Books and Authors

Penguin Random House

Dr. David Casarett was a skeptic when he set out to write Stoned. But in his quest to determine what medical evidence exists for medical marijuana, the palliative care physician found more questions than answers. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the book and the research needed to answer those questions.

Casarett and listeners tell stories of how cannabidiol oil has helped children with seizure disorders.  He explains what science knows about the compounds found in cannabis, and the most effective means of extracting and administering those compounds. 

Jennifer Percy/Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Iowa novelist Benjamin Percy is branching out into the world of comics. He was asked to author the newest Green Arrow series for DC Comics.

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Percy about the difference between a novel and a comic, Oliver Queen, and his alter ego.

"It’s been a long apprenticeship," says Percy.

"I started as a reader. I can remember distinctly going to the mercantile with my mother, and I was always permitted one issue. I would read all these comics over and over again."

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

If you’ve been searching for a new book to read this summer, look no further. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Paul Ingram and Jan Weismiller of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Susan Shaffer of The Book Shoppe in Boone about the best new books out this summer.

Aquarium by David Vann

Lucas Mann lost his big brother to a heroin overdose when he was only 13 years old. He writes about his journey to get to know his late brother in his new memoir Lord Fear.

“Even before I thought of myself as a writer, I would sit down, and his addiction and his presence was always really there in the background. Even in my book Class A which is about baseball, his absence works his way into the book,” Mann explains.

Courtesty of Jane Sutter Brandt

Jane Sutter Brandt remembers when her grandfather’s soda fountain in Burlington was still serving pineapple and cottage cheese for 15 cents and a tuna sandwich for a dime. She writes about the family’s business in her new memoir Sutter’s Sodas Satisfy: a Memoir of 90 Years of Sutter Drug Company.

Jennifer Percy/Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

In novelist Benjamin Percy’s latest vision of the future, a super flu and nuclear fallout have turned the United States into a nightmarish wasteland. The apocalypse begins in Ames, Iowa.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Percy about his latest novel, The Dead Lands.  It takes place about 150 years after life as we know it has ended. Small outposts of humanity, disconnected from one another, struggle to survive in a harsh world.

Jason Hickey / Flickr

We all have those moments in life that we look back on with 20/20 hindsight and wish we could do differently. Author Cate Dicharry aims to make light of these life mistakes and times of regret with a tinge of humor in her new book “The Fine Art of F***ing Up.”

On this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dicharry about the inspiration for her new novel.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Mary Roach’s first book proposal was the product of a dare on New Year’s Eve. She says she never envisioned herself as the author of several New York Times best-selling books.

“I’d been writing for magazines for 10-15 years. Writing a book seemed daunting, but I worked in an office with a lot of writers. We would make predictions for what we would all do in the coming year. Someone said I would get a book contract, and then it was October, and I figured I needed to get started.”

South Dakota Historical Society Press

Laura Ingalls Wilder completed the original draft of her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in the spring of 1930. It was never published, but it led to one of the most beloved series of books of all time.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is finally in print. Editor Pamela Smith Hill has painstakingly researched that original draft, sharing light on the events that Wilder wrote about, and painting a picture about a remarkable family that lived through momentous times.

Steven Semken / Ice Cube Press

Iowa City still has the mark of Howard Moffitt all over. His hobbit-like houses sit intermingled with more traditional houses in many Iowa City neighborhoods to this day.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Richard DeGowin, author of “House of Moffitt, The First 20 Years – a Memoir”.

One characteristic of the Moffitt houses is that Moffitt built them on the premise that they were to be rented out and bought by low-income tenants.

Raymond Bryson / Flickr

What was it like to saw off dozens of legs a day during the Civil War?

  In the novel My Name is Mary Sutter, author Robin Oliveira explores an entirely new kind of medicine that emerged during the Civil War. She says the idea for the book originally came to her when she was cleaning her house. 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Hilda Rupp lived a tough life. She lost her own mother when she was only 17 and helped raised her 10 brothers and sisters through the Great Depression after her mother died. She went on to raise eight children of her own.

Hilda’s daughter, Joyce Rupp, writes about her mother and the lessons she learned from watching her resiliency in her new book Fly While You Still Have Wings and Other Lessons My Resilient Mother Taught Me.

Photo by John Pemble

McCoy, You’re Going Straight to Hell – that’s the title of State Senator Matt McCoy’s new book. In it, Iowa’s highest-ranking openly gay elected official shares personal stories and opinions sent to him on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

"Not only was I going straight to hell, but I was bringing the souls of innocent Iowans with me...all these souls that would be lost as a result of marriage equality," he says.

In this River to River interview, Ben Kieffer talks with Sen. McCoy about the book, as well as his future political ambitions.

Claudia McGehee / Sasquatch Books

Claudia McGehee uses scratchboard illustrations to bring her readers into nature.

"A picture of a heron is going to tell [children] one thing, but I can show the heron just about to eat a frog in a way that maybe they wouldn't see in a photograph," she says.

McGehee is an illustrator and author whose recent children's book My Wilderness: An Alaskan Adventure recounts the 1918–1919 winter spent on Alaska’s Fox Island from the point of view of nine-year-old Rocky, son of the painter Rockwell Kent.

Okki via Wikimedia Commons

Over his writing career spanning more than 30 years, W.P. Kinsella has become one of the finest storytellers in baseball’s history. He is also an acclaimed satirical author.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Kinsella about his writing and his new book, "The Essential W.P. Kinsella",  a collection of some of his best short stories over the years.

Couresty of Robin Lillie

In July of 2007 construction was beginning for a new housing development in Dubuque. That's when someone found human remains.  

Mohamed Somji / Flickr

In parts of Afghanistan, some families without sons pick a daughter to dress and live as a boy - a practice known as bacha posh.

Courtesy of Robert Waggoner

In his new book, author Robert Waggoner argues that lucid dreaming is not only useful, but also simple to learn.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Lillian Darr has stood in picket lines, hugged President Barack Obama and rubbed elbows with stars who were smeared by Hollywood’s Black List in the 1950s. 

Wikimedia Commons

You can significantly increase your ability to influence others by making very small shifts. 

Ronald van Holst

In her best-selling novels, Amy Tan has explored mother-daughter relationships that resonate across all cultures.

In her latest novel, The Valley of Amazement, she does it again. In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tan about her latest novel, the photo that inspired it, and writing her very first sex scenes.

Wikimedia Commons

Do you have a young bookworm on your Christmas list?

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

If book-buying is on your to-do list this season, Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books are here to help.

South Dakota Historical Society Press

Laura Ingalls Wilder completed the original draft of her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in the spring of 1930. It was never published, but it led to one of the most beloved series of books of all time.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is finally in print. Editor Pamela Smith Hill has painstakingly researched that original draft, sharing light on the events that Wilder wrote about, and painting a picture about a remarkable family that lived through momentous times.

AP

Billy Collins has been called "America's favorite poet," and the former Poet Laureate will be visiting Iowa.

Courtesy of Colin Woodard

Why do we classify states or regions as “red” or “blue”? How did certain areas of the country gain particular political reputations? 

Terry Ballard

Mark Twain was an incredibly prolific writer. He published more than 30 books and pamphlets, and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles.

stpaulgirl / flickr

New York Times bestselling author and Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Justin Cronin, takes us into the post-apocalyptic world he’s created in the newly released second book of his highly-acclaimed vampire trilogy.

TEDxYouth@Austin / flickr

When Alex Sheen’s dad died he made a promise to do something to keep his father’s legacy alive.

Courtesy of June Melby

What did your childhood summer consist of? Swimming pools, games of frisbee, putt-putt golf? For June Melby, a Decorah resident, it was the latter - and only the latter. 

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