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Top 10 Reads

by Beth Fisher on August 27th, 2015
Top 10 Reads Cover Image

You told us what you read as part of the 2015 Summer Reading Program, and we kept track.

Click on the title to place a copy on hold.

The most popular book in this year’s Adult Summer Reading Program is also one of the most popular books of the year:  The Girl on the Train  by Paula Hawkins.   Three unreliable narrators set the tone for this Hitchcockian thriller. You’ll be drawn into the story not knowing who to believe or trust, just like the characters themselves. Rachel takes the train into London every day, watching the same scenery pass day after day, the same houses, the same strangers.  But are they really strangers? Is Rachel really just watching the story unfold?  Or is she hiding from something. Full of twists, turns and lies, The Girl on The Train will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

all the light we cannot seeWinner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr begins with the stories of a young blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a gadget-obsessed German boy, Werner, and how their lives evolve as World War 11 takes hold in Europe.  When their lives collide during the occupation of France, their stories intertwine for a time, and we see how the War led them down separate but converging paths.


paper towns Paper Towns, written by John Green (author of The Fault In Our Stars). This young adult novel was one of the top Teen Reads for this summer too.   Quentin “Q” grew up next door to  Margo Roth Spiegelman, but the older they got the more distant their lives became.  Shortly before high school graduation, Margo talks Quentin into being her partner-in-crime for one night of practical jokes and hijinks.  Three days later Margo disappears.   Quentin and two of his friends hit the road in search of Margo, following the clues she has left for them to find.  This road trip mystery rescue adventure became a motion picture starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne.


husbands secret The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.   “For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick.  To be opened only in the event of my death.”  says the 15 year old letter Cecilia found mixed in with her old tax documents.  She opens and reads it, expecting a sentimental message from her husband as it is dated just after the birth of their first child.  Little did she expect its contents to blow her world – and the worlds of two others – apart at the seams.



gone girlGone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  This psychological thriller is the story of the marriage of Nick and Amy Dune. Both newly unemployed writers, Nick and Amy leave New York City and return to Nick’s home town in Missouri to care for Nick’s dying mother.  On their 5th anniversary, Amy disappears and soon people begin to suspect Nick in her disappearance.   The deeper into the story the reader gets the more we come to realize that both Amy and Nick aren’t who or what they appear to be.



tidying upThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Japanese cleaning and organizing consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.  Following her simple idea of only keeping things that bring you joy.



longest rideThe Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks.   Two love stories – one a new love, and one that lasted more than 5 decades – intertwine in unexpected ways. 90 year old Ira Levinson is stranded in his car after an accident. His late wife Ruth appears to him and helps him stay conscious by recounting the stories of their 50 years together as Ira waits to be rescued.  Luke and Sophia meet at a rodeo, and the connection is instant. After four months together they realize their lives might be heading in opposite directions.  Returning from a long weekend together,  Luke and Sophia discover Ira and the accident, and stay with him until the ambulance arrives.  Talking to Ira about his 50 year romance with Ruth, Luke and Sophia look at their lives differently.


the martianThe Martian, by Andy Weir.   Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.  Now everyone thinks he was the first person to have died there.  But he’s not dead.  After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.



HP sorcerer's stonePublished in 1997, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling is the first in the series of 7 children’s/young adult novels chronicling the adventures of a young wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  H.P & The Sorcerer’s Stone covers 11- year old Harry’s discovery of his wizardly gifts and his first year at Hogwarts.



unbrokenUnbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand, is a biography of WWII hero Louis Zamperini, a former American Olympic track star who spent 47 days drifting at sea after a plane crash in the South Pacific, and then survived more than 2 years as a Japanese prisoner of war.

ICPL announces Summer Reading Program prize winners

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 20th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library ended the 2015 Summer Reading Program with strong participation numbers among all age levels – babies, kids, teens, and adults.srpwinnerscomiccollage

In all, 4,721 patrons registered for the 2015 Summer Reading Program, with 2,246 participants turning in completed game cards by Aug. 9.

The kids program had the highest number of registrants – 2,878 people – and the highest completion rate – 1,455 people.

More than 1,000 adults signed up for the program, with 434 turning in completed game cards.

The teen program had 399 registrations and 148 returned completed game cards, while the babies program had 420 registrations and 209 game cards returned to the Children’s Room.

All completed game cards were entered in a drawing for the Summer Reading Program Grand Prize, which varied depending on the program level. The winners were chosen by a random drawing and contacted by Library staff.

Congratulations to everyone who received a Summer Reading Program prize and thank you to all who participated!

Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A $50 gift card to Prairie Lights

  • Winner: Maggi Kaalberg

Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A $150 VISA gift card

  • Winner: Yousef Ismail

Participants in the teen and adult Summer Reading Programs were eligible for one of multiple prizes.

The prize winners in the teen program are:

  •  $50 Marcus Theaters gift card: Maria Brown
  •  $50 Prairie Lights gift card: Emalyn Foster
  •  $50 Game Stop gift card: John Bounds
  •  $50 Pancheros gift card: Daniel Kelly

The prize winners in the adult program are:

  • Two one-year memberships to FilmScene: Amanda Bellis and Heather Steward-Tharp
  •  $50 Downtown Iowa City gift certificate: Kayla Feil
  •  $50 gift certificate to A & A Pagliai’s Pizza: Wendy Berry
  • Pair of 2-hour Paddle Passes at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area: Vernona Myers

Second prize winners in the teen and adult Summer Reading Programs received a $5 gift certificate to spend at Taste of Iowa City. The winners of this prize are: Mya Kahle; Alyssa Skala; Sadie Widmer; Adrian Dale; Daniel Bodin; Chuck Henderson; Sommer Gilbert; Jennie Fischer; Eric Bodin; and Bev Amoroso.

Explore the Importance of Seeds at ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 22nd, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will explore the shift of seeds from a local resource to a corporately-owned property with a screening of Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds tonight (Wednesday, July 22).open-sesame

This 2015 environmental documentary by M. Sean Kaminsky looks at the challenges facing one of the world’s most precious resources: seeds. In the past, seeds were saved season-to-season and shared gardener-to-gardener. Today, more than half of the seed stock is controlled by three major corporations. Open Sesame details the history of seeds and presents the challenges organic and small growers, seed savers and seed freedom advocates face today.

The film will be shown in Room A at 7 p.m. Popcorn will be provided.

Our exploration and understanding of seeds continues on Wednesday, July 29, with a presentation by Seed Savers Exchange from Decorah.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation and utilization of heirloom varieties since 1975, working with farmers and gardeners to ensure that these unique varieties are not lost forever.

This event begins at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A. It is co-sponsored by New Pioneer Food Co-op and will be broadcast LIVE on The Library Channel, Iowa City cable channel 20.

Both events are part of the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

ICPL hosts What It Takes to Become a World Champion with Dan Gable and Tom Brands

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 7th, 2015

Spend the evening with Olympic Gold Medalists, and former and current Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling coaches Dan Gable and Tom Brands, on Monday, July 13, at the Iowa City Public Library as they share what it takes to be a champion.

Gable was a two-time NCAA champion and three times was an All-American, Big Eight champion and Iowa High School state champion. He claimed the gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, without surrendering a single point.

Gable joined the University of Iowa wrestling coaching staff in 1972 and took over the program in 1976. Under his leadership, Iowa won 15 NCAA titles and 21 Big Ten team titles. Gable was named the NCAA Coach of the Year three times. He was head coach of the United States Olympic team in freestyle wrestling in 1980, 1984, and 2000, and coached 12 Iowa Hawkeye Olympians.

Brands was a four-time All-American, three-time NCAA champion, and three-time Big Ten Conference champion before winning gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He served 12 years as an assistant wrestling coach at Iowa before taking the head coach position at Virginia Tech. He returned to Iowa as head wrestling coach in the spring of 2006 and led the Hawkeyes to national titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Gable and Brands will be in Meeting Room A at the Library at 7 p.m. as part of the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program. This event is free and open to the public. It will be broadcast LIVE on The Library Channel, Iowa City cable channel 20.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

ICPL to screen Unsung Heroes July 8

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 2nd, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will screen Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, in Meeting Room A.unsung heroes

This 2014 documentary gives a first-hand look at the women who answered the call to serve and defend their country, sharing their experiences through rare photographs, archival materials, personal memorabilia and on-camera interviews. Called an inspiring story of perseverance and triumph, the film commemorates their courage and strength.

This event is part of the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program. It is free to the public and popcorn will be provided.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Instant book reviews on Instagram

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 1st, 2015

They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. We’re looking for less than that.I

We launched #ICPLinstareview on the Library’s Instagram account today and need your reviews to make it awesome. Here’s how it works:

  • Take a picture of a book you finished reading.
  • Post it to your Instagram account with the #ICPLinstareview hashtag.
  • Write a short review of the book.

We’ll re-gram our favorite images. Then, at the end of July and August, we’ll choose one review from each month and that person will receive a $25 Downtown Iowa City gift card!

Start reading, reviewing and discover new great reads!

ICPL celebrates Monuments Men with two events

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 12th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will celebrate a piece of American history with a screening of Monuments Men on Wednesday, June 24.

This 2014 film, directed and co-written by George Clooney, stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett, and Clooney. It is loosely based on the non-fiction book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

During World War II, the Allies are making good progress driving back the Axis powers in Italy. However, Frank Stokes (played by Clooney) persuades the American President that victory will have little meaning if the artistic treasures of Western civilization are lost in the fighting. Stokes is directed to assemble an Army unit nicknamed the “Monuments Men,” comprising seven museum directors, curators, and art historians to both guide Allied units and search for stolen art to return it to its rightful owners.

The movie will be shown on the big screen in Meeting Room A beginning at 7 p.m. Popcorn will be provided.

Eager to learn about Iowa’s connection to Monuments Men? Join us for a presentation by Nancy Trask, director of the Winterset Public Library in Winterset, Iowa, about Iowa’s own Monuments Man, George Stout, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.

Iowa native Stout was a member of the U.S. Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program. Established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war areas during and after World War II, Stout was one of about 400 service members and civilians who worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage. As the conflict came to a close, the mission shifted to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by the Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.

In the movie Monuments Men, George Clooney’s character — Frank Stokes — is based on George Stout.

Iowa’s Own Monuments Man: George Stout will be held in Meeting Room A. This event also will be broadcast live on The Library Channel, Iowa City cable channel 20.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

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.



ICPL, Summer of the Arts Annual Children’s Day Event June 6

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 27th, 2015

Children are invited to celebrate the arts during Children’s Day on Saturday, June 6.

This annual event, produced by the Iowa City Public Library with Summer of the Arts during the Iowa Arts Festival, encourages kids’ creativity with an extensive lineup of hands-on activities to promote Every Hero Has a Story – the 2015 Summer Reading Program for children. More than a dozen booths will be set up on the City Plaza, with activities ranging from super hero cape crafts and musical instruments to chess and magic. In case of rain, activities will be held inside the Library.

Children also can enjoy live performances on the Family Stage. This year’s schedule is as follows:

10 a.m.: Jester Puppets H.E.R.O.schildren's day14

10:45 a.m.: Zach Metzler Juggling

11 a.m.: Mr. S and the Sand Box Band

12:15 p.m.: Zach Metzler Juggling

12:30 p.m.: Mrs. Hinky Dink Clown and Magic Show

1 p.m.: Zach Metzler Juggling

1:15 p.m.: The After School Specials concert by Shimek Elementary School BASP

2:15 p.m.: Zach Metzler Juggling

2:30 p.m.: Kol Shira band

Strolling entertainment will include Dean Franzen juggling on his unicycle from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the Tubador playing from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Children’s Day also is the official planting day for the Library’s Children’s Garden on the City Plaza. Kids are invited to help Scott Koepke, the education and outreach coordinator for New Pioneer Food Co-op’s Soilmates program, plant this year’s garden, which will include green beans, lettuce, and carrots. All produce harvested from the Children’s Garden is donated to Table To Table, which provides food for the area’s hungry, homeless and at-risk population.

Children’s Day begins at 10 a.m. with activities concluding at 3 p.m.

For more information about Children’s Day, call the Iowa City Public Library at (319) 356-5200.

For more information about the Summer Reading Program, visit

For a complete schedule of the Iowa Arts Festival, visit

Sometimes It’s Good to be Bad

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on May 26th, 2015

Underneath my mild-mannered librarian persona, I must be a covert criminal.  Not only do I revel in action movies where lots of things get blown up, I also read a fair amount of fiction from the “Dark Side” point of view.  Therefore, contrary to our Summer Reading Program‘s superhero theme, these books offer a fun way to be a felon vicariously.

Good Thief's Guide.phpWhen a title begins with “A Good Thief’s Guide to. . .”, a certain plot is expected:  something will be stolen and complications will occur.  After all Charlie Howard, whose day job is writing novels about a burglar, is only a good thief, not an excellent one.  What is unexpected is the wry humor that Chris Ewan uses to navigate the various circumstances in each specific location.

Heist Society.phpThe Heist Society series by Ally Carter also mixes humor and action with criminality.  After 15 years of a larcenous lifestyle with her family, Kat Bishop uses her skills to escape to an elite boarding school where she believes she can have a normal life.  Very shortly thereafter, her best friend Hale arrives with the news that her father has been framed for a theft, allegedly one only he has the skills to commit.  Can Kat and her crew make things right and save the day?  Most likely.  But it’s the daring escapades used to accomplish this that will keep the pages turning and make you wish you could join the team.

Artemis Fowl.phpAt age 12, Artemis Fowl II is already a master villain, definitively overshadowing his father’s modest criminal enterprises and earning millions in the process.  He uses his ill-gotten gains to fund his obsession with fairies.  When he tries to and succeeds in kidnapping one in order to prove their existence, mayhem ensues.  Artemis must use his formidable intellect to outwit the magical realm and gain his heart’s desire.  This initial book in the eponymous series by Eoin Colfer caused me to check out the next one immediately for more shenanigans.  The first four are also available as graphic novels.

Fast and Furious.phpLastly, this blog would not be complete without a mention of the Fast and Furious movie franchise.  The story begins with Paul Walker as an undercover police officer tasked with locating a gang of high-speed thieves.  After acquiring a tricked-out car, he successfully infiltrates the street racing scene and “the family”.  The action accelerates from there and into each subsequent film.  Fueled by fast cars filled with pretty people, this series is a joyride.

Check these out to see how the other “evil” half lives!