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Explore Iowa with books and movies.

April 20, 2020

While many of us are spending time in our homes, we find ourselves daydreaming about vacations. Now is a great time to discover all the amazing things Iowa has to offer from your own living room.

Explore Iowa by diving nose-first into the below list of 30 books that were set in Iowa or show your #IowaPride by reading one of the 14 books written by authors with ties to the state.

If you’ve still got the travel bug, virtually visit cities and towns throughout the by watching one of the 20 movies listed below that were shot or set in Iowa.

Happy virtual visiting!

30 Books Set in Iowa

Source: GoodReads

  1. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
  2. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  3. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
  4. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  6. Ashfall by Mike Mullin
  7. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
  8. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
  9. Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
  10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges
  11. State Fair by Phil Stong
  12. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  13. The Music Man by Meredith Willson
  14. Eleven Days by Donald Harstad
  15. Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
  16. Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
  17. Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland by Patricia L. Bryan
  18. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  19. Squashed by Joan Bauer
  20. Heritage of Darkness by Kathleen Ernst
  21. The Case of Nikki Pagan by Rachel Eliason
  22. Never on Sundays by Jason M. Steffens
  23. Dead Vault by Daniel Eness
  24. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
  25. The Princess in the Pigpen by Jane Resh Thomas
  26. Bottomland by Michelle Hoover
  27. Last Act by Christopher Pike
  28. Spirit Lake by MacKinlay Kantor
  29. Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
  30. The Water-Method Man by John Irving

14 Books by Authors from Iowa

  1. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  2. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  3. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
  4. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson
  5. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  6. Spirit Lake by MacKinlay Kantor
  7. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
  8. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
  9. The Walnut Grove Glacier Wars: A Story about Religion, Love, Friendship, and Living in Iowa by Peter Gerhard
  10. Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken
  11. Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood by Kent Stock
  12. The Drink Worth More Than Gold by J.S. Loving
  13. The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa by Cornelia F. Mutel
  14. Sleeping with the Enemy by Nancy Price

7 Iowa Independent Bookstores Taking Phone & Online Orders

Looking for one of these books? Support a local Iowa small business to purchase one of these or other books to enjoy!

  1. The Book Vault, Oskaloosa
    Open 24/7 to search, view and order books, orders over $50 get free shipping, pick up during regular business hours available.
  2. Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City
    Open during regular hours for phone orders, order online anytime, free delivery in Iowa City/Coralville area, otherwise mail order with shipping.
  3. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines
    Online and phone orders, parking lot pick up, free home delivery within 5-mile radius, reduced $2 shipping.
  4. The Book Vine, Cherokee
    Taking online and phone orders, mailed or delivered curbside, order over $50 delivered to home.
  5. Burlington By the Book, Burlington
    Taking phone orders, offering curbside pickup, shipping special orders.
  6. Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids
    Taking online and phone orders, have been shipping all over U.S.
  7. The Book Shoppe, Boone
    Taking online orders to be shipped to your home or picked up curbside; offering books, gifts, kids crafts/activities and special orders.

10 Films Shot in Iowa

Source: Iowa Culture

  1. 1933: State Fair; Des Moines
  2. 1974: Huckleberry Finn; Keokuk
  3. 1977: All the King’s Horses; Des Moines
  4. 1983: The Healing; Des Moines
  5. 1984: Children of the Corn; Sioux City, Whiting
  6. 1989: Field of Dreams; Dyersville, Dubuque
  7. 1992: Whispers in the Dark; Des Moines
  8. 1995: The Bridges of Madison County; Winterset
  9. 1996: Twister; Ames
  10. 2011: The Offering; Washington

10 Films Set in Iowa

  1. Field of Dreams              
  2. Sleeping with the Enemy            
  3. Something Blue
  4. Star Trek            
  5. State Fair           
  6. The Bridges of Madison County               
  7. The Crazies       
  8. The Last Supper
  9. The Music Man              
  10. What's Eating Gilbert Grape


The Beauty of Madison County

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This is Iowa

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