the unforgiving Iowa Plains. ‘ In the weeks after Esther and Myrle’s disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors’ houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted?

 

Paddling the Iowa River Water – Adventure Awaits

Wednesday, June 14  7:00pm Meeting Room A

The Iowa River Water Trail provides 72 miles of unobstructed paddling from Iowa City to the Mississippi River. Numerous sand bars, campgrounds and communities provide paddlers with opportunities for over night stops and off trail exploration. Learn about this trail and other paddling opportunities in Johnson County and the surrounding area from Brad Freidhof, Conservation Program Manager, Johnson County Conservation Board and member of the Iowa River Friends.

 

Bur Oak Land Trust – Saving our natural areas

Jun 21, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

There is a rich diversity of plant and animal species native to eastern Iowa, but they continue to be threatened by development. Bur Oak Land Trust allows for the effective protection of natural habitats and is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation whose mission is to protect and conserve the natural areas of Johnson and surrounding counties for future generations. Tammy Wright, Executive Director of Bur Oak land Trust will be here to tell us about the organization and give us an overview of their properties, including Big Grove which we will be touring on Saturday, June 24th.

 

Tour/Hike at the Big Grove Preserve in Solon, IA

June 24, 10:00am at the Big Grove Preserve

As part of the Adult Summer Reading Program, two members of The Bur Oak Land Trust will be leading walking tour of the Big Grove Preserve, a forty-acre woodland adjacent to the Coralville Reservoir off Sugar Bottom Road. The Preserve is part of the original “Big Grove” noted by the first settlers to describe Johnson County’s landscape. The Big Grove was acquired by the Bur Oak Land Trust in 2004 .. In addition to its ownership of the Big Grove, Bur Oak Land Trust holds a conservation easement on eight and a half acres of each ten-acre lot in the Natural Woodlands development. While these easements are not open to public access, they have the effect of increasing the area of protected land and will contribute to the preservation of the area’s ecosystem. Directions: Preserve address is 3999 Starry Night Lane, Solon. Take Prairie du Chien north to Newport Road. Turn right on to Newport Road and continue north to Sugar Bottom Road. Go left onto Sugar Bottom Road, and continue to 245th St NE. Turn left on to 245th and continue onto Starry Night Road/Starry Night Court to a turn-around located at the entrance to the Preserve. (approximately 10 miles/22 minutes from downtown Iowa City) GPS: 41.747830, -91.539481

 

Replacing Ash Trees and Growing Healthy Shade Trees

Jun 28, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) damage was discovered in Iowa City in 2016. Tree loss from EAB will increase greatly in the area over the next 5 to 8 years as the damage becomes more extensive. What species of trees are good replacements for Ash trees? How will increasing the diversity among our tree species help avoid this problem in the future? Mark Vitosh, Iowa DNR District Forester will lead us through this discussion and give us suggestions for promoting good health and growth of newly planted trees.

 

Gaia’s Peace Garden – Healing Happens Here

July 5, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

Blair Frank, owner and keeper of Gaia’s Peace Garden will be here to tell us the story of his community garden. The one acre garden, originally created by Blair and his wife Mary Kirkpatrick, was designed form the start to be not only a community gathering place but an example of permaculture practices and chemical free gardening. The garden contains a labyrinth, prairie, butterfly garden, culinary and medicinal herbs, an orchard, and picnic areas to enjoy. It is open daily from morning through evening and is located at 2066 Bristol Drive in Iowa City.

 

Build Your Own Little World – Terrarium Workshop for Teens & Adults

July 8, 10:30am Meeting Room A

Ever wanted to build your own world? Are you fascinated by terrariums or succulents? Join ICPL staffers Beth and Mari for a terrarium workshop for adults. We’ll supply the containers, the succulents, and the rest of the supplies. All you need is your imagination and the willingness to get a little dirty. Attendance at this event is limited to 25. Registration is required, so we know how many plants and containers to purchase.

 

Habitat For Humanity – Building a Better World

July 12, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

Founded in Americus, Georgia, in 1976, Habitat for Humanity today operates around the globe and has helped build, renovate and repair more than 1 million decent, affordable houses sheltering more than 3 million people worldwide. Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity was founded by a small group of committed volunteers in 1992, and serves low-income families in Johnson, Cedar, Iowa and Washington Counties. Iowa Valley Habitat built its first home in 1994, and today they have helped more than 100 families move into homes of their own. Mark Patton, Executive Director, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity will share the Iowa Valley Habitat story and information about their current project in Hills, Iowa and their smaller one-day projects that are a great way to get involved.

 

National Advanced Driving Simulator: Driver distraction

July 19, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

As vehicle technology has become more complex and mobile devices more prevalent, the potential for driver distraction has increased. Dr. John Gaspar, Research Associate with the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa will explore the history and present state of driver distraction research and present a framework for considering distraction in vehicles. The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) is a self-sustained transportation safety research center at the University of Iowa. Begun in 1996 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NADS utilizes its suite of world-class driving simulators and instrumented vehicles to conduct research studies on the connections between humans and vehicles. From its inception, the mission of NADS has been to help save lives and reduce the costs of vehicle crashes by better understanding the impact of technology, pharmaceuticals and other factors on driving performance.

 

Engineers Without Borders USA At The University Of Iowa

July 26,  7:00pm Meeting Room A

In the world’s toughest places, Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) is partnering with communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. EWB-USA Student Chapter at the University of Iowa partners with communities and organizations in Nicaragua to promote sustainable water development. Craig Just, Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering at UI is the Faculty Advisor for EWB-USA at Iowa. He’ll be here to give us an overview of developing relationships in Nicaragua and the process of developing and implementing water projects there.

 

National Advanced Driving Simulator: The History And Future Of Automated Driving

Aug 2, 7:00pm Meeting Room A

Dr. Daniel McGehee, Director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator and Associate Professor in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Iowa will discuss the history of automation in vehicles. While the Google car steals many headlines, automated systems have been in production for decades. How these technologies have matured over the years paints an interesting story – one today’s drivers can learn from. The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) is a self-sustained transportation safety research center at the University of Iowa. Begun in 1996 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NADS utilizes its suite of world-class driving simulators and instrumented vehicles to conduct research studies on the connections between humans and vehicles. From its inception, the mission of NADS has been to help save lives and reduce the costs of vehicle crashes by better understanding the impact of technology, pharmaceuticals and other factors on driving performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Hoover’s Bottomland is the 2017 All Iowa Reads selection

by Beth Fisher on April 6th, 2017
Michelle Hoover’s <em>Bottomland</em> is the 2017 All Iowa Reads selection Cover Image

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.

Why is my Christmas Cactus blooming in March?

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.christmas-cactus-2

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 »

Composting: Recycling at its finest

by Beth Fisher on March 16th, 2017
Composting: Recycling at its finest Cover Image

 

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 »

A new quilt book: No Scrap Left Behind

by Beth Fisher on February 26th, 2017
A new quilt book:  No Scrap Left Behind Cover Image

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?)

scrapsNo 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.)

crazy-mom-quiltThere 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Display: Relationships

by Beth Fisher on February 8th, 2017
Book Display: Relationships Cover Image

 

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)

5-love-languagesgeeks-guide-to-datingask-a-queer-chickoutlaw-marriages

 

 

 

 

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:

30-day-love-detoxloves-me-notthis-is-why-youre-signlegoing-solo

 

 

 

 

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.

modern-romance-ansari40-days-of-datingwe-should-hang-out

 

 

 

 

Check out the display on the Library’s 2nd floor for these and lots of other books on relationships.

Cooking with Cast-Iron

by Beth Fisher on January 11th, 2017
Cooking with Cast-Iron Cover Image

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.

Book Display: What does it mean to be transgender?

by Beth Fisher on November 14th, 2016
Book Display: What does it mean to be transgender? Cover Image

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 »

Veterans Day Display – Biographies and Memoirs of Veterans

by Beth Fisher on November 8th, 2016
Veterans Day Display – Biographies and Memoirs of Veterans Cover Image

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.

Ssoldier girlsoldier 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 »