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100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

by Brian Visser on August 11th, 2014
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith Cover Image

Finn Easton believes that he’s trapped in his father’s book.  That he’s not living his own life.  It all started when a dead horse, destined for a rendering plant, fell from a truck as it crossed a bridge.  The horse landed on young Finn and his mother, killing her and injuring him.  Years later, Finn suffers from epilepsy because of the accident.  Finn’s dad created a character in his popular book, The Lazarus Door, using Finn’s unique scar from the horse incident, his epilepsy and his heterochromatic eyes.  Now Finn just wants to figure out who he is.  Finn’s best friend, Cade, and his girlfriend, Julia, try to get him to see that he’s much more than the boy in the book.

I have a deep, abiding love of Smith’s writing.  Each novel is singular.  His teen characters are smart and real.  Their voices authentic.  Finn measures time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit–20 miles a second–and muses about the universe as a knackery endlessly reusing atoms.  The publishing industry is looking for the next (or another) John Green.  Andrew Smith has been here all along, and, honestly, I like him more than Green.

Another round of B.Y.O.Book!

by Candice Smith on August 7th, 2014

BYOB 2014

We’re getting ready for our next B.Y.O.Book meet-up, and this time we’re taking a wild ride through the digestive system–top to bottom, so to speak!

Join us August 26 at Trumpet Blossom to discuss Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal and indulge in some great drinks, eats, and atmosphere. I’ve already gotten a good start on this book, and it’s incredibly smart, entertaining, and just the right amount of ewww/ick factor that one might expect.

If you need a copy of the book, they are now available at the Info Desk on the second floor of the Library–stop by and sign one out! You can also go here to register for the event.

 

Mason Jar Salads and more

by Beth Fisher on August 6th, 2014
Mason Jar Salads and more Cover Image

Is there a difference between a recipe book and a cookbook?  If there is, than  Mason Jar Salads and more – 50 Layered Lunches to Grab & Go is more of a recipe book.  There’s little, if any actual cooking here.  Author  Julia Mirabella has come up with an ingenious method of preassembling salads, breakfasts and snacks ahead of time for quick meals on the go.   It reminds me of the Make-a-mix fad from the 1970′s.

Mirabella has developed a simple layering technique that lets you combine all your ingredients in a Mason jar so that they stay fresh for up to a week while stored in the refrigerator.

The concept is pretty simple.  The most problematic ingredient in making any salad ahead of time is the dressing.  If you dress your salad greens in advance, they end up wilted and soggy.  Using her layering technique, the dressing goes into the jar first.  The next layer should be something that is impervious to the dressing – carrots, radishes, peas or the like that acts as a buffer between the dressing and the greens. Continue with your layers, placing the greens at the top.  Seal the jar tightly and pop it in the fridge and you have a salad to go.  And the same thing applies to the snacks and breakfast ideas too.mason jar salad

More than 60 different recipes are included for salads, breakfasts, smothies, soups, and simple pasta dishes, along with 4 pages of salad dressing recipes.

The one thing missing from this book is nutritional information for each of her recipes.  Salads in general are nutritious, but dressings, fruits, nuts and cheeses can be sources of sugar, fats or sneaky calories, so use some common sense when creating your masterpieces.  This would be a great addition to any kitchen – especially for someone tired of fast food lunches.

The Bloomsbury Group in Food and Flowers

by Heidi Lauritzen on August 5th, 2014
The Bloomsbury Group in Food and Flowers Cover Image

I recently enjoyed two new books on England’s Bloomsbury Group.  So much has been written by and about this group of writers, painters, and thinkers, it seems a bit surprising that a new angle could be found.  But these two books are a delight, and if you enjoy gardening, cooking, or English history, check them out.

Virginia Woolf’s Garden:  The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House is written by Caroline Zoob; she and her husband lived as tenants in this National Trust property for more than ten years, nurturing the gardens and taking care of the house.  The photographs are by Caroline Arber, and they beautifully present the gardens, paths, and orchard on the property, as well as some interior shots of the house where the Woolfs lived for many years.  (I lingered especially over the the pictures of Leonard’s and Virginia’s writing tables.)  Mixed in with these current photos are archival pictures of the Woolfs and their guests in the gardens.  The text describes the extensive work that the Woolfs (primarily Leonard) did to create garden rooms, develop the orchard, and grow food for their table–which was often shared with guests.

The Bloomsbury Cookbook:  Recipes for Life, Love and Art by Jans Ondaatje Rolls is a little more story and a little less recipes, but that’s ok.  The book nicely summarizes the chronology and personalities of the Bloomsbury Group through anecdotes and the recipes of its members (and their cooks).  You will find the Woolfs here, and Vanessa and Clive Bell, and Lydia Lopokova Keynes, Dora Carrington, and Lytton Strachey, to name just a few.  Some of the recipes are more atmospheric than utilitarian (where would I find a calf’s brain?) but some of the vague measurements have been updated and there is a chart at the back that provides temperature conversions from centigrade to Fahrenheit, and imperial measurements to metric.  The many illustrations, most of which are paintings by members of the Group, are another highlight of the book.

Preservation

by Susan Craig on August 5th, 2014

 

The word preserve has several meanings:  “To keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction…to keep alive, intact, or free from decay… to keep or save from decomposition..to can, pickle or similarly prepare for future use …

The Library has all of these meanings covered! We are offering a program on Wednesday, August 6, that will teach you the latest about canning and food preservation techniques. http://calendar.icpl.org/view.php?did=30856  If you can’t make the program we have many books that share a wide variety of recipes and instructions for preserving food.  You fill find these materials on the second floor, ask if you need help.

As to non-food preservation we are protecting and sharing photographs and documents about Johnson County history through our Digital History Project.  One of the newest additions to the Project is a small cookbook collection, one of which is The Iowa City Cook Book, 1898: A collection of well tested recipes contributed by the Ladies of Iowa City and Vicinity.   http://history.icpl.org/items/browse?collection=9

The cook book is a fascinating look at culture and food in 1898 Iowa City.  Among the chapters you will find Pickles and Fruits & Jellies.  It might be fun to preserve something from your garden or the farmers’ market that people in Iowa City were standing over steaming kettles on wood burning (gas?) stoves preserving over 100 years ago.  Chow-Chow anyone?

I enjoyed reading the recipes in the cook book, but I also enjoyed reading the advertisements (there is an alphabetical list of advertisers in the back).  One reads:  MESSNER BROS: Dealers in Fresh and Salt Meat, Fish, Game, and Poultry. Cor Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street. Phone 124, another J.J. CERNY:  Dealer in Harness, Saddles, Collars, Robes, Whips, Nets, etc. Repairing on short notice and on reasonable terms, 27 Washington Street.  You can also check out The Wide Awake Department Store or the Iowa City Roller Mills adds.

Preserving food or preserving history –the Iowa City Public Library has it covered!

Stop ! Wait a Moment !

D. L. Houser wishes to show you

through his extensive coal yards and

sheds. These are filled with Anthracite,

Virginia Splint, Hocking, Illinois,

and Iowa coals . A new wood yard just

started there should also receive your

attention.The purchase of corn will be

continued as in the past, at the coal

,

office of D. L. HOUSER,

Corner Washington and Van Buren Streets,

IOWA CITY, IOWA.

 

 

Mid-summer reading recap, or, what I haven’t been reading

by Candice Smith on August 2nd, 2014
Mid-summer reading recap, or, what I haven’t been reading Cover Image

Summer is usually a time where I go through many books, at a fairly quick pace, because I’m doing other things that go well with reading…lying on a beach, relaxing in the air conditioning, sitting on a bench downtown having a cold drink–you get the idea. It’s the time of year where I can be reading several books at once; a book I read on my lunch break, a book by my bedside, one in the beachbag, one in my purse. This summer is no different, except that I didn’t finish most of the books I started. I have no good excuse. I promise that I WILL go back and finish them.

The one book I did read in its entirety is Laura McHugh’s The Weight of Blood. This book has two mysteries confronting main character Lucy–the disappearance of her mother when Lucy was just a baby, and the very recent murder and dismembering of her friend. The book is richly atmospheric, with a slightly dark and menacing flavor to it; it’s set in small town Missouri, an area that is only hours away from us geographically, but manages to seem worlds away in how life is lived there. Small town, long memories, big secrets. The characters are unique and in some cases a bit odd, and are well-drawn and feel somewhat familiar to anyone who’s lived in a small or close-knit community. Without giving away too much, the book also has at its center a very modern and urban-feeling crime, in marked to contrast to its setting, which makes seem even more sinister by way of encroachment.

In full disclosure, the books I didn’t finish (yet):
A Dark and Twisted Tide by S.J. Bolton (I came so close to finishing this!)
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (beachbook–waiting to go back to the beach)
Love You More by Lisa Gardner (about halfway done)
A Song For the Dying by Stuart MacBride (didn’t even crack it open)

100 Years Since the War to End All Wars

by Melody Dworak on July 31st, 2014

I confess: One of my favorite things to do in the evening is to prepare dinner while listening to NPR and drinking wine (wild life of the librarian, I know). On Monday, I had the pleasure of hearing Tom Ashbrook’s On Point coverage of the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.

I select books for the American History section of ICPL’s collection, and Ashbrook’s guests reflect some of the great research being published today about WWI. I’m happy to share that we have these new books in the collection. Check them out:

 

The_War_That_Ended_Peace_EditorCopy_EditMargaret MacMillan’s The war that ended peace : the road to 1914

Presents a narrative portrait of Europe in the years leading up to World War I that illuminates the political, cultural, and economic factors and contributing personalities that shaped major events. Read the rest of this entry »

The Story of a Crime

by Brent Palmer on July 24th, 2014
The Story of a Crime Cover Image

Many of you are fans of Scandinavian crime fiction such as Mankell’s Wallander, Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole and the girl with the dragon tattoo.  But if you haven’t discovered Martin Beck, it’s time.  There is a series of ten crime fiction written in the 60′s and early 70′s by a team of writers named Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö that are arguably the origin of modern police procedurals.  The side stories for the characters evolve over time, so it is best to read these in order. The books are well written and have a certain melancholy timbre that a lot of these Scandinavian crime stories seem to have.  They also have their own sense of time.  The stories will slow down to a crawl and you feel the long agonizing wait for some clue to surface.  Taking place in the 60′s, there is a Madmen-esque nature to the scenes as well.  LOTS of suits and smoking.  And being written in the 60′s, there is also an interesting leftist political thread that runs through the novels.  If you don’t happen to be a Marxist, that’s OK, the politics don’t get in the way of the stories.

The story behind the series is also intriguing.  [See this Guardian Article].   Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were lovers and formed a family though they never married.  They planned and wrote all the stories together. They would trade chapters or sometimes take different characters. There were ten books over ten years, each book having thirty chapters.  They envisioned the ten novels as a cohesive set that together would tell the story of a larger crime: the decay of Swedish society.  The end of the series also coincided with the end of their relationship.  Per Wahlöö became terminally ill and died before the final book was published.

ICPL has the entire series in print, ebook and e-audio.

And the Dark Sacred Night

by Kara Logsden on July 23rd, 2014
And the Dark Sacred Night Cover Image

Ten years ago I fell in love with Julia Glass’ writing. It was a rainy day and I was in Positano, Italy, looking out over the aquamarine Mediterranean and delighted to have survived a white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. I curled up with Three Junes, a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and fell in love with the writing. Most notably I was pulled into the stories, loved the characters, and grieved for the one of the main characters, Malachy Burns (who was dying of AIDS) and his beloved friend, Fenno McLeod (who lovingly cared for him). I look forward to each new Julia Glass book and enjoy her storytelling and how she weaves stories, characters, and places together.  It’s like canoeing down a meandering stream, encountering interesting people along the way, and enjoying the journey as much as the moment.

I was delighted when Malachy and Fenno popped up in Glass’ new book, And the Dark Sacred Night.  Once again readers are taken on a journey and details are not shared until Glass is ready to share them. The book begins with the main protagonist, Kit Noonan, and a view into his stalled life. Kit is an unemployed art professor who is struggling in his roles as husband, father, and (not by choice) person designated to manage his household. When it’s obvious he must be jarred from his rut, his wife’s wish for a separation serves as the catalyst to send him on a journey of personal discovery.  The journey begins in Vermont at the home of Kit’s Stepfather.  From there readers are propelled through time and memories in a story woven together in classic Julia Glass style. I was sad when the story ended, but enjoyed the journey and always appreciate a great story!

Take the 5-in-10 Challenge!

by Melody Dworak on July 22nd, 2014

Think you can’t read 5 books in 10 days? If more than 2.7 million people can attempt the 30-day Ab Challenge, then a goal that only challenges you to find leisure time rather than workout time should be no sweat.

ICPL’s Adult Summer Reading Program asks you to either read 5 books between June and August or read 3 books and attend 2 SRP events. Why take this challenge? Not only can you meet the first SRP goal and get a free book and lunch on us, you can experience books you never would have thought to read otherwise. And you can mix and match!

Find the 5-in-10 crib sheet that follows. The idea is that you books in each category shouldn’t take you longer than a day or two to read. These books are also easy to pick up and jump right in whenever, so if you have downtime with coffee in the morning, or a 10-minute bus ride home, you can squeeze some reading time in. Read the rest of this entry »




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