Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’


Murderous reads for the season

by Candice Smith on October 4th, 2017
Murderous reads for the season Cover Image

When I was a child, I used to love watching scary movies with my dad. He had this great La-Z-Boy chair that the two of us could fit in, and on weekends we would rent a movie or two (VHS, mind you), make popcorn, and terrify ourselves silly. Well, I was terrified (hence, two people in one chair), but I don’t think he was. We watched all the biggies from the day: Halloween, Carrie, The Shining, Friday the 13th, Alien (I made him take me to that in the theatre, I was like 6, what was he thinking?), The Omen, The Exoricst, The Amityville Horror…the list goes on. I loved it, letting myself be scared just as much as I wanted to, but being safe and able to cover my eyes whenever I needed to. As I got older, I didn’t really enjoy being scared as much (real world too scary, maybe?), and I stopped watching horror movies for the most part. I still enjoy a good mystery and have a certain predilection for murder stories, so in honor of the upcoming Halloween season (who doesn’t like a bit of scare for Halloween?), I’ve rounded up some new books about murder. They are all nonfiction, which makes them all the more scary. Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa Fall Foliage

by Melody Dworak on September 15th, 2017
Iowa Fall Foliage Cover Image

If you are wondering why the leaves are changing colors early this year–yes, indeed: it’s because of drought.* According to the U.S. drought monitor, all of Johnson County is colored “abnormally dry” on its Iowa map. This means you’ll have to grab your favorite flora identification books ASAP if you want to go on some lovely, tree and shrub-identifying fall hikes. Read the rest of this entry »

Considering the minimalist lifestyle? ICPL can help!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 6th, 2017

Two years ago, I embarked on a cleaning spree I dubbed The Great Purge of 2015.

I spent weeks shredding credit card statements from the Clinton and Bush years. Books I couldn’t finish were placed in Little Free Libraries throughout town, kitchen gadgets I rarely used found new homes and clothes I hadn’t worn in years were stuffed inside donation bins. I’m not a minimalist, but the more items I took out of my house, the more I understood why “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo sold 1.5 million copies.

According to NPR, the average size of an American home has tripled in size over the past 50 years. Inside those homes, according to the Los Angeles Times, is an average of 300,000 items. One-fourth of homes with two-car garages have too much stuff for the cars to fit inside. Only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States, yet they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally.

Read the rest of this entry »

Upcoming B.Y.O.Book events

by Candice Smith on July 28th, 2017

37380B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s books-in-bars book club, has some new events coming up! Grab a book, then pull up a chair to discuss it with us, while enjoying some food and drink at a great, local restaurant. Find more information and register for events by clicking on the links below.

August 15, at The Mill, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

September 19, at Basta Pizzeria Ristorante, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend

October 24, at Share Wine Bistro & Small Plate Lounge, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Jeff Speck’s Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

A limited number of each title will be available at the Info Desk on the 2nd floor of the Iowa City Public Library for checkout; there are also copies in the Library’s print, audio, and digital collections. Please call the Info Desk at 356-5200 for more information, or email candice-smith@icpl.org

One town, many stories

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 25th, 2017

janesvilleIt used to be when you asked the people of Janesville, Wisc., to describe their town — and, by default, themselves — in one word, that word would be perseverance. Or maybe diligence. Determined. Tenacious.

You can scour a thesaurus for the right word, but it boils down to this: when the people of Janesville get knocked down, they rise again — better and stronger. The city history is filled with examples of how the industrial town reinvented itself to roll with the punches. Even when the nation’s oldest operating General Motors plant — the backbone of the town’s identity and economy — closed two days before Christmas in 2008, many believed it was temporary. The plant had closed its doors before only to reopen with a new product, a new purpose. It would again.

Only it didn’t.

The plant’s closing was news. It translated into national headlines. But then Janesville fell off the public’s radar. It wasn’t the only town impacted by The Great Recession. However, reporter Amy Goldstein stayed behind to see what happened to a town without its identity, to people who not only lost their jobs, but their sense of self. The result? Janesville: An American Story.

(Note: This is Paul Ryan’s hometown. He’s in the story, but it’s the real people of Janesville who show what happened best.)

The ripple effect of the plant’s closing was felt by everyone. Teachers had students who were hungry and scared. Parents took jobs that made less money. The local community college saw historic enrollment numbers, but also adult students who didn’t know how to use computers. In-home child care operations closed because parents were no longer going to work every morning — another person out of a job. Middle class families slid into lower class and lower class families dropped below poverty level. Teenagers took jobs to support their families and families struggled to stay together. Politicians on both sides of the aisle claimed to be on the side of the American worker, but as the political divide deepened at the state and federal levels, Janesville residents shifted from being one community and turned on each other. Laid off GM workers resented those who retired with their pensions. The unemployed were angry at teachers protesting the governor’s plan to slash union rights because at least they had a job. Community leaders who still believed Janesville could survive struggled to remain positive while food banks searched for ways to keep shelves full.

This was a powerful story. Kudos to Goldstein for painting such a vivid picture of what too many towns have experienced in our economic climate. Only time will tell if we learned anything from it.

Learn How to Build a Better World

by Morgan Reeves on June 9th, 2017
Learn How to Build a Better World Cover Image

In conjunction with this year’s summer reading program, “Build a Better World,” read about ways people have made the world a better place, how you can help right now, and the possibilities of the future.

Since witnessing the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, J. J. Keki has been working with his neighbors of different religions to coexist peacefully and grow coffee together. By focusing on what unites them, instead of what divides them, this village has created an example of religious tolerance and harmony for the world. Read about it in Growing Peace by Richard Sobol.

Read the rest of this entry »

I want to become a runner. Where do I start?

by Melody Dworak on April 25th, 2017
Running icon by Dillon Arloff, from The Noun Project (retouched).

Icon by Dillon Arloff.

Good question! It’s been such a beautiful spring so far, why *wouldn’t* you be inspired to start running? I, myself, have started running again and am happy to point out a free resource to take someone from the couch to a 5K.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Road to Jonestown

by Candice Smith on April 19th, 2017
The Road to Jonestown Cover Image

A couple days ago, I found myself uttering a sentence that seemed impossible, not only to say, but to believe: “Jim Jones did a lot of really good things!” Amazingly, it’s true; as a pastor in Indianapolis, IN, he served for many years and helped a great number people in various ways. Much of that gets overshadowed, though, by that one really bad thing he did. Jeff Guinn’s book The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple sets out to tell the whole story, the good and the bad.

I was six years old when Jonestown happened, and for most of my life, pretty much all I knew about the whole situation was that ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ meant that you’d fallen victim to the words and ideas of someone, most likely not a good someone. I knew nothing about Jim Jones the person, what he did, who followed him, why they were in Guyana (for a while, even the location of Guyana was a mystery to me). What happened in Jonestown is, of course, interesting in its own, horrific way, for many reasons: you’ve got a cult and its charismatic leader, some poison, meddling politicians, guns, and a very bad ending. Just as interesting, though, is how Jim Jones became that leader, and how he and his followers ended up the way they did. Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines

by Morgan Reeves on March 9th, 2017
Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines Cover Image

I grew up reading stories filled with strong female characters, from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne to Roald Dahl’s Matilda to Tamora Pierce’s Alanna the Lioness. I also loved reading biographies about my real-life heroines, Susan B. AnthonyEleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart. Reading about strong female characters is important for both girls and boys, as reading has a strong influence on children’s ideas and opinions about themselves and others. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some new books full of both fictional and factual heroines.

Fiction

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

After being sold as a bride to a wealthy family that treats her poorly, eleven-year-old Jing, with the help of her animal spirit friends, runs away. Her subsequent journey is filled with both magic and adventure.

The Runaway by Kate O’Hearn

In the second installment of the Valkyrie series, Freya and Archie are sent back to Earth by Odin in order to locate a banished Valkyrie and bring her back to Asgard. But Brunhilde has built a life for herself on Earth and has no desire to return. And what Freya learns about that life, changes her understanding of her own family.

Disenchanted :The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

For generations the Charming men have been cursed, but now that the witch Envearia is dead the curse should be broken–however things are complicated at Charming Palace: King Clement is still nasty, Queen Maud has fled with the help of her son, Prince Dash, and Ella Coach (called Cinderella) would rather be at home sewing than living in the palace at Charming Prep school.

Nonfiction

Hidden Figures : The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

In this young reader’s edition of the adult title, discover the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, a group of dedicated female African-American mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Fannie Never Flinched : One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell

Fanny Sellins was a union activist who fought and gave her life for equality and labor reform. This biography shines a light on the long and often dangerous fight for worker’s rights, with the period photographs providing stark reminders of the reasons for the fight.


Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes

A biography of Nellie Bly, the pioneering journalist whose showy but substantive stunts skyrocketed her to fame. Her exploits included impersonating an inmate at an asylum for the mentally ill and reporting on the terrible conditions, as well circling the globe in 72 days and interviewing a controversial anarchist.

You’ll find these titles on the Children’s Room New Shelf for the next couple of months. While you’re there, you might find other heroines to be inspired by.

Modern Reads for Women’s History Month

by Bond Drager on March 6th, 2017

I recently wondered how March came to be National Women’s History Month. Luckily National Women’s History Project had some great information.

If you’re like me and you like to celebrate holidays by nerding out on information overload, here’s a great list of book titles to pick up from ICPL. For this list, I’m choosing to focus on more recent choices that highlight great feminist literature and nonfiction.

My Real Children by Jo Walton

I won’t go into too much detail about this book because I don’t want to give this wonderful book away. If you’re a fan of realistic fiction like John Green and Rainbow Rowell, but you’re willing to read something written for and about adults, you’d like this book. This is a story about what it means to have choices in life, and ultimately how women function and age within society.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book has won a zillion awards for its powerful story of race and identity. Bonus: North Liberty Community Library has selected it for its Bring Your Own Book Club on March 31 at Beer Burger – you’ve still got time to participate.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

There’s a reason the City of Literature recently awarded Roxane Gay with the 2016 Paul Engle prize. She’s a tremendous writer doing important work across media and genre. This book of essays is a great introduction to her writing, and it’s also really fun to read.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

So much of the story of 90s music in the pacific northwest comes from the perspective by and about men, that it’s particularly interesting to read this story of a young woman finding her calling as part of that scene.

Not only is this story riveting, but Brownstein is a just a fantastic writer and I often recommend this as one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. She not only chronicles her turbulent journey but is impressively self-aware, finding deeper meaning as she looks at her story in hindsight.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This debut novel from Angie Thomas just came out in February and is already proving very popular. It’s a YA book that everyone should read. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books describes it as follows: “Ultimately the book emphasizes the need to speak up about injustice. That’s a message that will resonate with all young people concerned with fairness, and Starr’s experience will speak to readers who know Starr’s life like their own and provide perspective for others.”