Books and Authors

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.

Turn Here Sweet Corn book cover
Atina Diffley Official Website

Through high winds and hail, dry years and wet, and through the pressures of development and corporate interests Atina Diffley and her husband Martin ran one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest.

Diffley has written about her farm and her life in the new book, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works.

Ed Schipu / Flickr

Newsweek has named Hunter Lovins a "Green Business Icon" and a "Millennium Hero of the Planet" by TIME Magazine for her work in sustainable development. She is the President of Natural Capitalism Solution, and is also the Chief Insurgent of the Madrone Project a non-profit educational team that brings greater depth and scale to sustainability education by delivering advanced modular curricula curated for digital media purposes.

This hour we visit a conversation host Ben Kieffer had with author Scott Cawelti, who tells us about the infamous Mark family killings and reflects on the mind of a mass murderer.

On Halloween night in 1975, Jerry Mark murdered his brothers’ entire family…four people, including two young children, in Cedar Falls. Since 1976, Jerry Mark has been held at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison where he is serving four consecutive life sentences.

Vicky Palermo / whoisjeremyjackson.blogspot.com

When he was 11-years-old, author Jeremy Jackson fell in love for the first time, saw his sister leave for college and lost his grandmother.  It was not the end of his childhood, but, for him, it was the beginning of truly growing up.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jackson about his new memoir, "I Will Not Leave You Comfortless."  Then, Napoleon is visiting Iowa City.  We hear about a new exhibit on display at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, "Napoleon and the Art of Propaganda."

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. Patel says this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims, but a challenge to the very idea of America. Patel also discusses his new book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America.

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked.

I’m BK. Next time on RTR, my guest is Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core.

David Bartemis / AuthorHouse

David Bartemis, a cancer survivor journeyed to climb Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro with the group “Above and Beyond Cancer.” Bartemis wrote about his experience with the 19 other cancer survivors 21 caregivers in the book, We Call Her Kili.

Talk of Iowa will also speak with cyclists of the Race Across America, an ultra marathon bicycle race across the United States, who hope to raise money for cancer research.

Michael Perry / Sneezingcow.com

On today's River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa delegates at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida and what challenges their party now faces in the next 10 weeks before the presidential election.

Then, author Michael Perry gives a glimpse of the life of an 82-year old man in rural Wisconsin in his new book, Visiting Tom: A Man, A Highway and the Road to Roughneck Grace.

In 1949 Evelyn Birkby began writing a weekly column for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, her editor told her to include a recipe every single week -- and she did -- even though she couldn’t cook. Host Charity Nebbe, talks with Evelyn Birkby and her new book, a collection of her columns, is called “Always Put in a Recipe.”

Thirty-one writers from 28 countries are arriving in Iowa to participate in the writing residency program. UI International Writing Program Director Chris Merrill talks with Ben Kieffer about the program and what it takes to bring the world's greatest writers to Iowa.

The task of daily chores, attending class picnics, and the uneasiness of the Cold War days are just some of the memories Carroll Englehardt, author and professor emeritus of history at Concordia College, shares in his book, “The Farm at Holstein Dip: An Iowa Boyhood.” Then  Jeff Morgan, public information officer at the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Office, talks about the art of  historical preservation with Pete Sixbey, a conservator at the State Historical Society of Iowa.

"Oh My Gods"

Aug 14, 2012

The Greek and Roman myths are stories that have remained steadfast through the ages and continue inspiring artists, playwrights, writers, and filmmakers to this day. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College and author, Philip Freeman, about his book “Oh My Gods”.  The book retells the tales of Zeus, Hades, and the other Olympian gods for the readers of this generation.

Life As A Surgeon

Aug 13, 2012

Many of the tools found in a state of the art operating room are 21st century, but in her new book surgeon Carol Scott-Conner refers to cutting people open as a “primitive and brutal” way to make a living. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Scott-Conner about her collection of fictional short stories, “A Few Small Moments” and her life as a surgeon.

Geral Blanchard spent 35 years working as a counselor. He embraced modern theory and practices. Then, he traveled to Africa. One encounter with a shaman changed his world forever. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Blanchard about that encounter, the journey it began, and his book, Ancient Ways: Indigenous Healing Innovations for the 21st Century.

Iconic Black Women

Aug 8, 2012

Michelle Obama, Gabby Douglas, and Alice Walker are just three women who are reshaping the images of black women in America. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Grinnell College Associate Professor and author Lakesia Johnson about how black women have changed history and defied prejudice. Johnson explores the subject in her book "Iconic: Decoding Images of the Revolutionary Black Woman".

W.W. Norton & Company Publishing

The coming of the railroad transformed Iowa and the rest of the nation in more ways than you can imagine. Host Charity Nebbe  talks with historian and author Richard White, from Standford University, about how the railroads shaped our land, our economy, our political system and touched every part of life in America. His latest book is Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.

University of Missouri Press

The state of Iowa is defined physically by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. We, in turn, have done a great deal to shape the rivers. Host Charity Nebbe, talks with author Lisa Knopp about her book “What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri and Platte”. Her book takes readers on a personal journey along these rivers, exploring their history, geography, and ecology.

League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve become increasingly frustrated with a lack of bipartisan cooperation in congress and the disappearance of centrist politicians willing to work together to solve the nation’s problems. Host Ben Kieffer talks with columnist and Woodrow Wilson Center Scholar, Linda Killian, about her new book The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents. Also, Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Bruce Gronbeck from the University of Iowa analyze political events from the past week.

The Last River Rat

Jul 25, 2012

Kenny Salwey 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’s known as the "last river rat". Host Charity Nebbe speaks with him about his life, the river he’s built his life around, and his latest book, Muskrat for Supper.

Reinventing Education

Jul 23, 2012

At no time in history have schools been asked to do so much. Author, businessman, and attorney, Jamie Vollmer, experiences the challenges first hand in his book Schools Can't Do It Alone. Charity talks with Vollmer about the struggles education leaders face and how they can redevelop the system to increase student success.

Cold Cases

Jul 20, 2012

Early one morning in 1995, anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit didn’t show up for work at her Mason City TV station.

Her disappearance is one of Iowa’s most discussed unsolved cases. Listen back to host, Ben Kieffer’s, discussion with Beth Bednar about her book on the case called Dead Air.

Then, a look into how state law enforcement goes about investigating dozens of cold cases.

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