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In what has become an annual holiday tradition, we offer once again a list of suggestions of what to read over break this year from Kirkwood Library Services. Find lists from previous years, 2013, 2014 and 2015 from these links.

Some books have a copy at both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, others are only at one or the other. A few we don’t own copies of, but you should be able to find them at a local public library. Check with a librarian if you have questions and remember you can get most Kirkwood library books delivered to you at any of the centers.

Between semesters is a golden time to do what you don’t have time for during the regular semester, read something that YOU pick! Stumped over what that should be? Check out our selections below.

The best behind the scenes/making of book I’ve ever read is As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Call Number: PB ELW). The Princess Bride is also number 1 on my list of best movies adapted from books. Written by Cary Elwes who played Wesley aka The Man in Black, it takes you through the process of the movie from writing the book to getting permission to make the movie, lots of false starts along the way, casting, and all the adventures of filming. Director Rob Reiner says that there were 3 roles that just couldn’t have been played by anyone else and I think he’s right. A great thing is that the book isn’t just Elwes’s view. There are off set boxes along the way with other people critical to making the movie. The audio book is even better because almost all of these boxes are read by the people who wrote them. If you love The Princess Bride or making movies you’ll love this book. I can say more…
Sarah Uthoff, Reference Librarian

Whether you know who Trevor Noah is or not (he’s the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central) Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Call Number: 791.45 N739b) is an engaging read that tells through a series of humorous, touching, and emotional essays of his life growing up in the last years of apartheid in South Africa. Trevor was born to a black mother and a white father which was a crime at that time. His essays tell of his mischievous youth, his relationship with his mother, and his struggles to discover where he fits into the world.  I read this with a reading group. Half of us knew he was, and half didn’t. Everybody enjoyed the book.
Julie Petersen, Reference Librarian
Also recommended by Sue Miller – Trevor Noah grew up during South African apartheid when it was illegal for him to have a black mother and a white father. Trevor’s mother had to hide him indoors as she could not walk down the street with him for fear of being imprisoned. Yet, Trevor overcame a difficult childhood and is now a famous comedian in the United States. Read how he overcame a life of poverty and violence to make us all laugh as host on The Daily Show.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Call Number: 305.896 S982b) is written as a letter to his teenage son, Coates explores the false framework of race that has shaped American culture. Responding to the recent rash of shootings of young black men by police officers across the country, Coates demonstrates how these incidents are grounded in America’s history of racial violence.
– Ryan Strempke-Durgin, Digital Services Librarian

Dani’s Story by Diane & Bernie Lierow and Kay West (Call Number: 362.734 L719d) is a compelling story about a couple’s journey of adopting a child with disabilities caused by caused by an unhealthy environment.
– Barbara Oldenburg, Circulation


The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe CA 1200 BC by Robert Drews offers a different take upon the calamities in the ancient near east that prefaced a nearly 400 year dark age.  He argues against the status quo scenarios of earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves and mass migrations to advance the theory that it was the advent of the lightly armored spear and swordsmen on foot that ended the here to fore dominant military system of chariot armies and with their defeats, the destruction of many of the urban areas of the ancient near east.  Think of Troy. (Read Homer’s  Illiad)
Steve Sickels, Reference Librarian

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Call Number: PB PAL) is the fictional story of August (Auggie) Pullman.  He was born with severe facial deformities and other medical problems that kept him in and out of the hospital growing up. The story begins as he’s starting school for the first time – in the 5th grade. Auggie has struggles and triumphs at his new school – but what kid doesn’t? This book is great for the whole family. It is also a recently released movie starring Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, and Julie Roberts and Owen Wilson as his parents.
Julie Petersen, Reference Librarian


Told from her perspective, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Call Number: 813.54 L478t 2010) is about Scout Finch as she grows up in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression with her brother Jem and father Atticus. This sleepy town is shaken when a poor white women accuses Tom Robinson, a black man, of rape, and Atticus becomes Tom’s lawyer.
Sarah Young, Department Assistant

I would like to recommend the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel, by Margaret Atwood (Call Number: 813.54 A887h). If the title sounds familiar, it may be because it is now an acclaimed TV series on Hulu. Its first season was nominated for 13 Emmy awards and 3 Golden Globes. But as any librarian will tell you, the book is always better than the movie! So read the book to discover more about the handmaid, named Offred, and her life in the republic of Gilead.​
Sue Miller, Reference Librarian

To say the least, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (Call Number: 641.5 M145o 2004) reveals the fascinating origins of global foods, provides explorations of chemical attributes, and explains the way that these properties transform under temperature and time. For any serious cook or chef, this is a must-have reference resource.
Joseph McKinley, Reference Librarian

Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore (Call Number: 363.17 M822r) is one of those books that will outrage you – at least it should!  It tells the story of several women with coveted jobs in the radium watch dial factories. They spent all day painting the miracle element radium on the watch faces, and it left the factories with them at the end of the day on their shoes and clothing. As people began to realize the problems associated with radium, the women were assured over and over that it was not only not harmful, but actually beneficial to them. As one by one, they fall ill, they begin to fight for medical assistance and the acknowledgement that it was not safe. It was a surprisingly difficult and unsatisfying fight that went on for years.
Julie Petersen, Reference Librarian

I read the Children of Hurin by Christopher Tolkein not too long ago.  It takes place in Middle-Earth during the first age and follows the story of Turin, the son of Hurin, who is cursed by the Dark Lord Morgoth. Turin journeys through Middle-Earth while having a curse upon him in which evil will happen to him no matter where he lives.  If you enjoy works by JRR Tolkein you will like this book.
-Dominic P McCaffrey, Library Associate Iowa City Library

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett is the first book in the popular Discworld series. The book follows Rincewind, one of the world’s worst wizards whom always manages to find trouble around every corner. Rincewind is tasked with being a guard for an exotic tourist known as Twinflower. Rincewind’s incompetence and Twinflower’s naivety make for a hilarious adventure to follow.
– Shanen Taylor Hagans, Library Associate Iowa City Library

If you like horror, friendship, and 80s nostalgia, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (Call Number: PB HEN) is the book for you! This is from the publisher’s website: Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her...
– Andres Mauricio Calvopina, Circulation


I recently re-read The Shipping News  by Annie Proulx (Call Number: 813.54 P968s), and was struck again by Proulx’s skills in telling a story about a very unlikely protagonist in a very true, and funny, and beautiful way. The book follows Quoyle, a man seemingly cursed by bad luck who nevertheless stumbles across — and more importantly recognizes — the grace that can come in the form of friends, family, children, love, and work. In other words: the grace that comes of living life.
Kate Hess, Iowa City Campus Library Coordinator

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks (Call Number: PB SPA) is a story about Russell Green who had his world turned upside down and how new opportunities lead to happiness.


Sarah Uthoff is a reference library at Kirkwood Community College. LIKE the Kirkwood Community College Library on Facebook and find links to Sarah all over the web at her About Me Profile.