Books and Authors

HarperCollins Publishers

In 2009, 21 men were rescued from the abandoned Atalissa schoolhouse they inhabited since 1974. 

Their lives consisted of working for next to nothing at a turkey plant nearby in West Liberty, living together in the schoolhouse, and taking trips to the Atalissa Mini Mart.

Beacon Press

We all may know the name Nancy Drew but females in detective work go much further than that. From Kinsey Milhone and Vi Warhawski to Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher, female detectives in fiction go back 175 years.  

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with historian and Wisconsin Public Radio Executive Producer Erika Janik author of Pistols and Petticoats, 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction (Beacon Press) about women in detective work.

MellieRene4 / Flickr

When a child loves a book, they can love it with an intensity that few adults can match, and the books children connect with often stay with them their entire life.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on some of the best of modern children’s literature and how it’s influencing young people. She talks with Ernie Cox, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee and school librarian in the College Community District south of Cedar Rapids.

Lindsey Moon

As the weather warms up and school lets out it is time to start making your summer reading list. This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Judy Stafford of The Book People in Sioux City about what should be on your reading list this summer.

Paul’s list:

The Dig by John Preston

Till My Baby Comes Home by Jean Ross Justice

Canary by Duane Swierczynski

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Shelter by Jung Yun

New Rivers Press

Who says poetry has to be monotonous and sentimental?  Definitely not the case with Debra Marquart's third poetry collection, "Small Buried Things" (New Rivers Press).  The Iowa State University English professor, who teaches in the M.F.A. program in creative writing, keeps you guessing throughout what her next topic will be. 

Princeton University Press

"Appius Claudius was old and blind, yet he led a household of four vigorous sons, five daughters and many dependents.  He did not lazily succumb to old age but kept his mind taut as a bow."  So writes the great Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero in 44 BC in a short treatise called "De Senectute." Cicero's prose is newly translated by Luther College's Philip Freeman.

courtesy photo

As a country music singer, Liz Carlisle, who grew up in Montana, says she was interested in the poetry and philosophy of farming and rural life.

"I hadn't been involved in sustainable agriculture at all," she says, "I was a country singer. I think I shared a lot of values, but I didn't really know the language of sustainable agriculture and I wasn't, quite frankly, paying enough attention to economics or to science."

Environmental journalist, educator and author, Simran Sethi, says she has written a book about food, but it's really a book about love.  And make no mistake: she loves bread, wine, chocolate, beer and coffee--enough to travel to remote locations in six continents to learn about their origins. 

Ben Kieffer

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries have taken part in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, often referred to as the “United Nations of writers.”

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with several of this year’s writers who attended a welcome party in Iowa City earlier this week. They share poetry, their hopes for their time in the Midwest, and the struggles and inspiration they have brought with them from their home countries.

Courtesy of Iowa City Public Library

In order to try and encourage more students to read, Sue Inhelder and Susan Fritzell of Marshalltown High School went in search of fun ways to get books in high schoolers' hands. Thus began the Iowa High School Battle of the Books. They hosted their first contest during the 2007-2008 school year for students in their Area Education Association, and then the expanded it to be a statewide program.

Michelle Hoover

In her new novel "Bottomland," (Grove Press), Ames native Michelle Hoover writes about a family's struggles after the disappearance of two of their daughters.  She tells host Charity Nebbe that the story was inspired by a long forgotten photograph of her own family.

See-ming Lee / Wikimedia Commons

According to research by the Gallup organization, North Dakotans are happier than Iowans. Or rather, they have a higher state of well-being.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Markus Zusak wasn't expecting an enormous response when he published The Book Thief.

"I thought no one would ever read this book, I thought it would be my least successful book. I imagine someone reading it and then trying to convince one of their friends to read it and their friend says, 'Well what's it about?' And what do you say? You've got to say, 'Well, it's set in Nazi Germany, it's narrated by Death, nearly everyone dies, and it's 580 pages long, you'll love it.'"

Conservation Fund

Prairie-chickens once thrived in the prairies of Iowa, but by just after 1900, they were on the verge of extinction.  Today, these beautiful birds with a unique mating ritual can be found in only 9 of Iowa's 99 counties.

Ohio University Press

An immense and untold number of young persons have been devoted to and greatly influenced by the Nancy Drew mysteries which first appeared in 1930.   Maybe Iowans don't realize that author "Carolyn Keene" was really Ladora, Iowa native Mildred Wirt Benson, born the daughter of a country doctor in 1905.

Marcinson Press

Tom LaMarr became a dad when he was 48 years old.  Parenting an infant at that age brings with it a host of challenges.  This hour, Charity Nebbe speaks with LaMarr, author of the new book, "Geezer Dad: How I Survived Infertility Clinics, Fatherhood Jitters, Adoption Wait Lingo and Things That Go 'Waaa' in the Night."  LaMarr, a Dubuque native, is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and now lives in Colorado.

Courtesy of Michele Weldon

Michele Weldon is a survivor. She’s raised three kids as a single mother after ending an abusive marriage and has written about her story in her new memoir “Escape Points: A Memoir.”

“I was married, unfortunately, to a charming handsome attorney who was physically abusive about once a year. I kept that secret from my family and my friends, but not from my therapist," she explains. "I ended that marriage in 1995 and wanted to write about the truth and the myths that we have surrounding domestic violence – that it doesn’t happen to smart, educated women.”

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

‘Tis the season for sitting inside, which means it’s a perfect time to pick up a new book. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Kate Rattenborg from Dragonfly Books in Decorah and Barb Stein of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City about the best new books for young readers.

Barb’s List:

Board books:

Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks

“The illustrations are irresistible. They are just wonderful. “

The Napping House Board Book by Audrey Wood

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Nancy Simpson-Brice,  associated with Book Vault in Oskaloosa about their favorite books of the year and recommendations for gifts this holiday season.

Paul’s Picks

Finials: A View of Downtown IC by Marybeth Slonneger

Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer

For 65 years Charlie Brown has been getting kites stuck in trees, missing footballs, and getting hit by baseballs.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Johnson, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, about why Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang still resonate with audiences, as well as the enduring legacy of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, 15 years after his death.

"He was always authentic," says Johnson about Schulz. "He said to many people, 'To know me is to read the strip; everything I am goes into that strip.'"

Open Road Media

Iowan Ray Young Bear has been publishing poetry since 1968.  His new book, "Manifestation Wolverine" (Open Road Media),  is a comprehensive collection of his work, previously published and new--work that draws on ancient Meskwaki lore and modern popular culture.  He says his poetry is a link to the writings of his grandfathers.

Brittany Stevens / Flickr

Banned Books week was originally conceived around the titular bans. But Maeve Clark, Adult Services Coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library, says, in 2015, there are other issues of intellectual freedom to worry about.

One of those issues is "self-censorship," when librarians choose to solely stock shelves with non-controversial books. One rural librarian in Iowa, who declined to share her name, says rural libraries face different challenges than urban ones.

Terry Gilliam spent the first 12 years of his life in Minnesota, but he would go on to become the one of the most beloved entertainers in British history.

He is one of the founding members of Monty Python and the man responsible for the art and animation that defined the look of the group.  He has a new memoir out, called Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir.

When asked how he feels about imitators, or people who have been inspired by his work, Gilliam says he feels proud.

Courtesy of Live Like Line's Facebook page / https://www.facebook.com/livelikeline

In August of 2011, 17-year-old Caroline Found of Iowa City died in a moped accident. Two weeks later her mother, Ellyn, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. In the weeks and months that followed, the community came together, grieved, and became stronger.

"You can't get around your grief, you can't get over it, you can't get under it," says Bill Hoeft, author of Live Like Line, Love Like Ellyn; One Community’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. "But you can move forward and honor the people that you've lost."

MjZ Photography / Flickr

Rey Junco, an associate professor in the school of education at Iowa State University, believes the long-held wisdom is true--if you want to do well in class, you have to spend time with the material. But with shifty students who might inflate how much time they're spending reading, he's had to get more creative with how he collects data.

"We often identify students who are struggling by their grades--by their poor grades or their poor attendance or something that we can measure. But often by the time we've measured it, it's too late."

Ripley Entertainment

Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the organization that collects and exhibits oddities from all over the world, has a new book Eye Popping Oddities that highlights a few Iowans.

Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibits and Archives, has been traveling the world collecting unusual stories and artifacts for more than three decades. 

"If you look at page 230 in the  new book, we have a photo of a guy who collected his fingernail clippings for over 10 years and sent me a paper weight made of them," he laughs. "It's probably buried under paper." 

RDECOM / flickr

For most of us middle school is the most awkward time of life. Kevin Brockmeier has plunged back into this difficult years with his new memoir, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade. Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe revisits middle school with Brockmeier.

Later in the program, Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project, Dora Malech, talks about the importance of getting kids writing, along with some tips and best practices.

Roberto Neumiller

How many people can the Earth sustain? According to author and journalist Alan Weisman, "the planet just seems to be bursting at its seams."

Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe interviews Weisman, who tackles that question in his new book, Countdown: Our Last, Best hope for a Future on Earth? She talks with him about what he learned by traveling the globe and studying different cultures and his vision of the future.

 This program originally aired February 24, 2014.

Denise Krebs / Flickr

When Allan Johnson asked his dying father what he would like to have done with his ashes, his father told him that it made no difference at all.  That answer left Johnson with a lot of questions and was the starting point for a powerful journey.

Running to the Fire

Jul 23, 2015
Waldorf College

Tim Bascom, author of the novel "Squatters' Rights" and the essay collection "The Comfort Trap" is out with a new memoir about his time growing up in the 1970's in Ethiopia, "Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia." (University of Iowa Press)

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