Electoral college book author presents May 12 as part of LIT Talks series

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library, will host author Jesse Wegman on May 12, when he will discuss his new book, Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College. Wegman’s talk will be online at 7 p.m. Visit https://bit.ly/LITtalks to register for this free Zoom webinar, or stream live via The Library Channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/thelibrarychannel.

Wegman’s talk is part of LIT Talks, a series of occasional events designed to bring the authors of books about politics and social engagement to the library to discuss the ideas in those books. For this event, Wegman will visit virtually. Attendees who watch through Zoom will be able to ask questions of Wegman using the Q&A function.

Wegman has been a member of the New York Times editorial board since 2013, writing editorials on the Supreme Court and legal affairs.

Two of the last five presidential elections have been won by the candidate who lost the popular vote. That, coupled with Iowa’s own problems with voting and how those votes are counted, makes Wegman’s book a timely contribution to an ongoing discussion.

In the book, Wegman makes a case for choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. In this compact, deeply researched, highly readable history of the Electoral College, he describes its controversial origins, profiles some of the more than 700 efforts to abolish or reform it over the years, and explains why it is now essential for us to revamp this obsolete system and finally make every citizen’s vote matter.

Wegman debunks the most persistent myths and misconceptions about the Electoral College, from “The framers thought it was the best way to choose a president,” to “Big cities would dominate a popular vote.” He also follows the efforts of the team behind the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a constitutional workaround that has won the support of 15 states and the District of Columbia, bringing the nation closer to this goal than it has been in half a century.

Previous LIT Talks include presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussing his book, Shortest Way Home, and Drake University Professor Jennifer Harvey discussing her book, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.

While Prairie Lights usually would be on hand to sell books at the event, for this virtual event the store will have the book available for advance purchase at 25 percent off the list price. They are offering free delivery in Iowa City/Coralville, as well as mail order. Visit www.prairielightsbooks.com or call (319) 337-2681 to order. A digital edition also is available through icpl.overdrive.com with library card.

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.