Established in 2003, the All Iowa Reads program is one of the first projects to be provided by the Iowa Center for the Book.
The purpose of All Iowa Reads is to foster a sense of unity through reading. We encourage Iowans statewide to come together in their communities to read and talk about a single book title in the same year. Libraries, book clubs, schools and other local organizations are encouraged to sponsor discussions of the title. Please use this site for information as you read and study the book. We offer a wealth of materials including book reviews. discussion questions, and publicity materials to help you prepare successful discussions.
2017 AIR Program Resources:
⚫ Discussion Questions for Bottomland
⚫ About Michelle Hoover
⚫ Reviews and Interviews about Bottomland and Michelle Hoover
⚫ Find Copies of Bottomland to Borrow
⚫ Publicity Items to Promote Bottomland Programs
Based on a real life story of the author Michelle Hoover's grandmother, the book begins in Iowa in the wake of World War I. It was described in the Minneapolis Star Tribune as "a mystery wrapped in isolation and ethnic fear ... an atmospheric and engaging tale."
At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.
In the weeks after Esther and Myrle's disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors' houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized, misunderstood, and increasingly isolated in their tightly-knit small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst. Told in the voices of the family patriarch and his children, this is a haunting literary mystery that spans decades before its resolution. Hoover deftly examines the intrepid ways a person can forge a life of their own despite the dangerous obstacles of prejudice and oppression.
Past AIR Books:
- 2016. Lila by Marilynne Robinson
- 2015. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
- 2014. Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman
- 2013. The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
- 2012. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
- 2011. Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
- 2010. Driftless by David Rhodes
- 2009. The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown
- 2008. Digging to America by Anne Tyler
- 2007. Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio by Jeffrey Kluger
- 2006. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- 2005. The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
- 2004. Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken
- 2003. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
How the All Iowa Reads Title is Selected
The All Iowa Reads Committee welcomes, but does not solicit nominations. Members of the Committee read widely, seeking books with broad appeal. In a series of meetings, members discuss possibilities that meet the criteria listed below. The list is narrowed to approximately five titles which are read by all members. Members provide their honest impressions, independent of outside influence, and the final selection is made by consensus.
Criteria for the All Iowa Reads Title
The AIR book must:
- Raise universal social issues relevant to Iowans
- Lend itself to sustained, spirited and in-depth discussion
- Be accessible to adults and high school aged youth
- Be available by January 1st of the selection year in the following formats:
- unabridged audio
- and either large print or downloadable eBook format that is available for purchase and circulation by public libraries*
It is desirable, but not required, that the book:
- have an Iowa or Midwest connection
- is a recent publication that has not been widely read
*In the event that the book is not available in large print, the Committee will request that the publisher make it available in LP.
For more information, contact the Coordinator.