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Best Food Writing 2014

by Maeve Clark on December 29th, 2014
Best Food Writing 2014 Cover Image

Best Food Writing 2014, edited by Holly Hughes, is a delightful collection from food writers of all stripes; from chef-writers and food bloggers to food magazine and cookbook writers. Now in its 15th year, Best Food Writing continues to provide a tasty sample of the best in food writing found in print and online.   Divided into eight sections readers can sample from 50 pieces beginning with The Way We Eat Now and ending with Extreme Eating.

One of my favorite pieces is The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, where he writes the weekly Food Lab column.  Lopez-Alt’s selection comes from the Home Cooking section and lists 20 Cookie Facts which explain the science behind the recipe and why modifying ingredients and instructions can change the results.  He ends with his recipe for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie.  I think it is definitely worth a try.

If you enjoy cooking and/or eating or reading about cooking or food, Best Food Writing 2014, (or earlier years in the series), might just be the perfect book for you.



ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Biography and Memoir

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 29th, 2014

Do you need a reason to read a biography and/or memoir? Here are three:

1. This genre introduces the reader to fascinating people or sheds new light on those we thought we knew.

2. To learn history, or experience something, through the life of an individual.

3. To enjoy a good book.

Our picks for the best biography and memoir titles of the year range from humorous to sweetly sentimental. Are there titles we missed?


  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
  • Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale
  • Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
  • Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Young Adult

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 28th, 2014

The Library’s pick for 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. The genre is popular among readers of all ages and we’re no exception. Many Library staff members enjoy reading YA books despite the fact that our YA years are behind us.

Have you explored our young adult collection? Not sure what you should read? Check out our One Read Fits All page or any of the titles below to get started.


  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • The One by Kiera Cass
  • On The Fence by Kasie West
  • Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
  • Fan Art by Sarah Tregay
  • A Matter of Souls by Denise Lewis Patrick
  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
  • Far From You by Tess Sharpe
  • Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle
  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Mystery and Science-Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 27th, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night …

One benefit of it being dark before 5 p.m. is that we have plenty of mood lighting for our science fiction and mystery reads. Check out what ICPL staffers chose as their favorites in this category!


  • Lock in by John Scalzi
  • The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
  • Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
  • Wolf by Mo Hayder

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Non-Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 26th, 2014

What do pies, video games, and rock ‘n’ roll have in common? These were some of the topics staff read about from the Library’s non-fiction collection. With subjects ranging from gardening to travel, our non-fiction section on the second floor has something for everyone! If you’re not a regular non-fiction reader, we suggest the following titles to get you started.


  • Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis
  • The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms: Simple and Advanced Techniques for Growing Shiitake, Oyster, Lion’s Mane, and Maitake Mushrooms at Home by Stephen Russell
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
  • Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
  • The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes: Stories of Tidiness, Self-Esteem and Other Things I Gave Up On by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • The Republic of the Imagination: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi
  • Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter by Kate Lebo
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  • The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose
  • Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn
  • Body Counts: A Memoir of Activism, Sex, and Survival by Sean Strub
  • The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus
  • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast
  • Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park by Matthew Gilbert
  • The Iowa State Fair by Kent Ullrich

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 25th, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library is pleased to present our favorite reads of 2014.

Employees were asked to submit the titles they read and loved this year with all nominations divided into seven categories: fiction, kids, young adult, mystery/science fiction, memoir, biography, and non-fiction. The only rule was that the book had to be released in 2014. Any book that was nominated by more than one staff member made our 2014 Best of the Best list.

We’ll share our Best of the Best list on the last day of 2014. Until then, here are the Library’s top fiction books for 2014. Keep checking back to see what made the cut in our other categories.


  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable
  • And the Dark, Sacred Night by Julia Glass
  • China Dolls by Lisa See
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson
  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • The Free by Willy Vlautin
  • Bark by Lorrie Moore
  • Perfidia by James Ellroy
  • Paper Lantern by Stuart Dybek
  • When Mystical Creatures Attack! by Kathleen Founds
  • The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
  • The Poor Boy’s Game by Dennis Tafoya
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
  • Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
  • Some Luck by Jane Smiley
  • Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

What was your favorite fiction read of 2014?

And the 2015 All Iowa Reads Book is …

by Kara Logsden on December 25th, 2014

2014 12 My nameEvery year I look forward to the announcement of the new All Iowa Reads book. The book for the following year is always announced at the Iowa Library Association meeting in October. The book selected is a big secret that members of the selection committee guard until the big announcement.

The 2015 book is My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. This historical fiction novel is set during the Civil War and tells the story of a midwife who has aspirations of becoming a surgeon. My Name is Mary Sutter has been compared to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks’ The Widow of the South.

The Iowa City Public Library has copies of this book available in many formats including regular print, large print, audio recording, eBook and eAudio. We’re also working on a Book Club Kit that will be available for checkout soon.

More information about the book is available at the Library’s All Iowa Reads webpage including links to the Iowa Center for the Book’s All Iowa Reads webpages. There you can find discussion questions and a list of book discussions happening throughout the state.

If you are looking for a great book and opportunities to discuss a book with friends, neighbors, co-workers and others, My Name is Mary Sutter is an excellent choice. The Library’s All Iowa Reads webpage also has information about books selected in the past that are also good choices if you are looking for a great book to read.



This just in!

by Candice Smith on December 18th, 2014
This just in! Cover Image


We recently received this book that I’ve been pretty excited about since I ordered it almost two months ago, and I wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for something to read during the holidays. Be warned, it’s not your usual holiday read; on the other hand, it does take place in December, so the setting is timely.

On December 3, 1957, in a small town in Illinois, seven-year-old Maria Ridulph disappeared from the front yard she was playing in; her body was discovered five months later. The case quickly gained a lot of attention and was investigated thoroughly, but there were very few clues to go on. The case remained unsolved for 55 years, until new evidence came to light in 2011. And now, the book is here.

I wonder if any of our patrons remember this happening? Just the next state over, a small girl taken from her family during the holiday season…surely not something you forget hearing about. I imagine this could be a very interesting, if not powerful book for some readers who spent time wondering just what happened. Here’s your chance to find out.

Right now, the book is still being processed…but did you know that putting a hold on a book will speed up the processing? Get to it before I do!

Tiz the Season for Cookies!

by Beth Fisher on December 12th, 2014
Tiz the Season for Cookies! Cover Image

The Holidays are fast approaching – and at least for me that means its time to bake cookies!

On the 2nd floor we have a new pop-up display of Cookie cookbooks, and there are even more in the circulating collection at 641.8654.

I can’t pick my favorite cookie book – there are just too many to choose from.  One of our newest is:

cookies100 Animal Cookies: a super-cute menagerie to decorate step-by-step by Lisa Snyder.    The cover art says it all.  This is a book for those who love to spend time creating decorated cookie masterpieces.

The 19 page introduction includes three basic cookie recipes (vanilla, chocolate, or gingerbread) and the recipe for Royal Icing; a explanation of tools and equipment; 8 pages of techniques.  Patterns for 100 animals follow, in six sections:  Farm & Pets; Garden Critters; Woodland Creatures; Ocean & Ice Animals; and Prehistoric Animals.

Each one page pattern contains a full color picture,  list of necessary supplies and step by step instructions for creating the cookie creature.  Tips and tricks are included when needed.

An index and a list of 16 suppliers are included.


CookiesOther books you’ll find on our display include:  Cookies!  Favorite recipes for dropped, rolled, and shapped cookies.  By Good Houskeeping.  If you’re a fan of Good Housekeeping’s cookbooks, you’ll have seen many of these before.  All of the recipes in this book come from the many hundreds of recipes in the Good Housekeeping collection. \  The more than 200 cookies here are the best of the best!

COOKIES! is divided in to four sections:  Drop Cookies, Rolled & Cut Out Cookies, Shaped & Icebox Cookies, and Holiday Cookies. Just glancing through the index brings back Holidays past when I see Biscohitos, Pfeffernusse, Browned-butter Shortbread, and Sally Anns.    Seems like every woman in my family knows at least one of these recipes by heart.



slice and bake cookiesSlice & Bake Cookies: Fast Recipes from your Refrigerator or Freezer by Elinor Klivans.  Refrigerator cookies are my go-too cookies. Cookie connisseur Elinor Klivans once had one of those moments that makes you say ‘doh:  most any kind of cookie can be made using the slice and bake method.  It’s something most experienced cookie bakers have discovered on their own…  you can stash a batch of dough in the fridge and bake them later.

Slice & Bake Cookies contains 47 cookie recipes in four categories:  Chewey cookies; Stuffed & Sandwich cookies; Crisp cookies: and Savory cookies.  She leads off with an 8 page “Ingredients, Equipment, and Techniques” section that is worth a read.   I tend to be more of a “dump it in the bowl and mix” so the mix/chill bo’kind of cookie maker – but I did learn some things by reading her introduction.

It’s obvious Klivans loves her work.  Who wouldnt want to sample more than 1200 cookies wile writing a book?





Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words

by Kara Logsden on December 9th, 2014
Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words Cover Image

Malka Marom‘s new book chronicles her conversations and friendship with Joni Mitchell beginning in 1973 and culminating in their final interview in 2012. Marom first met Mitchell at a coffeehouse in 1966. In their conversations they explore friendship, the creative process, and life.

Marom, who has a unique story of her own, was a pioneer in international music performance and hosted “A World of Music” TV show in Canada beginning in 1966. Marom’s background gave her the unique perspective to share Mitchell’s words as a peer and a friend.

Although I enjoyed the entire book, I keep thinking about three parts. The first is when Malka and Joni first meet. The written words gave a good sense of who Joni Mitchell is and how her career began. This laid the framework for the entire book.

The second part I think about is Joni’s formative years when she contracted polio and spent a lot of solitary time in a hospital. This period in her life set the foundation for her work as a musician, poet, writer, painter and composer. It also helped her become comfortable with the concepts of loneliness and aloneness.

The final part, and probably my favorite, was Joni’s quest to describe herself. Because she’s had such a prolific music career and explored other artistic mediums such as poetry and painting, she is hard to describe. She also took the lead to produce many of her albums and worked hard to win the respect of the musicians she worked with. This was a difficult feat because she was not formally trained as a musician so they often didn’t “speak the same language” when describing their goals for performance. Ultimately the description Maron and Mitchell settled on was “Renaissance Woman.” I liked that description and after hearing Mitchell’s words, I think it is a fair description for a remarkable life.