Beyond the Book

Beyond the Book with Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This month we are going Beyond the Book with Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. (DB74646) The author, Cheryl Strayed, at the age of 26, decides on a whim to make the 1,100 hike up the Pacific Crest Trail by herself after years of devastating personal losses.  She experiences many mishaps and adventures along the way while meeting new people in the locals and fellow hikers she encounters. This was not a “how-to” book about hiking, or an informational book about the Pacific Crest Trail, or even a self-help book.  It is the thoughts of a woman who used her journey to work through her thoughts and emotions about her life up to that point. I thought this book would be a good book to take us into the new year as it can make you think about your own life experiences and how you ultimately handled and reacted to them.  2020 was a hard and interesting year that put us all outside our comfort zones and made us look inwardly at how we handle situations.  This reminded me of Strayed’s journey up the Pacific Crest Trail as she traveled alone with only her own thoughts as company.  This book was made into a movie in 2014 starring Reese Witherspoon.  In my opinion, the book is almost always than its movie and that holds true here.  However, the movie was very well done and I really enjoyed it and would strongly recommend it!

Next time we will go Beyond the Book with The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver (DB98810) A contemporary romance about Lydia and Freddie who had been together for more than a decade when Freddie died in a car accident. Deeply grieving, it takes time for Lydia to take the first steps to move on. But in her dreams, she has another chance at her old life with Freddie. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, a romance seems like the perfect fit! Call the library to request this book!  Once you have read it, call or email with your review or thoughts.  You might hear your words in the next Beyond the Book segment in the March Library News. We would love to hear from you!  Call 515.452.1329 or email

Thanks for reading with us!

Book Reviews From Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush  DB71205  BR21557
Laura Bush grew up an only child in Texas.  As an only child, she loved reading and later became a teacher and a librarian.  Two things that affected her growing up years were:  At the age of 17, she was driving with a friend and hit and killed one of her close friends, a boy driving from another direction. The other thing was the shooting President John F. Kennedy in Texas. Laura met George Bush and they were engaged after six weeks. George was very interested in politics and Laura was not, but she helped him campaign as he ran for congress, then governor of Texas and finally President of the United States. The Bush family was left in limbo after the 2000, presidential election when the state of Florida’s election process was in question, and the Supreme Court finally had to rule that the manual Florida recount had violated the Constitution. The event of September 11, 2001 happened during her husband’s presidency.  President Bush was flown all of the country during September 11, to make sure he was safe. At the end of the day, Sept 11, the secret service wanted the president to stay away from Washington, D.C., but he insisted that they return to White House to make sure his family was safe.  Then came the anthrax mail scare and mail all over the country was held up and examined.   Mrs. Bush candidly speaks about her marriage, her relationship to the Bushes and the birth of her twin daughters.  She inserts numerous tidbits of history in speaking of their days in the White House. She talks frankly about the White House events, her numerous trips and meeting various people.  This is an eye-opening book about Laura’s life and living in the White House.

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis  DB54458
Three young men growing up in Newark, New Jersey made a pact in high school to support each other and stick together and go on to college together.
The young men include:  George Jenkins who always wanted to be a dentist. He was encouraged at an early age to go to college.  George had the most stable environment of the three.  Sampson Davis who at an early age realized his mother could not read.  Her own mother had died when she was seven, so his mother helped to take care of her brothers and sisters and then married at fifteen. Sampson’s mother encouraged him to go to school and get good grades. Rameck Hunt whose parents were addicted to drugs was raised by his beloved grandmother. Their home town of Newark was a place with drugs, shootings and other illegal activity.  Only one of the three managed to stay out of trouble growing up. All three young men agreed to go to Seaton Hall together to become doctors.  I think that at times they believed it would never happen and it was just a whim.  While going to college wasn’t easy all three achieved high grades. There were many pitfalls along the way, including money issues, things they weren’t prepared for, but all three of them made it and became doctors returning to the area where they grew up to practice. They founded a foundation to encourage students to make goals and realize them and were also in demand as motivational speakers. This is an uplifting read and could be used as motivation for students.

Desert Heat by J. A. Jance (First in series of Joanna Brady Mysteries)  DB81543  BRC00696
Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andrew Brady, a deputy sheriff for Cochise Co Arizona, shot and near death in a wash on her tenth anniversary.  Things just don’t add up, his truck is locked and his gun is found under the truck.  The sheriff’s department seems to think Andy attempted to commit suicide.  Then there is the unexplained large amount of money deposited in the Brady’s checking account by Andy with an unknown young woman.  Joanna continues to believe Andy is innocent while several others believe that the money came from the sale of drugs.  Joanna is out to clear the name of her husband and soon becomes involved with a woman who thinks she knows the truth of who killed Andy. This is a good, clean mystery series with interesting characters and relationships.

Beyond the Book

Beyond the Book with Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

This month we are going Beyond the Book with Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf (DB96617).  Before She Was Found is “a gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town. For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover–movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences. Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora–and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted–not even those closest to Cora. Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe–even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.”–Provided by publisher.

Heather Gudenkauf is a bestselling author of many mystery/thriller books.  She currently lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her family.   But she spent a lot of her childhood in Mason City, Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa. I was able to hear Ms. Gudenkauf speak recently at the Iowa Library Association Annual Conference and she is a very calming, insightful speaker.  She possesses a great love of libraries and talked about her many memories using libraries throughout her life, especially the Mason City Public Library.  This summer she did an interview series with other bestselling authors and their pets called Sidekicks and Sidetrips.  It’s a fun, entertaining way to learn about other authors.  You can find these interviews on her website  If you like mysteries, Heather Gudenkauf is the author for you!

Next time we will go Beyond the Book with Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (DB74646).  Ms. Strayed recounts the three-month, 1,100-mile solo hike she took on a whim in 1995, after years of devastating personal losses. She describes her encounters with rattlesnakes, locals, fellow hikers, and her own thoughts during her trek from Los Angeles to Washington State on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Call the library to request this book and we can take her journey together. Once you have read it, call or email with your review or thoughts.  You might hear your words in the next Beyond the Book segment in the January Library News. We would love to hear from you!  Call 515.452.1329 or email

Thanks for reading with us!

Throwback Thursday

It’s Throwback Thursday, where we talk about a book we enjoyed years ago!  Today we are throwing it back with Leslie, Special Services Librarian.

My Throwback book would of course have to be a book by Stephen King! He is my absolute favorite author and always tells a great story that completely sucks me in!  Even if the story scares the pants off me, I can’t put it down.  Although, sometimes I can’t read it right before bed.  This title wasn’t that scary, but it definitely sucked me in!  It is The Green Mile.  I don’t know if some of you remember, but when The Green Mile was first published in 1996, it came out in six separate installments and it was torture waiting for the next installment to be released!  I was in college at the time and would put everything aside to read the next installment as soon as I could.  My roommates thought I was crazy!  The Green Mile tells the story of “criminal,” John Coffey, sentenced to Death Row in 1932 for the rape and murder of two young girls.  But Coffey is an unusual human being and thus begins an irresistible journey through the Green Mile.  If you like suspense, mystery, a little horror and human compassion, this book is for you!

Is there a book that throws you back?

September is Healthy Aging Month

September is Healthy Aging Month!  A national observance celebrating positive lifestyles.  Aging can be a difficult adjustment for some and we all want to live the best life we can.  Take this time to reevaluate your lifestyle and see if there are some changes and tweaks that could be made.  Maybe the below books can help!  Let us know if you would like to add any of these titles to your book list or they can be found on BARD.

Aging backwards: reverse the aging process and look 10 years younger in 30 minutes a day DB 80842 by Miranda Esmonde-White

The Blue Zones solution: eating and living like the world’s healthiest people DB 81643 by Dan Buettner

French women don’t get facelifts: the secret of aging with style and attitude DB 77757 by Mireille Guiliano

Gratitude DB 83149  by Oliver Sacks

If you ask me: (and of course you won’t) DB 73334 by Betty White

Let’s be less stupid: an attempt to maintain my mental faculties DB 81923 by Patricia Marx

Older, faster, stronger: what women runners can teach us all about living younger, longer DB 81848 by Margaret Webb

Spring chicken: stay young forever (or die trying) DB 80896 by Bill Gifford

Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (DB94079)
The story flips back and forth from the making of the movie of The Wizard of Oz in 1939, to the love story of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz and Maud Gage.  Maud, a long time widow in 1939, goes to the studio to see that the movie being filmed stays true to the story written by her husband.  Frank Baum was a man before his time, always imagining what the future would hold. He enthralled children with his stories of fantasy. Frank and Maude were deeply in love, but struggled financially until Frank wrote his first book of nonsense poetry. He later found greater success with the book The Wizard of Oz. This book was well researched and although fiction, much of the story is based on fact. Recommended for those who grew up seeing the movie The Wizard of Oz on television once a year.
Link to Title on BARD

Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen and Whitney Cerak (DB66537)
In 2006, in Indiana a Taylor University van carrying five students and one staff member was hit by a semi that crossed the median and struck the van.  The lone survivor was a female student, Laura Van Ryn. Laura was taken to a hospital with a broken collar bone, elbow and leg and severe head trauma. The Van Ryn family rushed to the hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the family stood by Laura, while she endured physical therapy as well as, speech therapy.  Her sister, Lisa learned how to perform simple procedures to make Laura more comfortable. Laura at first, was in a coma and as the weeks past she became more aware and talkative. Five weeks after the accident the physical therapist asked Laura to write her name. She wrote Whitney.  The nurses assured the Van Ryn’s that the head trauma can cause the brain to misfire.  The next day as Lisa was wheeling Laura down the hall she asked Laura her name and she said Whitney.  She then asked for her last name and who her parents were. Lisa was convinced that for the last five weeks they had been loving, praying for mistakenly been identified as Laura Van Ryn. The Van Ryns were devastated and the Cereks were questioning how this happened as they drove to the hospital. Whitney was glad to see her family. The Van Ryns and the Cereks formed an unbreakable bond in caring for Whitney and both knowing what it was like to lose a child.
Link to Title on BARD

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (DB84392)
Ove is a curmudgeon.  He keeps to himself and does not involve himself with anyone.  Having been let go at a job he held for many years, he feels useless.  His wife has died and he just wants to be with her.  He visits her grave frequently. He decides to end his life, but every time he tries to commit suicide he is interrupted by neighbors wanting to borrow tools or needing rides.  Ove eventually becomes involved with his neighbors and is teaching one neighbor to drive. A group of neighbors bans together to prevent one neighbor from being sent to a nursing home.  This book is written with humor and compassion.  It can be enjoyed by all ages.
Link to Title on BARD