Most Popular Books from the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on September 2nd, 2017

 

One of the most interesting parts of the Summer Reading Program comes at the end when we take a look back at at what actually happened during the summer.  While over 1000 people registered for the Adult Summer Reading Program, only 289 avid readers completed our 5 Books in 11 Weeks challenge – reading a total of 1770 books!  Taking out the 82 books that were logged without titles and the 233 duplicate entries, there were 1,455 individual titles read. That’s pretty impressive!

Of the 153 books that were read by more than one person, here are the Top Five Books of the 2017 Adult Summer Reading Program.  How many have you read?

 

into-the-waterInto the Water” by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you heard …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 30th, 2017

I don’t watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of movies, but celebrity gossip blogs are my guilty pleasure. I may not always known who the stars are being discussed in these blogs, but that doesn’t make them less enjoyable.little-known-facts

Christine Sneed’s Little Known Facts is like reading a particularly juicy tidbit on BlindGossip.

Little Known Facts is a fictional look at the celebrity lifestyle through Renn Ivins. He’s in his 50s, has two kids in their 20s and two ex-wives, but Hollywood still loves him. That’s great for his career, but what about his life? Or the lives of those close to him?

This book shows the ups and downs of fame through several characters, including his current (and way younger lover), his children, and a prop master. The behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood shines a light on celebrity life we often don’t see. I’m not saying being a rich movie star sounds terrible, but you really do give up a lot to have it all.

Little Known Facts was Christine Sneed’s debut novel. I was thrilled to learn she’s published more. Even better, they’re part of our fiction collection!

Cooking on a budget

by Melody Dworak on August 28th, 2017
Cooking on a budget Cover Image

CareerBuilder recently came out with a report finding that 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck and 32% of workers stick to a clearly defined budget. When money is tight, budgets are hard. They take tenacity and willpower.

What makes budget living easier is knowing which spending categories are negotiable. Like more than 50% of those surveyed, I can’t give up my expensive home internet and mobile phone bills either. Our grocery bill, however, has a lot of fat we could trim. Read the rest of this entry »

Charlottesville – Confronting Racism in America

by Maeve Clark on August 18th, 2017

maeves-booksWhy Charlottesville and why now? There have been tweets and Facebook posts, news stories and magazine articles offering explanations, but for longer more reflective and scholarly works, you can turn to your library. The website Bustle published a list by Sadie Trombetta of 17 Books on Race Every White Person Needs to Read. The library has almost all of the books on the list and multiple titles of many. It isn’t a new topic and more books will surely be written.

One of the most acclaimed books from the list, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by legal scholar Michelle Alexander, examines the legal structure of the courts, parole, probation and laws that effectively turn a perpetrator of a crime into a moral outlaw who is unworthy of rehabilitation. White rage : the unspoken truth of our racial divide by Carol Anderson, a professor of African-­American studies at Emory University, is the book Senator Al Franken selected when asked by the New York Times Book Review to name a book you wish all Americans would read right now.  Franken said, “There’s a book called White Rage by Carol Anderson about a history that most Americans don’t know: the history of oppression that African Americans have faced from the Civil War to the present day. If every American read it, maybe we could really begin to have a conversation about race in America.”

Richard Rothstein, a former columnist for the New York Times and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, as well as a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, has written The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated AmericaListen to Terry Gross’s interview of Rothstein on Fresh Air. In Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America , assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida, offers this history through chronologically arranged sections based on the lives of five figures from American history: socially and politically influential Puritan minister Cotton Mather; President Thomas Jefferson; prominent abolitionist and social reformer William Lloyd Garrison; civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois; and political activist and writer Angela Davis.

Claudia Rankine, winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets 2014 work Citizen: an American Lyric recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media.  Slavery by another name : the re-enslavement of Black people in America from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon, Wall Street Journal bureau chief, is the groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history, “the lease (essentially the sale), of convicts to “commercial interests” between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th.

None of these books are easy reads and they shouldn’t be.

South to Kalona

by Maeve Clark on August 10th, 2017

south-to-kalonaA friend of mine posted this photo, which I have titled South to Kalona, on Facebook. It was so quintessentially Iowa that I asked her if I could share it and she agreed. She took the photo one afternoon driving from Iowa City south to Kalona on Highway One. When I asked her why she took the photo, she said she felt compelled to pull off the road when she came upon the perfectly lit cornfield. And I am glad she did. It was, at least to me, evocative of Grant Wood’s work, especially his paintings of Stone City and rural Jones County. If you would like to learn more about Grant Wood the library has many books of his paintings and other creative endeavors and several biographies.

hiking-iowa

If you are looking for a day trip to find your own perfect picture of Iowa, the library can help you plan your adventure. We have a number of items on Iowa travel. One of my favorites is Hiking Iowa by Elizabeth Hill. Other titles of interests to the Iowa tourist are Great Iowa Walks: 50 strolls, rambles, hikes, and treks by Lynn L. Walters and Take the next exit : new views of the Iowa landscape edited by Robert F. Sayre.

If you would like to learn more about how to take great photographs, , the library can help you. We have many books on photography, from the basics to advanced, from using an SLR camera, to your cellphone or even how to use a drone. We also have coffee-table books of famous photographers works as well. Let me issue you all a challenge – take a little trip before summer is over and take a photograph that captures Iowa for you. Then share it. Let’s celebrate the beauty of our state.

 

The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017!

by Maeve Clark on August 9th, 2017

Something very exciting will happen on Monday, August 21.  We will get to witness a solar eclipse.  While we aren’t in the path for the total eclipse, at 1:12:42 thnasa_eclipse_mape moon will obscure 92.3% of the sun.   I witnessed a total solar eclipse in 1980 while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire, (Democratic Republic of Congo) and it was truly awe inspiring.  The day went black, the temperature dropped, the roosters crowed, the peafowl and other birds took to the trees.

There are hundreds of websites to find out information about this phenomenal astronomical event.   One of my favorite is from eclipseVOX.  It has a eclipse location function where you can type in your zip code and find out how much of the sun will be obscured.  NASA, of course, has excellent resources. NPR has run a couple of stories about the excitement around the eclipse including one on the first photograph taken of a solar eclipse.

The Children’s Department has programs on Sundays about the eclipse. On Monday, August 14 at 7 pm in Meeting Room A, Brent Studer, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Kirkwood Community College, will explain the circumstances under which eclipses occur and what you can do to be ready for the upcoming solar eclipse, the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States since 1979.   Join us on Monday, August 21 while we step outside the library to safely view the eclipse.  Another eclipse watching event will be hosted by the University of Iowa Sciences Library, the UI Museum of Natural History (Pentacrest Museums) and the UI Astronomy Club, on the Pentacrest lawns.

The library has books and videos galore for all ages on astronomy and the natural wonders of the sky.  Come learn more about the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017. We might just make an umbraphile out of you!

One town, many stories

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 25th, 2017

janesvilleIt used to be when you asked the people of Janesville, Wisc., to describe their town — and, by default, themselves — in one word, that word would be perseverance. Or maybe diligence. Determined. Tenacious.

You can scour a thesaurus for the right word, but it boils down to this: when the people of Janesville get knocked down, they rise again — better and stronger. The city history is filled with examples of how the industrial town reinvented itself to roll with the punches. Even when the nation’s oldest operating General Motors plant — the backbone of the town’s identity and economy — closed two days before Christmas in 2008, many believed it was temporary. The plant had closed its doors before only to reopen with a new product, a new purpose. It would again.

Only it didn’t.

The plant’s closing was news. It translated into national headlines. But then Janesville fell off the public’s radar. It wasn’t the only town impacted by The Great Recession. However, reporter Amy Goldstein stayed behind to see what happened to a town without its identity, to people who not only lost their jobs, but their sense of self. The result? Janesville: An American Story.

(Note: This is Paul Ryan’s hometown. He’s in the story, but it’s the real people of Janesville who show what happened best.)

The ripple effect of the plant’s closing was felt by everyone. Teachers had students who were hungry and scared. Parents took jobs that made less money. The local community college saw historic enrollment numbers, but also adult students who didn’t know how to use computers. In-home child care operations closed because parents were no longer going to work every morning — another person out of a job. Middle class families slid into lower class and lower class families dropped below poverty level. Teenagers took jobs to support their families and families struggled to stay together. Politicians on both sides of the aisle claimed to be on the side of the American worker, but as the political divide deepened at the state and federal levels, Janesville residents shifted from being one community and turned on each other. Laid off GM workers resented those who retired with their pensions. The unemployed were angry at teachers protesting the governor’s plan to slash union rights because at least they had a job. Community leaders who still believed Janesville could survive struggled to remain positive while food banks searched for ways to keep shelves full.

This was a powerful story. Kudos to Goldstein for painting such a vivid picture of what too many towns have experienced in our economic climate. Only time will tell if we learned anything from it.

Debut fiction a slice of fun

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 13th, 2017

bakers-guideEvery other Thursday, I join two other Library staff members to refresh our first floor book displays. It’s a great chance to have fun with puns – you’ve seen our signs; we love ‘em! – and shine the spotlight on various items in our collection. It’s always a rush when a book (or movie or CD) you chose for the display is checked out by a patron.

Another thing I love about Refresh Thursdays is that it gives me a chance to peruse the Library’s collection and find something new for myself. Not that I need help filling out my TBR (To Be Read) pile. It’s not a pile. It’s a bookshelf. A real one at home (I used to buy books before I started working at ICPL) and a virtual one on my Goodreads account.

And yet I still browse.

One of the books I recently checked out after coming across it on the Library’s shelves is The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. I love books about food, especially dessert, so when the blurb described the story of Olivia Rawlings, a Boston pastry chef who flees to Vermont after setting fire to more than her dessert at a work engagement. Olivia’s weekend away turns into more after she secures a new job as the baker at Sugar Maple Inn. But small towns have their secrets and Olivia learns she wasn’t hired just for her magic with sugar spice and everything nice.

This is the kind of story you expect to be cute and it is, but there’s so much more going on, too. It’s about second chances and family, food and small towns, commitment and fear, expectations and competitions. It was the perfect follow up after a couple of heavier reads that left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s not fluffy, though. There’s layers to this book — but that’s a cake term and Olivia is all about pies.

Speaking of pies, you’re going to want one – or more – while reading this book. You might want to stock up just in case.

Themed Book Lists for the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 30th, 2017

booklist-covers-wide

Are you a fan of book lists?  Are you looking for some book suggestions for the 2nd half of the Adult Summer Reading Program?  One of the neat features of our Summer Reading Program software is that it lets us create book lists on any topic we want.

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is “Build a Better World” which lends itself to all sorts of lists. Some were created by ICPL staff, and other lists we borrowed from other sources because they were really good lists.

To find the book lists, log into the software at srp.icpl.org and click on the Recommendations tab at the top.  There you can choose from the Book Lists or the list of  Adult SRP Events.

booklists

Here are the book lists you’ll find:

All Iowa Reads – 2003 -2017   (14 books)

Best Summer Reads 2017 from Publishers Weekly  (13 books)

Books Becoming Movies in 2018  (9 books)

Build a Better World: Volunteer!  (8 books)

Can One Book Change Your Life? (7 books)

Environmentalists Trying To Make A Difference  (10 books)

Explore Iowa (17 books)

Gardening with Native Plants (7 books)

National Park Guidebooks (11 books)

NPR’s Book Concierge 2017 Best Biographies & Memoirs (21 books)

Top 10 LGBTQ Books – The 2017 Over the Rainbow List   (10 books)

We Can Build It Better (12 books)

Women in Science (11 books)

 

 

 

 

2017 music

by Jason Paulios on June 30th, 2017
2017 music Cover Image

I was in a bit of a music rut this year, turning down the chance to listen to unfamiliar contemporary artists in favor of revisiting nostalgic albums from 20 years ago and seeking out music genres I either missed the boat on (Britpop) or wasn’t around for (Post-punk). A plethora of recent “Best of 2017 …so far” articles have inspired me and I’ve discovered a few new albums from our collection that I think ICPL users should check out!

Jlin – Black Origami : An electronica album that is full of nervous energy and samples heavily from global music. On first listen I thought it would be too busy to be something I would casually throw on during a work session at my computer, but by the third track I was won over by the busy trance-like beats. Jlin rarely uses party-style electronica driving bass lines, instead she gets your head bobbing to a wide variety of percussion instrument samples (handclaps, drumlines, african drums) woven with repeated vocal snippets. If you’re having trouble connecting to the album, I recommend at least watching the choreography in this video for her song “Carbon 7 (161)”, jaw-dropping.

Big Thief – Capacity : Their 2016 album Masterpiece was one of my favorites last year, nothing new or particularly inventive but it had such passion and the big, dirty guitar countering singer Adrianne Lenker’s warbling hit me just right. There’s not as much of that basement rock sound on Capacity but the melodies and songwriting are terrific. Favorite tracks for me include a Nebraska-style road saga, “Shark Smile” and “Mary” which should be the final track to that mix-tape you make for your friend who is moving away.