The 2016 All Iowa Reads Selection is “LILA” by Marilynne Robinson

Wednesday August 3rd 7:00 p.m. 


The 2016 All Iowa Reads Selection is "Lila" by Marilynne Robinson




Although Lila is part of the Gilead trilogy, the novel stands on its own as a powerful story of a woman who, homeless and unschooled, nevertheless leads those around her from “doubt and sorrow” to compassion and understanding. The action in the story takes place before the two earlier works, Gilead and Home. “When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband, the Reverend John Ames, who paradoxically judges those she loves.”

Susan Craig, Co-chair of the All Iowa Reads Committee said, “When a book set in Iowa, written by one of the greatest novelists of our time, who lives in Iowa, is proposed for All Iowa Reads it receives serious consideration. The committee had concerns that so many Iowans would have already read Lila by Marilynne Robinson and that we had already selected Gilead for the program. However, the themes presented in the book are universal, and very different from Gilead, the quality of the writing is superb and Lila’s story compelling.  We feel that Lila was the right choice for 2016.”

image_previewMarilynne Robinson is the author of the novels, Lila, Home, Gilead, and Housekeeping, and four books of nonfiction, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Mother Country, The Death of Adam, and Absence of Mind. She has lived in Iowa City since 1989, when she began teaching at the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her novels have been published in 30 languages. She is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Hemingway Foundation PEN Award, National Book Award, Orange Prize, Man Booker International Prize, National Humanities Medal and the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Past AIR Books:

  • 2015. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
  • 2014Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman
  • 2013The Year We Left  Home by Jean Thompson
  • 2012Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
  • 2011Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
  • 2010Driftless by David Rhodes
  • 2009The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown
  • 2008Digging to America by Anne Tyler
  • 2007Splendid Solution:  Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio by Jeffrey Kluger
  • 2006Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • 2005The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
  • 2004Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken
  • 2003Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

How All Iowa Reads is chosen

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 used to select 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:
    • paperback
    • 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.

See also:
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