The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 24, 2003

UI Press Recommends Top 10 Winter Reads

As winter descends upon the Midwest, we can look forward to cold days, colder nights, and the shortest days of the year. With little choice but to curl up inside, it's the perfect time to catch up on your reading. But what to read? The University of Iowa Press has 10 fabulous books to help you survive the long winter evenings ahead.

1) "Weathering Winter: A Gardener's Daybook," by Carl H. Klaus. Avid gardener Klaus beautifully reminds us that the season of brown twigs and icy gales is just as much a part of the year as the time when tulips open and tomatoes ripen on the vine. From the first cold snap of December to the first plantings of March, Klaus keeps track of snow falling, reaps the bounty of his fall harvest, plans for his spring garden and watches seed trays come to life. "Like spoonfuls of hot chicken soup, Klaus's book warms the spirit," applauds Booklist.

2) "Nothing to Do But Stay: My Pioneer Mother," by Carrie Young. This fascinating story of Carrine Gafkjen, an uncommon woman who defied society's restraints to homestead for herself on the North Dakota plains, is a classic tribute to the lasting spirit of our pioneer heritage and the staying power of family and tradition.

3) "The Iowa Award: The Best Stories, 1990-2000," edited by Frank Conroy. If you love fiction but have a hard time choosing one of the hundreds of new books published each year, The Iowa Award is the book for you. Featuring stories from each of the Iowa Short Fiction Award winners from the last decade, this anthology, edited by Iowa Writers' Workshop director Frank Conroy, introduces readers to engaging and exciting new voices in the world of fiction.

4) "Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky: Brushes with Nature's Wisdom," by Trudy Dittmar. "Reading this book is like geode in a stream bed-crack it open and it sparkles," praises author Jo Ann Beard. In essays that range from the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, Dittmar weaves personal experience with diverse threads of subject matter-pronghorns, porcupines, and comets-to create unexpected connections between human nature and the natural world.

5) "A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women," edited by Marilyn Arnold, Bonnie Balif-Spanvill, and Kristen Tracy. In this time of global unrest, "A Chorus for Peace" reminds us of the power of the human spirit to overcome and survive tragedies. Featuring poems from women around the world, this anthology speaks out against violence and cries out for world peace.

6) "Central Standard: A Time, a Place, a Family," by Patrick Irelan. Not long ago, the Rock Island Railroad was a household name, the Great Depression was a recent memory and family farms dotted the landscape. In Central Standard, Irelan vividly recaptures this remarkable era in Midwestern history in 24 beautifully crafted, witty essays.

7) "Patchwork: Iowa Quilts and Quilters," by Jacqueline Andre Schmeal. Offering both a glimpse into the daily lives of 20th Century Iowa quiltmakers and an amazing sampling of Iowa's historic quilts -- 71 are featured in full-color - "Patchwork" is a loving tribute to this history of Iowa quiltmaking. This is the perfect book to keep you warm this winter.

8) "The Essays of Elia," by Charles Lamb. If you haven't gotten around to reading the famous essayist Lamb, now is your chance. Featuring many of Lamb's classic essays, including "Dissertation on a Roast Pig" and "New Year's Eve," "The Essays of Elia" is a classic collection that has inspired the likes of E. B. White and Virginia Woolf. A highly amusing and vastly entertaining read for anyone.

9) "Gardening in Iowa and Surrounding Areas," by Veronica Lorson Fowler. Read this book along with your favorite gardening catalog this winter, and you are bound to have a beautiful yard and delicious vegetables come summer. Beginning in January, Fowler presents a monthly checklist to allow gardeners to prioritize seasonal tasks. Gardening in Iowa and Surrounding Areas is sure to bring warmth to a gardener's life, both indoors and out.

10) "Birds at Your Feeder: A Guide to Winter Birds of the Great Plains," by Dana Gardner and Nancy Overcott. While not actually a book, this fold-out guide will provide both novice and experienced birdwatchers across the entire Midwest -- from the prairies and forests of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin south through Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and northern Oklahoma -- hours of enjoyment and challenge. This strikingly beautiful addition to Iowa's laminated guidebook series will bring life and color to everyone who enjoys watching and nurturing winter birds.

University of Iowa Press titles are available at local bookstores or directly from the press by calling 800-621-2736. For more information, please contact Megan Scott, Marketing Manager, at 319-335-2008 or via e-mail at Visit the UI Press web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, Press: Megan Scott,, 319-335-2008