Our Decameron community reading project continues – join us!

Have you been keeping up with The Decameron? If so, we’re up to the Fourth Day of stories. Jump right to Anna Barker’s introduction to the Fourth Day here.

If you are new to the project, there still is plenty of time. You can join us on the Fourth Day, or catch up from the beginning. The stories are short and entertaining, and in no time you’ll be caught up and reading along with the rest of us.

If you do want to begin, please read the overall introduction to the project here. This gives you context about Boccaccio’s book, and lays out the process for the reading schedule.

Wherever you are in the book, you should participate in the online conversations taking place. There are many ways to join the discussion. If you use Twitter, you can follow along and contribute using the hashtag #100DaysofDecameron. On Facebook, join our 100 Days of Decameron Facebook Group. If you are not a social media user, you can join our Decameron Discussion Board here on our website. These are a great way to share your thoughts, learn a bit more about the stories, and hear what others are thinking about the stories we read.


Little Free Library Map and Bike Adventure in the South District Neighborhood

The South District of Iowa City has created a Little Free Library map and bicycle adventure!

  • Use this map of the South District of Iowa City to help navigate your way to Little Free Libraries in this area.
  • Bike to Books: A Little Free Library Adventure invites participants to discover new places to bike and to visit little free libraries throughout the South District Neighborhood in Iowa City. Little Free Library (LFL) is the world’s largest book sharing movement. The idea is you can borrow a book and leave books in the library structures throughout the world! It builds community, sparks creativity and inspires engagement. This Bike to Books encourages active living as it joins forces with the South District Neighborhood Association, Iowa City Biking Community, and the City of Iowa City.

Learn more about Little Free Libraries, including funding opportunities or build and maintain your own, at out Little Free Library Resource Page.


We want to hear from you. What are you reading, besides the Decameron? What are you writing? How are you coping in this time and how can we help? Our mission is to celebrate and support literature on a local, regional, national, and international level, connecting readers and writers through the power of story. These connections take on a larger meaning now, while we can’t be close physically, we can still connect through words, still understand each other from a shared story or poem.

We recognize that times are tough for so many of us. For those fortunate enough to be in a position to give, we are grateful for your renewed support. Please click here to donate.

100 Days of Decameron

Already sold on the idea and ready to begin? Click the quote above to go directly to the project page for more information.


We all are looking for ways to make it through these days of isolation and uncertainty, and turning to books for solace and diversion is one method many of us will employ in the days and weeks to come. To help with this process, we have found the perfect book — The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. The book was written during the Great Plague of the 14th century. It is funny, imaginative and a bit bawdy, the perfect antidote to worry-inducing headlines. And, it is a doorstop of a book, the kind you say you’ll read “when you get the time.” Well folks, now is that time.

Please join us for “100 Days of Decameron” (click link for more information). Starting April 1 and for the three-plus months that follow, we will gather together, virtually and spiritually, to read this classic. The book is perfect for a project of this sort. The Decameron takes place in a Tuscan villa where seven young women: Pampinea, Filomena, Neifile, Fiammetta, Elissa, Lauretta, and Emilia; and three young men: Filostrato, Dioneo, and Panfilo, are self-quarantined while the plague is ravaging Florence. Being young and of active disposition, they stave off boredom by establishing a routine – every day they take walks, sing and tell stories. They do so for 10 days, with each of these young people telling a tale each day, for a total of 100 stories.

We will be led by Anna Barker, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of Iowa, and a member of the City of Literature board of directors. As Anna writes in her introduction to the project, “This is not so different from the routines the world community finds itself developing today while dealing with yet another global plague, COVID-19…Written at the intersection of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the tales reveal a great deal about the values and aspirations of the times, but remain vital and relatable today because of their earthy humanity… The tales of love range from romantic and erotic to the tragic and grotesque and offer a witty and honest glimpse into the complexity of human interactions. In addition to the tales of courtship and lust, the young story tellers indulge in a vast variety of topics that deal with cleverness and trickery, free will and virtue, reversals of fortune, lost and restored faith.”

We will start on April 1, when we will post Anna’s introduction to the first 10 stories on the project webpage, and then will post her introduction to each new set of 10 stories every 10 days.

We will keep the conversation going each day on social media. Please follow along and contribute your own thoughts and ideas at #100DaysofDecameron.


Book Recs: Sports

Hey sports lovers! We understand you’re probably missing the thrills of March Madness, the excitement of opening day for Major League Baseball, or maybe you’re even missing football! We’ve compiled a list of sports-related content for those of you with empty tournament brackets. Happy reading! 

The Great Gamble by David R Bluder 

Locally published March, 2020 by Ice Cube Press

The Great Gamble is a suspenseful novel about two FBI agents tasked with uncovering the corrupt world of sports gambling. 

“David Bluder is a gifted storyteller, and the story he tells in The Great Gamble is at once insightful and thrilling. What he discovers at the intersection of college basketball and criminality will make your head spin. We can’t go under hypnosis anymore? an FBI agent asks. They’re afraid we would reveal too many secrets. This is precisely what makes The Great Gamble such a satisfying read. Whether he is posting up or shooting from the perimeter, David Bluder never misses.” –Christopher Merrill, Director of International Writing Program University of Iowa. 

Live Like Line / Love Like Ellyn by Bill Hoeft

Locally published April, 2016 by Ice Cube Press

In August 2011 tragedy struck that rippled through the Iowa City community. Seventeen year old Caroline Found doesn’t survive a moped accident, devastating her family, volleyball team, and classmates. Twelve days later Caroline, or “Line’s” mother Ellyn died of cancer. Without their team captain or team mom, the West High volleyball team, who had previously been preparing for their second consecutive state title, can barely survive practice. This is the story of their journey to the State Championship during an unforgettable season.

The Miracle Season by Kathy Bresnahan

Published February 2018 by Kci Sports Publishing

Like “Live Like Line” this book is the story of West High’s unforgettable 2011 volleyball season that led them to the State Championships as told by the team’s coach, Kathy Bresnahan. This book inspired the movie “The Miracle Season” released April, 2018. Check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqMYe7tZjV0

Marshawn Lynch: A History directed by David Shields 

Released June, 2019

Directed by Writers’ Workshop graduate David Shields, this documentary uses over 700 video clips to document NFL star Marshawn Lynch’s silent protest against systemic racism in American society and the legacy he has left in American sports. Check out the trailer here: https://www.lynch-a-history.com/trailer-1

A Hero Perished: The Diary and Selected Letters of Nile Kinnick edited by Paul Baender

Published September 1992 by University of Iowa Press

This book is a conglomeration of the personal letters and writings of Nile Clarke Kinnick, bringing words and a voice to the legend himself. This is the story of his football career, but it’s also the story of having moral courage during a time of war and depression.

A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable 

Published March, 2015 by University Of Iowa Press

In his autobiography, Dan Gable writes about the entirety of his life, from his childhood in Waterloo, Iowa, to tragedies he faced as a teenager, to his life-long sports career beginning as a swimmer as a young boy, all the way to wrestling in the 1972 Olympics. With each inspiring story Gable captures a lesson to reaching greatness and individual success. Gable also wrote a sequel, A Wrestling Life 2: More Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable (Published June, 2017 by University of Iowa Press).

Ball Hawks: The Arrival and Departure of the NBA in Iowa by Tim Harwood

Published October, 2018 by University of Iowa Press

Remember when Iowa had an NBA team? We didn’t either. In the 1949-1950 season during the NBA’s first season, the Waterloo Hawks hit the court along with other teams from Midwestern cities. Tim Harwood’s book is the story of the NBA’s first season, and how it took more than exceptional basketball players and loyal fans to get this professional league off the ground-and why many teams from smaller towns didn’t make the cut. Check out this book to reminisce on when Iowa had their own professional basketball team. 

Crossing the Line: Black Major Leaguers 1947-1959 by Larry Moffi and Jonathan Kronstadt

Published February, 1996 by University of Iowa Press

Crossing the Line profiles the more than one hundred African American baseball players who crossed the color line from 1947 when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, through 1959, when the Boston Red Sox became the last major league team to integrate.

Hoop Tales: Iowa Hawkeye Men’s Basketball by Buck Turnbull

Published October, 2006 by Globe Pequot

Join veteran sportswriter Buck Turnbull as he takes you through the highs and lows of Hawkeye basketball in this book of stories, photos, and anecdotes that Iowa fans will treasure forever.

From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press by Janice Beran

Published February, 2008 by University Of Iowa Press

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about women’s basketball! From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press is the first complete history of Iowa girls’ basketball. The product of exhaustive research, this work is based on many sources, including hundreds of interviews with players and their parents, coaches and officials, media personalities, and school administrators.

Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

Published April, 1999 by Turtleback Books

“If you build it, he will come.”

These mysterious words inspire Ray Kinsella to create a cornfield baseball diamond in honor of his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.