Erik Larson, best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts and The Devil in the White City, has written a new book of narrative non-fiction about the luxury ocean liner sunk by a German U-boat in May, 1915, off the coast of Ireland. I knew a lot about the sinking of the Titanic, but realized that I really didn’t know that much about the Lusitania. Larson’s unfolding of the maritime disaster that took 1195 lives at the beginning of World War I is chronological and from various points of view. He draws on primary sources such as letters, log books, memoirs, telegrams and other documents to present a very detailed account of the fastest liner then in service and its captain, William Thomas Turner. We also learn about the calculating German captain of Unterseeboot-20, Walther Schwieger, who gave the order to fire a torpedo at the Lusitania that ultimately caused such a devastating tragedy. The ship left New York for it’s home port of Liverpool with many famous people aboard and the captain never imagined the danger that lay ahead. The passengers heard about traveling through a war zone near England, but they made light of it as they enjoyed their first class passage on such a magnificent cruise liner. We learn the stories about passengers such as Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat, female architect Theodate Pope Riddle, and suffragette Margaret Mackworth. Larson also writes about such figures as President Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, and Kaiser Wilhelm and their roles during this critical time in history. What I found most interesting were the stories of the people involved in the catastrophe; what I found tedious were the parts of the text that discussed submarine technology and other maritime facts that slowed the narrative down for me. So many factors played a part in this epic tragedy that you close the book wondering, “What if…?” Enjoy this 100th–anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania.
You told us what you read as part of the 2015 Summer Reading Program, and we kept track.
Click on the title to place a copy on hold.
The most popular book in this year’s Adult Summer Reading Program is also one of the most popular books of the year: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Three unreliable narrators set the tone for this Hitchcockian thriller. You’ll be drawn into the story not knowing who to believe or trust, just like the characters themselves. Rachel takes the train into London every day, watching the same scenery pass day after day, the same houses, the same strangers. But are they really strangers? Is Rachel really just watching the story unfold? Or is she hiding from something. Full of twists, turns and lies, The Girl on The Train will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr begins with the stories of a young blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a gadget-obsessed German boy, Werner, and how their lives evolve as World War 11 takes hold in Europe. When their lives collide during the occupation of France, their stories intertwine for a time, and we see how the War led them down separate but converging paths.
Paper Towns, written by John Green (author of The Fault In Our Stars). This young adult novel was one of the top Teen Reads for this summer too. Quentin “Q” grew up next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman, but the older they got the more distant their lives became. Shortly before high school graduation, Margo talks Quentin into being her partner-in-crime for one night of practical jokes and hijinks. Three days later Margo disappears. Quentin and two of his friends hit the road in search of Margo, following the clues she has left for them to find. This road trip mystery rescue adventure became a motion picture starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. “For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick. To be opened only in the event of my death.” says the 15 year old letter Cecilia found mixed in with her old tax documents. She opens and reads it, expecting a sentimental message from her husband as it is dated just after the birth of their first child. Little did she expect its contents to blow her world – and the worlds of two others – apart at the seams.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. This psychological thriller is the story of the marriage of Nick and Amy Dune. Both newly unemployed writers, Nick and Amy leave New York City and return to Nick’s home town in Missouri to care for Nick’s dying mother. On their 5th anniversary, Amy disappears and soon people begin to suspect Nick in her disappearance. The deeper into the story the reader gets the more we come to realize that both Amy and Nick aren’t who or what they appear to be.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Japanese cleaning and organizing consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Following her simple idea of only keeping things that bring you joy.
The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks. Two love stories – one a new love, and one that lasted more than 5 decades – intertwine in unexpected ways. 90 year old Ira Levinson is stranded in his car after an accident. His late wife Ruth appears to him and helps him stay conscious by recounting the stories of their 50 years together as Ira waits to be rescued. Luke and Sophia meet at a rodeo, and the connection is instant. After four months together they realize their lives might be heading in opposite directions. Returning from a long weekend together, Luke and Sophia discover Ira and the accident, and stay with him until the ambulance arrives. Talking to Ira about his 50 year romance with Ruth, Luke and Sophia look at their lives differently.
The Martian, by Andy Weir. Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now everyone thinks he was the first person to have died there. But he’s not dead. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Published in 1997, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling is the first in the series of 7 children’s/young adult novels chronicling the adventures of a young wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. H.P & The Sorcerer’s Stone covers 11- year old Harry’s discovery of his wizardly gifts and his first year at Hogwarts.
Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand, is a biography of WWII hero Louis Zamperini, a former American Olympic track star who spent 47 days drifting at sea after a plane crash in the South Pacific, and then survived more than 2 years as a Japanese prisoner of war.
This one is for you, Mom. As Iowa City residents know, it’s that time of year and, this time, I was going to be part of the chaos. As I was talking about how stressful things were, my mom said, “You should write about this in your blog.” At that time I thought, “Ugh! I’m calling you as a procrastination or avoidance technique.” But now that I have “settled” into my new place, I realized she was right so here you are.
According to Jonah Winter, Beethoven had to change his address 39 times, including 5 pianos. This picture book (2006) is filled with interesting facts and whimsical illustrations. Reading it will make most moves seem quite easy in comparison. The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day (1981) by Stan and Jan Berenstain depicts a more realistic undertaking.
The Bromeliad Trilogy (1998) by Terry Pratchett features 4-inch tall creatures called nomes who originated from another planet; consider them to be alien Littles or Borrowers. In the beginning, they live Outside but too many predators and a scarcity of food convince them to migrate to the Store. Other nomes already reside there and allow the immigrants to stay. Soon, through a “great and powerful” object dubbed the Thing, they discover the Store is to be demolished and they must all move again. This trilogy consists of Truckers (1989), Diggers (1990), and Wings (1990).
In the classic book From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) by E. L. Konigsburg, Claudia Kincaid is bored with her life and decides to run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She recruits her brother Jamie, primarily as a roommate to help with expenses. They quickly settle into a routine when, one day, a mysterious marble statue of an angel arrives. Jamie is ready to return home but Claudia is intrigued and refuses until she resolves the enigma.
How to Survive a Move (2005) is an advice book that I had not actually read before my relocation, but should have done. It is comprised of recommendations from everyday people who have already undergone that experience. Some are amusing and some are “what not to do” but most are beneficial. Keep this book in mind for the residence reshuffle next year.
Whether you are already established in your home or still unpacking boxes, take a break to read about various moves. Finally, a humongous thank you to all my friends and family who helped me change my residence so I would still have enough sanity to write this blog.
Jalapeno Poppers are a family favorite and the Iowa City Farmer’s Market is the best place to purchase fresh jalapenos this time of year. Often these morsels serve as a meal at our house. Baked Poppers can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple days (although they rarely last that long at our house) and are delicious cold as well as reheated.
We have many variations of our Jalapeno Popper recipe and often the final product is contingent on what’s in the refrigerator. Crumbled crispy bacon, goat cheese, and artichoke dip can all be substituted into the basic recipe for delicious results.
One word of caution: Make sure you remove all the seeds from the jalapenos. In general, Jalapeno Poppers are only a bit “warm” – especially with the delicious cheese to cool down the palate. Forgotten seeds can surprise the person eating the popper, though, so caution is needed if consumers are wary of hot food.
Here’s our basic recipe:
Logsden Jalapeno Poppers
Select fresh, large Jalapenos.
Cut off the top and split in half lengthwise.
Remove all seeds.
Fill with cream cheese.
Wrap with Prosciutto (we prefer Iowa-made La Quercia)
Arrange on cooking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Check after 15.
If you are looking for summer recipe inspiration, browse our catalog or check out the many awesome books at the Library. 641 is the call number to get you started.
Let us know which delicious dishes you are creating from the fresh ingredients you find at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market.
See you at the Market!
Essential oils have many uses to promote health, lift your mood, and act as helpful additives to household cleaners, body care products, cosmetics, and more. I’ve noticed some newer books about their uses here at the library, and have also noticed growing curiosity about them in my personal circles and in the world around me. Here, I highlight a few of my favorite resources from the stacks at ICPL. (To browse our large selection of books on essential oils and herbal medicine, go to the nonfiction section at 615.321).
Essential Oils for Health is a brand new book at a short length for the curious beginner who wants some basic info and easy recipes. The book is organized by health, emotional well-being, and beauty ailments. If you have a particular problem you would like to address with essential oils, you can easily find a quick and simple recipe in this book. (Dandruff? Cellulite? Bad mood? Low energy? Flatulence? Tobacco withdrawal? To name a few.)
The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils also came out within the last year. It is organized well for the beginner, but acts as a quick and easy reference book for the seasoned essential oil user. Also, unlike many resources, this book contains an entire section on essential oils for the home. One of my first uses for essential oils was to scent cleaning vinegar after I jumped on the environmentally-safe cleaners bandwagon. My solution to vinegar stink has always been to add at least 20 drops of lavender oil to the bottle – as a bonus, lavender is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. (Tea tree oil is great for showers and damp places since it is anti-fungal.)
While not the most recent in a spate of books about essential oils, Kathi Keville and Mindy Green’s Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art is my favorite. This book has a distinctly scientific approach. The newer edition came out in 2009 and is a simply fantastic resource – whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned essential oil enthusiast. The best thing about Keville and Green’s resource? Charts!!! There are some great charts that cover which oils are best for your skin type, for example.
Most important is the “suggested dilution” chart on page 44, because essential oils MUST be diluted before applied to the body. If you’ve ever gotten peppermint oil on your fingers and then accidentally touched your eyes later, you know what I’m talking about. If not, take it from me – essential oils can wreck havoc on the skin and mucus membranes if you don’t apply a little know-how to your applications, so be careful!
In closing, I would like to share National Geographic’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs. I love all things botanical, and enjoyed NatGeo’s wonderful full color photographs. While this book is not specifically about essential oils, most essential oils are made from medicinal herbs. Each herb in this book is introduced within a section that groups together herbs with similar uses (heart & circulation, digestive system, etc.) Aside from the great pictures, my favorite part about this book was the way it incorporated tidbits about each plant’s historical uses.
If you already enjoy using essential oils, feel free to leave a comment telling us your favorite book on the topic or favorite use for an essential oil or herb!
OK … I’m ready to forgive C.J. Box. I thoroughly enjoy his Joe Pickett series and enjoyed Back of Beyond, the beginning of a new series featuring who I thought was a recurring character, Sheriff Detective Cody Hoyt. In Box’s next Cody Hoyt book, The Highway, (awesome book, set in Yellowstone, scared the bejeebers out of me) Hoyt is conquering his demons and mentoring a new Sheriff’s Detective, Cassie Dewell. But something goes wrong and suddenly readers are left hanging.
I was mad at C.J. Box after that book. I loved Cody Hoyt and I didn’t like how the book ended. For me, C.J. Box has redeemed himself in his new book, The Badlands. Cassie Dewell emerges as a strong protagonist who can hold her own. I guess maybe Box had to give her a chance and needed a couple good novels to write his way there. Time for me to move on …
In The Badlands, Detective Cassie Dewell takes a new job in Grimstad, the petroleum capitol of North Dakota. Life is tough there. The economy is booming but crime follows money and Cassie is tasked by the Sheriff to do some internal investigating. She is also haunted by her past and the criminal who got away and is still lurking “out there.” She’s also drawn to a young boy who may be invisible, but knows a lot more than the world is willing to acknowledge. The book is fast paced, the characters are great, and readers are left wanting more from this new protagonist. I think we have a lot to look forward to from C.J. Box and his Joe Pickett and Cassie Dewell series!
I have been enjoying a new cookbook from the Library’s collection, and when I finally settled on a recipe to try, a trip to the Iowa City Farmer’s Market was in order.
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook features recipes contributed by more than one hundred mystery authors. Some of my favorites are included–Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Louise Penny–and you will recognize so many others: Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins, Sue Grafton, Scott Turow, and James Patterson to name a few. In addition to the authors’ introductions to their recipes, the editor has added several other short essays, one of which answers the question “What exactly is a red herring?”
Many of the recipes are for foods served in the mysteries. I chose Louise Penny’s “Madame Benoit’s Tourtiere,” a dish mentioned in A Fatal Grace. Penny’s mysteries are set in Quebec, and tourtiere is a regional dish from that province. It is essentially a meat pie, with onion and garlic, and it provided me with a chance to visit with Lois Pavelka of Pavelka’s Point Meats to get some ground pork and beef. Lois and her husband raise livestock on their farm north of Solon, and she is a regular at the Market with all kinds of delicious choices for pork, beef and lamb. Their picnic bacon is especially good!
The resulting savory pie was a tasty example of comfort food, and would be a good dish to bring to a potluck or family gathering. In her introduction to the recipe, Penny says that tourtiere can be eaten all year long, but is particularly associated with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Summer reading for me tends to be less worthy of book group discussions and more about just being lost in a good story that doesn’t tax my brain. The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand was a light fun read set on Nantucket that satisfied my curiosity about the title and cover of the book. Definitely chic lit., where gossip is paramount, best friends Madeline and Grace are the envy of the island with their perfect husbands and children. But rumor has it that Grace has been having an affair with her gorgeous landscape architect, Benton; that her husband, “Fast Eddie” Pancik is in over his head with a new real estate development; that Grace’s daughter, Allegra, and Madeline’s son, Brick, are not the storybook young couple everyone thinks they are; and that Madeline is struggling with writer’s block and isn’t meeting her editor’s deadlines. These story lines are explored along with the relationship between twin sisters, Allegra and Hope. Rumors and realities converge when Madeline starts writing a novel based on what’s happening to the people on the island. Things escalate and the denouement isn’t a perfect ending for the lives involved. Strong female friendship wins out in the end and what would a good summer read be without a little sex to spice things up? Too bad I’ll be missing my Book Group’s August selection, H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, when I’m vacationing with my family in Estes Park for ten days. Now what shall I take with me to read? Hmmm….
I really enjoyed Gruen’s New York Times Bestselling book, Water for Elephants, so when I saw At the Water’s Edge on the New books list at ICPL, I put a hold on it. When a copy arrived I started reading and quickly got caught up with the characters and the story. Maddie Hyde, a Philadelphia socialite, her husband Ellis, and his best friend, Hank, travel to Scotland on a lark in search of the Loch Ness monster. Ellis’s father purportedly took photographs of Nessie years earlier, and Ellis wants to get back into his father’s good graces and fortune by confirming the monster’s existence. The Colonel has never forgiven his son for not joining the fighting overseas even though Ellis’s reason is that he was turned away because he is color-blind. Once the three are ensconced in a nearby small village, the men go adventuring with their gear leaving Maddie to fend for herself for days on end. She gets to know the locals and breaks out of her isolation exploring the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Set in 1945 toward the end of WWII, Maddie and the others deal with the air raids while they are sequestered at the inn with the brooding big innkeeper, Angus. Soon Maddie becomes disgusted with Ellis and Hank’s drunken behavior each time they return; she finds friendship with the staff at the inn and ultimately, romance with Angus. At the Water’s Edge is a compelling novel, even with its flaws, about the reawakening of a beautiful privileged young woman set against the backdrop of war.