The Iowa Center for the Book in Des Moines recently announced the selection for the 2019 All Iowa Reads program: “This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm” by Ted Genoways.


“This title is an excellent choice for All Iowa Reads and will resonate with many people in our state,” said State Librarian Michael Scott. “I encourage Iowans to join me next year in picking up this outstanding book and connecting with others to talk about the book and its themes.”


All Iowa Reads fosters a sense of unity through reading by encouraging Iowans 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.


At Nevada Public Library, Head Librarian Shanna Speer said the Thursday afternoon reading group reads the All Iowa Reads selection every February. The group is led by retired Nevada librarian, Beth Williams.


At the Colo Public Library, Joanie Jamison, head librarian, said an adult reading group will meet in the spring to discuss the All Iowa Reads selection, and at that time more copies of the book will be made available to the library. “If anyone is interested in joining the group,” Jamison said, “just stop by the library and get a copy of the book. The group meets the fourth Friday of every month at 2 p.m.”


The 2019 title is a joint selection between Iowa’s All Iowa Reads program and Nebraska’s One Book One Nebraska program to celebrate the combined Iowa and Nebraska Library Associations Conference in Omaha in the fall of 2019.


Currently, the Nevada and Colo libraries have at least one copy of this book for people who are interested in checking it out early. Both libraries also have copies of the “kid” and “teen” All Iowa selections that can be checked out, and Speer said the Nevada Library is discussing the formation of groups to meet about those younger book selections.


“It’s wonderful that the State Library of Iowa offers this opportunity for Iowans to come together by reading the same book,” Speer said. “Most people know folks from other nearby communities, and the themes in the books chosen are usually ones that are relatable to many folks. It can really start a conversation.”


More information and resources for book discussions will be available on the All Iowa Reads webpage (www.iowacenterforthebook.org) in the coming months.


About the Book


The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, yet its future is in peril. Far from an isolated refuge beyond the reach of global events, the family farm is increasingly at the crossroads of emerging technologies and international detente. Ted Genoways explores this rapidly changing landscape of small, traditional farming operations, mapping as it unfolds day to day.


For forty years, Rick Hammond has raised cattle and crops on his wife’s fifth-generation farm. But as he prepares to hand off the operation to his daughter Meghan and her husband Kyle, their entire way of life is under siege. Confronted by rising corporate ownership, encroaching pipelines, groundwater depletion, climate change and shifting trade policies, small farmers are often caught in the middle and fighting just to preserve their way of life. Following the Hammonds from harvest to harvest, This Blessed Earth is both a history of American agriculture and a portrait of one family’s struggle to hold on to their legacy.


About Author Ted Genoways


Ted Genoways is the winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Award for Investigative Journalism. He is the author of five books, including This Blessed Earth, winner of the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, and The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food. His other honors include a National Press Club Award, an Association of Food Journalists Award, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. A fourth-generation Nebraskan, he lives outside Lincoln, Neb., with his wife, photographer Mary Anne Andrei, and their teenage son.


All Iowa Kids Read and All Iowa Teens Read


This Blessed Earth joins two other titles for kids and teens to round out the All Iowa Reads selections for 2019. Iowa kids ages 8-12 are encouraged to read and discuss “Amina’s Voice” by Hena Khan. The selection for teens in the state is “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes” by Atia Abawi. Watch the All Iowa Reads webpage for resources and discussion questions to be posted in the coming months.