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The Press asks local book lovers, "What are you currently reading?"

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By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Press reached out to area book enthusiasts and asked them, "What are you currently reading? The following answers were submitted by readers in the order they were received. 

Dean Schultz

I am presently re-reading Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. I read this long ago – from the perspective of a very young person in his teens or early twenties – and now wanted to read it again from the perspective of, shall we say, a seasoned older gentleman.  

I also just finished a very fine book by Elizabeth Letts called The Ride of Her Life.  It is a real life adventure of a woman in her sixties who receives a bad health report from her doctor. Spurred by her indomitable spirit, she decides to take a horse and her small dog in late fall in the 1950's and begin her last adventure, a horseback ride from Maine to California. And what an adventure it turned out to be. This book was recommended by Kay Vifian.   

Tate Armstrong

I am reading the teen/young adult fiction series Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It is a series of six that covers the story of Jacob Portman, a 16-year-old boy from Florida. His grandfather mysteriously dies, and his dying words lead Jacob to an island off the coast of Wales. He discovers the orphanage his grandfather grew up in, and he discovers that, in some unfathomable way, the other kids in the orphanage are still kids – and he is like them. He is peculiar. It is a well written series with twists and turns at every corner of the books, from soul-extracting bad guys to undead monsters that Jacob seems peculiarly able to control. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read and enjoys an adventure, because this series is an adventure to be reckoned with.

Becky Hefel

I just finished reading Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See. It is a historical novel inspired by the true story of a woman physician/herbalist in 15th century China. With women having very little freedom in that era the practice was extremely rare and frowned upon. 

It is hard to comprehend from where we sit as free Americans what it would be like to have your whole life determined for you from the moment you are born, depending on your family’s status. The book gives great insight to what that meant in those times. 

The author writes with such beautifully descriptive detail the characters and their  surroundings easily come to life. It was an excellent book that was hard to put down and leaves you thinking about the characters even after finishing.

Jeff Palmer

I am always happy to share some of my most recent reads. I have to be careful not to go crazy with these types of requests.  I can think of so many books. But, here are three that have stayed in my mind long after I turned the last page, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger; The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods, and Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is a literary fiction.  The author is also quite well known for his great series of crime books, but this is different.  Quite profound.  The only book that comes to mind to compare would be To Kill A Mockingbird.  He is so good at creating an atmosphere and characters, I really think he is a genius.  

The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods  is a feel good fantasy fiction/literary fiction novel.  Very well written and great characters.  

Time after Time by Lisa Grunwald. This book is an enchanting read. A love story that is part fantasy/part literary fiction. It is set in New York City's Grand Central Station, it is impossible to go there now without thinking of this story.  

Kyle Sperfslage

Right now I am reading The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy is a retired NFL football coach. Dungy’s first book, Quiet Strength, was one of my favorites, and explained how Coach Dungy led NFL teams and players with a very calm demeanor. The Mentor Leader gives examples of how to be a leader in various situations. What I love about Dungy is he gives ideas for leadership, but is very open that it doesn’t mean his way is the right or only way. I have never met Coach Dungy, but he sure seems like one of those coaches who I would love to sit down and have dinner with!! Throughout the last year I also finished several books by Malcolm Gladwell. He is a fascinating writer and is able to catch the attention of an extremely wide range of readers and I recommend anything that he has written.

Tryce Sperfslage

If you know Tryce you know that he absolutely loves to read!! Tryce learned to read with the “Whole Child Reading” program that was developed by Natalie Hale when Tryce was 3 years old. Since then he has been hooked and now Tryce’s favorite books are anything that involves Blippi!! In addition to that Tryce loves Berenstain Bear Books, many of these stories have life lessons in addition to the entertaining plots. Tryce is the definition of a Book Worm.

Keegan Sperfslage

I enjoy reading a variety of books. One of my favorite authors is Jake Maddox. I like that his books are about a wide range of different sports. I have read books of his that are about fishing, running, hunting, football, and basketball. My favorite two are Playing Forward and Double Scribble. His books teach you how to be a great teammate, and how to have fun doing sports that you enjoy.

Norma Thiese

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. A National Book Award Finalist.

I didn’t know that people, throughout history, could earn a living by reading newspapers to others who did not have access to news. After the Civil War, Captain Kidd traveled through northern Texas reading newspapers to locals eager for news of the world. Along the way, he was asked to transport a ten-year-old orphan girl who had been kidnapped by Kiowa raiders through four hundred miles of difficult, unsettled territory to relatives in San Antonio, in exchange for a fifty-dollar gold piece. It was a challenge because the girl had forgotten English and was raised in the Indian ways. She would try to escape while the Captain also had to fend off bandits, unfriendly Indians and the federal army. Once he got to his destination, he faced another challenge and had to decide whether to abandon the girl to her fate or kidnap her himself. 

I enjoyed reading this historical fiction title because it was different than books I tend to read. It really is an emotional journey of trust, bonding, fear, doubts, and partnership.

This is an action-packed novel and is available in book, eBook, audiobook, and as a DVD movie starring Tom Hanks from the Guttenberg Public Library. This title is also available from the Garnavillo Public Library in eBook, AudioBook, and DVD. I’m glad I read the book before viewing the movie! 

A second title that I’m enjoying is: Echoes in the Hallways: History and Recollections of 102 Closed Iowa High Schools by James Kenyon.

The author interviews residents of communities that have closed their high schools. One of the schools highlighted is the Garnavillo High School. Local residents share stories of attending the school and it provides factual information about the history of school in Garnavillo, teachers, sporting events, busing, music, pranks, graduates killed in action, the closing, etc. It even lists the last person to receive a diploma from Garnavillo High School.

This book is available from the Garnavillo Public Library.

Steve Dikkers

My most recent completion was The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter

A reprint of a book he wrote after he had discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen but before he opened the sarcophagus.  

The first quarter of the book gives the backgrounds of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. These biographies were written by Carnarvon’s widow after he died of an infected mosquito bite shortly after he and Carter entered the tomb for the first time – hence the Curse of King Tut. Carnarvon was Carter’s sponsor. He supplied the money. Carter supplied the knowledge, Egyptians were hired to do the manual labor.

The world was a different place in the early 1920s when this happened. Although it was one of the oldest nations in the world, Egypt was very much a British colony. Carter and Carnarvon were an entitled and privileged class of people. 

The Valley of the Kings was several hundred miles downstream from Cairo and the Great Pyramids. The pyramids were essentially large markers that declared to the world, “A king is buried here.” As a result tombs were often plundered within decades. The secret burial ground of Valley of the Kings didn’t work much better. By the early 1900s over 60 “secret” tombs had been discovered. There were hints of another tomb, but so far it had been undiscovered. Tutankhamen was not a great king. He ruled for barely 10 years. He was still a teenager when he died. He left no descendants. What made Tutankhamen’s tomb special to recent Egyptologists was that grave robbers never found and plundered his tomb. Carter was able to recover over 5,000 individual artifacts including the famous gold and precious stone burial mask that is perhaps the most well-known of all Egyptian artifacts.

I picked up this book on a whim. Due to this summer’s hit movie “Oppenheimer” I had read “American Prometheus” the book the movie was based upon, as well as several more books about the Manhattan Project, Leslie Groves, and the element plutonium. I had been pretty much “Oppenheimered Out” and was looking for something else. This Dover Publication reprint of Carter’s 1923 book filled the bill. It could have been a dry, technical accounting of the expedition, but it wasn’t. It was a nice enjoyable read that opened my mind to a period of time that I didn’t know much about.

Tracy Elsinger

I typically listen to audio books rather than reading books in the traditional manner, mostly while working or driving long distances. In the past year I listened to 28 books, and am currently partway through two others, White Nights by Ann Cleeves, and The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon. 

I generally prefer fiction to nonfiction, but I did listen to several excellent nonfiction books in the last year, including The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose, and We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. The last book was the inspiration for a popular movie starring Mel Gibson, and I would encourage anyone who has watched and enjoyed the movie to read the book, since it goes into a lot more detail about the events of that time than the movie does. A very eye-opening look at the United States’ role in the early days of the Vietnam War.

Stephanie Radabaugh

Have you checked out the local indie bookstores in our surrounding area?  I have to say the Paper Moon in McGregor and The Bookworm in Bellevue are two of my favorites.  My most recent book was a one-day read I purchased at the Bookworm.  The book is The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. The book is about an unusual but wise man who keeps making appearances in peoples’ lives in one small town.  The elderly man always wears the same clothing and carries the same battered briefcase.  Each person or couple the man meets learns a new perspective on the problem they are facing.  The man is always able to help those he seeks out by showing them the other side of the coin they were never able to flip on their own.  

The book gives a great perspective for the reader on how we can be so focused on what our problem is – that we don’t consider it may not be a problem at all if we just look at it differently.  

Lucky for me, I just celebrated my birthday and my two youngest children purchased an overstuffed reading chair and ottoman from Henny Penny’s Retail and Rentals. My oldest son gave me a gift card for more books!  If you don’t see me for the next year straight, I will be in my chair doing ALL the reading.

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