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ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Science Fiction and Fantasy

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 27th, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Image

In past years, we combined our picks for the best mystery books of the year with our best science fiction books. This year, however, we’re following the Library’s catalog system, which groups science fiction and fantasy books together. scify

We have no idea why this didn’t occur to us sooner. We’d say it was a mystery, but we already shared one groan-worthy mystery joke yesterday. It would be wrong to go for two.


  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  • Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
  • Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons) by Marie Brennan
  • Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2015: Mysteries

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 26th, 2015
ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2015: Mysteries Cover Image

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two. One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

When you are finished giggling (or groaning) over that joke, check out the books Library staff chose as the best mysteries of 2015!

ICPL’s BEST MYSTERIES OF 2015mysterypic

  • City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Badlands by C.J. Box
  • Endangered by C.J. Box
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  • Brush Back by Sara Paretsky
  • A Fine Summer’s Day by Charles Todd
  • A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
  • The Language of the Dead: A World War II Mystery by Stephen Kelly
  • The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
  • A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Children’s Books

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 25th, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Children’s Books Cover Image

This category encompasses everything you’d find on the shelves in the Ellen Buchanan Children’s Room — board books and picture books to chapter books and children’s non-fiction. That might be why our list of Best Children’s Books of 2015 is longer than any other category. Or it could be because there were so many great children’s books released this year!

ICPL’s BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2015childrens room

  • Simon’s New Bed by Christian Trimmer
  • Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora with Mardra Sikora
  • All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
  • Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein
  • When You Were Born by Emma Dodd
  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
  • Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess
  • Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • P. Zonka Lays An Egg by Julie Paschkis
  • Snoozefest by Samantha Berger
  • The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
  • The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  • The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
  • Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  • Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
  • Beyond the Western Deep by Alex Kain
  • The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko
  • Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully
  • The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams
  • The Only Child by Guojing
  • Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick
  • The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
  • I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems
  • The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Naptime with Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba
  • The School for Good and Evil #3: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
  • Wings of Fire Book Seven: Winter Turning by Tui T. Sutherland
  • Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Young Adult

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 24th, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Young Adult Cover Image

The Library’s pick for Best Book of the Year in 2013 and 2012 were young adult titles: Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in 2013 and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in 2012. We love the rich variety of stories in this genre, even if some of us are past the suggested reading age.

(OK. A few of us are way past the suggested reading age. Thank goodness the books don’t care, they only want to be read!)


  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
  • Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  • A Prince Without A Kingdom by Timothee de Fombelle
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 23rd, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Fiction Cover Image

Once again, ICPL staff have combed through their 2015 reading logs to select the books they especially loved for our end-of-the-year Staff Top Picks lists.

The nominations were divided into eight categories: fiction; young adult; children’s; mystery; science fiction/fantasy; biography/memoir; nonfiction; and graphic novels. The only rule was that the book had to be released in 2015; books released in hardback in 2014 and paperback in 2015 were disqualified. Any book that was nominated by more than one staff member made our 2015 Best of the Best list.

We’ll share our 2015 Best of the Best titles on the last day of the year. Until then, here are the Library’s picks for top fiction books for 2015. Keep checking back to see what made the cut in our other categories.


  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
  • A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
  • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
  • The Whites by Harry Brandt
  • Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
  • Descent by Tim Johnston
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews*

* This title had a limited release in 2014. It wasn’t available at the Library until 2015, which is why it’s included on our list.

What was your favorite fiction read of 2015? Did it make our list?


Domo arigato

by Todd Brown on December 22nd, 2015
Domo arigato Cover Image

Admit it. You want to build a robot. You just saw Star Wars and you still need to get some gifts for your family. I get it. It makes perfect sense to build a robot. When you think about it, who would not want to build a robot?

The problem is that wanting to and having the skills to are very different things. After all, there are a lot of wires, flux capacitors and doodads in there that you have no idea how to connect to each other. Not to mention which end of a soldering iron you should hold. It makes a big difference and I have the scar to prove it. But guess what, the Library has books on all of that.


electronicsMake: electronics : learning by discovery

Start with the basics. Positive is +, negative is -.





Make : more electronicsmoreelectronics

Then go beyond the basics.





arduinoMake : Arduino bots and gadgets : learning by discovery

This will give your robot a brain. It won’t clean your house, but you have to learn how to crawl before you can clean the house.






Make : sensorssensors

You want your robot to interact appropriately with it’s surroundings so it is going to need sensors. Otherwise it will just walk into walls and ignore you when you tell it to clean house, sort of like teenagers.




Make : 3D printing3d

You might not have all of the gears and exoskeleton parts just lying around. With a 3D printer you can create almost whatever parts you need.





Make: rockets : down-to-earth rocket sciencerockets

Will your robot have a jet pack or maybe foot thrusters? Yes it will.





Thrusters probably need rocket fuel of some sort.






Make : wearable electronicswearable

If you need a gift for someone with automatonophobia but still want to give them something made of wires and leds this might be good book to look at.






Next year start shopping or building sooner. You are welcome.

Best Books of 2015 (also know as more lists than you can shake a stick at)

by Maeve Clark on December 22nd, 2015

2015booksAre you looking for the best books in nearly every category imaginable? Look no farther – the largerhearted boy website has done just that.  Largehearted boy is David Gutowski’s literature and music website and for eight years he has compiled as many online best book lists that he can find.  If you know of a list he hasn’t included, feel free to mention it in the comments, he is eager to add more.  And because he is totally into lists he has also compiled online year-end music lists since 2006.

If you are curious about just who is the largehearted boy, The Atlantic did a piece about him and his project compile the best of lists in 2012.

Books coming to a theater near you!

by Angela Pilkington on December 21st, 2015
Books coming to a theater near you! Cover Image

I am always looking for a good book to read and a great movie to watch. Hollywood has a pretty good line into all the hot novels, since they’re always in the process of adapting so many books for the big screen. And yes, most of the time the book was much better! There is nothing like seeing your novel that you loved come to life on the big screen. Each year, I tend to match my reading to-do-list to what is coming to a theater near me, and if I want to be ready for 2016, I better get going! Goodreads Listopia lists 63 books that are set to be movies in 2016! Check out their list for the hot adaptations that will be released this year, and add some new titles to your bookshelf!

Here are a few that I have already read and the adaptations I am excited for:

As a chthe little princeildren’s Librarian I have to start my list of with The Little Prince, coming March 2016, is based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s acclaimed children’s novella.

The movie will follow a girl as she comes of age, taking on new, more adult responsibilities at the urging of her mother. But before she leaves childhood behind, her eccentric old neighbor introduces her to a magical world, where she learns some very poignant truths all while the classic story is interwoven in. Did you know that The Little Prince been translated into over 250 languages, making it the third-most translated book of all time? The trailer for the movie looks amazing! I cannot wait for a whole new generation to be introduces to this story!


Next on my list is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy.  I know going into this one that the book will be better, which seems to
the 5th wavebe typical of Teen novels to movie adaptions. This was a quick-non thinking read full of everything that Teens (some adults too!) like. The movie follows 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan, who tries to survive in a world devastated by the waves of an alien invasion that has already decimated the population and knocked mankind back to the Stone Age. She is off to save her brother, who may or may not have been abducted by human-looking extra-terrestrials. She is also helped by a boy who might also be an alien in disguise-oh the teenage angst!  If the movie does well at the box office, you can bet the rest of the books in this trilogy will also be made into movies. The last book in the series will be in the library in May of 2016.


Fromhpfantastic beasts and where to find them the world of Harry Potter comes, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find   Them, the first of a trilogy of films set to be released to the big screen in November of 2016. Written by J.K. Rowling, this book and movie are set in America way before Harry Potter is born, it also marks the first time J.K. has written the screenplay for her book. This is the book that is featured within the Harry Potter books as a study guide for the students at Hogwarts and the movie will follow the adventures of its author, Newt Scamander as he puts the book together.
the choice
In time for Valentines Day, Nicholas Sparks’s newest movie will hit the theaters. The Choice,  like all of his books is a romance and is a story that spans years and tries to overcome tragedy. I may have to go back and re-read this one, since it came out in book form about 9 years ago. Fans of Nicholas Sparks know how his stories go: there is a guy (young and hunky) and girl (down-to-earth and beautiful), some big problem or mystery, and ultimately they fall in love somewhere in North Carolina. Sappy love story, that is a quick read, gets me every time.


Based on SPride and prejudiceeth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling mash-up novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (out Feb. 5) recounts the unlikely romance between Lizzy  and the haughty Mr. Darcy, but the courtship takes place in a 19th-century English countryside where the “sorry stricken”—as the zombies are called in the book—have been roaming for more than 70 years, victims of a mysterious plague. Fantastic parody, that was a quick read, and definitely not the Jane Austen you remember! 

Here’s to a great reading list and viewing list in 2016! Which of these have you read and excited to see come to the big screen?



Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

by Kara Logsden on December 18th, 2015
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain Cover Image

OK-It happened again. I could not go to sleep until I finished reading the book Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. I started out listening to the book on disc – an excellent narration by Katharine McEwan BTW – but I got impatient and was obsessed with finishing the book.

I am not sure why I was so drawn to this book. Maybe it was the excellent writing by Paris Wife author, Paula McLain. Maybe it was because it was set in Kenya. Maybe it was because it reminded me so much of Isak Dinesen and the book/movie Out of Africa. Or maybe it was the unforgettable main character, Beryl Markham.

Circling the Sun transports the reader to colonial Kenya in the 1920’s. McLain’s fictionalized story is based on the real life of aviator Beryl Markham. Markham, abandoned by her mother when a child and by her father when she was a teenager, struggles to find her path. Circling the Sun not only captures what made Beryl Markham famous (horse training and racing expert when this field was dominated by men and the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic from east to west) but also chronicles her free-spirited childhood, adolescent struggles, happiness, insecurities, and heartbreaks. 

If you are looking for a great historical fiction novel to go with hot chocolate and a warm fire, I’d highly recommend Circling the Sun. Just be prepared to throw another log on the fire!

The Best American Infographics edited by Gareth Cook

by Maeve Clark on December 15th, 2015
The Best American Infographics edited by Gareth Cook Cover Image

Infographics, the graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly, are the focus of a new book in the Iowa City Public Library’s collection.  The Best American Infographics is divided into four sections: the first, You, brings together pieces that about individuals, the second, US, groups infographics together about many.  There are language maps showing the range of the most common to the least state-by-state and another about shows the distribution of letters in the English words.

The third, Material World, if chock full of marvelous displays of information.  A particularly striking infographic is of the world’s deadliest animals showing tworlds-deadliest-animalshat sharks, who get such bad press each year, are in reality very low on the scale of deadly killers.  The top two killers are the mosquito followed by humans.  The infographic was part of Mosquito Week, an campaign funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to draw attention to their campaign to eradicate malaria.

Some of the infographics are stretch out over three and four pages.  The infographic on the Duomo in Florence is ten pages and visually stunning.


The last part of the book is a selection of the top ten interactive infographics.  While these are again visually compelling it is best to look at them online to really experience how powerfully the information is displayed.    The  Urban Layers  interactive map created by Morphocode explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric. The maps lets you travel through historical fragments of Manhattan that have been preserved and can still be found in the densely built city environment. Take time to explore the website. It’s a fascinating tour from 1766 to present.morphocode-urban-layers-manhattan-buildings-all-detail-03