ICPL’s 3rd Annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar is coming up in December, and we’re taking donations now. If you’d like to make something to donate to the bazaar, but need some suggestions, there are a lot of great new crafting books on the New Book shelves on the 2nd floor. The books below were on the shelf this morning:
DIY Mason Jars – 35 Creative Crafts & Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos. This book actually contains two types of crafts – things you do TO or WITH a Mason Jar, and novel uses FOR a Mason Jar. From creating a vintage looking ceiling light to planting plants in them, Melisaa Averinos 35 craft ideas will fuel your imagination and your creativity.
Beer Crafts: Making the Most of Your Cans, Bottle Caps, and Lables by Shawn Gascoyne-Bowman. With eight pages of hints on how to work safely with cans and bottle caps, followed by 39 surprise craft projects, this is the book for you if you’re into both crafting and beer. None of the projects look very complicated – from a string of beer can lights, to bottle cap jewelry, a bird house, fishing lures, and a cowboy hat made from a 12pack box – but they all look like fun.
Duct Tape Discovery Workshop by Tonia Jenny. Duct tape crafts are all the rage, and not just with boys. Duct tape is now available in all sorts of colors and designs, and crafters have come up with lots of great new ways to use it. From versions of the obligatory wallet, to shopping bags, lunch sacks, coasters, luggage tags, and paint brush or knitting needle cases this book as lots of great ideas for using one of America’s most popular products.
Never Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew projects by Amanda Carestio. Not all fabric or fiber craft projects require owning a sewing machine. Carestio has put together a collection of fun projects that, if they require sewing at all its a simple and can be done with a needle and thread. One of her secrets is using fabrics with raw edges that don’t ravel like felt, fleece or vinyl. And if you combine that with fusing, gluing, braiding, knotting or tying you’ll have some cute craft projects good for both adults and kids (with some assistance).
Recently I was in a meeting and someone asked, “Who was the first author you heard speak in person?” Suddenly I was swept back to my junior high years and listening to Madeleine L’Engle. I know there were author readings before that (I grew up in Iowa City and we had the amazing experiences of authors visiting our schools) but it was my memory of listening to L’Engle speak that conjured such a strong memory for me. Not only was L’Engle the author of my favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) but she was an amazing speaker. I didn’t want the program to end, and really wished I could have found a rocking chair, curled my teenage body up in her lap, and had her read A Wrinkle in Time to me … cover to cover.
I’ve had strong reactions to listening to other authors read since then, but nothing as powerful for me as that experience. I love listening to authors because I always learn something new. A couple years ago, at the Iowa City Book Festival, I had the opportunity to ask Robert Goolrick why he chose a story theme for one of his characters in A Reliable Wife. His explanation was logical but sparked a reaction for me because I didn’t agree with him. At an outreach program for the Library, I saw a person with dementia brighten up and connect with author Carol Bodensteiner over a story from Bodensteiner’s childhood about ironing. Who would have guessed a story about ironing would awaken such a strong response?
Each year the Iowa City Book Festival brings an amazing group of authors to town and we have the opportunity to listen to them speak … and it’s free. I can’t guarantee the programs will be as transformational as my experience with Madeleine L’Engle, but you never know :) The Festival is a couple weeks away so there’s plenty of time to read a book or two written by one of the authors who will be speaking. Here’s the list to help you get started: 2014 FESTIVAL READING LIST.
In a job interview at a travel magazine, Samuel Fromartz was asked to describe his dream assignment. As an amateur bread baker and someone struggling to make a good loaf at home, he stated that he wanted to travel to Paris, work in a boulangerie, and learn how to make the perfect baguette. The result of that answer is this piece in Afar magazine, the title of “Best Baquette of D.C.” (Fromartz won this contest over many professional bakers in the city), and the first chapter of In Search of the Perfect Loaf.
Fromartz learned a great deal in the boulangieries of Paris, but it also prompted several questions. He wanted to know more about the history of bread, how leaven (sourdough culture) was developed, how flour was milled, how whole grain fell out of (and now back into) favor, and how wheat and other grains are grown. He explores all of these questions, traveling to France, Germany, California, Kansas, and small farms in the Northeast to gain information. In In Search of the Perfect Loaf, Fromartz turns these questions into an interesting exploration of the components that comprise bread. But this is only half of the story. Fromartz is on a quest to make great bread and he uses what he learns to adapt his baking techniques. The book is filled with several recipes of breads highlighting different types of wheat and whole grains. It is a fun book and might just help you bake the perfect loaf.
Until recently, the first thing that came to mind when Sir Walter Scott was mentioned is that he is one of the authors in my Game of Authors card deck. When I heard about the exciting upcoming programs on Scott and his Waverley novels, though, I knew I had to read at least one of the novels, and I’m very glad I did.
Waverley; or, ‘Tis Sixty Years Since was published anonymously in 1814 to great acclaim; for the next thirteen years Scott continued publishing novels which were known as “by the author of Waverley” and he only officially claimed authorship of them in 1827. Some of Scott’s better-known titles today are Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, and the long poem The Lady of the Lake.
Waverley often is called the first historical novel, and is about a young Englishman–Edward Waverley–who is posted to Scotland, and whose loyalties become torn between his English origins and the Scottish Highland clans in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Scott is a terrific story-teller, bringing to life characters from all levels of 18th century society and painting beautiful pictures in my mind of the Highland lochs, stones and mountains. I was prepared for the long, descriptive sentences but surprised—happily—by Scott’s dry sense of humor; I found myself smiling often as I read. Reading Waverley now, as modern-day Scotland is voting on whether to separate from the United Kingdom, reinforces just how old and complex this quest for independence is.
Scott was a contemporary of Jane Austen and she had this to say about Scott and Waverley: “Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it – but fear I must…” I should have taken Austen’s word for it a long time ago. And I will definitely read more of the Waverley novels.
Fans of True Detective have heard of Carcosa and The Yellow King but might not know where they are originally from. I did not until Candice pointed it out to me.
Carcosa was first mentioned in the short story “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce in 1891. A few years later Robert W. Chambers used Carcosa, and a few other locations that Bierce mentions. It was in a collection of connected short gothic horror stories, “The King in Yellow”, published in 1895. Four of the stories are connected by references to a work of fiction also titled “The King in Yellow”. In the stories anyone who reads the this meta-book is purported to go completely insane.
The stories have a very gothic, Lovecraftian feel to them. They are tales of supernatural powers which are just out of sight and the madness that it brings. This little known book has influenced a lot of authors (as well as RPG game developers). Many authors have either mentioned Carcosa or expanded upon the Carcosa mythos. It has been used by H.P. Lovecraft and many writers of the Cthulhu Mythos. Other writers like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and George R. R. Martin have locations named Carcosa in their works.
Here is a short excerpt from the book within the book, hopefully it will not drive you mad. You may recognize it from the journal of Dora Lange, one of the characters from True Detective.
“Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies, But stranger still is Lost Carcosa.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead, Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa.”
—”Cassilda’s Song” in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2
Last week on Talk of Iowa’s Horticulture Day, Charity Nebbe interviewed Ryan Adams, turf grass specialist, on the best time to reseed a lawn. Lawn and garden care is something I need to learn a lot about, being a newbie homeowner. Our garden spaces are in much need of attention and care as well, but where to start? Lucky for me, I have been immersed in our nonfiction catalog and have been getting to know where to find the books that will help me make my lawn and garden beautiful again.
To inform my lawn and garden needs this fall and next spring, I will be using a “Plant by Number” system, inspired by the numbers in ICPL’s nonfiction collection. The Dewey Decimal numbers will guide me to the best information in the library’s collection for each part of my lawn and garden planning. Keep reading for the best numbers for perennials, trees, and specialty gardening topics.
Photo by Bobby Jett. Gardening by Beth Beasley, Maeve Clark, and friends. Photoshopping of the identification signs by Melody.
I was just perusing the most recent NYT Sunday Book Review, and I noticed that The Shortlist (brief reviews of current books on a specific topic) contains titles about ‘the mind.’ That is kind of exciting to me, because I am responsible for ordering books in the subject areas that would most likely contain books about the brain and thought processes. So, I went to order the books that had good reviews, and lo and behold, we already have them all! I must have been thinking ahead. Not only do we have them, but as I am writing this, four of the five books reviewed are on the shelf. Hot new books, ready for you, right now!
So, without further ado, I exhort you, thoughtful reader, to put on your thinking cap and come to the Library to check these books out–your mind will expand, you will build new neural pathways, and your brain will thank you!
I loved “Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park” by Matthew Gilbert. As a former dog park person and now a neighborhood dog walker, I found myself relating to so much of what Gilbert describes in his book. Everyone knows all of the dogs’ names and we refer to owners as Jack’s mom or Nellie’s mom. Eventually you get to know the other dog park peoples’ names and then their stories. Gilbert’s book is his story of his first year with Toby and how Toby helps him come out of his relatively introverted shell. Toby makes him make friendships with folks he would meet no where else but at the dog park. Gilbert, a television critic for The Boston Globe, wasn’t even a dog person until he and his husband, Tom, decided to get an absolutely gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy. Gilbert worked at home and soon learned that a puppy needed exercise, a lot of exercise, so much exercise that walking on the sidewalks just wasn’t enough for a very energetic puppy.
Gilbert, (actually Toby), finds Armory Park and then the dogs and their human companions at the park. At first he just lets Toby play and doesn’t interact with the others. But as anyone who goes to a dog park knows that if you come come to a park with a puppy others will be drawn to you like a magnet and want to talk. And talk leads to learning everyone’s names and eventually their stories. Gilbert aptly describes the dog park denizens, including an older gentleman, Saul, who doesn’t have a dog anymore but loves dogs and tries so hard to connect with the dogs and their owners. One of the most poignant parts of “Off the Leash” is when Saul no longer comes to the park. Saul was in the early states of Alzheimer’s and had a minor car accident and had to move in with his brother. The dog park people track down Saul’s brother and find out that he needs more care than his brother can give and that he is moved to a retirement home. There are other stories that tug at the heart. Stories of when a dog dies. The dog park family rallies around the companion and brings food and tells stories and witnesses with the bereaved about the loss.
At other times “Off the Leash” is laugh out loud funny; dog people have stories to tell and if you are at a park, you have time to hear their stories. You also learn who follows the rules, and who doesn’t, who joins in and who doesn’t, and how the dog park people use their dogs to express feelings they would never normally share with anyone else. Gilbert calls this sharing dog ventriloquism.
If you have a dog or had a dog or want a dog, you will enjoy “Off the Leash”. Your dog might too, Nellie did, I read numerous passages to her. She did not pass judgment, she is a dog, I did, I am am a dog park person.