Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Book a Meeting Room

It’s Book Madness Time at the Library!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 18th, 2016

Grab your brackets and a pencil (or pen, if you’re feeling lucky) — it’s Book Madness at ICPL!Book Madness

Visit our display on the Library’s first floor to see which titles will face off in this year’s literary competition. Be sure to pick up a bracket! Anyone who returns their bracket by Feb. 28 is in the running for a $20 gift certificate to Prairie Lights! (We’ll have two winners; one in the Children’s bracket and another in the Teens and Adults bracket).

Beginning Feb. 29, you can vote for your favorite title in our Book Madness brackets. To start, we have 64 titles in four categories. Submit a vote for your favorite(s) – if you want to vote for just one book, you can, or you can choose 32 titles to move forward in the first two rounds; it’s up to you! – and watch as the titles progress.

Here are the voting dates to remember:

  • First Round: Feb. 29 through March 6
  • Second Round: March 7 through March 13
  • Sweet 16: March 14 through March 20
  • Elite 8: March 21 through March 27
  • Final 4: March 28 through April 3
  • Championship Game: April 4 through April 10

The winning book in each bracket will be announced on Monday, April 11!

Remember, titles that have already won (2014 winning titles: Harry Potter in the Children’s bracket, To Kill a Mockingbird in the Teens and Adults bracket; 2015 winning titles: Percy Jackson in the Children’s bracket, Lord of the Rings in the Teens and Adults bracket) are not eligible for the 2016 competition.

Here’s a list of this year’s books. Who do you think will win it all?



  • Sparky! by Jenny Offill
  • Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
  • Eloise by Kay Thompson
  • Flora the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem by Chris Monroe
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems


  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence Atwater and Richard Atwater
  • Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Superfudge by Judy Blume
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
  • Warriors by Erin Hunter
  • Wayside School by Louis Sachar
  • Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey
  • Who Was … by Various
  • Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene
  • Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
  • Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
  • Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas


  • Small Steps: The Year I got Polio by Peg Kehret
  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
  • The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques
  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
  • Ivy’s Ever After by Dawn Lairamore
  • Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
  • Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
  • The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki
  • Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate



  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


  • Naked by David Sedaris
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner & Steven Levitt
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson
  • Descent by Tim Johnston
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  • Find Me by Laura van den Berg


  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


  • Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  • These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner
  • Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella
  • Lamb by Christopher Moore
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff
  • Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
  • Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers
  • Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
  • A Good American by Alex George
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
  • The Martian by Andy Weir

The Dark Net

by Heidi Kuchta on February 17th, 2016

Dark NetHidden behind the searchable internet world, there exists a network of sites that requires specific servers, browsers, or codes to access. These “dark” areas of the internet are commonly associated with bad behavior, crime, and even terrorism. British author Jamie Bartlett is not here to launch arguments in favor of censorship and surveillance, but rather provides an overview of the dark net. In this book, which came out to rave reviews in May 2015, Bartlett breaks down the dark net for the person wanting to broach the many ethical quandaries the internet provides. If you want an introduction to some of the controversies of living in a digital age, I definitely recommend you check this book out! I especially enjoyed the chapter highlighting the dark net war between the anti-immigrant British Nationalists and the group Antifa – short for “Antifascism.”

Also of particular interest was the brief discussion at the end of the book about transhumanism – a philosophy that embraces the digital age for all of the sophisticated ways it can enhance the human experience. Some computer geeks have already implanted experimental computer chips inside of their own bodies, something that seems sci-fi but is now reality.  Also, apparently some of the leading transhumanist thinkers believe that by the middle of this century we will have the capability to upload the contents of our brains onto a digital interface! This is both scary and fascinating – I will most certainly be reading more about these transhumanists.

At the heart of The Dark Net is a cautionary tale: Yes, the internet is amazing, but it can also be vile and scary – much like humanity.  I do recommend this book, but with certain warnings. The book opens with a story about a girl whose life is ruined for sport by internet “trolls” (full explanation and history of trolling included.) There is also a whole chapter about pornography, which I can fully understand some would rather skip over. This is not an appropriate book for kids, but it also isn’t terribly graphic. The book is interested in looking at how the dark net has changed the digital landscape – not glorifying particular aspects of the dark net. Just be prepared for frank discussions.


Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen

by Brian Visser on February 17th, 2016
Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen Cover Image

Last year, Marvel got the Star Wars comics license back from publisher Dark Horse.  The move made sense since Marvel and Lucasfilm are both owned by Disney (corporate synergy!).  Marvel put some of their best writers and artists on the first three comics–Star Wars, Darth Vader and Princess Leia–and the results were (mostly) fantastic.  My favorite, by far, was the Darth Vader comic written by Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Larocca.

Darth Vader is one of my favorite characters of all time.  He’s the best bad guy there is.  My love began early when I was drawn to an over-sized Darth Vader action figure at my babysitter’s house.  I vividly remember clutching it when confined to a playpen.  I didn’t watch the movies until years later, but Vader had already made his mark.  Because of this, I was hesitant about the Darth Vader comic.  What if they didn’t do justice to the best bad guy there is?  Thankfully, I didn’t need to be worried.

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1 takes place after Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  Vader is disgraced after failing to stop an unknown Rebel pilot from destroying the Death Star.  The Emperor demotes him and assigns an agent to monitor him.  Vader, in an effort to get back on top, recruits a rogue techno archaeologist named Doctor Aphra.  Aphra specializes in droids, and Vader catches up with her after she has activated Triple-Zero and BT-1, which are basically murderous versions of C-3P0 and R2-D2.  Vader wants to know what the Emperor is planning next, and there are a lot of double-crosses along the way.

One of my biggest issues with Star Wars comics is that the characters don’t sound like themselves.  The writers can never quite get their voices right.  Vader is a man of few words, and when he speaks, you listen.  Gillen nails that, and I can almost hear James Earl Jones booming voice in the dialog.  Also, the artists usually screw up the helmet and make him look derpy.  Salvador Larocca couldn’t do a better job, though.  I highly recommend Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1 to any Star Wars fan.

Tales from the Golden Age of Hollywood

by Anne Mangano on February 16th, 2016
Tales from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cover Image

I am a devout listener to the podcast You Must Remember This, which is quite terrific if you love classic movies and tales from old Hollywood. I highly recommend it. Last month, the podcast went on break and I was left filling a void as big as an “O” in the Hollywood sign. I filled it with fiction.

In Adriana Trigiani’s All the Stars in the Heavens, Sister Alda Ducci, forced to leave her convent, is hired to be the personal secretary of Loretta Young. The twenty-year old film star is in the middle of making Man’s Castle, but also in the middle of a relationship with Spencer Tracy. Both Young and Tracy are Catholic; Tracy is married. It doesn’t work out. Disappointment and heartbreak abound. But that only sets us up for the real drama: Loretta Young is chosen to star in The Call of the Wild with Clark Gable. The novel mainly focuses on what happens between Young and Gable as they film on location, as well as the fallout of their relationship. Trigiani individualizes each character and relationships are not portrayed as tawdry or depraved as the rumor mill at the time would make them out to be. I appreciated that Alda was a fully developed, interesting character, rather than just service as the framing for the Young/Gable vehicle. It is also a well-written, solid read and it left me wanting more.

Read the rest of this entry »

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

by Kara Logsden on February 11th, 2016
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Cover Image

I love books that stick with me. I like to ruminate over words, ponder what the author was saying, and think about themes and how the book fits into my bigger world. My Name is Lucy Barton is one of these books. And just like Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton is a book to be savored.

Lucy Barton was raised in poverty in Amgash, Illinois. She escapes this poverty by working hard, ignoring ridicule, becoming a writer, and creating an adult life in Manhattan. Unfortunately Lucy cannot escape her past and the the loneliness and insecurities that follow her.

The book is also about family ties and love – wanting love and giving love – and coming to terms with one’s expectations for love vs. the reality of love. The story meanders like a stream, and Strout gives important details quietly, like a whisper in the reader’s ear. As I read I pondered each whisper, and silently hoped for happiness and love for Lucy as she faced her life’s journey.


Esquire’s “Hater in Chief”

by Melody Dworak on February 10th, 2016

gallery-1451926582-esquire-march-cover-trumpSo Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary last night and racked up 10 delegates. If you love the media frenzy around this unconventional presidential candidate, check out Esquire’s February cover article, “Hater in Chief.” Behind a paywall everywhere else, you can check it out digitally through ICPL’s digital magazine collection Zinio. Have your library card and password ready and go to to log in and download that grumpy, frowny face.

My Documents by Alejandro Zambra

by Heidi Kuchta on February 10th, 2016

Zambra book cover

What drew me to My Documents (McSweeney’s, 2015) was the cover art: a boy climbing among file cabinets, keyboard, wires, and computer monitors. So appropriate for the title! I wanted to try out a newer short story collection by an author I’ve never read. What I have gained is a sudden appreciation for Alejandro Zambra, a Chilean writer whose stories blend whimsy, dark humor, and general strangeness against the backdrop of Chile’s recent history. Fans of Junot Diaz (author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her) will definitely enjoy this book – I found they had a similar, honest and to-the-point writing style. Details of what it was like to live under Pinochet’s dictatorship are threaded through the stories. Family, Catholicism, and various types of vice are frequently visited topics in the stories. My favorite was “True or False,” a story about a father and son as they grapple over what to do about an unwanted litter of kittens. The collection was a quick and engaging read, and has me wanting to check out Zambra’s earlier stuff, like Ways of Going Home, his novel that was released in the U.S. in 2013.

Under-the-Radar Read

by Melody Dworak on February 8th, 2016
Under-the-Radar Read Cover Image

I can’t stop talking about this memoir of African American life and prison life in the 19th Century. The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is “the first known prison narrative by an African American writer,” editor Caleb Smith wrote in the Yale Alumni magazine. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library purchased the manuscript, and Random House published it as a book this winter.

This book is a remarkable find. Perfect for history buffs, rare manuscript nerds, and African American prison researchers, this book was written by an African American man born free in the 1820s but living much of his life in confinement. Reed was a natural storyteller and his memoir reads like a novel. He documents his experiences both in prison and as a free man, the cruelties of the whip and other 19th Century torture tactics as well as adventures and opportunities he encountered while living free.

This book has not received a ton of press at this point. The New York Times highlighted the find in 2013 before the manuscript was edited for publication, and the Smithsonian Magazine picked up the story for its arts and culture section. It doesn’t have a long holds list and we’ll be buying the e-book and e-audio versions soon.

If there is one nonfiction book you read in 2016, make it Austin Reed’s groundbreaking memoir.


Daydreaming of gardening? Check out one of these magazines.

by Melody Dworak on February 5th, 2016

Country GardensThe next Project Green Second Sunday Forum is on Valentine’s Day—Sunday, February 14, 2016. Jonathan Poulton will present on Daylillies—Past, Present, and Future. If you can’t wait until then to get your garden on, but also don’t want to go out into the cold, visit the ICPL Zinio collection, where you can look through 18 different home and garden digital magazines.

Magazines are perfect for the weekend where you get to kick back a little more. Our gardening magazines include Country Garden, Better Homes & Gardens, Grit, and Successful Farming.

The January issue of Rodale’s Organic Life features the article “Grow from Scratch,” which includes a guide to growing plants from seeds and lovely illustrations.

ICPL has more than 150 digital magazines. They are available 24/7 through your computer or mobile device. After you log in with your Iowa City library card and password, you can check one out and flip through page by page just like a regular magazine. Reading magazines lets you kick back and relax, and enjoy big beautiful photographs and creative infographics.

Have questions about how to use our Zinio digital magazine collection? Ask a Librarian!



Fifty Glorious Years

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on February 4th, 2016

The Christmas frenzy is over and now it’s time to sit back and relax for one of my favorite personal holidays:  Super Bowl Sunday.  This year marks the 50th game and, of course, we have the books to commemorate this momentous occasion.

First Fifty Years cover.phpThe Super Bowl: the First Fifty Years of America’s Greatest Game (2015) by David Fischer talks about most of the games and also includes insets such as “The Best Who Never Won”.  Some highlights are lots of pictures and interesting statistics in the back.  It can be a bit confusing since there is no index and it’s not written chronologically.

Ultimate Super Bowlcover.phpFor that, I recommend The Ultimate Super Bowl Book by Bob McGinn.  Since it was written in 2009, it only goes up to Super Bowl XLIII but in a lot more detail.  Statistics, player and coach rosters, even the weather conditions are all listed.  I especially enjoyed reliving one of my favorites:  the Packers and the Patriots in XXXI.

Game of Their Lives cover.phpSuper Bowl: the Game of Their Lives (1997) by Danny Peary is also consecutive.  Each game is recounted by one of the actual players.  For example, the final chapter in the book is Super Bowl XXXI from the MVP Desmond Howard’s perspective.  Since I’ve missed my chance to be a professional athlete 😉 it’s fantastic to play vicariously through these superstars’ eyes.

Just a Game cover.phpIf you want to learn about how it all began, there’s When It was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl (2015) by Harvey Frommer.  After a brief overview of the beginning of professional football, it moves quickly into how this annual tradition came to pass.  Instead of footnotes, quotes from people who were there are interspersed within the usual text.

Pro Football cover.phpLastly, The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book:  Where Greatness Lives (2012) by Joe Horrigan and John Thorn spotlights many outstanding players including those who may not have made it to the Big Game.  This is a coffee table book with a myriad of pictures and quotes.  The reproductions of printed materials is especially fascinating.  Each chapter is a decade so it’s easy to see the changes over the years.

The football season may be over but these books celebrate fandom all year long!