State Historical Library announces 2008-2009 book group schedule
Book about John Ruan kicks off first meeting Oct. 15

For immediate release September 22, 2008


Contact: Jeff Morgan,, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Library’s book group kicks off its 2008-2009 schedule Oct. 15, 2008, with In for the Long Haul: The Life of John Ruan by William Friedricks.

“Book Discovery Discussions” explores literature that defines, reflects or captures the history of Iowa. Meetings are free and open to the public at the State Historical Building, 3rd Floor, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Pre-registration is recommended, but not required, by visiting More information is available at 515-281-6897 or by email to Participants are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch.

Below is the State Historical Library’s “Book Discovery Discussions” 2008-2009 schedule:

Oct. 15, 2008 – 11:45 a.m.

In for the Long Haul: The Life of John Ruan by William Friedricks

A story of success, John Ruan overcame childhood hardships to become one of the most successful business leaders in Des Moines and Iowa. Among his community and charitable efforts is founding the World Food Prize Foundation. Friedricks’ account of Ruan’s life summarizes a man of tremendous impact in Iowa, the United States and the world.

Later that evening, the World Food Prize will present a free public forum featuring Senators Robert Dole and George McGovern at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, 2008, at the Historical Building. Political icons and 2008 World Food Prize Laureates, Dole and McGovern will reflect on their decades-long efforts to fight hunger at home and abroad.

Nov. 19, 2008 – 11:45 a.m.
The Kramer Girls by Ruth Suckow
A story of love, sacrifice, jealousy and ambition among three sisters in a quiet realistic study of a middle class family. Suckow (1892-1960) was not interested in glamour or movie stars; but in writing about farmers and small town people, the types she encountered in her everyday life.

Dec. 17, 2008 – 11:45 a.m.
Take the Next Exit: New Views of the Iowa Landscape by Robert Sayre
This book is a collection of delightful photographs and travel pieces on the essential Iowa, not just the tourist attractions. This book visits small town cafes, hardware stores and churches – the places of history and tradition that make Iowa different from other states and an American ideal.

Jan. 21, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
Much Obliged: The Inventive Life of Ray Townsend by Walt Shotwell
In 1946, former blacksmith Ray Townsend introduced the first Pork Skinner, Townsend Model 27. He followed that original invention with 60 years of innovation and reliability, obtaining 100 U.S. patents and more than 300 patents in countries around the world.

Feb. 18, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
Colored Sugar Water by Venise Berry
The mystery of voodoo mingles with the search for spirituality and faith in the lives of two young women, each facing the challenge of understanding what a meaningful relationship might be in this entertaining novel by Venise Berry, author of the Blackboard bestsellers All of Me and So Good.

March 18, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.

From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press: A Century of Iowa Girls’ Basketball by Janice Beran
Janice Beran’s book recounts the century of girls’ basketball in Iowa prior to the final conversion to five-player basketball. It is a rich, vibrant history of a sport handed down from mother to daughter that helped sustain community life in small Iowa towns for decades.

April 15, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend by John E. Miller
Legends have attached themselves to Laura Ingalls Wilder, beloved author of the eight Little House novels. Before this biography, little has been known about her adult years. John E. Miller tracks the evolution of one of America’s most popular children’s writers.

May 20, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
The Rise of Jonas Olsen: A Norwegian Immigrant’s Saga by Johannes B. Wist
Originally published serially in the Norwegian language newspaper, Decorah Posten, in the 1920s, The Rise of Jonas Olsen illustrates an immigrant’s struggle to preserve his identity and heritage while striving to become fully accepted as an American.

June 17, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
Chautauqua Summer by Julie McDonald}}
This novel takes the reader along with young Lem, a 17-year-old musician plucked from Harlan, Iowa, to travel the Chautauqua circuit with the Royal Serenaders. It is a coming-of-age story heavily sprinkled with historical tidbits of people and places from the early part of the 20th century.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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