Books and Authors

Benjamin Thomas / flickr

He read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica. He outsourced his life to India. After that he lived for one year according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible. Today on River to River, a conversation with author A.J. Jacobs. We’ll find out about his year of living biblically and his latest lifestyle experiment - exploring different ways to reach peak health.

Artists are often thought of as creative, while scientists are stereotyped as logical, but the work of artists and scientists have many similarities.  We sit down with author Lawrence Weschler to examine the relationship between art and science.

Also we discuss the modern art of book covers and why some new covers for classic books have causes a lot of controversy. 

Gray Pearl Press

In 1935, seven-year-old Gerhard Loewenberg was on vacation with his family in Italy.  While they were there, they learned that their German citizenship had been revoked because they were Jewish.  Today Loewenberg is a University of Iowa professor emeritus of political science and the former dean of the College of Liberal Arts

"Talk of Iowa" sits down with Loewenberg to talk about the event that changed the course of his and discuss his new memoir "Moved by Politics."

Alfred A. Knopf

Hattie Shepherd is the mother of 11 children.  She is a strong and complicated woman who was brought into this world by Iowa Writer’s Workshop Graduate Ayana Mathis.

"Talk of Iowa" sits down with Mathis to discuss her debut novel “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.” She explains her artistic process and reveals what it’s like to get a life changing call from Oprah Winfrey, who picked "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 this past December.

Stefan Ray / flickr

Water, it’s there when you turn on the faucet, or the sprinkler, it’s in the plastic bottles at the convenience store and washes away down the storm sewers when it rains.  On today's Talk of Iowa, we give this life giving substance some of the thought it deserves with Charles Fishman, best-selling author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water."

Also, UI assistant professor and researcher, Craig Just, joins us to talk about an effort to monitor river runoff by attaching sensors to river mussels.

In 1862 Private Silas W. Haven marched off to fight in the Civil War.  He left behind his wife and three small children for four long years.  During that time he wrote nearly 200 letters home. Those letters have now been published in the new book, “A Punishment on the Nation: An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War.”  I’ll talk with editor Brian Miller.

Iowa's Opera Houses

Feb 6, 2013
The Warren Cultural Center

Though opera houses once meant a town held status, many have since fallen into disrepair. Today efforts are underway to renovate and shed light on Iowa’s opera houses, including Sam Knutson's project, the Iowa Opera House Project, which brings Iowa performers into these antique spaces for locals to experience.

Later, Richard Poole and George Glenn, co-authors of The Opera Houses of Iowa, share the history of the state’s opera houses.

Maid Narratives

Feb 5, 2013
LSU Press

Millions of readers were captivated by the relationships between African American maids and the white families they served in the novel, The Help. Now a new book tells the true stories of people who lived that reality. Host Charity Nebbe talks with the authors and some of the people featured in the book, The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South.

Joseph Geha

The new novel Lebanese Blonde transports readers to Little Syria, a neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio that is populated by immigrants and first generation Arab Americans. In his first novel, short story writer Joseph Geha shows us our world as it is seen through the eyes of people who came here looking for new opportunities for a new life.

Margaret Wertheim

Last July the president of Peregrine Financial Group, Russell Wasendorf Sr., admitted to stealing millions of dollars from his firm. On the first half of today's River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the Wasendorf case and discovers the personal, financial, and societal impact of this type of monetary fraud.

Iowa Library Services

In 2008, Carson and Connie Ode traveled the state of Iowa county by county. In 2010 and 2011 they went to as many Iowa celebrations and festivals as they could.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with the Des Moines couple about their two books on their travels through Iowa called, IOWA—Spaces, Places, Faces and Celebrate IOWA.

Kenny Salwey

On today's Talk of Iowa, we'll listen back to host Charity Nebbe's interview with the "last river rat" Kenny Salwey, who lives along the upper Mississippi River.

He hunts, fishes, traps, and writes; while he lives off the land in a cabin he built with his own two hands. He talks about the river he’s built his life around, and his latest book, "Muskrat for Supper."

Fern Kupfer’s latest book is a memoir that transports readers to Long Island in the 1950s. Charity Nebbe talks with the Ames author as she reflects on past experiences in her life, including the period she discovered she was BRCA positive, a genetic marker for cancer.

Tim Pierce / Flickr

Have you ever been snuggled up with a kid, reading a cute book and run across a glaring factual error? It was just that experience that inspired  two moms to create scientifically accurate books for kids. Charity Nebbe talks with the women behind the “Budding Biologist” series, and about fact checking books for kids.

Nancy Sprowell Geise

As a child growing up in Ames Nancy Sprowell Geise struggled with severe dyslexia...she was even held back a year in school. Now, she's published her first novel. The novel is called, "The Eighth Sea." It's a sweeping historical romance with twists and turns, but the story of how the novel came to be is equally as compelling.

After years of discouragement in school, in 1978 Geise found herself in the high school English class of John Forssman. Charity Nebbe talks with them both about how Mr. Forssman changed Geise's life.

Betty Auchard

The holidays bring families together, that's a good thing. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Charity Nebbe celebrates the holiday's dysfunctional family style with a survivor of a dysfunctional family, author Betty Auchard, and family therapist Volker Thomas.

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary / Flickr

In this season of giving we’re going to spend some time thinking about ways we can give back to nature. Host Charity Nebbe chats with wildlife biologist Jim Pease about how you can give to wildlife and wild places. We also talk about gifts to indulge your love of nature or foster that love in someone else.

Dolan H. / Flickr account (dolanh)

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.” With that in mind Talk of Iowa finds out about the best new books for kids. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Alice Meyer of Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Maryann Peters of New Bo Books in Cedar Rapids and Annie Leonard of the Next Chapter in Knoxville.

When we were children many of us crossed the prairie with Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary and little baby Carrie. Now the Library of America has published a new edition of the collected works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Charity Nebbe talks with Caroline Fraser, the editor of the new collection, and Sarah Uthoff, Iowa’s pre-eminent expert on Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Silver Mane Publishing / Larry Wohlgemuth

Approximately one out every five children in the United States will be sexually abused before the age of 16. Larry Wohlgemuth was one of those kids. Charity Nebbe talks with him about his experiences and his new book, “Larry Tells Stories: A Journey of Sexual Abuse, PTSD and Recovery.” Charity also talks with Kathy Lowenberg who counsels victims of sexual abuse.

bricolagelife / Flickr

Garrison Keillor once said, “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Wiessmiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City and Harley McIlrath of Pioneer Bookshop in Grinnell. We find out about the best new books for giving and receiving this holiday season.

Katherine Newman / Beacon Press

In sociologist Katherine Newman's new book, The Accordion Family, she argues that globalization and weak economies have caused households to expand and incorporate grandparents, parents and children under one roof.

Host Ben Kieffer speaks with Newman about the challenges of loved ones living together to make ends meet. We'll also hear from an Ames family whose two adult daughters have moved back home in an effort to save money.

Davy Rothbart

Nov 12, 2012

When you see a crumpled up piece of paper on the ground, pick it up and read it because you may just find something wonderful. Davy Rothbart first became well known for sharing notes he discovered in Found Magazine,  and now he’s sharing his romantic misadventures.  Charity Nebbe talks with him about his new book, My Heart is an Idiot.

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries is a movement to bring communities together through donating and sharing books. In response, people across the globe have built little repositories to house the books to share with their neighbors.

Charity Nebbe talks with the program’s founder Todd Bol and co-founder Rick Brooks about the growth of the program and the effort being made to establish Little Free Libraries throughout Iowa. Then, two Iowans who have already built the little libraries in their own neighborhoods share how the effort has impacted their community.

Prairie Lights / Facebook

Marvin Bell, a former Iowa Poet Laureate, and Christopher Merrill, author and director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, are both men with many fascinating things to say. Together, the two friends talk with Charity Nebbe about the issues they explored of life, love, and memory through a correspondence in poetry, which they compiled into the book, "Everything At Once."

Renee Betrand / 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.

Anthony Robles was born with one leg but it was his courage and resolve that  allowed him to chase his dream and to reach something that is remarkable for anyone, becoming a national wrestling champion. Host Ben Kieffer talks with the champion about his life and  his book UNSTOPPABLE: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion.

David Shankboone / Wikimedia Commons

The idea was to transform Afghanistan from a desert to a bread basket when a U.S. settlement was established in Helmand Province in the 1960’s. But, Little America has become a modern example of our misunderstanding of a country where 80 thousand U.S. troops are trying to win hearts and minds . Host Ben Kieffer talks with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.”

Author Jim Autry

Oct 2, 2012
Choosing Gratitude book cover
Smyth & Helwys Official Website

All our lives we are taught to strive. For success, for wealth, for happiness… in his writings James Autry shows us that we may already have more than we think. Talk of Iowa talks about gratitude with Autry and his latest book, Choosing Gratitude: Learning to Love the Life You Have.

Author Hisham Matar

Sep 20, 2012
Hisham Matar headshot
Writer's Centre Norwich / Flickr

In 1990, the father of Libyan-American writer Hisham Matar was taken away by Colonel Qaddafi's agents. That kidnapping became the basis for Matar's critically acclaimed novel, Anatomy of a Disapperance. Matar is visiting Iowa as the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor in the University of Iowa International Writing Program from September 18 - 21. We discuss Libya's past, present and the anti-American protests across the Muslim world.

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