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IPR listeners share what they're reading

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For the holiday season so far, we've shared the best new books for kids and for adults, based on recommendations from local booksellers and book enthusiasts. That made us wonder — what are IPR listeners reading? What books are they planning to give as gifts this year?

We asked, and we compiled the answers...and we added to our to-read stacks.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“Kimmerer is a professor of environmental and forest biology. She is also a Native American. This book was written about the need for reciprocity between humans and the ‘natural’ world. She writes beautifully! I was deeply touched by the message she sends.”

Recommended by Susan in Cedar Rapids

Find From Your Local Bookstore | Find At Your Local Library

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

“It was set in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and is a story of a woman who brings books to the mountain people on her mule. The ‘book women’ was a federal program started by Eleanor Roosevelt to provide books to people in remote locations.”

Recommended by Barbara in Des Moines

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The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry

“Great for parents and anyone in any relationship…Easy read, and full of wisdom”

Recommended by Hope in Coralville

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Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

“Michelle Zauner does an excellent job of describing Korean food to people who may never have had the meals she's eating or making in the book. She also delves deeply into her relationship with her mother and the grief she experienced after her death. Anyone who finds cooking and sharing meals to be an act of love will enjoy this book, along with anyone who identifies with the mother/daughter relationship dynamic.”

Recommended by Hilary in Davenport

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Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother's Letter to Her Son by Homeira Qaderi

“This is the inspiring true story of an Afghani woman who strives to use her skills in reading, writing and education to counteract the oppression and hardships of war.”

Recommended by Valinda in Ames
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Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

“I love how this book shares the importance of learning family stories, and how this can help inform actions today. It brings to light Korean history and how much of the world is unaware of what happened in that region of the world. It also deals with a young Korean junior high student and the challenges students of color have in working for racial justice.”

Recommended by Angela in Iowa City

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Fry Bread: a Native American Family Story written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

“The language in this picture book is simple and powerful -- really lovely verse -- and the illustrations are gorgeous. While Native peoples might share the tradition of fry bread, the recipes are diverse as the tribes themselves. At the end of the day, though, this book is about community and acknowledging our history. It includes an afterword with informational detail for older readers about the history of indigenous people. Truly an ‘everybody’ book.”

Recommended by Lisa in Iowa City

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If God is Love, Don't Be a Jerk by John Pavlovitz

“With all the division in our country, John is a voice of reason and compassion, urging us to humbly examine our faith, morals, and behavior and return to decency and love for all. If our faith doesn't make us better humans, then there is something wrong with our faith/religion.”

Recommended by Rebecca in Ankeny

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Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

“This book is about a biracial girl whose mother is Chinese and father is white. She lives with her single father in frontier America. This story highlights people of color during the founding of our country and shares the struggles that are relevant in today's world. Great for lovers of Little House on the Prairie.”

Recommended by Angela in Iowa City

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Someone Falls Overboard: Talking through Poems by Steve Kuusisto and Ralph Savarese

“Shameless self-promotion, BUT I'm donating all … It's a book about aging, disability, and friendship. Accessible, short poems in conversation with one another.”

Recommended by Ralph Savarese (co-author) in Iowa City

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Storm Lake by Art Cullen

“Art writes so well. He is inspirational and entertaining.”

Recommended by CJ in Carroll

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The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

“Mackesy has written and illustrated what I think will become a classic. The illustrations are beautifully inky and elegant and the message of friendship and love is appropriate for all ages.”

Recommended by Annie in Cedar Rapids

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The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

“Like Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, The Prophets describes the utterly depraved conditions that Black people endured in slavery and the costs to their lives, health, self-esteem and independence, all of which continue to have consequences today. Both books also opened my eyes to the fact that slavery robbed people of their HERITAGE - knowledge of where their ancestors were from, family pride and connections and sense of self. It's beyond criminal.”

Recommended by Barbara in Urbandale

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The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

“This is a lovely book surely to resonate with Iowans… a Native American girl grows to womanhood and discovers the importance of her heritage, connection to the land, and saving ancient seeds. It takes place in Minnesota and the author beautifully describes the landscape and seasons. Simply wonderful.”

Recommended by Gail in Polk City

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz By Heather Morris

Recommended by Carla in North Liberty

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This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

“This book will make you laugh, make you cry and, most of all, make you think and feel. Poignant, honest, difficult.”

Recommended by Kerryn in Alden

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The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

“The historical, well researched epic account of the great Black migration between 1915-1970 read like a riveting novel. The author does a superb job of exposing truth while encouraging compassion and empathy. It had a profound compelling affect.”

Recommended by Rebecca in Ankeny

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Don't forget to check out the 2021 Talk of Iowa holiday book guide for adults and the book guide for kids. And for even more great book content, tune in to the Talk of Iowa Book Club podcast.