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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.

Got to have Faith!

by Dennis Cooper on December 31st, 2016
Got to have Faith! Cover Image

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s about time that superheroes did too.  Plus-sized Faith Herbert is the title character of Faith: Hollywood and Vine.  She might just be the most relatable superhero ever.  Like many of her potential fans, she has a passion for popular culture.  She grew up reading about superheroes in comic books.  Now she has become one.  With the powers of flight and a “telekinetic field”, Faith patrols the skies of Los Angeles as Zephyr.  She has also created a new secret identity for herself as mild-mannered pop culture blogger, Summer Smith.  Can she navigate the complex and complicated world of super-heroics and alien invaders, while keeping her positive outlook and sense of wonder intact?  Spoiler alert: Yes, she can.  Written with humor, heart, and hope by rising star, Jody Houser, with stunning artwork by Francis Portela (and “fantasy” pages by Marguerite Sauvage), Faith is a different kind of superhero mostly because she is a kind superhero.  Kindness is an awesome super-power!

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2016: Best of the Best

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 31st, 2016

It’s here! Iowa City Public Library’s Top Picks for 2016!

Staff members nominated more than 100 books released in 2016 as their favorite reads of the year. Those that made this list were nominated by more than one person, which truly makes them the Best of the Best.

Adulthood Is a Myth book cover
American Cake book cover
The Dream Lover book cover
Eligible book cover
A Few of the Girls book cover
The Fireman book cover
Girl Who Drank the Moon book cover
Greetings From Utopia Park book cover
Heartless book cover
Hidden Figures book cover
Morning Star book cover
The Night Gardener book cover
book cover
Raymie Nightingale book cover
Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend book cover
Scrappy Little Nobody book cover
Underground Railroad book cover
When Breath Becomes Air book cover

Two graphic novels tied for the title of Most Recommended Book in 2016:

Snow White book cover
Ghosts book cover


Forget everything you know about Snow White, as Matt Phelan’s illustrated take on this classic tale takes place in New Your City in the 1920s. Samantha White is back after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of Follies. Her father, the King of Wall Street, survived the stock market crash only to die from a strange and sudden death. However, that’s not the only mystery Samantha and her “protectors” — seven street urchins — face in what critics have called “a stunning, genre-bending graphic novel.”

In Raina Telgemeier’s Ghost, Catrina and her family have moved to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends, but as she and Maya explore their new home,  a neighbor shares a secret: there are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Called a  “can’t miss addition to middle school graphic novel shelves,” Telgemeier’s latest has been praised for “bold colors, superior visual storytelling” by Kirkus Reviews.

Did your favorite read of 2016 make our list?

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2016: Graphic Novels

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 30th, 2016

It’s believed the term “graphic novel” was coined by Richard Kyle in an 1964 essay, though it didn’t gain popularity until the late 1970s with the publication of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God.

While some in the comics community object to the term, calling it unnecessary, few can argue against the genre’s popularity. Our graphics novel collection has grown so much, we moved it out of the nonfiction stacks and into its own shelving area on the Library’s second floor.

Our nominations for the Best Graphic Novels of the year include both children and adult titles. Children titles can be found in the Children’s Room.

ICPL’s BEST GRAPHIC NOVELS OF 2016graphic-novels

  • Adulthood is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen
  • Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini
  • Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats by Georgia Dunn
  • Compass South by Hope Larson
  • March: Book Three by John Lewis
  • Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
  • Lumberjanes: Volume 3 Terrible Plan by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
  • Paper Girls Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chang

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2016: Nonfiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 29th, 2016

Nonfiction books run the gamut from history and science to cooking and travel. The titles nominated for our Best of the Best list are certainly eclectic, as is our staff!

Read the rest of this entry »

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2016: Biography and Memoir

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 28th, 2016

Did you know memoir comes from the Latin work memoria, which means making memory or reminiscence?

A memoir is a sub-genre of the autobiography and tends to encompass one time period of an author’s life while a biography and/or autobiography is a detailed description of a person’s entire life.

Here are the lives (or parts of lives) we enjoyed reading about in 2016.

ICPL’s BEST BIOGRAPHIES, AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS OF 2016

  • Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughsmemoir
  • It Gets Worse by Shane Dawson
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
  • Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman
  • Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart
  • Greetings From Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood by Claire Hoffman
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
  • Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
  • The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner
  • I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro
  • Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2016: Science Fiction/Fantasy

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 27th, 2016

Science fiction and fantasy novels are known for transporting readers to fantastic locations, taking them on amazing adventures, but they can also serve as a reminder or warning of what could happen. As Ray Bradbury once said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading.”

Fight the power! Read a book! Here are some titles to get you started.

ICPL’s BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY BOOKS OF 2016scifi-fantasy

  • Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  • A Gathering of Shadows by Victoria Schwab
  • Join by Steve Toutonghi
  • Smoke by Dan Vyleta
  • Invasive by Scott Wendig
  • The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2016: Mystery

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 26th, 2016

What books will make our list of Best Books of 2016? It’s a mystery, as are these stories.

ICPL’s BEST MYSTERY BOOKS OF 2016mystery

  • The Trespasser by Tana French
  • The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories by P.D. James
  • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  • The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  • No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2016: Children’s

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 25th, 2016

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” — Frank Serafini

If your child is searching for their favorite book, or looking for a new title to add to a growing list of beloved stories, check out our favorite children’s books of 2016.

ICPL’s BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2016childrens-room

  • Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Have You Seen Elephant by David Barrow
  • Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
  • Eek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton
  • Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio
  • Together by Emma Dodd
  • The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan
  • Bear & Hare — Where’s Bear? By Emily Gravett
  • The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
  • Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
  • We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
  • The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
  • Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brenden Wenzel
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  • Little Red by Bethan Woollvin

ICPL Top Staff Picks 2016: Young Adult

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 24th, 2016

Young adult titles used to dominate our Best of the Best book list. In fact, our most recommended books of 2012 and 2013 were YA titles: Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in 2013 and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in 2012.

Will it happen again?

You need to check back on December 31 when we release our Top Picks of 2016 in all genres. For now, check out the young adult titles staff members enjoyed.

ya-photoICPL’s BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOKS OF 2016

  • Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Have you explored our young adult collection? It’s on the Library’s second floor!




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