by Kara Logsden on April 21st, 2015
I love listening to recorded books. I often listen in my car and the stories sweep me away. Too often I arrive at my destination and don’t remember the drive there because I’m so wrapped up in listening to a great story. It reminds me of my childhood and my love of being read to.
Currently I’m listening to what I’d typically characterize as a “page turner” – although I don’t think I can call it that when I’m listening. C.J. Box’s new book, Endangered, is set in Wyoming and centers on a crime committed against Joe Pickett’s adopted daughter, April. I’m finding myself talking back to my car’s disc player (“JOE – That’s a clue. Pay attention!”) or sitting in my driveway not wanting to turn the car off without knowing what happens next. The narrator of the story, David Chandler, is perfect and his performance enhances the story.
As you plan your summer road trip vacations, remember to include a trip in to the Library to find a great book for your family to listen to. Library staff are happy to recommend good stories for road trips. And if you see me sitting in my driveway or talking to my car’s disc player, just smile and wave … and remember to ask me which book I was listening to.
by Ella Von Holtum on April 9th, 2015
The 15th anniversary has come and gone, and I myself haven’t read a word of Harry Potter since I finished The Deathly Hallows in 2007. The teens in Iowa City’s Home School Assistance Program have a monthly book club in the library, and we’ve been discussing Harry Potter books every other month. A lot of small things have accreted to plant the seed. Last weekend I got a cold and I decided it was finally time to reread Harry Potter.
We have all the books (and Ebooks!) here at ICPL, so after work on Friday I grabbed the first two. I’m on book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s great how little time it’s taken me to get this far – the books are an effortless read, and hours zip by as chapters unfold. Admittedly, the books are about to get long, so I’m savoring these fast reads while I can.
Part of what makes them an easy read for me is the ways they are so familiar.I came to Harry Potter a little late, starting in 2003, and was too old to have grown up with them. I was an adult living in Scotland, and after some P.G. Wodehouse and Stephen Fry it felt like a logical leap. Winter in Glasgow was really the perfect moment for the story to take root in me, but it’s been awhile since I started and finished the series. So I was less surprised at how many details and plot points I’ve forgotten. Things as major as who opened the Chamber of Secrets or as small as the name of the Weasleys’ perpetually exhausted owl were all new to me this time through. I can’t wait to see what surprises await me as I continue reading!
It’s funny, too, how many conversations I’ve had in the last week about my re-read, entirely with people in their 20′s, who grew up with the books. One friend is rereading them for the first time too, and loving it. Another friend had been pondering a reread and posed an interesting question: “how do you think HP’s gonna age?” Not the character, but the series. How will it weather in the cannon?Will it be for kids in the next few generations and beyond like The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia were for me? Will children get excited when they are finally tall enough to reach the shelf where the books live on their parents’ shelves? Will people read them to their young ones as they fall asleep, maybe skipping over the real nightmare material? Or will they fade away, another momentous but momentary cultural phenomenon, something that people who were kids at a certain time remember so well, and everyone else just doesn’t get -what’s all this fuss about Quidditch and Wingardium Leviosa?
I gave my copies away the last time I moved – they were just so much book to haul around from apartment to apartment – so I won’t be loaning them off my shelves. And I wonder too how appealing the series would be to a hesitant young reader when they can clearly see just how long the last four books really are. Maybe only the most dedicated will undertake the quest. On the other hand, they are still so ubiquitous, and so much has been made of Harry Potter’s role in introducing reading to so many kids of a certain generation. And the series still circulates in all the libraries I’ve visited. These marks are indelible for now, and I do wonder, how indeed will HP age?
by Kara Logsden on April 8th, 2015
Patrick Taylor’s newest installment in the Irish Country Doctor series provides background information about many of the beloved characters in the stories. An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War moves between Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly’s service on the HMS Warspite battleship during WWII and two decades later in the iconic Irish village of Ballybucklebo.
I enjoy the Patrick Taylor books on many levels. The very basic level involves storytelling. I listen to these audiobooks and the narrator, John Keating, is awesome. His Irish brogue adds an element to the story that makes it come alive. There are many layers to the stories and Patrick Taylor weaves plots, details, and resolutions through chapters and decades.
The stories also have a strong sense of place and great character development. In my mind I know what Ballybucklebo looks like and, if I could visit, I would expect to find the publican, the town counselor, and the other assorted characters just as they are described in the books. Although the village is a bit iconic, it adds to the enjoyment of the story.
And finally, I like these stories for the pure enjoyment of the experience. I listen, I laugh, and I think about traveling to Ireland someday. I affectionately tell my son he’s a “buck eejit” and he smiles because he’s listened to the stories and also enjoys them.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on April 7th, 2015
It was extremely close, but J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings edged out Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale to be named ICPL’s 2015 Book Madness champion in the Teens & Adults bracket.
The Children’s bracket winner was the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. The demigod beat out Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series.
Nearly 100 patrons turned in completed brackets, but only 14 had the winning title in their bracket — seven in the Teens & Adults bracket, and seven in the Children’s bracket. We moved to a point system to determine our winner (one point for every correct title moving on to Round 2, two points for every correct title in the Sweet 16, three points for every correct title in the Elite 8, etc.).
The winner of the Children’s bracket racked up 72 points, while the winner in the Teens & Adults bracket earned 81 points. We will contact them this week.
Library staff also participated in the competition, though none had Percy Jackson winning the Children’s bracket and only one staff member picked Lord of the Rings to win the Teens & Adults bracket.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Book Madness! Remember, you can find a list of all 2015 titles here.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on April 4th, 2015
At the beginning of March, 128 books (64 titles in two brackets: Children’s, and Teens & Adults) were vying for ICPL’s 2015 Book Madness champion title.
Your votes have narrowed that vast field of classic literature, childhood favorites, and pop culture must-reads to four books: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; The Lord of the Rings by J.R. R. Tolkien; Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series; and the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.
Now it is time to choose which books will be named the 2015 Book Madness Champion in their bracket.
2015 BOOK MADNESS: ADULTS & TEENS
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
2015 BOOK MADNESS: CHILDREN’S
Percy Jackson (series by Rick Riordan)
Elephant and Piggie (series by Mo Willems)
Voting begins now and will continue until we close Monday night. We will announce our winning Book Madness titles Tuesday and will contact our contest winners soon after. Remember, you can vote by visiting the Library. You can also vote online on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 9 p.m. Monday.
You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here.
by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on March 31st, 2015
Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Since this is my very first blog ever, I’d like to recommend my most favorite book of all time: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This epic novel is not in our Book Madness bracket, most likely because I forgot to submit it. Because it was originally serialized, each chapter is full of action and the book reads more like modern-day authors David Baldacci and Brad Thor.
Before he became The Count, Edmond Dantes was a naive merchant sailor with a life full of happiness. That changes when he is sent to the foreboding Chateau d’If for reasons unknown to him. After his “release”, he methodically wreaks vengeance on those he deems responsible, but also helps others he believes are worthy.
If you don’t have the time for 117 chapters or are just a bit daunted, we have a 4-part TV mini-series (starring Gerard Depardieu; 1998) and the 2002 theatrical version (starring Jim Caviezel). There are also many revamped versions including:
Since I am a fervent fan, I’ve also read The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. This is a biography of Alexandre Dumas’s father who served as an inspiration for the novel.
Edmond Dantes is a complex character and the plot is quite intricate – with every re-reading I discover something new. The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic because its themes still resonate today.
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.
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?
by Kara Logsden on February 5th, 2015
I love books made into movies. I like to compare the two, think about which one I like better (it’s usually the book), and talk to others about what they think.
The 100 Foot Journey (Book and Movie) is a coming of age story of Hassan, a young aspiring chef from Mumbai with a loving family who has experienced great tragedy, and Madame Mallory, a Michelin-starred French chef who experiences a spiritual awakening after involvement with one of the tragedies experienced by Hassan and his family.
I didn’t discover the book, published in 2010, until I read a review for the 2014 movie. I was intrigued so I asked the Library to purchase the book on disc. I LOVED it – listening felt like a vicarious trip to Mumbai, England and the French countryside. There was strong character development, a strong sense of place, and a compelling story with memorable characters. After listening, I wanted more from the author Richard Morais.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to watch the movie with my family and everyone enjoyed it. The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey for DreamWorks Pictures. Just like the book, there were memorable characters and a strong sense of place. Helen Mirren was a perfect Madame Mallory and I especially liked Om Puri as the PaPa.
Knowing I’d read the book, my family was curious if I liked the book or the movie better. In this case, and just like To Kill A Mockingbird, I liked both. I enjoyed each in different ways, and would definitely enjoy reading the book or seeing the movie again.
If you watch the movie or read the book, I’d like to hear what you think. Enjoy!