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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’


Under-the-Radar Read

by Melody Dworak on February 8th, 2016
Under-the-Radar Read Cover Image

I can’t stop talking about this memoir of African American life and prison life in the 19th Century. The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is “the first known prison narrative by an African American writer,” editor Caleb Smith wrote in the Yale Alumni magazine. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library purchased the manuscript, and Random House published it as a book this winter.

This book is a remarkable find. Perfect for history buffs, rare manuscript nerds, and African American prison researchers, this book was written by an African American man born free in the 1820s but living much of his life in confinement. Reed was a natural storyteller and his memoir reads like a novel. He documents his experiences both in prison and as a free man, the cruelties of the whip and other 19th Century torture tactics as well as adventures and opportunities he encountered while living free.

This book has not received a ton of press at this point. The New York Times highlighted the find in 2013 before the manuscript was edited for publication, and the Smithsonian Magazine picked up the story for its arts and culture section. It doesn’t have a long holds list and we’ll be buying the e-book and e-audio versions soon.

If there is one nonfiction book you read in 2016, make it Austin Reed’s groundbreaking memoir.

 

Calm down this year

by Mary Estle-Smith on January 5th, 2016
Calm down this year Cover Image

In today’s stress filled world many people are looking for a quick and easy method of winding down when they need to.  One method  that has been around for a very long time is meditation.

Meditation has waxed and waned in popularity over the years and seems to currently be experiencing a resurgence of interest.  It has been scientifically and medically proven that meditation can help people to relieve anxiety, quit smoking, lose weight, and achieve other life and behavior modifications that new year’s resolutions are all about,  so what better time to check it out?

Here are a few example of titles in our collection that may inspire you to get you started:

      Jacket.aspxHJacket.aspx3This last one so my horse and I (and perhaps you and yours) will become one zen-like entity in the new year.

Can’t hurt to give it a try!

ICPL Top Picks for 2015: Nonfiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 29th, 2015
ICPL Top Picks for 2015: Nonfiction Cover Image

From exploring romance through Tinder to sharing the stories of everyday people on the streets of New York City, this year’s crop of nonfiction titles run the gamut from humorous to thought-provoking, inspiring to contemplative.

Nonfiction is always a popular category among ICPL staff  (We work at a Library; of course we love learning!), so we apologize now if our picks for the best nonfiction titles of 2015 add  to your never-ending reading list.

ICPL’s BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF 2015nonfiction

  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  • Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman
  • Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum
  • Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenthood by Emily Flake
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
  • The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self by Anil Anandaughtersthaswamy
  • Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura
  • The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks
  • The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea betweeMays
  • Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Domo arigato

by Todd Brown on December 22nd, 2015
Domo arigato Cover Image

Admit it. You want to build a robot. You just saw Star Wars and you still need to get some gifts for your family. I get it. It makes perfect sense to build a robot. When you think about it, who would not want to build a robot?

The problem is that wanting to and having the skills to are very different things. After all, there are a lot of wires, flux capacitors and doodads in there that you have no idea how to connect to each other. Not to mention which end of a soldering iron you should hold. It makes a big difference and I have the scar to prove it. But guess what, the Library has books on all of that.

 

electronicsMake: electronics : learning by discovery

Start with the basics. Positive is +, negative is -.

 

 

 

 

Make : more electronicsmoreelectronics

Then go beyond the basics.

 

 

 

 

arduinoMake : Arduino bots and gadgets : learning by discovery

This will give your robot a brain. It won’t clean your house, but you have to learn how to crawl before you can clean the house.

 

 

 

 

 

Make : sensorssensors

You want your robot to interact appropriately with it’s surroundings so it is going to need sensors. Otherwise it will just walk into walls and ignore you when you tell it to clean house, sort of like teenagers.

 

 

 

Make : 3D printing3d

You might not have all of the gears and exoskeleton parts just lying around. With a 3D printer you can create almost whatever parts you need.

 

 

 

 

Make: rockets : down-to-earth rocket sciencerockets

Will your robot have a jet pack or maybe foot thrusters? Yes it will.

 

 

 

 

Thrusters probably need rocket fuel of some sort.

 

 

 

 

 

Make : wearable electronicswearable

If you need a gift for someone with automatonophobia but still want to give them something made of wires and leds this might be good book to look at.

 

 

 

 

 

Next year start shopping or building sooner. You are welcome.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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: karenabbott.net.  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! 

 




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