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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’

Uproariously funny and irreverent take on modern pregnancy and parenting

by Melody Dworak on November 3rd, 2015
Uproariously funny and irreverent take on modern pregnancy and parenting Cover Image

Emily Flake’s Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting hilariously pokes fun at experiences of expectant and first-time parents, particularly those of women who established careers and were fully independent thinkers before deciding to start a family.

At eight months pregnant myself, I peeled through the first third of her book, howling with laughter every few pages or so. I can identify with dealing with “swole” feet and eating cookies to make the baby kick (and just to eat cookies). This book was much needed comic relief for my final stretch as a pregnant lady.

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In Search of the Best Paleo Cookbooks

by Heidi Kuchta on October 21st, 2015

As I have perused the masses of so-called Paleo (read: veggie and meat based, no-to-little grain and dairy) cookbooks here at ICPL, I have had to be brutally honest with myself. Am I really going to use a mandoline slicer (which I don’t own) to cut zucchini into long, thin slices that can be used like noodles? No. Might I benefit from a new coleslaw recipe or two (or three?) Heck yes. Might I substitute mashed sweet potatoes for the less nutritious white potatoes in a shepherd’s pie? Sure. Does a grain-free coconut-based “oatmeal” sound like an amazing make ahead breakfast? Yeah! OK – onward.

One thing I have learned and had to accept is that most paleo cookbook authors have differing opinions on certain foods. Some people swear that white potatoes are fine – “nutrient rich” even, others claim that they’re trash. Eggs and so-called “nightshade vegetables” like tomatoes and peppers are ingredients that some laud and others eschew. At the end of the day, it’s a lot for me to just give up grains, so I have welcomed cookbooks with strict and less strict sensibilities alike.

So, here’s my fave paleo cookbPaleo Lunchesooks (so far)

1. I have used this cookbook the longest and can vouch for the deliciousness of many recipes herein! I love the egg muffin recipe for making ahead for quick breakfasts. My favorite salad recipe in this book is the Wild Tuna, Orange, and Parsley Salad. Runner up favorite recipe is the simple and amazing Chicken, Celeriac, and Mustard Salad Wrap. I had never previously eaten celeriac (celery root), and now I consider it my favorite slaw veggie! The coconut crepe recipe in the cookbook is an amazing Naan substitute for Indian food or a good wrHomegrown Paleoap-maker.

Also check out Diana Rodgers’ most recent collection of recipes, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook!


2. TheZenbelly Cookbook Zenbelly Cookbook By Simone Miller is so much fun to read, and the recipes are mostly pretty simple. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken or made my own broth: after reading this book I now feel confident enough to do both. Also, the photography is a visual gift: Before each recipe is a photo of all the ingredients needed to make it. This visual guide is so helpful to figuring out at a glance whether I have what I need for a recipe or not. Recipe highlights include Pork Chops with Stone Fruit Slaw, Jicama Slaw (because I am slaw-obsessed), Cauliflower ‘Rice’, Sesame Shitake Broccoli, and Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie.

3. One-Pot Paleo by Jenny Castaneda: One Pot PaleoYES! The concept of this cookbook is perfect for me, a woman sans dishwasher. It is also full of flavorful and fun ideas: Plantain Chilaquiles, Loaded Spanish Tortillas, Brussels Sprouts Favorite, Honey Dijon Salmon Steaks and many other good-looking seafood recipes.

4. Nourish by Rachael Bryant is another visually pleasing cookbook, like Zenbelly. I enjoyed its recipe for Coconut Oatmeal IMNourishMENSELY. Other good recipes from here include Butternut Squash Skillet with Leeks and Spinach, Pork Belly Carnitas (cuz duh, Carnitas), and Bison Chili.

a Title for Adult and Teenage Girls

by Frances Owens on October 19th, 2015
a Title for Adult and Teenage Girls Cover Image

I don’t have very much time for reading what with balancing work, school, and the rest of life, so lately I have turned to graphic novels to stimulate my love of the printed word.  This has led to me finally reading Saga by Brian Vaughn, reacquainting myself with childhood (and local) favorite Bloom County, and of course the Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner which is the subject of this particular blog post.

I will grant that I am a little tardy to the party on this book as it originally came out back in 2002, but it was recently adapted into a film directed by Marielle Heller starring Bel Powley in the titular role, but also Kristin Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard.  Besides being excited for the movie because it was playing at Iowa City’s own FilmScene, the director of the movie AND the author of the book were interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air.  Being the library worker such that I am I figured I must read the book first.

I was quite glad that I did as I found it to be one of the most honest portrayals of life as a teenage girl just as the title suggests.  It was painfully honest even.  Warning to those that maybe more sensitive than others: this book is pretty scandalous on every front.  Language, sex, drugs are all present along with a healthy dose of what is often termed “age inappropriate content”.  Another of Gloeckner’s graphic novels, A Child’s Life and Other Stories, was banned from the public library in Stockton, CA in fact.  However in belated celebration of banned books week I recommend checking out the Diary of a Teenage Girl.  It is truly an unforgettable read!

As to the visual content, this book really is more of a novel than a graphic novel, but what art there is reminds the reader of one of Gloeckner’s big influences, R. Crumb.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

by Katherine Habley on September 16th, 2015
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy:  Four Women Undercover in the Civil War Cover Image

The New York Times best-selling author, Karen Abbott, who wrote Sin in the Second City and American Rose, published another book that readers will love.  My Book Group read Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy for our September gathering.  It was a great evening because we got to Skype with Abbott for about 30 minutes and she was just so funny and personable.  We felt like she was right there with us having a great evening drinking a glass of wine and talking about her work of non-fiction that reads like a novel.  The four heroines in the story, two Union supporters and two Confederate sympathizers, each made a unique contribution to the war effort.  Young Belle Boyd shot a Union soldier in her home and became a spy for the Confederacy by using her feminine charm with soldiers on both sides of the war.  Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Union army as Frank Thompson while infiltrating enemy lines. The widow, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, had affairs with powerful politicians and then sent information she learned through her daughter to assist the rebel cause.  And Elizabeth Van Lew, a rich spinster lady from Richmond who supported the Abolitionists, organized a spy ring with successful results.  Each of their narratives is a true story based on the author’s meticulous research using primary source materials and interviews with the spies’ descendants.  These four courageous women risked everything by becoming involved in espionage during the Civil War and yet we’ve never heard of them!  For an unconventional angle to further understanding of this bloodiest of wars, take a look at Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War.  The black and white photos and 3 maps add to the reader’s enjoyment of the text.  For more information, go to Karen Abbott’s website:  She would be a great addition to the 2016 Festival of Books authors.

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

by Shawna Riggins on September 1st, 2015

Of course I love to stock up on fresh produce at the Farmers Market, but there are many other parts of the Market that I get excited about. Lately I have been enjoying the beautiful fresh cut flowers available in several stalls. Half the fun is taking the time to build a personalized arrangement. Then you get to bring them home and admire their beauty and scent in your house all week. I love the variSunflowersety that is available at the market as well as knowing that they were grown locally and cut individually. If you don’t have a yard of blooming flowers, this is a great way to enjoy nature. Even if you do have your own yard and flowers, you may not necessarily want to cut them down. Stop by this weekend and build your own bouquet. Looking for guidance as you set out to make your extra special centerpiece? Check out some of our helpful books. Be sure to share a photo with us, we’d love to see your creations!

Essential Oil Resources at ICPL

by Heidi Kuchta on August 17th, 2015

Essential oils have many uses to promote health, lift your mood, and act as helpful additives to household cleaners, body care products, cosmetics, and more. I’ve noticed some newer books about their uses here at the library, and have also noticed growing curiosity about them in my personal circles and in the world around me. Here, I highlight a few of my favorite resources from the stacks at ICPL. (To browse our large selection of books on essential oils and herbal medicine, go to the nonfiction section at 615.321).

Essential Oils for Health is a brand new book at a short length for the curious beginner who wants some basic info and easy recipes. The book is organized by health, emotional well-being, and beauty ailments. If you have a particular problem you would like to address with essential oils, you can easily find a quick and simple recipe in this book. (Dandruff? Cellulite? Bad mood? Low energy? Flatulence? Tobacco withdrawal? To name a few.)

Complete aromatherapy

The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils also came out within the last year. It is organized well for the beginner, but acts as a quick and easy reference book for the seasoned essential oil user. Also, unlike many resources, this book contains an entire section on essential oils for the home. One of my first uses for essential oils was to scent cleaning vinegar after I jumped on the environmentally-safe cleaners bandwagon. My solution to vinegar stink has always been to add at least 20 drops of lavender oil to the bottle – as a bonus, lavender is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. (Tea tree oil is great for showers and damp places since it is anti-fungal.)

Aromatherapy - Kathi Keville

While not the most recent in a spate of books about essential oils, Kathi Keville and Mindy Green’s Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art is my favorite. This book has a distinctly scientific approach. The newer edition came out in 2009 and is a simply fantastic resource – whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned essential oil enthusiast. The best thing about Keville and Green’s resource? Charts!!! There are some great charts that cover which oils are best for your skin type, for example.

Most important is the “suggested dilution” chart on page 44, because essential oils MUST be diluted before applied to the body. If you’ve ever gotten peppermint oil on your fingers and then accidentally touched your eyes later, you know what I’m talking about. If not, take it from me – essential oils can wreck havoc on the skin and mucus membranes if you don’t apply a little know-how to your applications, so be careful! 

National Geo

In closing, I would like to share National Geographic’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs. I love all things botanical, and enjoyed NatGeo’s wonderful full color photographs. While this book is not specifically about essential oils, most essential oils are made from medicinal herbs. Each herb in this book is introduced within a section that groups together herbs with similar uses (heart & circulation, digestive system, etc.) Aside from the great pictures, my favorite part about this book was the way it incorporated tidbits about each plant’s historical uses.

If you already enjoy using essential oils, feel free to leave a comment telling us your favorite book on the topic or favorite use for an essential oil or herb! 


The 2015 Perseid Meteor shower has begun.

by Beth Fisher on July 30th, 2015

perseid showerThis annual celestial event occurs each year in late Summer, with peak viewing near the 2nd week of August.  In 2015, the peak will be August 9-13 when up to 60 meteors an hour should be visible in the night sky, especially in the hours between midnight and dawn.

The Perseid Meteor shower is what we see when the Earth passes through the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet.   Swift Tuttle orbits the Sun every 133 years, and each time it gets close to the Sun, small pieces break off and join the cloud of debris in the comet’s orbit.  Each year when the Earth passes through the Swift-Tuttle’s debris field,  the debris bounces off the Earth’s atmosphere creating the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Perseid_Vic_radiantsThe Perseids appear to originate from the top of the constellation Perseus. During August, Perseus will be found in the Northeastern part of the sky, left of the Big Dipper.   The point in space where the shower seems to originate is called a “Radiant”.   The map to the left, from Sky & Telescope, the radiant is shown in yellow text.   All the Perseid meteors will appear fly outwards from that point in the sky.

There are many great Astronomy websites with information about the Perseids.

stardateUniversity of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory’s web site “StarDate” has a lot of information for people new to star gazing and astronomy.  Clicking on the “Stargazing” tab on their homepage will give you a list of the things visible in the night sky this week.  This is also where you’ll find a link to their Meteor Shower page.

earth sky The Earth Sky website managed by Deborah Byrd, the host of the long running public radio series EarthSky: A Clear Voice for Science, is a great science web site for non-scientists.  The information about the Perseids   section of their website is easy to read and has lots of information about the origins of the Perseids as well as how and when to find them and general tips on viewing.

NASATo learn more about Comets, Meteors and meteor showers, the NASA website is a great place to start.   Plantes, asteroids, meteors, and comets – there are all sorts of neat things at NASA.



2015 meteor showers

There are many other regular meteor showers throughout the year if you can’t make the Perseids.   Some of the most common can be found on this table, from the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory’s  StarDate website mentioned above.

Of course, the Iowa City Public Library has lots of material about Astronomy and Stargazing and the staff at any of the public service desks in the Library can help you find more information.



ICPL is on Goodreads

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 29th, 2015

Did you ever wonder what ICPL employees read in their spare time? Or perhaps you saw a patron with an armful of books and wanted to know what they were reading, but couldn’t think of a this-isn’t-strange-at-all  way to ask.recommendations

Our ICPL recommendation boxes have you covered!

We have four boxes located throughout the Library (first floor book return, Children’s Room self-checkout area, new nonfiction shelf on the second floor, and the Koza Family Teen Center) for you to share your book, movie and music recommendations. We go through the boxes regularly (sometimes people leave us drawings or notes that say how much the love the Library; we love those!) and post the recommendations on our patrons-suggestions bookshelf on Goodreads.

We also have bookshelves with ICPL employee recommendations and reviews on the popular reading site, so friend us, follow us, and let’s get reading!

New Archival Scanner Available

by Heidi Lauritzen on June 16th, 2015
New Archival Scanner Available Cover Image

Sometimes a simple question gets a not-so-simple answer.  The question was “Does the Library have a slide projector?  I found some old slides and I want to see what they are.”  The quick answer was No, the Library no longer has a slide projector.  But we do have a powerful new archival scanner that is equipped to view and scan slides.  It is available to patrons whenever the Library is open, first-come, first-served.

The Epson Expression is a large-format flatbed scanner funded by a generous gift from the Iowa City Noon Host Lions Club.  It can be used to scan photographs or documents up to 12 x 17 inches, and with a simple attachment can be converted to view or scan negatives and slides.  Some basic instructions are available at the Reference Desk, where the slide tray also is stored.

Slide Tray & slide orientationThe scanner software allows you to preview the slides first.  You can then choose to scan some or all of the images.  If you wish to save the scanned images, please bring a flash drive, or you can email the scans to yourself using a web-based email program such as gmail.  Please note:  scanning slides and negatives requires a higher resolution setting than you would use for a photograph, and so takes longer to scan and uses more space on your storage device.

If you want to go beyond simply viewing and begin to preserve and organize your old photos, you will find a book on our new nonfiction shelves most helpful.  How to Archive Family Photos:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally, by Denise May Levenick assumes you are a beginner and starts at the first step, instructing you on what equipment you will need and how to set up a filing system for your digital images.  It also contains advice on what scanning settings to use for different media, tips such as scanning the reverse side of a photo to save what was written about it,  and has workflows for various projects.  It’s an excellent resource if you have been intending to take on that shoebox full of old family pictures.  Or slides.

2015 Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 9th, 2015

ICPL has a great Summer Reading program every year.  But it’s not just for kids.

The Adult Summer Reading program “Everyday Heroes” runs from June 1 to August 9th, (just like the kids’ and teens’ programs.)  Simply read 5 books – or read 3 books and attend 2 of our Summer Reading Program events – before August 9th to be eligible for a free book and an entry into our Grand Prize drawings. (*see the bottom of this post for a list of prizes).

Signing up is easy:  click  HERE  to register, and then HERE to print your game card – or stop by either the Help or Information Desk next time you’re in the building and we’ll sign up up in person and grab a preprinted game card.

We have some great events scheduled for this summer.  The fun kicks off this Wednesday night, June 10th at 7:00 p.m.

ForeverGR Be An Environmental Hero  Managing Storm Water/Create a Rain Garden. Managing Storm water to protect our water resources has hit home in our communities. The goal of storm water management practices is to capture rain fall and allow it to absorb into the ground reducing runoff, pollution, and the risk of flooding. Lucy Hershberger, founder of Forever Green Garden Center, will be here to teach us what we can do in our yards to help reduce flooding, protect our drinking water and improve water quality in our rivers, streams and lakes.

Other events scheduled for this summer:

monuments menWed., June 24 7:00 p.m.  Monuments Men Movie Screening.   Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Bill Murray, Directed by George Clooney, this film follows a group of every day men who joined the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program during WWII. Their mission was to find and save pieces of art and other culturally important items before their destruction or theft by the Nazis during WWII.

 george stoutWed., July 1, 7:00 p.m.  Iowa’s Own Monuments Man: George Stout.  During WWII, Winterset, Iowa native George Stout was a member of the U.S. Army’s “Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program” devoted to recovering art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.    In 2014 these men and their mission became known world-wide with the release of the film “The Monuments Men,” directed by and starring George Clooney, who’s character Frank Stokes was based on George Stout.  Our guest speaker, Nancy Trask, Director of the Winterset Public Library, Winterset, Iowa has spent years researching George Stout and the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program.  She’ll be here to share all that she’s learned.

unsungWednesday July 8, 7:00 p.m.  Documentary Screening:  Unsung Heroes – The Story  of America’s Female Patriots.   Every woman that has ever served in the American military has volunteered to do so. These are women who, despite the hardships of military service, are proud of their long-standing commitment to the patriotic ideals of the United States. This new documentary, written and directed by Frank Martin with executive producers Ron Howard, Richard Rosetti, and Louisa Velis, is currently airing on PBS stations across the nation.  See it here first!

gable brandsMonday, July 13, 7:00 p.m.  What it Takes to Become A World Champion – with Dan Gable and Tom Brands. Spend and evening with Olympic gold metalists – and former and current Iowa hawkeye Wrestling Coaches Dan Gable and Tom Brands as they talk about what it takes to become an Olympic competitor.

open sesameWednesday July 22, 7:00 pm  Documentary Screening: Opene Sesame – The Story of Seeds.   This documentary by M. Sean Kaminsky follows the history of seeds, from their shift from a shared, local and cultureal resource, into patented, privately and coporately owned property.  Open Sesame details this history and presents some of the challenges faced today by organic and small growers, seed savers, and seed freedom advocates.

 seed savers decorahWednesday, July 29th 7:00 pm  An Evening with Seed Savers Exchange.   Staff from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa will be here to talk about saving seeds and theimportance of preserving heirloom seeds.  Seed Saving makes us all heroes.  This event is sponsored by ICPL and New Pioner Coop.


*Grand Prize Choices for the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program:  A single one-year membership to Film Scene; one $50 Downtown Iowa City gift card; one $50 gift certificate to A&A Pagliai’s Pizza; and a pair of 2-hour Paddle Passes at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.