Posts Tagged ‘reading’


The Best Books I Read in 2018

by Anne Wilmoth on January 3rd, 2019

As a new reading year dawns, I’d like to recommend some of my favorite reads of the past year. Mind you, these are books not necessarily published in 2018, but all are books that I eagerly devoured during 2018.

Adult books: 38 nonfiction; 29 fiction

Juvenile/YA books: 3 nonfiction; 44 fiction

Total: 114

Because it’s impossible to judge adult and children’s books on the same plane, I have to enthuse about my favorites in each category.

Top 5 Adult Fiction I Read This Year:

ThumbnailNine Perfect StrangersLiane Moriarty (2018)

In Moriarty’s newest book, nine strangers meet on a remote Australian health retreat. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different guest, and we learn incrementally about the background of each and their reasons for joining the retreat. This book is laugh-out-loud funny and then becomes creepy – Moriarty is a master of the slow-building thriller. Events become more and more outlandish as the plot builds but in a completely delicious way. The ending is a little weak but by that point you don’t care because the roller coaster has been so exciting.

ThumbnailEligible Curtis Sittenfeld (2016)

I feel defensive of this book because I don’t want people to dismiss it as fluffy “chick lit.” The cover image doesn’t help, but please believe me when I say that Sittenfeld has some of the most sharp, incisive, crisp (and hilarious) writing you’ll ever read here. (If a man writes a book about relationships, it’s taken for granted as valuable literature appropriate for the edification of all, whereas if a woman writes about relationships, it’s frivolous, idiotic “chick lit” that would only appeal to other women [i.e., no one important]…okay, that’s a whole other blog post.) Anyway, this is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, in which the five single, adult Bennet sisters return to their childhood home in Ohio after their father’s health scare and their mother obsesses about marrying them off.

ThumbnailThe Underground RailroadColson Whitehead (2016)

Despite the fact that this book won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and was an Oprah’s Book Club pick, I was skeptical when I heard that in this book, the Underground Railroad is a real, literal train operating underneath the ground. BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE MAGICAL REALISM. However, I gave it a try anyway, and I was so glad I did, because my mind was absolutely blown by this book. Protagonist Cora endures unthinkable suffering in bondage before her daring escape North, state by state, on the Underground Railroad, launching a twist-filled, page-turning narrative (and the train thing just works). It’s difficult to read, to say the least, but the sanitized version of slavery that fills school history books is not enough to understand our American legacy.

ThumbnailClock DanceAnne Tyler (2018)

Tyler has written 22 novels, but this is the first of hers I’d ever read. This book’s protagonist is Willa, and the book is divided into four sections that describe the four defining periods of her life. In the final section, her son’s ex-girlfriend (who Willa barely knows) is temporarily sidelined with an injury and Willa ends up moving in with the ex-girlfriend and her young daughter in an unfamiliar city. Tyler’s style is fairly understated, in that the details are richly observed, the characters are deeply developed, and the reader is left to largely draw her own conclusions. Some conclusions: women’s choices have been constrained in different ways throughout history; women have been taught to be quiet and not make a fuss about anything; in the modern world, you might have to actively create your own community.

ThumbnailMrs. FletcherTom Perrotta (2017)

In case you haven’t noticed, I like female-driven fiction. In this book, Eve Fletcher is a middle-aged single mother of one son. When he leaves for college, Eve is at loose ends. Then she experiences something of a sexual reawakening when she receives an anonymous late-night “sext,” at the same time she is trying to decide how to address her son’s casual misogyny. Her fixation on this digital overture begins to affect other areas of her life – this book is filled with ethical dilemmas and has much to say that is timely and relevant about gender relations and expectations.

Top 5 Adult Nonfiction:

ThumbnailNomadland: Surviving America in the 21st CenturyJessica Bruder (2017)

You know how you see older adults rambling down the highways of America in their RVs, and you think they’re taking it easy now that they’ve retired, seeing the sights on a great road trip? Well, that might not be the case. This book describes a new, low-cost labor pool exploited by America’s corporations: transient older adults, who lost everything in the Great Recession or simply can’t afford to retire at all, who live full-time in vehicles and work as campground hosts, seasonal Amazon warehouse workers, Adventureland ride operators, or at other short-term, scattered hustles across the country, many of which offer poor working conditions. Prepare to have your eyes opened by this stunning work of investigative journalism, in which author Bruder spent months living in a camper van to document this group, hidden in plain sight.

ThumbnailStranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True HermitMichael Finkel (2017)

This book tells the shocking true story of Christopher Knight, who unceremoniously took to the woods in 1986, when he was 20 years old, and reemerged almost three decades later. During that time, Knight lived alone, year-round, without once seeing or speaking to another human being, in the woods of Maine. Knight had no real agenda or statement to make – he just really, really preferred to be alone. So much so that he stole from nearby summer cabins and camps to survive and evaded law enforcement for thirty years. This is a fascinating account of one man’s dedication to life on his terms.

ThumbnailThe Not Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USADoug Mack (2017)

This was the first book I read in 2018, and it stuck with me the whole year. If, like me, you know nothing about America’s territories beyond a vague awareness that they exist, you will find this book incredibly enlightening. There is a section dedicated to each of America’s five inhabited territories, and interesting facts abound – for example, I didn’t know American Samoa has the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. (This is despite the fact that those born in American Samoa, unlike those born in any of the other five inhabited territories, are considered U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens). This book is written as an exciting travelogue, as Mack travels to each territory and writes about the culture, landscape, and history of each location.

ThumbnailSmall Animals: Parenthood in the Age of FearKim Brooks (2018)

It all started when Brooks ran briefly into a suburban Target and left her three-year-old son alone in the car. After she was arrested and battling child-endangerment charges, Brooks began researching the modern-day hysteria surrounding child safety. (Spoiler alert: kids have a literally one-in-a-million chance of being snatched by a stranger off the street.) Brooks, self-deprecatingly and with humor, examines how parenting has changed over the years and the role fear plays in modern parenting.

 

ThumbnailNorthland: A 4,000 Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten BorderPorter Fox (2018)

Fox travels by canoe, car, foot, and steamship along the longest land border between two countries in all the world: the border between the U.S. and Canada. Along the way, Fox examines the history of the border region, including the indigenous peoples and European exploration; how climate change has affected the Great Lakes region; the political climate’s influence on borderlands; and the modern culture of those who live along the border. Fun fact: though the vast majority of American resources go to protecting our border with Mexico, the only two known terrorists who have crossed overland into America have come in from Canada. Also, Fox lovingly describes the breathtaking landscapes so you’ll want to go canoe and camp in the Boundary Waters immediately.

Top 5 Juvenile/YA Fiction:

ThumbnailThe Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)

I have never laughed so hard while reading a book! This multi-award-winning book by autoworker-turned-author Curtis describes one summer in the life of 10-year-old Kenny, a kid tortured by his teenage brother Byron, who is an “official juvenile delinquent” in early-1960s Flint, Michigan. In an attempt to straighten Byron out, the Watsons embark on a road trip to Alabama to visit an intimidating older relation. Some poignant moments hint at what’s to come, but the stunning ending will take your breath away.

 

ThumbnailLong Way Down Jason Reynolds (2017)

In another multi-award-winner, Will’s older brother is shot and killed in an act of gang-related violence, and Will, consumed by with shock and grief, grabs his brother’s gun from their home and goes to avenge his death. However, on the elevator ride down from their apartment to the street, the elevator begins stopping at every floor to admit the ghost of a person from Will’s life who was killed previously by gun violence. They all have a story to tell that influences Will’s understanding of the code of the streets by which he’s always abided – in the end, what will Will choose to do? This book is written in staccato verse, takes place over just 60 seconds, and will leave you reeling. A good choice for reluctant readers, as it can be read quickly and the story is extremely compelling.

ThumbnailMidnight Without a MoonLinda Williams Jackson (2017)

This work of historical fiction describes a summer in the life of Rose Lee Carter, who lives a harsh existence with her grandparents on a sharecropper plantation in Mississippi in 1955. When Emmett Till is murdered nearby, fear and anger reverberate through the community, ultimately leading to some hard choices for Rose Lee. What I enjoyed most about this book are the fully-developed, multi-faceted characters, the nuanced – never simplistic – portrayal of conditions in the American South in this period, and the bold dialogue.

 

ThumbnailThree Times LuckySheila Turnage (2012)

Strong female protagonist Moses LeBeau, a “rising sixth grader” in the tiny town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, has a mystery to solve. When a local eccentric turns up dead, Mo and her best friend Dale (named after Dale Earnhardt), find themselves evading a smooth-talking, out-of-town lawman while they attempt to pinpoint the killer themselves. Mo’s own existence is something of a mystery, seeing as she washed ashore in a hurricane and is being raised by two more eccentrics, who own the local cafe. Mo’s Southern voice is delightful here, and wisdom and wit fill every page (“I’m Baptist. So far, Fast or Never is the only speeds I got with forgiving.”) The book is funny, and the suspenseful mystery keeps the pages turning.

ThumbnailA Case in Any CaseUlf Nilsson (2016)

I don’t know why, but any children’s book translated from the Swedish is a pure delight, and this book is no exception. The third in a series (the first two were just as good), lovable curmudgeon Detective Gordon (a frog) and his deputy Detective Buffy  Then, when two mouse children go missing during a class outing, Gordon and Buffy must find them! A sweet and gentle mystery perfect for reading aloud to children ages three and up, this book is so cute and funny that I had to read certain bits over several times, just to let the pleasure sink in. (“It was all the forest children from the kindergarten on an expedition. Buffy saluted the teacher mouse at the front of the line. The children all wore flowery tops and backpacks.”) The messages of kindness, community, and looking out for one another were welcome, too.

Happy reading! Did you have a reading goal in 2018? What were some of your favorites?

12 Days of Bookmobile: Find Out What the Bookmobile Can Give to You!

by Anne Wilmoth on December 8th, 2018

According to Vox, the earliest known version of the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” appeared in a children’s book in 1780. Most scholars agree it was designed as a memory game where singers tested their recall of the lyrics – and had to give a kiss or favor of some kind if they made a mistake.

In 1909 a French composer set the words to the melody we now know and love (or loathe), including the long, drawn out “five go-old riiings!” verse. Vox also mentions the cost of all the gifts named in the song would total a mind-boggling $39,049.93 in 2018 dollars.

ICPL’s Bookmobile, on the other hand, is the gift that keeps on giving. We have things more useful and less annoying than eleven pipers piping; we come right to your neighborhood; and best of all, EVERYTHING IS FREE. So now, in festive song form, let me remind you of the plethora of gifts the Bookmobile is just waiting to share with you…

On the first day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the second day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

two program sign-ups

and a free, convenient parking place.

 

On the third day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

eight downtown holds,

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

nine baby board books,

eight downtown holds,

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

ten current cookbooks

nine baby board books,

eight downtown holds,

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking space.

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

eleven recommendations,

ten current cookbooks

nine baby board books,

eight downtown holds,

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking place.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Bookmobile gave to me

twelve fines avoided,

eleven recommendations,

ten current cookbooks

nine baby board books,

eight downtown holds,

seven brand-new novels,

six toys to play with,

five bars of Wifi,

four family films,

three storytimes,

two program sign-ups,

and a free, convenient parking place.

The Bookmobile runs year-round, even in the winter! Find our current schedule here. We do cancel our stops for the day if there is inclement winter weather – find cancellation information on our social media channels or here.

We can do all kinds of things on the Bookmobile: set you up with a new or replacement library card, recommend your next favorite book or movie, entertain your children with an array of on-board toys, and sign you or your children up for our Winter Reading Program, Summer Reading Program, or Begin with Books Program.

We have materials for all ages! No matter what you check out, it can be returned back to the Bookmobile, to the downtown Library building, or at our two remote drops around town. Downtown items can be returned on the Bookmobile, too. You can even call us and we can bring anything from the downtown Library building out to you on the Bookmobile at the stop most convenient for you.

There are also NO FINES on children’s items on the Bookmobile! Best of all, we have the hottest, newest items on the Bookmobile often with no wait, while these same items have LONG hold lists at the downtown Library building. We are cranking out the heat with our state-of-the-art heating system, too – come see us this winter!

 

Looking for a Level ____ Book?

by Casey Maynard on October 16th, 2018

Have you ever come to the children’s desk and asked “Where can I find the level 1 books?” or “Where are your books with a Lexile number of….?” and received a long-winded round about answer? At the ALSC National Institute in Cincinnati, I attended a wonderful session on the history and uses of leveling and I thought that since I hear the leveling question often, this information would be useful for our community.

It is well known that leveled reading is a dominant educational structure that most if not all caregivers and children learning to read will find themselves functioning within. Leveling books can be an extremely helpful tool in terms of finding books that children will be able to read independently. But it is just that, a tool, a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. If you take one thing away from this blog post I hope it is this: there is no such thing as a book that is ‘too easy’ or ‘too difficult’ for a reader at any level.   That’s a bold statement right? But when you think about the why, it really starts to make sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Kids: Vote at ICPL for the 2018 Children’s Choice Book Award!

by Anne Wilmoth on March 2nd, 2018

Kids, here’s your chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box: vote for the Children’s Choice Award in the ICPL Children’s Department throughout the month of March!

The Children’s Choice Award is the only national book award given only by children and teens. There are five books nominated (also chosen by kids in school libraries around the country) in each of three age group categories: kindergarten to second grade, third to fourth grade, and fifth to sixth grade.

Visit our voting booth and fill out the secret ballot for your age group category. The winners will be announced when voting ends everywhere on May 6!

For a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

Kids can also vote online (instantly and without entering any personal information) by visiting http://everychildareader.net/vote/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading the Night Away With the Jólabókaflóð

by Amanda on December 15th, 2017

What the heck is Jólabókaflóð? Literally, it means “Christmas Book Flood,” and it’s pronounced “Yo-la-bok-a-flot.” Maybe you’ve heard of it, since all things Nordic are very trendy right now (hygge, Nordic noir, Scandinavian minimalism, et cetera). It’s the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve, then spending the night reading those books. In Iceland, the holiday season kicks off in November with the delivery of the Bókatíðindi—the annual Book Bulletin, distributed by the Icelandic Publishers Association for free to each Icelandic home.

This tradition began during World War II after Iceland gained its independence from Denmark. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, so books became the gift of choice, as other types of gifts were scarce. Iceland loves its books: 93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year (compared to 73% of Americans), and it is the third most literate country in the world (Finland and Norway are the first and second). In Iceland, one in ten people will publish a book in their lifetime, and in 2011 Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, three years after Iowa City received the same distinction.

Jólabókaflóð is easy to adapt to your family’s needs. While the original tradition is tied to Christmas, yours doesn’t need to be! Simply gather your family together, and enjoy each other’s company while exchanging your favorite books. Check out used bookstores, thrift stores, and library sales to get the best deals on your Book Flood gifts, or use library books for a totally free exchange (just be careful about overdue books). This article has some really fun ideas for creating your own Book Flood tradition.

This sweet tradition is very close to my heart. I grew up in a family of readers—which is probably not surprising, now that I’m working in a library and getting my Master’s in Library Science. For a lot of other families, Christmas day is a loud, boisterous occasion. For my family, it was all about the books. On Christmas Eve, we would gather around the tree and read classic picture books together; the next day was usually spent in pajamas, scattered around the house, reading all the new books we’d received as gifts. To me, there’s almost nothing better than being with people you love, reading.

What books will you give to your loved ones this holiday season?

ICPL celebrates Drop Everything and Read in April

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 31st, 2015

April is D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Month and we plan to celebrate by sharing pictures of Library staff dropping everything to read.

D.E.A.R. is the acronym beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary penned in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. In this story, Ramona’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Whaley, tells the students they will have Sustained Silent Reading every day after lunch, during which children could read whatever they want without having to write a book report. To make Sustained Silent Reading sound more fun, Mrs. Whaley decided to call it D.E.A.R.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 was published in 1981. Since then, Drop Everything and Read promotions have been held on April 12 in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, but HarperCollins Publishers decided to extend the fun, and the reading, by making D.E.A.R. a month-long celebration.

How will you celebrate?

Visit http://www.dropeverythingandread.com/ for more information, resources and other information – and don’t forget to check out ICPL’s D.E.A.R. photos on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.