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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’


I think I know you …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 17th, 2016
I think I know you … Cover Image

I’m relatively new to audiobooks, having listened to my first one a few months ago, but I agree with my colleagues who say they are a great way to pass the time on long drives, during a run or cleaning the house.

I also agree with them that a narrator makes, or breaks, the audiobook.

There are several I’ve started but couldn’t finish because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. One of these books was even read by the author, but she did not sound at all like I thought she would. For some odd reason even I can’t explain, that did not sit well with me. I returned the audiobook on my OverDrive app and checked out the physical book instead.

I recently finished listening to I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: My Life as a Co-Star by Judy Greer. She also voiced the audiobook. If the name isn’t familiar, I’m sure it will be after you Google it. With more than 16 working years in Hollywood, and 90+ film and TV credits to her name, she’s one of those actors who seems to be in everything.

She’s a star, yet she isn’t. She’s worked with George Clooney and Paul Rudd and Jennifer Lopez, but can still run to a 24-hour drug store without fear of being recognized. In fact, if/when she is recognized, the people who stop her aren’t sure why they’ve stopped her. Best of both worlds? The work, some fame, but no paparazzi?

(If you aren’t going to Google Judy Greer, she played Lucy in 13 Going on 30; Maggie Lang in Ant-Man; Karen Mitchell in Jurassic World; and Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development.)

This was an entertaining memoir. Greer is funny, honest – some might think she’s too honest, but I loved it – and anyone who’s curious about what happens behind-the-scenes in Hollywood will get a little bit of gossip. Not dirt – she’s not stupid; she still has to make a living – but the next time you see a celebrity looking like the wish they were anywhere else on the red carpet or at a press junket, Greer’s book will explain why both aren’t fun.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

by Kara Logsden on July 16th, 2016
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes Cover Image

I just finished listening to Year of Yes, narrated by the author, Shonda Rhimes, and it was great. I don’t usually listen to Nonfiction, but a friend recommended it so I placed a hold. I didn’t realize when I started the book that Rhimes is the creator of one of my favorite shows, Grey’s Anatomy. That fact, plus the excellent writing and author narration made the book even more enjoyable.

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Signed, Sealed, Published: Epistolary Novels

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 13th, 2016

pop up displayReceiving a letter in the mail was a big deal when I was a child. It didn’t happen often, so the days I’d come home from school and find an envelope with my name sitting on the kitchen table were treasured. I’d rip it open and start reading before taking off my coat, devouring the words the sender shared with me.

I think it’s my love for mail that launched my love of epistolary novels – books written as a series of documents, such as letters and journal entries. There’s something real about these stories because the reader instantly becomes part of the character’s personal life. Then again, there’s also a thrill that comes from reading another person’s journal – even if they are fictional.

You can check out some of my favorite epistolary novels on the new pop-up display on the Library’s first floor, located near the Help Desk. Choices include everything from young adult fiction, such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboksky, to fiction titles, including Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell.

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B.Y.O.Book Upcoming Events

by Candice Smith on July 8th, 2016
B.Y.O.Book Upcoming Events Cover Image

If you’re in the mood for a little reading, eating, and talking, think about joining us at one of our B.Y.O.Book meetups. For the Summer/Fall series, we will be celebrating the exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio at the University of Iowa Main Library Gallery (August 29-September 25) by featuring a nonfiction book about Shakespeare’s work and two fiction books that have Shakespearean themes. This will be a very unique opportunity to read a book (or three) by or about one of the world’s most famous and influential writers, while at the same time having the chance to view the first printing of his collected plays.

Tuesday, August 2, 6-7 p.m. at The Mill (120 E. Burlington St.) we will be discussing Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Tuesday, September 20, 6-7 p.m. at Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro (in the Sheraton Hotel) we will be discussing Andrea Mays’ The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Tuesday, October 18, 6-7 p.m. at Northside Bistro (203 N. Linn St.) we will be discussing Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven: a Novel.

There will be a limited number of copies of the books available at the second floor Info Desk in the Library. If you have questions or want more information, please call 356-5200, or email candice-smith@icpl.org or jason-paulios@icpl.org

We hope you can join us!

Not My Father’s Son

by Heidi Lauritzen on June 30th, 2016
Not My Father’s Son Cover Image

Faced with seven hours of driving in one day, I headed for our collection of nonfiction books on disc and selected a title that has been on my pending list for a while:  Not My Father’s Son, by Alan Cumming.  The print book and the audio version were both published in late 2014, to positive reviews.  I enjoyed it very much, although parts of his story are difficult to listen to (or read, I’m sure).

Cumming weaves together two main story lines in the book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Seeking Maura Murray

by Candice Smith on June 26th, 2016
Seeking Maura Murray Cover Image

I first heard about this missing persons case from the podcast Missing Maura Murray, created and hosted by Lance Reenstierna and  Tim Pilleri. On the evening of February 9, 2004, Maura had a minor car accident on a winding road in New Hampshire; a person who lived nearby came out to offer assistance, but Maura said that she’d called AAA and didn’t need help. When the police showed up a few minutes after being called, they found Maura’s car and many of her belongings, but she was not there. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

In True Crime Addict, author James Renner recounts how he became involved, seven years later, in trying to find out what happened to Maura.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Reading Program check-in!

by Candice Smith on June 10th, 2016
Summer Reading Program check-in! Cover Image

I’m just a week into the 2016 Summer Reading Program, but I am happy (actually, quite pleased with myself!) to say that I’ve got four activities in the works. Doing so many at once might not be the norm, but I’m confident I’ll finish all of them soon. Here’s what I’m reading:

  1. Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. The story spans several days in Wausau, Wisconsin, where some of the town’s deceased residents come back to life. It has a dark, somewhat gothic feel to it, and it’s beautifully illustrated. This book meets activity ‘V,’ read a graphic novel or comic book
  2. The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth. Recounts a series of ghastly murders in Austin, Texas, during the 1880s. Lots of great detail, about the history of Austin, the people there, and of course, the murders. Similar to Devil in the White City. This book meets activity ‘X,’ read a book from the New Nonfiction shelves.
  3. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Bone Gap is a dull, small, midwestern town with some very mysterious places, if you know where and how to look. Finn and Sean are two brothers living on their own there, Finn a 17-year-old somewhat awkward kid with a couple good friends, Sean is his older brother who tries to hold down the home. When their friend Roza disappears one day, all of their worlds are turned upside-down in a multitude of ways. There’s an element of magical realism that gives a bit of a fantasy feel, but it’s a pretty serious YA book, with some violence and mature themes. This meets activity ‘T,’ read a young adult book.
  4. True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner. I first heard of Maura Murray from the Missing Maura Murray podcast: a student at UMass who has a car accident on a dark road, tells someone she doesn’t need help because AAA is on the way, and within minutes is gone, never to be seen again. James Renner comes upon the story while looking for something to focus on after losing his job at a newspaper, and gets sucked into the mysteries that surround the case. This book meets activity ‘Z,’ read a book only during your lunch hour.

Where are you in your summer reading?? If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time…stop by the Library and get ready to read!

Cooking [with] the books

by Candice Smith on May 23rd, 2016
Cooking [with] the books Cover Image

I’ve recently gotten into somewhat of a rut with cooking–but it’s a delicious, self-created rut. I am trying out different recipes for an Italian dish called cacio e pepe, which translates into ‘cheese and pepper.’ Simple, right? Yes, and no. Though recipes vary, the ingredients are generally the same: water, pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pepper. You boil the pasta, grate the cheese, grind some pepper, then combine it all into a pan with a little bit of the pasta water. You end up with a well-coated plate of noodles. The not-so-simple part? First, deciding which recipe to use. I found at least five different ones in various cookbooks at the Library, all from well-known and respected chefs, several of them Italian, each one apparently saying that their recipe is the one to use. Some use the basic ingredients listed above, some add oil and/or butter. Some say that you should only use pecorino, while others also use Parmigiano-Reggiano or Cacio de Roma–all seem to use slightly different amounts. Some toss the pasta and cheese with a little oil or butter. Some sauté the pepper in some oil. Others toast the peppercorns in a pan before grinding. There is a lot of slight variation.

No problem, really, right? They’re probably all good, so just pick one and go with it. Then you get to the other tricky part, which is really the only thing you ‘do’ besides prep and boiling–the mixing. When it goes well, you get a nice sauce. When it doesn’t go well–and out of the four times I’ve made this, it hasn’t gone well twice–you get the dreaded clumpy cheese. The recipes also vary quite a bit here, with different ones saying what to mix the ingredients in (warm dish, warm pan, cold dish), when to add cooking water and how much, and how to add the cheese and how to toss the pasta with it. Seems trivial, until you try one way and your cheese turns into small bits of pepper-flaked goop. Luckily, it still tastes very good.

I made cacio e pepe a couple nights ago, and I think it was my best one yet. I used a recipe from Lidia Bastianich. It’s one of the simplest ones I’ve come across, so I wonder if I just got lucky. If you’d like to try your hand at mastering this deceptively simple dish, the Library has a wealth of Italian cookbooks for you to peruse to find a recipe. Let me know if you find a good one. Please.

Buon appetito!
cacio

Patience has Virtues

by Frances Owens on April 22nd, 2016
Patience has Virtues Cover Image

I have enjoyed the graphic novels of Daniel Clowes for 10+ years, which isn’t saying much as he was first published in 1989, but for a creator to keep making things I liked as teenager and still enjoy as an adult is quite a feat.  My first introduction to his work came after seeing the 2001 movie Ghost World which he wrote along with  director Terry Zwigoff (who spoke recently at Film Scene as part of the Mission Creek Festival).  The movie, which is fantastic BTW, is based on the graphic novel of the same name and has all of the quirkiness and themes common to Clowes’ oeuvre.

Patience, Clowes’ latest is no different.  Blending storytelling whimsy, colorful artwork, and digging into human thought and emotion this graphic novel is a treat for fans.  It starts off like most other of Clowes’ work in that it just seems like a story of one person’s internal conflicts, but then plot twists!  And genre blending!  What starts off as a seemingly narcissistic not particularly compelling story turns into a time traveling tale of revenge!

However it is not your average time traveling adventure, after all it is still written by Daniel Clowes.  He does a great job with addressing typical time travel problems, think Marty McFly’s disappearing siblings in Back to the Future, but also sticking with tried and true themes of loneliness and the very personal nature of memory.  While I prefer Clowes’ earlier works that are more character studies of outsiders, his recent venture into stronger storytelling is a welcome maturation in my opinion.

Anywho, if you like Daniel Clowes, you’ll like Patience.  If you’re not familiar, or you’ve never tried his stuff, pick it up!

A Sugar Creek Chronicle – Cornelia F. Mutel

by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016
A Sugar Creek Chronicle – Cornelia F. Mutel Cover Image

The latest in the Bur Oak Books series from the University of Iowa Press is Cornelia Mutel’s account on climate change as seen from the mixed oak woodlands in rural Johnson County, Iowa. The book is cleverly structured to follow the four seasons during the year 2012, each season features daily journal entries detailing weather and climate notes. Interspersed are notable updates on various woodland species in the acreage alongside Iowa natural history. Paired with the day-to-day of 2012 country living are complimenting memoir sections detailing growing up in Madison, her mother’s early death, and parenthood in Iowa City.  

Her writing is organized and passionate, her love of the natural world is infectious and I often found myself considering putting down the book to wander a nearby nature trail. Throughout all the meditative trail walking anecdotes filled with chipmunk scurrying and spring ephemeral blooming are sobering climate science facts and how they are impacting all these things we care about. Her research is presented in small digestible amounts and her teaching background is evident in the way in which she breaks down complicated earth science processes. 




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