Blogs

Skull in the Ashes: Murder, A Gold Rush Manhunt, & the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America

Skull in the ashes - cover

On a February night in 1897, the general store in Walford, Iowa, burned down. The next morning, townspeople discovered a charred corpse in the ashes. Everyone knew that the store’s owner, Frank Novak, had been sleeping in the store as a safeguard against burglars. Now all that remained were a few of his personal items scattered under the body.

Bubblegum Pop: That Sweet, Sweet Music

The CD cover for the The Monkees' self-titled album.

Bubblegum pop is a term often applied to a certain style of music with simple melodies and lyrics, but with ultra-catchy hooks. These days, when you hear the term used, it's usually in a disparaging manner. The origins of bubblegum pop were in the offices of record companies, not some kid's garage. It was a calculated attempt to create music that would appeal to a broad audience demographic, while maximizing profits for the producers. The original bubblegum era was from 1967-74 and the surprising thing is how often the producers actually succeeded in their attempts to create ear candy.

In the Stacks

Cover image of "The Orchardist" by Amanda Coplin

In the Stacks -- formerly known as Blurbs from the Backlist -- is a great way to find good books that you might not know about or haven't had a chance to read yet. These are books that are currently available in the Des Moines Public Library, meaning you could take one home today!

In the Stacks

Cover image of "Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris

In the Stacks -- formerly known as Blurbs from the Backlist -- is a great way to find good books that you might not know about or haven't had a chance to read yet. These are books that are currently available in the Des Moines Public Library, meaning you could take one home today!

Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye...

Gentlemen Bootleggers cover

During Prohibition, while Al Capone was rising to worldwide prominence as Public Enemy Number One, the townspeople of rural Templeton, Iowa--population just 418--were busy with a bootlegging empire of their own. Led by Joe Irlbeck, the whip-smart and gregarious son of a Bavarian immigrant, the outfit of farmers, small merchants, and even the church Monsignor worked together to create a whiskey so excellent it was ordered by name: Templeton Rye.

Summer Reading Lists

Collage of Summer Reading books

I love reading lists. I love when someone pulls together a list of good books, tells me a little about each one and then lets me choose my next read. I'll take a good reading list any time of the year, but I especially enjoy a summer reading list. Lucky for me, there are plenty of summer reading lists out there. Not only because library summer reading programs are in full swing  (which I also love), but also because summer makes us think of vacations, beaches, relaxing, which brings us to reading.

Time Is of the Essence, Really

One of the most popular action series of recent years was 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland. What set the Fox show apart from other programs was that the action took place in real time, that is, the events shown onscreen represented the same amount of time that it took to watch them. Real time is an interesting narrative strategy. It hasn't been used a lot in TV or film, but several great TV episodes and movies have employed the device expertly.

Book Bingo: Biographies and Memoirs, and Science Fiction or Fantasy

Cover image of "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi

Are you participating in the Adult Summer Reading program? There are two weeks left, so there's still plenty of time to play. If you're not sure what you're going to read, or you're just looking for suggestions, we have them here! Below you'll find two shelves: Women's Memoirs and Magical Reads. Any titles on the Women's Memoirs shelf will work for the Biography or Memoir space, and if you're interested in other topics, there are additional recommendations here.

Book Bingo: Nonfiction and World Fiction

Cover image of "One Summer: America, 1927" by Bill Bryson

Are you participating in the Adult Summer Reading program? If you've picked up a Book Bingo form, you've seen the variety of reading challenges to complete. If you're not sure what you're going to read, or you're just looking for suggestions, we have them here. Below you'll find two shelves: Bestselling Nonfiction and World Fiction. The Bestselling Nonfiction shelf includes past and present bestsellers, and if you're looking for other suggestions for the nonfiction Bingo space, take a look at these shelves.

Read Women 2014

Read Women 2014 by Joanna Walsh

Have you heard? 2014 is the Year of Reading Women. Information released last year from VIDA, an organization dedicated to women in literary arts, highlighted the disparity between how male and female authors and book reviewers are treated. For example, in 2012 at The New York Times Review of Books, only 22 percent of the books reviewed were by female authors, and 16 percent of the reviewers were women (The Guardian, 2014).

Book Bingo: Iowa Authors and Book to Movie

Cover image of "Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie" by Beth M. Howard

Are you participating in the Adult Summer Reading program? If you've picked up a Book Bingo form, you've seen the variety of reading challenges to complete. If you're not sure what you're going to read, or you're just looking for suggestions, we have them here. Check out these two Iowa Interest shelves: Contemporary Iowa Fiction Authors and Iowa Memoirs and Bios.

Book Bingo: Short Stories and Mysteries

Cover image of "Thunderstruck & Other Stories" by Elizabeth McCracken

Are you participating in the Adult Summer Reading program? If you've picked up a Book Bingo form, you've seen the variety of reading challenges to complete. If you're not sure what you're going to read, or you're just looking for suggestions, we have them here. Below you'll find a shelf of Short Stories, as well as a shelf for Crime Thrillers and Detectives & PI's, which are part of the Mystery genre.

Book Bingo: Chunksters and DMPL Staff Shelf

Cover image of "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

Are you participating in the Adult Summer Reading program? If you've already picked up a Book Bingo form, you've seen the variety of reading challenges to complete. If you're not sure what you're going to read, or you're just looking for suggestions, we have them here. Below you'll find a shelf of "Chunksters" (what we lovingly call books with 500 or more pages), and our very own DMPL Staff Picks shelf. Each of these is a space on the Book Bingo form, and hopefully you'll find something that sounds interesting and can fulfill one of your Bingo spaces.