Author Jennifer Wilson to Read at CRPL to Conclude Linn Area Reads 2014

ImageJennifer Wilson, author of the Linn Area Reads 2014 selection “Running Away to Home: Our Family’s Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters,” will read from her work on Saturday, March 29, at 3 pm in Whipple Auditorium at the downtown library.

Wilson is an Iowa native and travel writer who has spent the past 15 years writing and traveling. “Running Away to Home” received the Best Nonfiction of 2011 Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Emerging Iowa Author Award in 2012.

Booklist had this to say about her book:
In thinking about her suburban life, epitomized by refereeing two arguing kids in a Target shopping cart whilst balancing a Starbucks, Wilson thinks: “If this is the American dream, it sorta sucks.” To refocus her family and connect with ancestors, she uproots her Iowa household and relocates to the mountainous, two-road village of Mrkopalj, Croatia. For the next four months, they adjust to the Balkan speed of life, in which rooms scheduled for completion in four days remain unfinished for weeks, meals of meat come with a side of meat, a language of consonants is marked with guttural accents, and they discover what they’d lost in the melee of their breakneck American lives: family. Wilson’s memoir isn’t so much about assimilating to Croatian culture as it is about finding family and, therefore, acceptance in unlikely places. A fun-filled, revealing peek into the Croatian countryside nevertheless, it will be enjoyed by travelogue lovers and admirers of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence (1989) and Frances Maye’s Under the Tuscan Sun (1996).—Katharine Frank

Linn Area Reads is a program of the Metro Library Network, which is made up of the Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha Public Libraries. All Linn Area Reads events are free and open to the public. To register for the event, click here or call the Cedar Rapids Public Library at 319-261-READ.

Linn Area Reads Selects “Running Away to Home” for 2014

he planning committee for the annual community reading program known as Linn Area running back to home-book-coverReads has selected Running Away to Home: Our Family’s Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters by author Jennifer Wilson for the 2014 edition of the program.

Linn Area Reads is a program of the Metro Library Network, which is made up of the Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha Public Libraries. All Linn Area Reads events are free and open to the public.

Running Away to Home tells the story of the author’s trek to the land of her ancestors. For more information on the author or the book, visit

“This is a story we thought would appeal to a broad swath of our community and encourage discussions about where we all come from and what matters to us,” said Amber Mussman, Community Relations Manager with the Cedar Rapids Public Library and member of the selection committee.

Linn Area Reads 2014 programs include:

  • Weekly Book Discussions: 6:30 pm,  March 6, 13, and 20 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 333 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids.
  • Family Legacy—Find Meaning in Your Family’s Story, presented by Linda Schmidt: 2:00 pm on March 8 at the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 West Willman Street, Hiawatha.
  • Heirloom Recipe Swap: 2:00 pm on March 15 at the Marion Public Library, 1095 6th Avenue, Marion.  Share your family favorites with new generations. Registration is requested for this free event. Register online or contact a metro library.
  • Author Visit: Jennifer Wilson: 3:00 pm, March 29, at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 5th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids. Registration is requested for this free event. Register online or contact a metro library.

For more information, visit our Event Schedule.

Linn Area Reads is supported by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library, Friends of the Marion Public Library, and the Metro Library Network.

World Read Aloud Day 2014

wradThe Cedar Rapids Public Library is gearing up to participate in the third annual World Read Aloud Day on Wednesday, March 5. This event, sponsored by LitWorld, calls attention to the importance of literacy as a human right. Literacy is one of the keys to intellectual curiosity, of course, but it’s also fundamental to emotional wellness, physical health, and prosperity. Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children. The statistics really are staggering.
We hope to raise awareness about the intrinsic value of language and story by hosting a readaloudathon at the Cedar Rapids Public Library on World Read Aloud Day 2014. From the moment we open at 9:00 am until we close at 9:00 pm, readers will share stories and poetry. What a day it will be!  We promise a potpourri of readers on the roster – from University of Iowa athletes to members of the Metro High School speech team to members of VoiceBox, a local poetry group.  Check back often for more details.

One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival

onebooktwobookThe third annual One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and sponsored by the Pearson Foundation, will be held Jan. 17-19, 2014.

The weekend features author presentations, children’s book character meet-and-greets, a book fair, recognition of student writing and more, nearly all of it free and open to the public.

The weekend begins with the annual “Once Upon a Time” banquet at the Sheraton Iowa City, on Friday, January 17. That event features a keynote presentation by bestselling children’s author and illustrator Loren Long, creator of the New York Times bestselling Otis series, and illustrator of President Barack Obama’s Letter to My Daughters: Of Thee I Sing and the newest edition of the classic The Little Engine that Could.

In addition, the evening will feature readings by one student from each Iowa City area elementary school, including all Iowa City Community School District schools, Willowwind and Regina. These 21 students were hand-picked by their schools to participate in the event. Thanks to sponsorship by Terry Lockridge & Dunn and World Trend Financial, each participating school will receive a free table for students and guests to attend the event.

Saturday, January 18, features readings by Long and other popular children’s authors, skits, music and a book fair. Events will be held in the Sheraton Iowa City ballroom and the Iowa City Public library from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The events are free and open to the public. Attendees are eligible for door prizes.

Presenting authors include Loren Long, Sarah Aronson, Laura Purdie Salas, Brian Farrey, and Katherine House.

Two events on Saturday offer older students the chance to work with professionals to create and polish their own creations. Comic Book Confidential, a comic book workshop featuring Eric Gapstur, Aaron Gillespie, and Phil Hester, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Carver Room by Share in the Sheraton, the trio will share highlights from their own portfolios and then guide participants through the process of transforming an idea into a comic. Comic Book Confidential is for students in grades 5 and up; pre-registration is required. Visit to sign up today.

The Junior High Writing Jam will bring together seventh and eighth grade students to share ideas and be inspired. Held from noon to 2 p.m. at Fair Grounds Café at 345 S. Dubuque, this event is moderated by the Youth Writing Project and will feature visiting authors Sarah Aronson (Head Case; Beyond Lucky; and Believe) and Brian Farrey (The Vengekeep Prophesies series; With or Without You). ; Pre-registration is required. Visit to sign up today.

Sunday, January 19, brings “Write Out Loud,” a celebration of student authors that will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City. Hundreds of students in grades 1-8 wrote one-page pieces for the festival, and the best will be recognized at this special new event.

Two students from each grade will be honored for “excellence” in one of the following

categories, The Write Stuff and From the Heart, and they will read their work on stage. Other student “Writers of Distinction” will be recognized and are eligible for door prizes.

Refreshments will be served as this event, which also is free and open to the public.

Volunteers still are needed for Friday and Saturday events. Visit for more information or to sign up.

Support for the festival comes from the Pearson Foundation, Terry, Lockridge & Dunn, World Trend Financial, ACT, Hills Bank, Sheraton Iowa City, and Pearson.

For more information on the One Book Two Book festival presented by the Pearson Foundation,  please visit or contact the City of Literature office at (319) 887-6100 or

Press Cafe Offers Drive-Up Access

The weather outside is frightful, but the drive-up at Press Cafe downtown gives you easy access to hot beverages (and food!) without ever leaving your vehicle.

Press Cafe, located on first floor of the downtown library, features a full menu of great coffee drinks as well as tea and soda. They make fresh pastries daily, which will suit any sweet tooth, as well as a full menu of soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch. Specials vary! They are worth a visit, either by foot or by car.

Press Cafe Hours
M-Th 6am-9pm
Fri 6am-5pm
Sat 7am-5pm
Sun 10am-5pm
*Includes drive-up

Employ U

professionals-meeting-presentationAre you hunting for the perfect job in 2014? Have you been looking but haven’t found the right thing? Or are you back in the market for work after being laid off? The Cedar Rapids Public Library is thrilled to partner with RuffaloCODY to provide a free series of classes for job hunters called Employ U. These classes kick off on January 21 at 1:00 pm with a special open house and presentation.

Each session teaches different aspects of job hunting, resume building, and career development. Victoria Spain, recruiter from RufalloCODY, is volunteering her time to bring her knowledge to the public. Classes are free and registration is required. Click here to register online or call (319) 261-READ to have a staff member assist you.

January 21: Kickoff Open House, 1 – 3 pm, Beems Auditorium, Downtown Library

January 28: Job Search Basics, 2 – 3:30 pm, Technology Learning Center, Downtown Library

February 11: Resumes, 2 – 3:30 pm, Technology Learning Center, Downtown Library

February 25: Online Job Searching, 2 – 3:30 pm, Technology Learning Center, Downtown Library

March 11: Interviewing, 2 – 3:30 pm, Technology Learning Center, Downtown Library

March 25: After You Get the Job, 2 – 3:30 pm, Technology Learning Center, Downtown Library

Best Books of 2013

The new year is upon us and for many people that means deciding what books to put on their to-read list. Getting recommendations from those who read for a living (and no, this time I don’t mean librarians!) is always a great way to find something new to read.

Gazette reviewers Rob Cline, Laura Farmer and Mary Sharp spend much of the year exploring the shelves at the local bookstores and yes, their local library. They have put together a list of their favorite books from 2013. Take a look at the story here:

If you have read them, tell us what you think! What would you put on your own “best of” list? Share your thoughts with us!