by Candice Smith on March 6th, 2014
So, this past Tuesday, I found myself wanting to discuss a good book and have a nice beer. That happens to me often on Tuesdays…wait, what did you say? You too??!!
Well, you’re in luck! Get ready for B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s new books in bars book club. One Tuesday during each of the next three months we’re going to meet in a local bar, discuss some literature, maybe have a drink and meet some like-minded readers. First on the agenda is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s a long book, I know, but by now a lot of you might have already read it; if not, stop by the Reference Desk and grab a copy. Then, meet us on Tuesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Sanctuary Pub.
To get started, here’s the blog I did about the book on January 15, 2010.
by Candice Smith on March 4th, 2014
The beginning of Lent is near, and those who participate in this ritual of going without are preparing to give up something that is meaningful in some way. I know many people are inspired by this event; Christians and those holding other beliefs use this time to remind themselves of those who have less, to inspire deeper thought about possessions and luxuries and what things are important, and to offer up penitence in some way. I grew up in a Catholic home, and participated in Lent for many years…I believe I usually gave up chocolate or allowance, some very tangible thing that made a small impact in my life.
While the things that people choose to give up vary widely, I suspect that for a number of people it will be caffeine and/or coffee. It may seem trivial, but going without this chemical can have many effects; many are so used to having it in regular quantities every day, and to suddenly stop can bring on withdrawal symptoms, general crankiness, and maybe even a feeling of sadness at not having that ‘cup of comfort.’ It may or may not go deeper than that in terms of what going without might teach you, but I’m not here to judge. I’m here to offer a dispensation, of sorts…
Coffee With Jesus is a nice little compilation of the online comic of the same name. A little humor, a little iconic art, and more than a little thought go into each strip. It avoids heavy lessons in favor of quick but lingering suggestions…hey, think about this a bit. Reflect. And yes, Jesus is a main character here, but he is quite modern in view while at the same time being the old-school, accepting of everyone kind of guy. There’s no offense meant here, whatever your belief (or non-belief, in fact) is. And this little book just might help you find a different jolt of energy and comfort for the time being.
by Brent Palmer on February 28th, 2014
I recently made a good find in the Book End: The English Major by Jim Harrison. Although the title makes it sound like an epic love story set in colonial Africa, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a true American travel story.
Harrison fans who love his character Brown Dog will identify with the protagonist, Cliff, who has same down-to-earth way of looking at things, a love of the Michigan outdoors and a cluelessness about women (that somehow seems to work for both of them). Unlike BD, he was once a lit teacher with a love of books. But he became disenchanted with literature and eschewed the intellectual life for a pastoral one when his wife inherited a cherry farm in northern Michigan.
The story, which opens after his marriage falls apart, takes the form of a kind of travel diary. Mourning the loss of his dog and his cherry farm (his wife sells it to a developer), he sets out for a cathartic road trip to visit every state. Along the way, he hooks up with an former female student, reconnects with his son and has some raucous adventures with his fishing buddy. As he winds his way across the west, he is forced to reexamine his life and marriage with honesty. Although Cliff doesn’t make it to every state, with some help from his ex-wife, he figures out how to put together a new life.
by Melody Dworak on February 27th, 2014
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.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 12th, 2014
I discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s work about five years ago, devouring her first two books — Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen — in just a few days. I had to wait for her to publish more, but my patience paid off with two more great stories: The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel and The Peach Keeper: A Novel.
I was not aware that Allen was set to release a new book in 2014, but when I did, I was thrilled to learn it was already out and the Library had it on stock!
Lost Lake is a story about people who are at a turning point in their lives, but are unsure of which way to go. It seems fitting that this group of misfits have such ties to a run-down summer hideaway called Lost Lake.
Owner Eby Prim loves Lost Lake, but time has taken its toll on her and the cabins that used to house vacationing families. Restless, she agrees to sell the property, but her last summer takes an unexpected turn when her grand-niece arrives. Struggling with the death of her husband, Kate Pheris needs direction and her precocious daughter, Devin, needs to freedom.
Three generations of women, plus a scattering of supporting characters to add mystery, humor and depth, make Lost Lake a treasure worth finding.
by Candice Smith on February 12th, 2014
No, I’m not talking about the Sochi Olympics. I’m talking about Donnie Eichar’s book Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, which I recently finished. In fact, I finished it about 24 hours after checking it out…it was a very interesting, well-paced book that I didn’t want to put down until I knew what had happened.
This is a nonfiction book that investigates a decades-old mystery, one that I had never heard of and that is so remote and foreign to me (both in terms of locale and subject matter) that it actually imparted a sense of foreboding and discomfort. In late January of 1959, nine university students set out on a 160 mile hike in the Ural mountains, during their winter break. They were already highly accomplished hikers, and this hike was intended to give them the highest ranking in outdoorsmanship that would allow them to instruct others; their plans were meticulous, their route reviewed and approved by foresters, their bags and provisions adequately thought out.
They never returned. After missing the beginning of the semester, officials began to search for them. Their tent was found intact on a slope, with all their shoes, clothes and belongings neatly arranged inside, and food set out waiting to be eaten. Eventually their bodies were found within a mile of the tent but in different places, mostly barely clothed, with injuries ranging from a broken nose and scrapes to blunt force trauma to the head and chest. Several died from hypothermia. After autopsies and looking at the evidence, the case was closed with the determination that an “unknown compelling force” led to their deaths.
Donnie Eichar came across mention of the hikers in a random fashion, while researching something else, and their story simply would not let him go. The mystery of what might have happened to these healthy, incredibly bright and vivacious young people in the remote, snowy wilderness prompted Eichar to visit Russia twice; he not only interviews people who knew the hikers as well as those who investigated the incident, he also makes the long journey to where their lives ended. I will admit, what he finds there and afterwards is not an entirely tidy answer, and if he is right, it is an ironic and cruel one.
I highly recommend you read his book, and see for yourself.
by Brian Visser on February 10th, 2014
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is about the end of the world as told by 16-year-old Austin Szerba. Austin is confused: He’s in love with his girlfriend Shann, but he’s also in love with Robby, his gay best friend. Austin is preoccupied with history, and he points out that history chews up sexual confused young men.
Austin’s narration meanders and repeats itself. He gives us history lessons about his Polish ancestors as well as telling us the unlikely series of events that led to unstoppable, giant, man-eating praying mantises being unleashed on the fictional town of Ealing, Iowa. Yes, you read that right: Giant, man-eating praying mantises.
Grasshopper Jungle is a brutally honest work. Smith is an amazing writer. He has expertly tapped into the adolescent male mind. A word of warning: This book is awesome, and it also contains copious profanity, sexual situations and people being eaten by giant bugs. I recommend it to readers looking for a highly original YA book.
by James Clark on February 5th, 2014
Constellation of Vital Phenomena
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 »
by Beth Fisher on January 30th, 2014
January is almost over, but does knowing we have at least 7 more weeks of winter make you want learn to hibernate? Does watching yet another snowstorm blow through give you the winter blues? ICPL has the cure!
Check out the new Arm Chair Travel display on the 2nd floor. You’ll find all sorts of great travel guides guaranteed to make forget about the snow:
Pocket Phuket, 3rd edition. A guide to the island province off the south western coast of Thailand. Phuket, along with much of the Western coast of Thailand was seriously damaged by the December 2004 Tsunami, and the government and people of Thailand have made a fantastic recovery. This guide, with wonderful pictures and maps, also has lots of lists. Lists of places to visit, things to see, places to eat and places to stay. Just flipping through its pages will get you lost in this amazing country.
Lonely Planet – Australia, 16th ed. It’s hard to cover an entire country in one book, but the Lonely Planet people have created a great introductory guide to travel in Australia. From places to visit, sights to see and things to do the Lonely Planet guides are fun to read. This guide will have you wanting to find koalas or kookaburras in their natural habitat, hiking through the Blue Mountains National Park, or just laying on the sand at Bondi Beach.
Moon Handbook: Tahiti If you’ve ever wanted to run away to the French Polynesian islands, this guidebook is for you. With beautiful maps and lists of things to see, places to go as well as where to eat and where to stay, this book will have you dreaming about mountains and rainforests and black sand beaches.
Stop by the display or the Non Fiction collections for more travel guides in print or on DVD.
by Maeve Clark on January 28th, 2014
Where can a challenge take you? For Mark Hirsch, a photojournalist, it can take you to a familiar location or in his case, to a very familiar tree, and change the way you look at everything. For 19 years Mark drove by a the same farm field near Plattville, Wisconsin and looked at the same bur oak tree. A friend texted him to try out the camera in his new iPhone, he did and he posted it on Facebook.
“At the time I never even considered using the iPhone camera for anything more than a passing snapshot,” recalls Hirsch. “As a result of her text though, I stopped and trudged through a crazy snowstorm to make a picture of the tree… A friend posted a note to me on my Facebook page saying ‘Dude, what’s with you and that tree, you should do a photo a day with it.’ On his challenge, I officially started the project on March 24, 2012.”
Hirsch spent the next year photographing That Tree every day, documenting the changing of seasons and sharing the tree’s hidden world with a growing Facebook following.” Hirsch, now has nearly 36,000 followers and published a magnificent book, “That Tree”. For everyone who enjoys fine photography and the beauty of the nature, Mark Hirsch’s book is one to be savored and returned to again and again. Perhaps the best way to describe the That Tree project is from Hirsch’s introduction to his book, “My relationship with That Tree has awakened a newfound vision, and appreciation for the fragility of our world and the interdependence of even the smallest of its creatures. In turn, this fresh insight has inspired my commitment to share my photos and encourage others to embrace land stewardship as a means toward a more sustainable use of our resources.”
“That Tree” might serve as an inspiration to you, maybe not to take a photograph of a tree everyday for a year, but to open your eyes to the natural world around you.