ICPL Recommends

The shortest day book cover
The shortest day book cover

The shortest day

Susan Cooper

jE Cooper
Picture Books, Nature, Literary Fiction

A celebration of the winter solstice and the Yuletide season. As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper's poem "The Shortest Day" captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before-- and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illustrated by Carson Ellis with a universality that spans the centuries, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!

Lofty, elegant, and achingly beautiful, Carson Ellis's illustrations are the perfect pairing for Susan Cooper's poem. Don't miss this true winter solstice celebration from and for the ages! -Casey

She said : breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement book cover
She said : breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement book cover

She said : breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement

Jodi Kantor

364.153 /Kantor

From the Pulitzer-prize winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and abuse comes the thrilling untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement.

Once started, this book is hard to put down. The journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are smart, dogged, and compassionate, AND know how to tell a story that keeps you riveted. The primary story is about their research that exposed Harvey Weinstein and the many years he harassed women; the secondary story is an accounting of the "Me Too" movement and of Christine Blasey Ford's input to the hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The New York Times won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for Kantor and Twohey's reporting on the Weinstein case (prize was shared with The New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow). -Heidi L

Iowa Confederates in the Civil War book cover
Iowa Confederates in the Civil War book cover

Iowa Confederates in the Civil War

David Connon

977.702 /Connon
Nonfiction, History

Once in a while, we get an Iowa history book that disrupts what we always believed was true. Iowa Confederates in the Civil War does exactly this. Author David Connon chronicles 76 Iowans who headed south and signed up to fight against the Union. Listen to the River to River interview with the author here: https://www.iowapublicradio.org/post/new-research-shows-least-76-iowans-joined-confederacy-during-civil-war#stream/0 -Melody

Sulwe book cover
Sulwe book cover


Lupita Nyong'o

jE Nyongo
Picture Books

When five-year-old Sulwe's classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade.

Lupita's story of her own struggle with being unique is portrayed beautifully through Sulwe's desire to just fit in. A great story about loving yourself. -Mari

The song of Achilles book cover
The song of Achilles book cover

The song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

FICTION Miller Madeline

"Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. "The best of all the Greeks"-strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess-Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine-much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles' mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice. Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller's page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career." (Summary from Amazon)

"The Song of Achilles" is such an interesting rendition of the tale of the Trojan War. It is told by the perspective of Patroclus, beginning with him as a young child being exiled to the court of King Peleus. There, he and Achilles develop a deep bond which carries them through Chiron's training and into the battlefield. Beautifully written! -Becky

The secrets we kept book cover
The secrets we kept book cover

The secrets we kept

Lara Prescott

FICTION Prescott Lara
Historical Fiction

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world--using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.

While "The Secrets We Kept" is set around the creation and publication of Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago," it is not necessary to have read "Doctor Zhivago" to appreciate Prescott's work (though I now have added it to my list of books to read in the future!). Your attention shifts between two U.S. undercover typists working to distribute Pasternak's novel, to Olga (Pasternak's mistress), who's own livelihood and well being is very closely linked to the novel's publication. I really enjoy historical fiction and loved how this account examines the consequences and impact of creative, intellectual works during the time of the Cold War. -Becky


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