We love to read. We love to talk about what we're reading. We know many of you do too.
Join Charity Nebbe and your fellow book lovers on Talk of Iowa for a live, on-air book club! Discuss the themes, characters and big-picture questions raised by the titles on our reading list. Then, continue the conversation between shows by joining the Talk of Iowa Book Club Facebook group.
2023 Reading List
Get a copy of these books, find a comfortable chair and read — or re-read — right along with us. Download this reading list to guide your bookstore browsing.
These Precious Days: Essays
By Ann Patchett
This deeply personal essay collection explores some of life’s biggest questions through Patchett's personal experiences. At the heart of the collection is an unexpected friendship that leads her in new directions and brings her clarity and purpose in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the collection and join the discussion on Feb. 21.
How High We Go in the Dark
By Sequoia Nagamatsu
This 2023 All Iowa Reads Selection begins in the year 2030, when the warming planet and melting permafrost release an arctic plague that transforms life on Earth for generations. The novel is science fiction, but it gives you an opportunity to explore what it means to be human facing an uncertain future.
Read along and join Talk of Iowa on April 18 to discuss the book.
The Underground Railroad
By Colson Whitehead
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the Underground Railroad is not metaphorical — it’s a train that runs with the purpose of bringing enslaved people to freedom. Follow the trials of Cora and Caesar as they attempt to make a harrowing journey north. The railroad is fictional, but the novel gives you a very real and deep understanding of the terrible costs of slavery.
Follow the journey — and the conversation — on June 20.
By Robin Wall Kimmerer
On the surface, this is a book about botany. But, really, it’s a book about people and our place in the world. Wall Kimmerer poetically discusses the relationships among people, plants and land through the lenses of history, science and traditional Indigenous practices.
Read the book and join the discussion on Aug. 22.
Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
In a future where children are smarter and humans are lonelier, Klara is an AF — artificial friend. Klara is adopted by an ill teenager, Josie, and goes to live with her and her mother. Klara uses her sharp observational skills to try and understand the world — and the humans — around her. With innocent intelligence, Klara develops a kind of faith in the face of grief that centers questions of love and belief in humanity.
Read along and tune in to Talk of Iowa for the book club discussion on Oct. 17.
By Alison Bechdel
This graphic memoir from Alison Bechdel (as in "Bechdel test") is a complex, compassionate and unflinching examination of growing up queer and contending with the complicated legacy of a parent. She depicts the hardest moments in her life and explores themes of sexuality, grief, family and gender roles. The literary allusions and intricate illustrations make Bechdel’s story come alive with heartbreaking detail.
Explore her story and share in the conversation on Dec. 19.
Sherman Alexie's semi-autobiographical YA novel tells a complicated story of life as a Native teenagerWe conclude our "Spring Break Book Club Week" with a listen back to a discussion of a young adult novel that has faced challenges in recent years.
This encore edition looks back at the Talk of Iowa Book Club conversation on the novel The Hate U Give, one of the most banned books in the United States, including in Iowa.
For our "Spring Break Book Club Week," we listen back to a conversation about the Iowa-set novel A Thousand Acres, which was adapted into an opera that premiered at the Des Moines Metro Opera in July 2022.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove reflects on her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection and her grandparents' lovePublished in 1986, Thomas and Beulah is a poetry collection that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, inspired by the lives of Rita Dove's grandparents.
For the Talk of Iowa book club, host Charity Nebbe discusses the essay collection These Precious Days with author Ann Patchett and two expert readers.
Author and Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Sean Adams discusses his new novel The Thing in the Snow. And we release the 2023 Talk of Iowa book club list.