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.
2024 Reading List
Get a copy of these books, find a comfortable chair and read — or re-read — right along with us!
The Color Purple
By Alice Walker
Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, The Color Purple tells the story of Celie, who grows up poor in rural Georgia in the early part of the 20th century. Through letters she writes to God, and later to her younger sister Nettie, we follow Celie through her struggle with an abusive father, a racist and sexist culture and an abusive marriage. We also follow her through the forging of strong loving relationships and personal growth and discovery.
Join the discussion on Feb. 20.
The Seed Keeper
By Diane Wilson
The Seed Keeper follows a Dakhóta family over multiple generations, from the 19th century to the early 2000s. It’s largely told from the perspective of Rosalie Iron Wing, a young Indigenous woman who has grown up in rural Minnesota, but who is placed in foster care after her father dies. As she grows up she learns that she loves to garden, and the book goes on to explore the relationship between the land and Rosalie’s Dakhóta ancestors, the injustices that the Indigenous people of South Dakota have endured and how those injustices are both a social and environmental concern.
Read along and join Talk of Iowa on April 23 to discuss the book.
By Javier Zamora
In his memoir Solito, Javier Zamora recalls his "trip" — his word — from El Salvador to the United States in the late 1990s at just nine years old, on his way to be reunited with the parents he hasn’t seen in years. Zamora recalls leaving his home and the harrowing migration story in vivid detail — alternating among funny, heartbreaking and hopeful moments. The story’s deep insight and beautiful prose about such a politicized issue makes it almost startling when Zamora mentions his favorite cartoons or wanting to go to the zoo — which reminds us that he is just a child.
Follow the trip — and the conversation — on June 18.
Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You
By Lucinda Williams
Recommended by Iowa Public Radio's own Lindsey Moon, this New York Times bestseller is from the unique perspective of Grammy award-winner and songwriter Lucinda Williams. In the book, she writes about being raised in a working class family in the Deep South, moving from town to town each time her father — a poet, a textbook salesman, a professor, a lover of parties — got a new job, totaling 12 different places by the time she was 18 years old. Her mother suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of hospitals. And when Williams was about a year old, she had to have an emergency tracheotomy — an inauspicious start for a singing career. But she was also born a fighter, and she developed a voice that has captivated millions. In Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You, Williams takes readers through the events that shaped her life and music.
Read the book and join the discussion on Aug. 20.
Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
It’s 1986 in Omaha, Neb. Eleanor and Park are 16-year-old misfits who strike up a friendship on the bus. They connect through comic books and mixtapes and eventually fall in love. It may sound like a stereotypical YA romance, but the challenges that Eleanor and Park face are complex, real and thought provoking.
Read along and tune in to Talk of Iowa for the book club discussion on Oct. 15.
Kitchen Arabic: How My Family Came to America and the Recipes We Brought With Us
By Joseph Geha
In 1946, Joseph Geha boarded a ship with his family in Beirut, Lebanon. Their eventual destination was Toledo, Ohio. Geha grew up with his family stories and delicious Lebanese food. Now, he's woven these together in his book, Kitchen Arabic: How My Family Came To American and the Recipes We Brought With Us. Geha is professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at Iowa State University.
Join the conversation on Dec. 17.
Expert readers discuss Alice Walker's The Color Purple for the Talk of Iowa book club.
The Thing in the Snow, a novel by Sean Adams takes a twisted look at the challenges of working in isolation and living in an age of endless distraction. Sound familiar?
Get ready, get set, read with us! This year, the Talk of Iowa Book Club will read books of all sorts, from music biographies and memoirs to YA fiction and Pulitzer Prize-winning selections.
Today we listen back to an October 2023 installment of the Talk of Iowa book club.
For the Talk of Iowa book club, expert readers join host Charity Nebbe to discuss Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.