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Books I Want to Read Again

by Kara Logsden on October 24th, 2014

This week I had an opportunity to work with two patrons who needed recommendations for great books on disc for a long car 2014 10 road tripride.  One person is facing 14 hours in the car each way.  The other patron decided to ask a Librarian after depending on the New York Times bestseller list last year and not getting the book he was expecting (funny story … he pulled over, called his wife and said, “Have you heard about a book … 50 Shades of Something?).  When in doubt, it’s always good to ask Library staff for recommendations.

Below are a list of some of my favorites that I’d love to read again.  Some are new and some are older.  Many I have have listened to while others (A Paris Apartment) were so good I wasn’t patient enough to listen to them so I either downloaded the eBook or checked out the print book.  You can’t go wrong with any of these titles.

Happy reading and listening!

Blum, Jenna

 

Those Who Save Us

What would you do to survive during a war? What if what you did elicits a legacy of shame?   Jenna Blum explores these themes through the stories of Anna Schlemmer, a German woman who survived WWII in Germany and her daughter, who is now a professor of German history in the United States. The story is a mother/daughter drama about love, passion, survival, and choices.

 

 

Bodensteiner, Carol

 

Go Away Home & Growing Up Country

Carol Bodensteiner is an Iowa author from Des Moines. Her first book (Growing Up Country) is a memoir of growing up on an Iowa dairy farm. From milking cows to giving a 4-H presentation, it captures rural farm life from a bygone era. It is also a wonderful book for our Iowa City Hospice reading partnership where volunteers present programs planned to help residents of care centers focus on memories. Go Away Home is Historical Fiction and also has a rural setting and captures the hopes and dreams in a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Iowa.

 

 

Dallas, Sandra

 

Prayers for Sale & The Bride’s House

Sandra Dallas is a versatile author. Although all her books can be characterized as Historical Fiction, they are all different. Stories include Pioneer life in Colorado (Diary of Mattie Spenser), Gilded Age life in Denver (Fallen Women), and the lives of Mormons starting out in Iowa City and traveling to Salt Lake City (True Sisters). All books are recommended but Prayers for Sale, set in the mountains near Breckenridge, CO and The Bride’s House, set in Georgetown, CO, are my favorites.

 

 

Doerr, Anthony

 

All the Light We Cannot See

Set in World War II, it is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and must escape from Paris with her father during WWII. It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios. As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths. Doerr received a National Book Award nomination for this book.

 

 

Gable, Michelle

 

A Paris Apartment

The stories of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian). April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States. In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family.

 

 

Glass, Julia

 

Three Junes & And the Dark, Secret Night

All of Julia Glass’ books are recommended but these two are my favorite. I first read Three Junes while I was in Positano, Italy looking out over the Mediterranean. I was swept away by the compelling story, lyrical writing, and strong characters. I was happily surprised when her newest book was a sequel to the story that started in Three Junes. Julia Glass’ novels feature strong characters and compelling plots that make the reader want more books from this author!

 

 

Hillenbrand, Laura

 

Unbroken

The true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.   He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941. When the plane he was assigned to crashes into the South Pacific, Louis survives the crash and 47 days at sea in a plastic life raft. He was captured by the Japanese and sent to a labor camp. I refer to this books as the, “I will never complain about anything ever again book.” An older title but highly recommended.

 

 

Horan, Nancy

 

Loving Frank & Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Readers fell in love with Horan’s Loving Frank, a fictionalized story that captures the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and his second wife. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the fictionalized story of Robert Lewis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. The story takes readers around the globe and, like Loving Frank, centers on the love story between the main characters.

 

 

McLain, Paula

 

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. The Hemingways are drawn into Parisian life and meet many other writers and artists. There is a constant friction, though, between Ernest the writer and Ernest the husband.

 

 

Orringer, Julie

 

The Invisible Bridge

Sometimes books come along and leave a lasting impression, forcing the reader to ruminate about events and characters long after the book is done. This is one of those books. Andras and Tibor Levy are Jewish brothers who grew up in a small village in Hungary. It is the 1930′s and both aspire to do great things. The book focuses on Andras, his adventures and studies in Paris, and the relationship he establishes with the mysterious Klara Morgenstern, a Hungarian ballet instructor.

 

 

Rosnay, Tatiana de

 

Sarah’s Key & The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing features solid characters, a strong sense of place, and a time of significant historical events.   Sarah’s Key is unforgettable and haunting. It begins with the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942 and contrasts that story with a modern-day American journalist living in Paris. The House I Loved is a fictionalized story of Rose Bazelet and her opposition to the destruction of her family home during Haussman’s renovation of Paris, 1853-1870. Haussman’s radical plan was criticized for the large-scale destruction it caused; however, in recent times he has been credited with establishing Paris as a modern city.

 

 

Rutherfurd, Edward

 

Paris

Rutherfurd presents a multigenerational story that moves between time, character, and story. With Paris as the background, this approach brings characters to life, presents an understanding of historical events, and makes this reader really want to visit Paris and explore the geographical areas of the story.   I also want to read Rutherfurd’s other stories including London and New York.

 

 

See, Lisa

 

Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy & China Dolls

Lisa See’s books are full of details, family, love and complications. The characters are well developed, there’s a strong sense of place, and the reader cares about the characters and their journey. Shanghai Girls, and its sequel, Dreams of Joy, take readers on a journey from China to California and back again. China Dolls focuses on the 1930’s and 1940’s Chop-Suey Circuit in the entertainment world and focuses on three girls from diverse backgrounds who form a strong bond.

 

 

Vreeland, Susan

 

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass.   Fictionalized story of Clara Driscoll who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology.

 

 

Zevin, Gabrielle

 

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A.J. Fikry owns a book store and he loves books. He’s not just any bookseller, though. He is picky, contrite, a wee bit arrogant, and has poor customer service skills. Despite these faults, he has a passion for books and a capacity to love. When his life takes turns he never imagined, and A.J. Fikry finds himself in the depths of despair, his redemption is his capacity to love. And love is what makes this book so wonderful. A love for people, community, literature, and most of all, a love of family.

 

 

Zoning in on Zinio

by Shawna Fredrickson on October 22nd, 2014

Last week I heard about an interesting article in the newest Rolling Stone magazine. (An interview with the creator of Adventure Time? Yes, please!) I wanted to read the article but didn’t have time to come to the library specifically to sit and read a magazine. (Though I usually look for any excuse to spend time in our atrium – Look how cozy and beautiful it is!)

Atrium

I had vaguely heard about ICPL’s digital magazine stand in the past; I decided now was the time to finally learn to use it. I was afraid it would be complicated, slow, and an all-around hassle. I happily learned, though, that this was not the case at all. From this page on our website, I learned how to access our Digital Magazine Stand, Zinio, on computers as well as personal devices. The service allows you to set up your own personal Zinio account where you can download magazines and sync your devices. During my 15 minute work break I learned about Zinio, created my own account using a computer, downloaded the most recent Rolling Stone to that account, downloaded the Zinio app on my tablet, logged in, and began reading about the creator of one of my favorite TV shows! Now, before I fall asleep at night, I am able to read my favorite magazines on my tablet in the comfort of my own bed. My only disappointment: Realizing I could have been enjoying free magazine downloads for months!

Zinio Page

I was astounded by the amount and the variety of magazines available through the Library’s Zinio service. Whether you’re looking to keep up on your entertainment news or you’re interested in the latest literary publications, ICPL’s Zinio selection has something for you.

  • Searching for new fall recipes to try? Check out the cooking magazines – More recipes can be found in the Home section.
  • There are several Health and Fitness magazines available to download for those who are looking to keep fit even as the weather grows colder.

If you’re like me, you’ll find TOO many magazines on Zinio!

It’s the weekend!

by Kara Logsden on October 17th, 2014

2014 10 17 read all dayIt’s the weekend and I’m reading two great books … and I can’t wait to get back to them.  I know there are soccer games, football games, house chores, and other activities, but I really would prefer to just read all weekend.  Who wants to join me?

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable is based on true events and tells the story of two women in Paris.  One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian).  April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States.  In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family.  April also meets a solicitor who agrees to share Marthe’s journals.  Through these journals, April learns about the woman behind the collections.

I’m also reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.  This historical fiction novel is set in occupied France during World War II and is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and lives with her father who is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios.  As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths.  Doerr recently received a National Book Award nomination for this book.  The writing is lyrical and foreboding and I can’t wait to start reading again.

If you are looking for a good book this weekend, head to the Library.  And remember …. You can’t read all day if you don’t start in the morning!

 

Cats! Cats! Cats! and some kittens.

by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2014
Cats! Cats! Cats! and some kittens. Cover Image

Breaking news: Lots of people who work at ICPL have cats. Crazy, right?? Librarians and bookish people and cats??!!

It’s true, and right now we have a lovely little display of some of our cats on the second floor…well, photos of our cats, not the actual cats. I would NEVER bring a cat to work. No.

Also, today is National Feral Cat Day. This is a day to bring attention to the situation of cats living wild in the outdoors, and a method of controlling cat populations with trap-neuter-return. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out Alley Cat Allies. You can also learn how to build a nifty outdoor shelter for cats, which I did, and not only was it useful and sturdy, it was also a really nice father-daughter bonding experience — this is something my love for cats does not usually produce. Many of my cats were born feral and socialized at a young age, and became wonderful, loving, (large) indoor cats. It happens.

So, come in to the Library, check out some books on picking out a cat, on understanding your cat, or grab the latest, wonderful addition to our section of poetry by cats, I Knead My Mommy. This is the sequel to the well-reviewed I Could Pee On This, and coincidentally, dedicated to “…all the stray cats that need a loving home.”

Meow.

National Book Award Finalists Announced

by Maeve Clark on October 15th, 2014

nba_winner_medallionThe National Book Foundation announced the National Book Award Finalists this morning.  Our own Iowa City author, Marilynne Robinson, is on the shortlist for Lila, her third novel about the fictional Iowa town of Gilead.   The winners will be announced on November 19, you’d best get started now.

What Is the National Book Award? and

Who Are the Judges?

The National Book Awards were established in 1950 by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Each year, the Foundation selects a total of twenty Judges, including five in each of the four Award categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Historically, Judges are published writers who are known to be doing great work in their genre or field, and in some cases, are past NBA Finalists or Winners. As of 2013, judging panels will no longer be limited to writers, but now may also include other experts in the field such as literary critics, librarians, and booksellers. One of the five Judges on each panel is selected as the panel chair. This person acts as the voice of the panel and the liaison to the Foundation. The Foundation staff takes no part in the Judges’ deliberations, except to verify a submission’s eligibility.

Who Can Submit Books?

Each April, the Foundation sends the official National Book Awards guidelines and entry forms to the publishers in its master database.

In order to be eligible for the Award, a book must be written by an American citizen and published by an American publisher between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. Self-published books are only eligible if the author/publisher publishes the work of other authors in addition to his own. Books published through services such as iUniverse are not eligible for the Award.

Each publisher must submit a completed entry form to the Foundation by May 15. They must then mail one copy of each entered book to the Foundation, as well as one copy to each of the five Judges in the appropriate category, by July 1. The entry fee is $135 per book.

How Are the Finalists Chosen?

Each panel reads all of the books submitted in their category over the course of the summer. This number typically ranges from 150 titles (Poetry) to upwards of 500 titles (Nonfiction). As of 2013, each panel will now compile a “longlist” of ten titles, to be announced in mid-September. They will then narrow down that list to five Finalists, to be announced in mid-October. They may arrive at these choices using whatever criteria they deem appropriate, as long as they do not conflict with the official Award guidelines.

The Finalists Announcement has taken place at various literary sites around the country, from William Faulkner’s front yard in Oxford, Mississippi (2005) to the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home in Savannah, Georgia (2010). In 2011, the Finalists Announcement was made on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s morning radio program “Think Out Loud,” and in 2012, the announcement was made on TV for the first time, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” This year the finalists were announced on NPR’s Morning Edition.

How Are the Winners Chosen?

No one, not even the Foundation staff, learns who the Winners are until the day of the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner, which takes place in mid-November in New York City. That afternoon, over lunch, each panel collectively decides who the Winner in their category will be. Often, this decision has been made ahead of time, but occasionally the panel works to come to a consensus until the very last minute. The panel chair announces the Winner at the Ceremony that evening.

What Does the Award Entail?

The night before the Awards, each Finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a citation from the panel at a private Medal Ceremony. Immediately following the Medal Ceremony, all twenty Finalists read from their nominated books at the Finalists Reading. The four Winners in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature are announced the following evening at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner, where each Winner receives $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

Then What?

Once an author has been a National Book Award Finalist or Winner, he or she becomes a permanent member of the National Book Foundation family. We do our best to keep in touch with both the authors and publishers, promote the authors’ new books and upcoming readings, and invite them to future National Book Award-related events. (nationalbookaward.com)

 

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

by Jason Paulios on October 2nd, 2014
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell Cover Image

David Mitchell is my favorite writer and I was so excited for this book to arrive.  Like many of his earlier books (Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas) this is another novel broken up into novellas/chapters focusing on different characters that are interwoven to create a more nuanced tale. This changing point of view can be tricky because just as you find yourself settling in with a character it ends and you’re shuttled off a decade in the future and a different setting.  I thought it worked so well in Cloud Atlas, possibly because he brought us back to the characters through the second half of the book but probably more that it read like an audacious novel puzzle.  In The Bone Clocks I thought at least three of the stories either weren’t necessary or just lacked the payoff he meant them to have.

The story mostly follows a path around the life of Holly Sykes, beginning with her angsty teenage years living above a pub with her raucous family and ending in a all-too-believable post-climate change crash Ireland.  Her brother vanishes early-on and she finds out it is probably a supernatural kidnapping. She soon encounters various people that are sort of immortal, they are being reborn into new bodies but retain prior knowledge.  They are secretly battling another form of predatory immortals who have devised a way to harvest innocent souls in a special ancient church to grant extended life.

Despite my reservations about some of the chapters, Mitchell remains a master of language and character building.  There are many positive reviews out there for this novel (and a 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist nod) so it’s probably one to try if you’re a fan of Mitchell’s earlier books.  If you’re new to him, I would instead recommend the classic Cloud Atlas.

Not that Kind of Book

by Melody Dworak on September 26th, 2014
Not that Kind of Book Cover Image

Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl, was just published, and the Library is getting ready to put it on the shelves. If you are a fan of the HBO show Girls or have a ticket to her event at the Englert on October 7 but can’t wait till then to start reading it, place a hold on a copy today.

I have had the chance to flip through parts of the essays while cataloging it, and it’s been quite a treat. She’s like the even-more-feminist David Sedaris.

New Crafting Books at ICPL.

by Beth Fisher on September 25th, 2014
New Crafting Books at ICPL. Cover Image

ICPL’s 3rd Annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar is coming up in December, and we’re taking donations now.   If you’d like to make something to donate to the bazaar, but need some suggestions, there are a lot of great new crafting books on the New Book shelves on the 2nd floor.  The books below were on the shelf this morning:

DIY Mason Jars – 35 Creative Crafts & Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos.  This book actually contains two types of crafts – things you do TO or WITH  a Mason Jar, and novel uses FOR a Mason Jar. From creating a vintage looking ceiling light to planting plants in them, Melisaa Averinos 35 craft ideas will fuel your imagination and your creativity.

beer craftsBeer Crafts: Making the Most of Your Cans, Bottle Caps, and Lables by Shawn Gascoyne-Bowman.   With eight pages of hints on how to work safely with cans and bottle caps, followed by 39 surprise craft projects, this is the book for you if you’re into both crafting and beer.   None of the projects look very complicated – from a string of beer can lights, to bottle cap jewelry, a bird house, fishing lures, and a cowboy hat made from a 12pack box – but they all look like fun.

duct tape discoveryDuct Tape Discovery Workshop by Tonia Jenny.  Duct tape crafts are all the rage, and not just with boys.  Duct tape is now available in all sorts of colors and designs, and crafters have come up with lots of great new ways to use it. From versions of the obligatory wallet, to shopping bags, lunch sacks,  coasters, luggage tags, and paint brush or knitting needle cases this book as lots of great ideas for using one of America’s most popular products.

never been stitchedNever Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew projects by Amanda Carestio.  Not all fabric or fiber craft projects require owning a sewing machine.  Carestio has put together a collection of fun projects that, if they require sewing at all its a simple and can be done with a needle and thread.  One of her secrets is using fabrics with raw edges that don’t ravel like felt, fleece or vinyl.  And if you combine that with fusing, gluing, braiding, knotting or  tying you’ll have some cute craft projects good for both adults and kids (with some assistance).

 

 

 

Why am I excited about the Iowa City Book Festival?

by Kara Logsden on September 25th, 2014
Why am I excited about the Iowa City Book Festival? Cover Image

Recently I was in a meeting and someone asked, “Who was the first author you heard speak in person?”  Suddenly I was swept back to my junior high years and listening to Madeleine L’Engle.  I know there were author readings before that (I grew up in Iowa City and we had the amazing experiences of authors visiting our schools) but it was my memory of listening to L’Engle speak that conjured such a strong memory for me.  Not only was L’Engle the author of my favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) but she was an amazing speaker.  I didn’t want the program to end, and really wished I could have found a rocking chair, curled my teenage body up in her lap, and had her read A Wrinkle in Time to me … cover to cover.

I’ve had strong reactions to listening to other authors read since then, but nothing as powerful for me as that experience.  I love listening to authors because I always learn something new.  A couple years ago, at the Iowa City Book Festival, I had the opportunity to ask Robert Goolrick why he chose a story theme for one of his characters in A Reliable Wife.  His explanation was logical but sparked a reaction for me because I didn’t agree with him.  At an outreach program for the Library, I saw a person with dementia brighten up and connect with author Carol Bodensteiner over a story from Bodensteiner’s childhood about ironing.  Who would have guessed a story about ironing would awaken such a strong response?

Each year the Iowa City Book Festival brings an amazing group of authors to town and we have the opportunity to listen to them speak … and it’s free.  I can’t guarantee the programs will be as transformational as my experience with Madeleine L’Engle, but you never know :)  The Festival is a couple weeks away so there’s plenty of time to read a book or two written by one of the authors who will be speaking.  Here’s the list to help you get started:   2014 FESTIVAL READING LIST.

 

In Search of the Perfect Loaf

by Anne Mangano on September 24th, 2014
In Search of the Perfect Loaf Cover Image

In a job interview at a travel magazine, Samuel Fromartz was asked to describe his dream assignment. As an amateur bread baker and someone struggling to make a good loaf at home, he stated that he wanted to travel to Paris, work in a boulangerie, and learn how to make the perfect baguette. The result of that answer is this piece in Afar magazine, the title of “Best Baquette of D.C.” (Fromartz won this contest over many professional bakers in the city), and the first chapter of In Search of the Perfect Loaf.

Fromartz learned a great deal in the boulangieries of Paris, but it also prompted several questions. He wanted to know more about the history of bread, how leaven (sourdough culture) was developed, how flour was milled, how whole grain fell out of (and now back into) favor, and how wheat and other grains are grown. He explores all of these questions, traveling to France, Germany, California, Kansas, and small farms in the Northeast to gain information. In In Search of the Perfect Loaf, Fromartz turns these questions into an interesting exploration of the components that comprise bread. But this is only half of the story. Fromartz is on a quest to make great bread and he uses what he learns to adapt his baking techniques. The book is filled with several recipes of breads highlighting different types of wheat and whole grains. It is a fun book and might just help you bake the perfect loaf.




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