Books and Authors

Charity Nebbe

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Courtesy of the Gable Family

Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable has been a household name in Iowa for decades. After bringing home three state wrestling championships in high school, he went on to the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he successfully wrestled without losing a single point. He famously coached the University of Iowa team to win 15 NCAA titles before retiring after the 1997 season. Since then he has continued to coach and has been actively working to keep Olympic and collegiate wrestling alive and thriving.

Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson / Kirkus Reviews

Children's author Sarvinder Naberhaus' family emigrated from India to Ames in 1965. In her new book, Blue Sky White Stars, Naberhaus juxtaposes the design of the American flag with what the country represents to her and many others chasing the American Dream.

Thomas Rydberg

Author Terry McDermott grew up in Cascade, Iowa with a passion for baseball instilled by his father. Inspired by Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez’s perfectly pitched game in 2012, McDermott wrote his latest book Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception. After explaining different types of pitches, McDermott’s novel combines a pitcher’s thoughts and strategy with baseball data and narrates readers through the perfect baseball game.

http://drakecommunitypress.org/

How many churches are there in Des Moines? How many mosques, temples, or places of worship are there? More than you might think. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Knepper, editor of the new book A Spectrum of Faith that was put together by more than one-hundred students at Drake University and highlights the religious diversity of Iowa.

Vivian Chen / flickr

The way women communicate with their friends can be subtle but powerful. Georgetown University professor of linguistics Deborah Tannen studies interpersonal relationships and communication patterns between women and the ways in which they differ from those of men. These differences can often be frustrating to those involved.

IPR’s 2017 Summer Book List

Jun 12, 2017
Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

The summer months can be a great time of the year to crack open a new book. During this hour on Talk of Iowa, Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Book Store in Iowa City and Kathy Magruder from Pageturners Book Store in Indianola join host Charity Nebbe to discuss both their new and classic book recommendations to add to your summer reading list.

FICTION:

Jan's picks:

Do Not Become Alarmed—Maile Meloy

Joyce Russell/IPR

An Iowa author’s book about Governor Branstad’s long tenure in office is being translated into Chinese by a Beijing publisher.  

Newton author and former newspaperman Mike Chapman wrote Iowa’s Record Setting Governor: The Terry Branstad Story in 2015.  

Two Chinese publishers expressed an interest in translating the book.

Author Loretta Ellsworth has written a number of books for young adults. This is her first novel aimed at an adult reader.  The reader is taken back and forth in time as the main character recalls her life and cherished memories.  The historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake is part of the setting weaved together with a 1940's World War II backdrop.  Ellsworth grew up in Mason City and her own parents met at the Surf Ballroom.

Matthew Robey / Flickr

On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Keith Lesmeister, author of We Could’ve Been Happy Here, a collection of short stories that all take place in Iowa. They are intimate, personal stories that give glimpses into what may be going on below the surface.

Lesmeister grew up in the Cedar Rapids area, and he now teaches at Northeast Iowa Community College and lives near Decorah.

River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque will be hosting Lesmeister for a reading on Friday, May 19th at 5:30 pm.

Harvard Square Press

This hour, we hear about the life of Michael Majok Kuch, a featured "Lost Boy of Sudan" from the PBS documentary "Dinka Diaries," as described in the poet Harriet Levin Millan's first novel "How Fast Can You Run." (Harvard Square Press). 

Behind the Blots: Hermann Rorschach's Ink Test

Apr 27, 2017
Penguin Random House

We’ve all heard references to the “Rorschach test,” but when you hear that term these days, it’s more likely a cultural reference than a clinical one.  In his new book The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, award-winning translator and Guggenheim recipient Damion Searls tells us about the little known life of the man who created that test -- Hermann Rorschach.

Nina Subin

Public radio listeners have been listening to Maureen Corrigan’s advice for decades. Corrigan has been the book reviewer for NPR’s Fresh Air for 27 years, she is literary critic for the Washington Post, and the Jamie and Nicki Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University.

In this Talk of Iowa interview, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about how she chooses what books to review out of the 200 plus that she receives each week. She also describes her love of reading for work and pleasure.

Lit City Episode Ten: Forgotten by History

Apr 13, 2017
IMDb

Like the title character of her 1933 novel Miss Bishop, Iowa-born author Bess Streeter Aldrich is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Although she wrote 14 novels and countless popular short stories, Aldrich was long forgotten... until recently, that is, when her hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa decided to name an elementary school after her.

Need a New Podcast to Binge? Try IPR's "Lit City"

Apr 7, 2017

The tenth and final episode of the first season of Lit City, Iowa Public Radio’s new book podcast, goes live next Thursday, April 13th. Co-hosted by IPR's Charity Nebbe and UI English Ph.D. student Anna Williams, Lit City revisits author interviews from Talk of Iowa while also exploring the sights and sounds of the United States’ only UNESCO City of Literature – Iowa City.

Beth Jusino / Flickr

It’s not only drugs that can cause addiction. New research shows dependence on your smart phone may produce some of the same addictive brain responses. 

In this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Adam Alter, an associate professor of marketing at New York University and author of the new book IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

According to Alter, the definition of the term “addiction” has expanded over the years to include not only substances, but behaviors as well.

University of Iowa Press

Who would think that doing a key word search of a massive newspaper database would turn up a previously unknown short novel by the much beloved 19th century author Walt Whitman?   University of Houston graduate student Zachary Turpin was the detective who uncovered his second Whitman find in an 1852 issue of an obscure New York City newspaper. 

Claudia McGehee / University of Minnesota Press

After children's book author Jacqueline Briggs Martin read an article in the paper about a man who had restored a creek back into a thriving habitat, something about the story struck her.

"It was amazing that the whole ecosystem has restored itself," she says. "How did the frogs, birds, and bugs know to come back? I found it remarkable that the ecosystem could build itself up."

The History Press

In 1908, the Rev. William Lloyd Clark of Davenport wrote: "If I owned Hell and Davenport, I would sell Davenport and keep Hell."  Iowa's largest metropolis along the Mississippi River was called "the worst city in the country" and "the wickedest city in the west" by many people and it was the Bucktown neighborhood on the east edge of downtown that earned Davenport that reputation. 

U.S. Army RDECOM / Flickr

Exhaustion, shock, panic, disease, extreme heat, and horrific noise -  these are some of the less talked about challenges of military combat.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with celebrated science writer Mary Roach about her new book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. In it, she explores the aspects of war no one makes movies about - the quirky but essential science behind staying alive in combat.

A description of Grunt from the publisher, W. W. Morton & Company, Inc.:

In Episode Four of Lit City, we begin with a quest to find the most beloved book in the City of Literature. Then we hear from Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, backstage at the Englert Theatre.  Join us as he talks to Charity about his time teaching middle school, his decision to promote diversity through his books, and the expansion of the Rick Riordan universe.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

John Darnielle grew up in Claremont, California, but at heart, he’s an Iowan. He pulls on the sense of community and a bit of nostalgia he observed while he was living in Colo in the 1990s in his new novel Universal Harvester.

The History Press

The history of Buxton, Iowa, is unique for its times.  Racial integration and harmony existed there at a time when racial tolerance was the exception and not the rule.  Buxton coal mine number 18 lasted only 20 years, 1900-1920, but its impact on Iowa and American remains through books, essays and historical accounts.  This hour, Ottumwa author Rachelle Chase tells us how she has contributed to the history of this fascinating former southern Iowa town, with her new book, "Lost Buxton" (The History Press, Images of America series).

H. Armstrong Roberts / Classic Stock/Corbis

In Episode Three of Lit City, we visit Prairie Lights bookstore and talk with Lauren Haldeman, a local poet who is creating a web app that tracks the footsteps of authors in the City of Literature. Then we'll hear from Erika Janik about her book  Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction. One of those fictional lady detectives, Nancy Drew, was created by Iowa native Millie Benson.

Trinity University Press

Different varieties of the Dogwood tree are found all over the world.  It's said the beautiful ornamental trees got their name because when the wind blows and the branches knock together, it sounds like a dog barking.   The large fragrant blooms are said to bring luck.  Christopher Merrill, a prolific writer and long-time head of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, first fell in love with the Dogwood when he worked in a nursery and garden center in Seattle.

Lit City Episode Two: Doubt and Persistence

Feb 16, 2017
Brandon Chew / NPR

In Episode Two of Lit City, we talk with University of Iowa English Professor Loren Glass about the original site of the experiment known as the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Charity also interviews Ethan Canin, author of  A Doubter's Almanac and F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and Creative Writing at the Workshop. And speaking of doubters, we hear Charity's reaction to Anna's picks for the Lit City theme song.

Lit City: A Debut Episode About a Debut Novel

Feb 10, 2017

Lit City is a new podcast from Iowa Public Radio hosted by Charity Nebbe and Anna Williams. Each episode features some of the best interviews we've done with fiction and nonfiction writers and, along the way, gives listeners a glimpse of Iowa's own City of Literature.

In the first episode we hear from Nathan Hill, Iowa native and debut author of The Nix, which was named a 2016 Notable Book by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Anton Raath / Flickr

In recent weeks, sales of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, first published in 1949, have soared. It climbed to the top of the amazon.com best seller list, and bookstores report that copies are flying off the shelves.

Since so many people are reading or re-reading it right now, on this "book club" edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation about what makes this classic relevant in 2017. 

She starts the hour talking with Andrew Simmons, an English teacher who transforms his classroom into the world of 1984 and Big Brother every October.

The History Press

On Dec. 12, 1934, police raided a canning factory in Cedar Rapids--what they found was an illegal bar and gambling set up.  That incident set off a year-long investigation into graft that reached into all levels of Iowa State government.  It was all driven by Verne Marshall, the editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  Jerry Harrington, an Iowa City writer of Iowa history, tells the story in his new book, "Crusading Iowa Journalist Verne Marshall: Exposing Graft and the 1936 Pulitzer Prize." (History Press)

The Unnamed Press

This hour, we hear from two women (one an Iowan and the other a former Iowan) who have had their first books published.  Charity speaks with Stephanie Ash, who grew up in Oelwein and attended the University of Iowa and Jen Rouse, who lives in Iowa City.   Stephanie's book is a novel and Jen's is a poetry collection.

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