Booksellers’ Holiday Gift Recommendations


In the City of Literature, we are fortunate to be surrounded by so many world-class independent bookstores. This year we invited our local booksellers to share their top picks for holiday gifts.

Among the Stacks

224 1st St SW, Mount Vernon

123 S. Linn St.

Give used books a new life by shopping at The Book End this holiday season. Find out-of-print treasures, gently used adult and children’s books, audiobooks, movies, music, artwork and more. When you buy a holiday gift at The Book End, it keeps on giving – all proceeds benefit the popular Children’s and Teens Summer Reading Programs at the Iowa City Public Library.

The Book Shop

608 S. Dubuque St.

  • Whatever interests you’d like to encourage, there’s a book for that!
  •  It is a kindness to share the secret that reading is a great source of enjoyment.

1650 Sycamore St.

219 N Gilbert St.

  • Wish Certificates
  • Toys for Early Readers – Visual pattern recognition games and Reading Buddies
  • Three Wishes Recommendation Service – Tell us three things about the person on your gift list and we’ll find the perfect gift.

8 S Clinton St.

New Bo Books

1105 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids

15 South Dubuque St.

201 S Clinton St.

730 S Dubuque St.

Booksellers’ Holiday Gift Guide

Gift Guide post 2014

The City of Literature organization is partnering with several area bookstores to host the City of Literature Booksellers’ Holiday Gift Guide. Local booksellers will gather at 7 p.m. Monday Nov 24, at the Iowa City Public Library to present and talk about their top suggestions for holiday gifts.  This is an opportunity to ask for an expert’s recommendations and get a jumpstart on holiday shopping.

“We are fortunate to live in a community with so many world-class independent bookstores. These booksellers are experts on what writers and readers want, and they have fantastic gift ideas for all ages,” said Rachael Carlson, operations manager at the City of Literature.

Participating stores include: Among the Stacks, The Book End, The Book Shop, Defunct Books, The Haunted Bookshop, Iowa Book, New Bo Books, Prairie Lights Books, University Bookstore, and Uptown Bill’s.

The City of Literature Bookseller’s Holiday Gift Guide will take place in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library on Nov 24 at 7 p.m. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

Poems, History and Songs of World War I

Great War

Head to the Iowa City Public Library at noon Tuesday, Nov. 11, for “On the Centenary of the Great War: Poems, History and Songs of World War I.”

Voices of Experience will open the program, followed by poetry reading presented by members of Reading Aloud from the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center.

Local historian Loren Horton will present “Europe on the Edge of Catastrophe.” Horten worked for the State Historical Society of Iowa for nearly 25 years.

The program will end with songs of the period, performed by members of Voices of Experience from the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. The group is directed by Joyce Brokke.

“On the Centenary of the Great War: Poems, History and Songs of World War I” is sponsored by the Iowa City Public Library and the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. The program is free and open to the public.

City of Literature, Press-Citizen partner on holiday story contest

The City of Literature is partnering with the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Iowa City Downtown District to find a story to publish in the paper’s Dec. 25 issue.

This continues a tradition that began three years ago, when the paper began publishing an original short piece of fiction on that morning. This year, the paper seeks a holiday-themed story from someone in the community.

Submissions will be accepted through Nov. 19. The winner will be selected by a panel assembled by the City of Literature, and the winning story will be published on the front page of the Press-Citizen on Dec. 25. The author will receive a $50 Downtown District gift card.

Other submissions may be published on the Press-Citizen website on Dec. 25.

The guidelines:

• In a Microsoft Word document, write a holiday-themed story no more than 1,700 words in length.

• Email the finished story to Include the words “holiday story” in the subject line.

• Be sure to include your name, phone number and the town you are from so we know how to contact you, if needed.

• The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Nov. 19.

Happy 10th anniversary Edinburgh City of Literature

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network got its start 10 years ago this month when Edinburgh, Scotland, was named the first member as a City of Literature. Since that time, the network has grown to 41 cities (with more on the way), and the Cities of Literature now number seven.

Congratulations to Edinburgh on a decade of literary excellence, and thank you for lighting the way for the rest of us!

Our friends in Edinburgh celebrate the 10th anniversary of their designation with this wonderful poem by Christine de Luca, current Makar, that reserves a line for each of the other six Cities of Literature. The poem was read this morning at a full meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Through the Traffic of Tongues

Ten years we’ve had of trafficking,
of keeping borders open through words,
through discerning conversation,

the hospitality of books. Seven citadels
of literature, all fostered from a dream;
seven hills and heavenscities of possibilities.

Edinburgh: first to light up with literature,
spelled out its heritage and future. That night
in Paris was a consummation, a delight.

We passed the flame to Melbourne:
an ancient meeting place of sign and symbol,
built on gold, a rush of writing, a wealth.

Then Iowa City made the cut; told the world
it had made the sentence behave
and misbehave, recast our myths.

Dublin followed with its Book of Kells,
its four Nobel literary laureates
and a daft Bloomsday every June.

Reykjavik was standing in the wings,
holding its ancient tongue; weighing
its Edda and Saga, its poetic forms.

But Julian of Norwich was stirring in her grave.
Across 600 years we still need the solace of words
that tell us that all shall indeed be well.

Kraków is the seventh hill, the seventh dream:
its word hordes, bulging libraries, its bookshops;
the deep lines on its literary face.

All outward-looking places, all generous,
all built on the topography of words.
Open the book, read, translate, pass on the gift.

This poem, including the title, includes snippets – italicised – from poems by Edinburgh’s three previous Makars; Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies and Ron Butlin. Also a quote from the Iowa City of Literature website.)