From the Shelves

Help for those suffering gardening withdrawal: Houseplants

by Beth Fisher on February 8th, 2018
Help for those suffering gardening withdrawal: Houseplants Cover Image

February. Even the word is cold. Winter can seem awfully long in the Midwest.  Especially when we get teased by a January thaw.  But there’s no getting around it – it’s still winter, and I’m starting to go through gardening withdrawal.  I’m ready for spring. After 25 years in Iowa however,  I’ve finally learned not to jump the season and just ignore the January thaw. I know I have to wait until at least April or early May for spring and gardening season.  But my hands are still itching to get back in the dirt.

Thankfully there is a way I can curb that itch: Houseplants.  Caring for my indoor plants – including dividing or repotting gives me a little taste of gardening to hold me over.  ICPL has quite a few new houseplant books to help me (and others) get through the winter.  So many in fact, that I’m going to break this into two posts:  Houseplants and Cacti & Succulents.

Houseplants: the complete guide to choosing, growing, and caring for indoor plants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf.   This is a great book for anyone with houseplants. A well written easy to follow guide, it begins with a section on the basics of houseplant care.  What I liked most about this book is how the 150+ plant profiles in the second half of the book. She has grouped them into 3 categories: Easy to Grow Moderately Easy and Challenging. Each category starts with multiple pages of thumbnail images to help you figure out what plant you have.  Each plant profile has the common as well as botanical Latin name, a description, the plant’s light and water requirements, propagation methods and cultivars.

 

Happy Houseplants: 30 lovely varieties to brighten up your home written and illustrated by Angela Staehling.  Combining her love of houseplants and illustration, Staehling has created a great beginners guide to 30  of her favorite easy to find and easy-to-grow houseplants. She starts with the tools and materials you’ll need to work with houseplants and follows with plant profiles. From African Violets to Zebra Cactus the 30 plants she as included give beginners a great place to start.

 

 

 

 

 

How Not To Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged by Vernoica Peerless. The title is not just a hook – Peerless has written a great guide for those of us who for one reason or another have no luck with houseplants.  Too much of the wrong kind of love or not enough of the right kind of light – there are many things that lead to plant demise. This book is helpful even If you’re not sure what type of plant you have.  The book begins with close to 200 plant thumbnails to help you figure out what you have.  But what if you’re thinking about buying your first plant?  Read the first few pages of this book first.  She’ll give you things to look for in your potential new plant – plant size, soil and root condition, pests – all the things you should consider before buying a plant.  Then you’ll find quick information about the basics: water, food, light, repotting and pests to watch out for.  Then you get to the wonderful main section of the book – the plant profiles  She breaks it down into the basic care “How Not to Kill It” things to watch out for, and what she calls “Share the Care:” suggestions for one or two other houseplants that have very similar requirements.

 

 

Shot through the [symbol of courtly love and religious devotion] heart…

by Candice Smith on February 6th, 2018
Shot through the [symbol of courtly love and religious devotion] heart… Cover Image

and you’re to blame. Yes, you.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, when we remember and give thanks for two early Christians in Rome, both named Valentine, both martyred for their beliefs. You don’t do that? Maybe you write saccharine poetry to the object of your unrequited love? No? Perhaps you buy a card and some candy, make reservations somewhere fancy or make a nice meal, and use the day to test the waters or reaffirm your love. And all of it–the cards, the candy, the poems, the napkins and candles, the ill-advised matching tattoos–is covered in little red hearts. Why?

It seems obvious, right? The heart is the physical seat of our emotions. It’s the tell-tale organ that gives lie to our calm composure, regardless of whether our heart is bursting with the excitement of love, or breaking under corrected expectations. The heart soars, it plummets, it races along, and it aches, all in time with our lives of love. The heart, as symbol of that love, is the OG emoji. How OG? Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen

by Brian Visser on January 31st, 2018

I read a lot of Star Wars comics.  A lot.  I blogged in the past about my favorite title, Star Wars: Darth Vader, which ended in 2016.  Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is a sequel of sorts.  Doctor Aphra is a character who was introduced in Star Wars: Darth Vader, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra takes place after the end of that series.

Doctor Aphra is an archaeologist who worked for Darth Vader (before he tried to kill her).  Aphra brings along the supporting cast from Star Wars: Darth Vader–two assassin droids, Beetee and Triple-Zero (my favorites!) and Black Krrsantan, a Wookiee bounty hunter.  In this first volume, we learn more about Aphra’s history and meet some people from her past.  Also, Aphra owes just about everyone money, and there’s a lot of double-crossing.  She’s just a woman trying to make her way in the galaxy, you know?

It’s hard to introduce an original character into the Star Wars universe and have them fit naturally, but writer Kieron Gillen did a phenomenal job of creating one in Aphra.  She’s anti-hero that you can’t help but love.  Seriously, give her a spin-off movie or something.  I really dig Kev Walker’s art in it too.  Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is an easy recommendation for someone who read and liked Star Wars: Darth Vader.  I’d recommend both titles to any Star Wars fan!

Talk About Something Pleasant, with B.Y.O.Book

by Candice Smith on January 17th, 2018
Talk About Something Pleasant, with B.Y.O.Book Cover Image

Like books? Like bars? Like good food and drink, and lively conversation? Then you might want to join us at our next BYOBook meet-up! We’re meeting on Tuesday, February 6, at Basta Pizzeria Ristorante, starting at 6:30 p.m.

We will be discussing Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, which was one of the New York Times Book Review’s top ten books of 2014. In it, Chast recounts the time spent caring for her ailing, elderly parents, and the NYT describes it as “a beautiful book, deeply felt…about what it feels like to love and care for a mother who has never loved you back…and achingly wistful about a gentle father who could never break free of his domineering wife and ride to his daughter’s rescue.” If that doesn’t convince you (and it might not, I know), the reviewer goes on to say that it “veers between being laugh-out-loud funny and so devastating I had to take periodic timeouts.”

Interested? We have multiple copies, both in our circulating collection and in our ebook collection, and more copies at the Info Desk on the second floor of the Library (stop in or call 319-356-5200 to check availability). You can register for the event in our calendar. If you can’t make it to this one, stay tuned…We’ve got Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In the End on deck for March.

Rick Hall – Rest In Peace – Making Music and Memories – Twenty Feet From Stardom and Muscle Shoals

by Maeve Clark on January 3rd, 2018

I awoke to the news that Rick Hall had died yesterday. Rick Hall was the music producer and songwriter behind the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I learned about him while watching a fantastic documentary on Muscle Shoals,(see below), back in May of 2014.  If you haven’t seen Muscle Shoals, you should.  The library also owns the sound track to the documentary and many other cds produced by the FAME Studio.  And just like back in 2014 – The Iowa City Public Library has a fantastic collection of documentaries. There are documentaries that will make you laugh, some that will make you weep, others that will make you angry. “Muscle Shoals” and “Twenty Feet from Stardom” made me sing out loud.

I really like to watch documentaries. Independent Lens, American Masters, POV are some of my favorite programs on PBS and the documentary track at film festivals is what I find myself not wanting to miss.  I don’t know that I can even explain why I like them so much, but I do and when I watch ones that are really good, I like to talk about them.  And I just watched two that were exceptional.

twenty feetThe first, “Twenty Feet From Stardom”, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2014.  Director Morgan Neville takes us inside the world of backup singers and gives voice to those who sing behind the stars.  Neville  interviews  backup singers Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Claudia Lennear,  Tata Vega and Lisa Fischer about what it was like to sing with artists such as Joe Cocker, David Bowie, Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones. The singers tell their stories through interviews and clips from five decades of recording history.

The second, “Muscle Shoals“,  explores the creative genius of Rick Hall, the founder of FAMEMuscle-Shoals11 Studios, one of two competing recording studios, (Muscle Shoals Sound is the other), in the small Alabama town of Muscle Shoals.  Songs recorded at FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound include “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Mustang Sally,” “Tell Mama,” “I’ll Take You There,” “Patches,” “I Never Loved A Man the Way That I Loved You,” “Brown Sugar,” “Kodachrome,” “Freebird,” “Mainstreet.”  Hall brought black and white musicians together in the segregated south beginning in 1961.  Through interviews with Hall and recording greats, first-time director Greg Camalier chronicles the sound that formed the backdrop of much of the last half-century.  Camalier weaves the beauty of the region with the magic of music made in this remote southern locale.

The Iowa City Public Library has a fantastic collection of documentaries. There are documentaries that will make you laugh, some that will make you weep, others that will make you angry. “Muscle Shoals” and “Twenty Feet from Stardom” made me sing out loud.

 

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2017: Graphic Novels

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 30th, 2017

 

When you think of graphic novels, the mind often pictures superheroes. While individuals with extraordinary powers certainly are a familiar feature in these colorful tomes, graphic novels introduce us to real life heroes. They are inspirational, yet have the power to challenge how we think. The graphic novels released this year include bigger-than-life stories and illustrated versions of ordinary happenings that speak to everyone.

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 2017

  • Pigs Might Fly by Nick Abadzis
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Volume 1 by Emil Ferris
  • One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale
  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
  • Paper Girls, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughn

New offbeat travel memoirs

by Stacey McKim on December 29th, 2017

Are you going anywhere next year?  Start dreaming of your next trip with travel books from the library.  You probably already know about our collection of travel guides for the U.S. and the world (and that we can get other esoteric locations for you on interlibrary loan!), but also look upstairs for niche guidebooks, gorgeous coffee table books, and new memoirs like these.

My favorite way to spend time in a new city is a long, blister-inducing bout of wandering around.  When I first learned the word flâneur (one who strolls around town observing modern life), I immediately knew it described my desire to feel part of the current of a city.  How surprising, then, to come across this book written to disprove an old idea that there are no female flâneurs?  In Flâneuse: women walk the city in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, Lauren Elkin shares her experiences alongside those of famous flâneuses from history such as George Sand and Virginia Woolf.  If this book doesn’t get your feet itching for a long walk, nothing will. Read the rest of this entry »

Best of the Best 2017: Non-Fiction

by Amanda on December 29th, 2017

ICPL BEST NON-FICTION BOOKS OF 2017

 

Our favorite non-fiction books this year are very eclectic! Whether you’re interested in American politics, understanding your mind better, feminism, or world history, we’ve got you covered. A lot of these books deal with overcoming extreme adversity, and would make great winter reads!

  • Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen
  • Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
  • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  • Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
  • Women and the Land by Barbara Hall
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker
  • Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 by Helen Rappaport
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Hey series readers, Libby has a new feature just for you

by Melody Dworak on December 28th, 2017

A new feature in Libby has made finding the next book in that series you’re reading even easier. The biggest improvement is this little icon added to the bottom right of the book cover, making it plain and easy to see which book number that title is. I am notoriously bad at knowing which Harry Potter book is which number, and with this trick, I never have to. Read the rest of this entry »

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2017: Autobiography/Biography/Memoir

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 28th, 2017

Perhaps you’ve seen this phrase on a T-shirt or coffee mug: Careful or You’ll End Up in My Novel. When it comes to writers of autobiographies, biographies and memoirs, that’s 100 percent true!

Here’s a list of people’s stories we had trouble putting down in 2017:

  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
  • What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay
  • Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman
  • David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones
  • The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
  • Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
  • Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Are there any titles we missed? Let us know!