NEW: Share the joy of books, reading in “Off the Shelf”

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Welcome to our new book review feature, “Off the Shelf.” Open to any book reader who wants to share your thoughts on how you’re affected by what you read, Off the Shelf is also led by decades-long voracious reader and personal reading activist Cathy Chavez, who will provide a monthly review. Take a look at Chavez’s first review, on an award-winning book from July 2019. BOOK: “The Nickel Boys” AUTHOR: Colson Whitehead ABOUT THE BOOK: Historical and literary fiction of 213 pages, released in July 2019 RATING: 5 Stars REVIEWED…

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Author and comic artist Huda Fahmy confronts Islamophobia with humor, wit

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Life in America can be challenging when you wear a hijab. Huda Fahmy shares her experiences as an obviously Muslim woman in America with humor and wit in her book “Yes, I’m Hot in This.” This comic collection of her experiences reveals the Islamophobia and ignorance that Muslim-Americans have to deal with. One recurring theme in Fahmy’s book is dealing with people who react with instant negativity and hatred when they see a hijab. Her comics show her responding with poise and witty comebacks, but Fahmy said that it’s always…

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National expert on fighting white power movement leads Wednesday webinar for Quad Cities group

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QUAD CITIES — An expert on the rise of hate groups that is also one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers comes virtually Wednesday to the Quad Cities, which has faced a rash of hate-related incidents over the past year including the graffiti-spraying of a Jewish temple just last week. Dr. Kathleen Belew takes to Zoom Wednesday evening to provide a webinar titled “What Is the White Power Movement? Why Should You Care?” Author of a highly-lauded 2018 book on white power, Belew is now one of the nation’s top…

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To step into your writer self, read your own story

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I constantly have conversations with people who commend me for being a writer and within the same breath, assure me that they could never be one. Here’s a story about one of those people. A student of mine, we’ll call her June, regularly attends the weekly IC Speaks workshops at her school, and it’s undeniable–nearly contagious–how excited she is about writing and performing.  One week, she brought a friend (or more accurately, dragged her friend) into the workshop by the wrist, amidst groans and protests.  When I asked our visitor…

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Writers are pushed to write more through NaNoWriMo

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At least 50,000 words written in thirty days. Such is the insanity I undertake every November, along with hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. November was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and according to, over 400,000 people participated last year in over 655 regions on six continents. I was one of them. I have participated in NaNoWriMo since November 2015. That first year, I was enormously pregnant with my youngest, who was born eight days after NaNo finished.  But I actually won. I wrote those 50,000…

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A self-made author shares his inner journey

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Since he released his first book, “Look Black Boy,” this spring, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey has been the subject of many articles and interviews. Here, he shares some of his inner-most thoughts and feelings about putting himself out there. I published a book. That sentence is so much bigger than the four words that contain it. Most days I still can’t believe it. Since I was in seventh grade I knew I was meant to be a writer, but being a published author is one of those dreams–and we…

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What’s it like to self-publish a book? Ask Caleb Rainey!

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I published a book. That sentence is so much bigger than the four words that contain it. Most days I still can’t believe it. Since I was in seventh grade I knew I was meant to be a writer, but being a published author is one of those dreams–and we all have them–where you simultaneously feel like you can do it, and it’s always out of reach. For so much of my life, there was always another step I needed to take: finish high school, get a college degree, get…

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Award-winning Iowa City poet combines drive, talent, discipline to self-publish

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He works four jobs. He self-markets and books his own competitions, readings and performances — often working in the middle of the night or between shifts. And he wrote his book in about two months. Caleb Rainey, a University of Iowa graduate, is combining highly-crafted word-smithing, with self-coordinated time management that rivals the best professional systems, with old-fashioned hard work and sacrifice, with sheer drive to put his stage poems “to page.” The 24-year-old is in the midst of a national tour of competitions, performances, and readings to promote “Look,…

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