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Book Madness Update: And then there were four

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 30th, 2015

It wasn’t easy, but you managed to whittle 64 titles down to four in ICPL’s Book Madness.BookMadness

In the teens and adults bracket, How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal was the winning title in our Humor Me category, while Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale won the Books That Blow Your Mind category. Local author Sarah Prineas was voted the winner of the Iowa Writers category and The Lord of the Rings was named the best Big Book Worth the Effort.

In the children’s bracket, Percy Jackson edged out The Pigeon to win the Beloved Character category, while Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White won the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category. Elephant and Piggie were named the Best Series and Bill Thomson’s Chalk took the Wordless Picture Book category.

How will these books fare against each other? Your votes decide!

Voting for the Finals begins now and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday. Be sure to stop by the Library this week to vote for the books you want to see go head-to-head. We will update the bracket Sunday morning.

We are open from noon to 5 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

If you can’t make it to the Library before Saturday, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 6 p.m. Saturday.

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: TEENS & ADULTS FINAL FOUR

How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal vs. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien vs. The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

BOOK MADNESS 2015: CHILDREN’S FINAL FOUR

Percy Jackson vs. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Elephant and Piggie vs. Chalk by Bill Thomson

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

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.

Jackson Pollock’s “Mural”

by Heidi Lauritzen on January 15th, 2015
Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” Cover Image

Mural, the 1943 painting by Jackson Pollock, has been much in the news over the last couple of years as it made its journey from the UI Museum of Art to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the remarkable conservation work done there, and then back to Iowa where currently it is exhibited at the Sioux City Art Museum.  “Jackson Pollock’s Mural:  The Transitional Moment” by Yvonne Szafran and others is a fascinating look at the painting’s history and the conservation work that was completed in 2014.

The painting was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim and was first exhibited in her home.  She donated Mural to the University of Iowa in 1948, although it did not arrive in Iowa until 1951.  The painting is now acclaimed as a masterpiece of American mid-century modernism.

After a brief history of the painting and the artist, the book goes into detail about the conservation process.  The painting had dulled over the years, mostly due to a coating of varnish in the 1970s, the technique in use at the time to protect paintings.  The meticulous effort to remove the varnish is described in words and and photographs; artists who paint will get more out of the detail than I did, but I was happy to skim the technical bits and focus on the illustrations.  Cross sections of the paint on the canvas illuminate Pollock’s technique as well as show the varnish that is not original.

The painting is very large–roughly 8 feet by 20 feet–and the photographs of the conservation staff working on the painting give one a sense of the huge effort the project required. There are before-and-after fold-out pages showing the complete painting.

ICPL was fortunate to host author Yvonne Szafran, Senior Conservator of Paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, on October 21, 2014 for a lecture on the painting and its conservation.  You can stream a recording of that talk from our website.

Mural will be at the Sioux City Art Center until April 1, 2015.  It then is destined for exhibitions in Europe, before it returns home to a new UI Museum of Art building.  “Jackson Pollock’s Mural” has made me much more appreciative of this locally owned treasure.  I can’t wait to see the real thing again.

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.

 

 

This just in!

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

Literally!

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!

From the news to the shelves

by Candice Smith on November 6th, 2014
From the news to the shelves Cover Image

It’s always interesting and thought-provoking to read or hear about someone receiving the Medal of Honor, but especially so when it’s  150 years have passed since the act of service took place. Today, Alonzo Cushing was awarded the Medal for his actions on the field at Gettysburg; you can read about it here.

I looked in our catalog to see if we had any books about him, and we don’t. However, there is a new book about his brother, Commander Will Cushing: Daredevil Hero of the Civil War, that is just about ready to go on the shelves. Will also played an important role in the Civil War, in the Navy, and led a distinguished military career for several years afterwards.

If you’re a fan of military nonfiction, or looking for an interesting biography, this book might be a good choice for you. Put a hold on it and get to it first!

 

 

Cats! Cats! Cats! and some kittens.

by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2014
Cats! Cats! Cats! and some kittens. Cover Image

Breaking news: Lots of people who work at ICPL have cats. Crazy, right?? Librarians and bookish people and cats??!!

It’s true, and right now we have a lovely little display of some of our cats on the second floor…well, photos of our cats, not the actual cats. I would NEVER bring a cat to work. No.

Also, today is National Feral Cat Day. This is a day to bring attention to the situation of cats living wild in the outdoors, and a method of controlling cat populations with trap-neuter-return. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out Alley Cat Allies. You can also learn how to build a nifty outdoor shelter for cats, which I did, and not only was it useful and sturdy, it was also a really nice father-daughter bonding experience — this is something my love for cats does not usually produce. Many of my cats were born feral and socialized at a young age, and became wonderful, loving, (large) indoor cats. It happens.

So, come in to the Library, check out some books on picking out a cat, on understanding your cat, or grab the latest, wonderful addition to our section of poetry by cats, I Knead My Mommy. This is the sequel to the well-reviewed I Could Pee On This, and coincidentally, dedicated to “…all the stray cats that need a loving home.”

Meow.

Books on the brain

by Candice Smith on August 29th, 2014
Books on the brain Cover Image

Literally.

I was just perusing the most recent NYT Sunday Book Review, and I noticed that The Shortlist (brief reviews of current books on a specific topic) contains titles about ‘the mind.’ That is kind of exciting to me, because I am responsible for ordering books in the subject areas that would most likely contain books about the brain and thought processes. So, I went to order the books that had good reviews, and lo and behold, we already have them all! I must have been thinking ahead. Not only do we have them, but as I am writing this, four of the five books reviewed are on the shelf. Hot new books, ready for you, right now!

So, without further ado, I exhort you, thoughtful reader, to put on your thinking cap and come to the Library to check these books out–your mind will expand, you will build new neural pathways, and your brain will thank you!

Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hamilton

History Lessons: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, and the Brain by Clifton Crais

Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg

Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self by Jennifer Ouellette

The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic by Jonathan Rottenberg

*edited to add that, by the time I published this, another book was checked out…so hurry!

Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on August 14th, 2014
Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program Cover Image

You told us what you read this summer and we kept track.  Click on the cover or title to place one of these on hold.

The most read book this summer, by both teens and adults is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.    The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has accepted her diagnosis of stage IV thyroid cancer.  She is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.  Their relationship forces her to rexamine her perspective on love, loss and life.

 

DivergentDivergent, by Veronica Roth is the first book in a dystopian trilogy of the same name.  It follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their affiliation with one of five predetermined factions.  Her chose will shock everyone.

 

 

little wolvesLittle Wolves, by Thomas Maltman is the All Iowa Reads 2014 title.    Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own.

 

 

goldfinch Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.   Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

 

gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  When a beautiful woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage and a mysterious illness; while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.

 

 

insurgentInsurgent by by Vernoica Roth.   Book two in the Divergent trilogy finds Tris Prior’s initiation day shattered by Erudite simulation attacks that end the lives of several loved ones and launch a bitter war, compelling Tris to embrace her Divergent nature and make painful sacrifices.

 

 

oceanendoflaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  A modern fantasy about fear, love, magic, and sacrifice in the story of a family at the mercy of dark forces, whose only defense is the three women who live on a farm at the end of the lane. When otherworldly beings are set loose on the world, threatening the life of a little boy, the extraordinary Hempstock women summon all of their courage and cleverness to keep him alive, but soon discover that his survival comes with a high–and deadly–price.

 

silkwormThe Silkworm by  Robert Galbraith (the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) is the second in the series of crime novels starring private investigator Cormoran Strike. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. As Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.  When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

 

allegiantAllegiant by Veronica Roth. The conclusion to the Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world and the consequences of a fateful decision.

 

 

 

top secret 21Top Secret 21 by Janet Evanvich.  The 21st Stephanie Plum novel finds Stephanie looking for Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti who’s on the lamb, and leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. And unfortunately for Stephanie, Randy Briggs may be the clue. To top things off, Ranger has become the target of an assassination plot.  Death threats, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s new bucket list.




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