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Author Archive for Melody Dworak



Take the 5-in-10 Challenge!

by Melody Dworak on July 22nd, 2014

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 »

What’s it called when you see rain in the distance?

by Melody Dworak on June 25th, 2014

The other day a patron asked what the meteorological term for when you see rain falling in the distance. He said had a bet with a friend, and as I am more than happy to use information-seeking skills to stack the odds, I started searching. It turns out, as I learned, the term he was looking for was “virga.”

According to the National Weather Service, virga is actually “Precipitation falling from the base of a cloud and evaporating before it reaches the ground.” It’s common enough of a phenomenon that I could picture it when he asked, but if you don’t know what that looks like, check out this image from Wikipedia. 

640px-Nimbostratus_virga

Thanks to Simon Eugster for the wiki pic!

 

For the Twi-Hards and other lovers of bloodsuckers

by Melody Dworak on May 27th, 2014
For the Twi-Hards and other lovers of bloodsuckers Cover Image

True Blood fans waiting for the final season to start on June 22 have lots of other vampire works they can explore. The recent spate of popular vampire stories has a rich past, and the curious can learn all about it in How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film, and Fiction by Liisa Ladouceur. Read the rest of this entry »

Books vs. Blogs–what’s good for what?

by Melody Dworak on April 29th, 2014

Back in March, I blogged about how to research information about  houses. As you may guess, it’s hard to think of anything right now except for the new house. One month of owning it and one week of living there, our to-do list is still terribly long. Flooding basements, broken dryers–oh the joys!

Bucket of red paintThe real joys come with sprucing up the place–making it our own. The social media age gives us even more options for planning interior decorating, DIY repair solutions, and general new-home troubleshooting. What tools are best for planning different projects? Read the rest of this entry »

House History Hunting Part 3: A local index like no other

by Melody Dworak on March 28th, 2014

Alright, so in the past two posts, I shared how to find out a property’s recent owners and specs via the Iowa City Auditor’s website, find a thorough history of ownership (and in some cases, renter-ship) through the Polk Directories, and connect familial relationships through obituaries in ProQuest back to 2002. How to search further back? Read the rest of this entry »

House History Hunting Part 2: Raising the dead

by Melody Dworak on March 27th, 2014

Yesterday I took a first look into the history of a property’s owners through the Iowa City Assessor’s website. Today we dig deeper.

The Assessor’s site only listed one sale in 2006, and that sale was code 14—“Exchange, trade, gift, transfer from Estate,” and it includes the names for both the buyers and the sellers. From there, I go to the 2nd floor Page Station’s City Directories to look for a deeper history of ownership. The listing states the house was built in 1963, so I start with the 1963 Polk Directory and look the house up by its address. Hmm. The Directory lists the property under the same family name as the name on the Estate. Could this mean the house was in the same family for 50 years? I grow hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »

House History Hunting Part 1: Good deeds go unpunished

by Melody Dworak on March 26th, 2014

Recently, my partner and I—both well into our 30s—took a step to officially becoming adults that there is no going back from: We bought a house. *Gulp*

Potter house in Godric's Hollow by Rob Young

“Potter house in Godric’s Hollow”–photo courtesy of Rob Young on Flickr.

Read the rest of this entry »

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

by Melody Dworak on February 27th, 2014
One More Thing by B.J. Novak Cover Image

Hi, guys. I made a Storify of people talking about B. J. Novak’s new book One More Thing. Long story short: I loved it, and others did too. Visit this —> Storify post <— to see the buzz this new book is getting.

Reviewed: Constellation of Vital Phenomena

by Melody Dworak on February 5th, 2014
Reviewed: Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover Image

Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Novel

Anthony Marra, graduate of Iowa Writers’ Workshop

 

The recommendation came to me from a book group I had been invited to attend, and it happened to be perfect timing. I had just finished Jess Walters’s Beautiful Ruins and wasn’t yet tempted by the fill-my-head-with-applicable-knowledge nonfiction books I have checked out. So there I was, putting off what I *have* to read for what I *want* to read. What I had heard about the book: it’s sad. You’ll like it if you like the gut-wrenching ones. What I now know about the book: my recommender was right. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by Melody Dworak on December 30th, 2013
Book Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Cover Image

Back in November, I plugged a few books where football was a driving force. I am happy to report that I’ve been able to finish reading two of those books and have good things to follow up with. Here’s one:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
By Ben Fountain
Published May 2012
Claim to fame: 2012 National Book Award Finalist

This is a book that I can’t stop gushing about. I haven’t read a literary fiction book in years, put off by the genre’s ability to attract authors with the biggest egos. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk feels like Ben Fountain wrote this book for me, the reader, over himself as the writer.  Read the rest of this entry »

About Melody Dworak

Melody Dworak
Melody buys books for the second half of the nonfiction Dewey numbers on the 2nd floor. She has recently been bitten by the fiction bug, but loves those historical reference questions regardless. Visit the digital collections she manages at icpl.org/zinio and history.icpl.org.