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Book Madness Update: We have our Elite Eight!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 28th, 2015

BookMadness

The votes are in! Below are the titles and beloved book characters that are our 2015 Book Madness Elite Eight!

Be sure to visit the Library this weekend to vote for your favorite book(s) to advance to the Final Four! We’ll update the brackets on Monday!

If you can’t make it to the Library this weekend, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 8:30 a.m. Monday.

And if anyone knows how to choose between Island of the Blue Dolphins and Charlotte’s Web in the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category, please let us know. It’s too hard!

You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here. We also have extra brackets at the Children’s Desk, Help Desk and Info Desk if you’d like to pick one up as a reading list.

Book Madness 2015: Adults and Teens

HUMOR ME

  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey

BOOKS THAT BLOW YOUR MIND

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

BIG BOOKS WORTH THE EFFORT

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

IOWA WRITERS

  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Book Madness 2015: Children’s

BELOVED CHARACTERS

  • Percy Jackson
  • The Pigeon

BOOKS THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON READING

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

BEST SERIES

  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Elephant and Piggie

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson

Return of the Sheep Man

by Todd Brown on March 27th, 2015
Return of the Sheep Man Cover Image

I saw an online review for the latest book by Haruki Murakami called The Strange Library. It has been several years since I have finished one of his books. I have started a few but never followed through and read the whole things. I didn’t even read the review, just the title of it, but that was enough. How could I, or anyone for that matter, resist a book involving a cannibalistic librarian?

Murakami’s fiction frequently falls into the genre of Magical Realism. A lot of odd things happen in his books. Most of the time the bizarreness of the situations are not really addressed. We never find out exactly why these supernatural and surreal events are happening. If not having all of the answers bothers you then his books might be frustrating for you. I  like the lack of explanation. This is the world where the events take place and there is no need to explain it all. 

As I began reading this short story I started feeling a bit of nostalgia for the first books of his I read: Dance, Dance, Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase. I remember very little about the books but I know I enjoyed them at the time. I remember that the main character like to iron clothes, which I can relate to, and I remember there was a character called Sheep Man. I had forgotten about Sheep Man until he reappeared when I read this fairy tale last week.

Don’t worry, we can help you find information about tax collection in the Ottoman Empire and none of our staff have cannibalistic tendencies. At least not that I know of. 

 

 

B.Y.O.Book recommends…

by Jason Paulios on March 26th, 2015
B.Y.O.Book recommends… Cover Image

The B.Y.O.Book “Books In Bars” book club had our second of three winter meetups at Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar last Tuesday to discuss Jon Ronson’s The psychopath test : a journey through the madness industry.  Each session ends with us going around the room to announce what we’re currently reading and I thought it would make a great booklist to share with those that couldn’t attend.  There’s still time to register for the next meetup where we’ll be discussing Dept. of speculation by Jenny Offill, called one of the 10 Best Books of the Year – 2014 by the New York Times Book Review.

Fiction:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  2009 Pulitzer Prize winner. At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. Annie initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they’ve got.

The bastard’s tale: A Dame Frevisse medieval mystery by Margaret Frazer. In fifteenth-century England, Dame Frevisse reluctantly leaves the sanctuary of her nunnery for the intrigues, high politics, and treachery of the royal court as she becomes embroiled in a plot that could threaten the throne of England itself.

The lowland : a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives–Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America–until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.

The secret place by Tana French (audiobook version). Investigating a photograph of a boy whose murder was never solved, aspiring Murder Squad member Stephen Moran partners with detective Antoinette Conway to search for answers in the cliques and rivalries at a Dublin boarding school.

Bone in the throat by Anthony Bourdain. When up-and-coming chef Tommy Pagana settles for a less than glamorous stint at his uncle’s restaurant in Manhattan’s Little Italy, he unwittingly finds himself a partner in big-time crime.

A blink of the screen : collected shorter fiction by Terry Pratchett. A collection of short fiction spanning the author’s career includes pieces from his school years, his early writing jobs, and the successful Discworld series.

Longbourn by Jo Baker. A reimagining of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” from the perspectives of its below-stairs servants captures the drama of the Bennet household from the sideline viewpoint of Sarah, an orphaned housemaid.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Calliope’s friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her grandparents’ desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.

A spool of blue thread by Anne Tyler. The changing needs of aging parents impact a family gathering during which Abby Whitshank relates how her husband and she fell in love during the summer of 1959 and shared decades of marriage impacted by children and long-held secrets.

Leaving time : a novel by Jodi Picoult. Abandoned by a grief-stricken father and scientist mother who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf approaches a disgraced psychic and a jaded detective in the hopes of finding answers.

Get in trouble : stories by Kelly Link. A collection of short stories features tales of a young girl who plays caretaker to mysterious guests at the cottage behind her house and a former teen idol who becomes involved in a bizarre reality show.

The bone tree by Greg Iles. A follow-up to Natchez Burning finds Southern lawyer Penn Cage desperately struggling to protect his father from false charges and corrupt officers by confronting the puppet master behind the Double Eagles terrorist group.

Stoner by John Williams. William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known.

The bone seeker by M. J. McGrath. A former polar bear hunter and Inuit guide in the Canadian arctic investigates after finding one of her summer school students dead near Lake Turngaluk, in the third novel of the mystery series.

The buried giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. As the wars that have ravaged Britain fade into the past, Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, set out on a journey to find the son they have not seen in years, and are joined in their travels by a Saxon warrior, his orphaned charge, and a knight.

Nonfiction:

All joy and no fun : the paradox of modern parenthood by Jennifer Senior.  Drawing on a vast array of sources in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology, a journalist challenges basic beliefs about parenthood, while revealing the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to life.

Not that kind of girl : a young woman tells you what she’s “learned” by Lena Dunham. The creator and star of HBO’s “Girls” documents her coming-of-age in and out of the spotlight, recounting her experiences with everything from dieting and embarrassing sex to dirty old men and performing in less-than-ideal conditions.

Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg. The Facebook CEO and “Fortune” top-ranked businesswoman shares provocative, anecdotal advice for women that urges them to take risks and seek new challenges in order to find work that they can love and engage in passionately.

Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. A chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as Woodrow Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat, and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.

Silver screen fiend : learning about life from an addiction to film by Patton Oswalt. Reveals the author’s addiction to film between 1995 and 1999, during which he absorbed classics and new releases three days a week and applied what he learned in these films to acting, writing, comedy, and relationships.

How to be alone : essays by Jonathan Franzen. The author presents his 1996 work, “The Harper’s Essay,” offering additional writings that consider a central theme of the erosion of civic life and private dignity and the increasing persistence of loneliness in postmodern America.

Undeniable : evolution and the science of creation by Bill Nye. Revealing the mechanics of evolutionary theory, the scientist, engineer, and inventor presents a compelling argument for the scientific unviability of creationism and insists that creationism’s place in the science classroom is harmful to the future of the greater world.

A different look at love

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 26th, 2015

Do you ever go through reading slumps during which nothing grabs your attention? You pick up a book, read a few chapters, decide it’s not for you, and move on to the next?

I’d been battling that for almost two months when I decided enough was enough. Rather than check out another book I likely wouldn’t finish, I went to the book store and purchased a book. It sounds odd that a Library employee would do that, but I figured I had a greater chance of finishing the book if I was financially committed to it.something different

Because I am doing the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge with my book group, I purchased Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different to satisfy the “read a book because of its cover” requirement.

I’m glad I did because this book, like its cover, is adorable.

A Little Something Different is the story of how two college students, Lea and Gabe, fall in love — only they don’t tell the story. Instead, everyone around them tells it, from Lea’s roommate and Gabe’s older brother, to their creative writing instructor and the cynical Starbucks barista. Even a campus squirrel has insights to offer. He may not be able to communicate with Lea and Gabe, but he loves that they share their food with him.

This is not a deep read. This book probably won’t change your life, though it might inspire you to give a squirrel a piece of your bagel. It will, however, make you smile. I finished it in two days and it was exactly what I needed to get over my reading slump.

Oh, and the author is a librarian in New Jersey. How can I not love that?

 

Book Madness Update: Vote now to determine our Elite Eight

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 26th, 2015

We have our Sweet Sixteen, though the sweet aspect might be pushed aside as people vote to keep their favorite title and/or character in the running. It’s getting harder to choose. Percy Jackson vs. Laura Ingalls Wilder? Gone With the Wind vs. The Grapes of Wrath? The Giver vs. Charlotte’s Web? BookMadness

“It’s too hard to choose,” one patron tweeted.

We agree, but it must be done. Voting in this round continues through the end of the day Friday. We will reveal our Elite Eight Saturday morning.

Go Books!

Click here to see the original lineup.

Book Madness 2015: Adults and Teens

HUMOR ME

  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey

BOOKS THAT BLOW YOUR MIND

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

BIG BOOKS WORTH THE EFFORT

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

IOWA WRITERS

  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Book Madness 2015: Children’s

BELOVED CHARACTERS

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Percy Jackson
  • Curious George
  • The Pigeon

BOOKS THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON READING

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

BEST SERIES

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Babymouse
  • Elephant and Piggie

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

  • Journey by Aaron Becker
  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Owly by Andy Runton
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson

Book Madness Update: What titles, characters will make our Sweet 16?

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 23rd, 2015

I didn’t fill out a NCAA basketball bracket this year and that’s a good thing because it would be busted by now. My Book Madness bracket, however, still has a chance.BookMadness

Below are the titles in our Second Round. You have until the Library closes on Wednesday to vote for the titles, characters you want to see advance to the Sweet Sixteen. We will reveal the updated bracket Thursday morning.

If you would like a list of every title in this year’s Book Madness competition, click here.

Book Madness 2015: Adults and Teens

HUMOR ME

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • I Drink for a Reason by David Cross

BOOKS THAT BLOW YOUR MIND

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

BIG BOOKS WORTH THE EFFORT

  • 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

IOWA WRITERS

  • A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  • On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? By Peter Hedges
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Book Madness 2015: Children’s

BELOVED CHARACTERS

  • Olivia
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Percy Jackson
  • Pete the Cat
  • Curious George
  • Little Critter
  • The Pigeon

BOOKS THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON READING

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • A Bargain for Frances by Lillian and Russell Hoban
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

BEST SERIES

  • Lunch Lady
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Magic Tree House
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Amulet
  • Babymouse
  • Rainbow Magic Fairies
  • Elephant and Piggie

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

  • Journey by Aaron Becker
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
  • Owly by Andy Runton
  • The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson
  • Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam

 

HORRORSTÖR: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

by Maeve Clark on March 18th, 2015
HORRORSTÖR: A Novel by Grady Hendrix Cover Image

Last week as I was walking by the New Fiction books a colleague handed me, HORRORSTÖR by Grady Hendrix.  How fortuitous.  I was heading off to Chicago-landhorrorstor that weekend and would be making my inaugural visit to IKEA, and this title was the perfect primer, (in a twisted sort of way, that is).

Grady Hendrix’s book is a fast, very funny read.  HORRORSTÖR, takes place at ORSK: THE BETTER HOME FOR THE EVERYONE, an IKEA wannabe.   The book is cleverly designed with each chapter, at least initially, showcasing a named piece of furniture. The first, the BROOKA, is a very Scandinavian-like sofa, with clean lines and a description that screams IKEA.  “A sofa that’s everything you ever dreamed a sofa could be.  With memory-foam cushions and a high back that delivers the support your neck deserves, BROOKA is relaxing beginning to the end of your day.”.

horrostor1Something has gone amiss at ORSK, greatly amiss.  Every morning staff arrives to find furniture broken, glassware shattered and worse.  Three employees agree to work an overnight shift to try to discover what is happening during the nighttime hours.  As the night progresses, the pieces of furniture prefacing each chapter change.  We move from the sofa to bookshelves, to a dining room table to instruments of torture.  As the story unfolds we learn that this suburban Ohio ORSK store was built on the site of a prison, a prison of unspeakable horror.  While not the scariest of stories, HORROSTÖR, more than makes up for that weakness in the sleek design and packaging of the book.  Both fans and those who are not so keen on the IKEA experience will find HORRORSTÖR very entertaining.

 

BLUE ON BLUE by Dianne White

by Katherine Habley on March 12th, 2015
BLUE ON BLUE by Dianne White Cover Image

Soon it will be April and I’ll be pulling out my folder for my favorite rainy day stories in preparation for a library storytime or an outreach storytime at any one of a number of community preschools and day care sites.  A new picture book is a perfect addition to toddler and preschool storytimes and for any parent whose child might be fearful of a thunderstorm.  Blue on Blue is Dianne White’s first book.  It is written in a rhyming text that is short and sweet.  The book depicts a day that is bright and beautiful until a storm comes along with rain, thunder, and lightning.  By late afternoon the little girl takes her umbrella outside and the sun peeks out from behind the rain clouds.  The dogs go outside to play and the pigs roll happily in the mud.  The mother and baby watch the sunset, the father washes the dogs in the trough, and finally it is time to go back inside for a bath and bedtime.  How fortunate for a first-time author to be paired with the Caldecott Award winner illustrator, Beth Krommes.  As in The House in the Night, Krommes employs the technique of scratchboard and watercolor to create realistic, detailed artwork that is within the realm of a young child’s understanding of the world.  Each beautiful spread has familiar objects in each scene depicted.  By the front door we see a red tricycle, a jump rope, an umbrella stand, a basket of laundry and a bag of clothespins, a ball, and a cat looking in while the puppy looks out.  Those same objects are later seen in another image outside.  The father tills the soil from a distance with the horses out in the field, and then drives the tractor into the barn and rounds up the horses while his daughter hides with her doggie under the covers upstairs in her bed.  Turtles, ducks, flowers, lightning bugs, stars, and a toad are other things that will be fun for a small child to point out when the story is shared with an adult.  What a happy combination of story and illustrations that mesh together beautifully.  Enjoy!

SMICK! by Doreen Cronin

by Katherine Habley on March 12th, 2015
SMICK! by Doreen Cronin Cover Image

A book on the New Shelf that caught my eye is entitled Smick! and written by the author of many ridiculously funny picture books like Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Diary of a Worm, and Giggle, Giggle, Quack. This one is very short with only a couple of words per page that often rhyme.  There is a dog named “Smick” who plays with a stick and cavorts with a chick.  The illustrator is Juana Medina, a Colombia native and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.  She now lives and works in Washington, D.C., and teaches at the Corcoran College of Art + Design.  Her spare artwork is done in mixed media.  The dog is drawn in what looks like black crayon; the stick looks like a photograph; and the chick appears like a red and yellow photo of a flower petal with black crayon features.  This simple story and pictures is a delightful picture book that has already proven to be a hit in storytime.  All the white space on the pages combined with the artwork demonstrates that less is definitely more. Check out Cronin’s newest offering and sit back and enjoy all the laughs with the toddler and preschool set.

Maeve Binchy: Maeve’s Times

by Heidi Lauritzen on March 10th, 2015
Maeve Binchy:  Maeve’s Times Cover Image

Maeve Binchy, beloved Irish novelist who died in 2012, got her writing start as a reporter and columnist for The Irish Times.  Maeve’s Times:  In Her Own Words is a selection of her columns and stories that appeared in The Irish Times over five decades.  These brief essays are as heartwarming and funny as her novels, but also contain serious commentary about the world around her.  She reminds me of the American political writer Molly Ivins (who also died too young).

Binchy served as the “Women’s Editor” at The Irish Times in Dublin from 1968-1973; she was then transferred to London where she worked as a reporter and columnist.  She resigned her staff position in the 1980′s but continued as a regular contributor to the newspaper.

Her reprinted columns are divided into groups by decade, and chart many societal changes you will recognize from the sixties to 2011.  She observed and recorded everyday life, from conversations at the bus stop and in the neighborhood to giving the commoner take on national politics and the royal family.  She was self-deprecating about her appearance and social skills, which just makes her easier to relate to and trust.  And as is the case in her novels, the relationships among people are her best subject.

If you have enjoyed Maeve Binchy’s novels, I predict you will like this book too.  But if her fiction was not quite your cup of tea, I encourage you to give her nonfiction writing a try.   It is informative, observant and often funny–and always enjoyable.




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