Let’s talk about books, Des Moines!
Book Chat is a Des Moines Public Library team of librarians who are here to start you off on your next reading journey. No matter what genre you read (or don’t read!) the Book Chat team will use its expertise to get the right books into your hands. So how does it work? Use our dedicated phone line or fill out the form below to get started!
Borrow a Book Bundle
Are you looking for a pile of books and want to leave it up to our Book Chat staff to select the titles for you? We now offer Book Bundles at all library locations. Children’s Bundles include 10 board books, picture books, or reader books. Adults can get five books in their preferred genre or collection. All you have to do is call us at (515) 248-6286 between 10 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday, or fill out this form. We’ll have your Book Bundle ready to be picked up within one business days!
Fill out the form to get your Book Bundle HERE!
Call Us Now!
Our Book Chat hotline is now live! Call (515) 248-6286 between 10 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday and we’ll ask you some questions then start putting together a list of suggested books just for you (turnaround times: 3-5 business days). We’ll even put them on hold for you to pick up either during DMPL Express hours or during curbside pickup at any of our locations.
Poetry for Children
All He Knew
A novel in verse about a young deaf boy during World War II, the sister who loves him, and the conscientious objector who helps him. Inspired by true events.
Before the Ever After
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies.
Red, White, and Whole
A heartbreakingly hopeful #ownvoices novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems
Be they practical (how to mix a pancake or how to bird-watch) or fanciful (how to scare monsters or how to be a snowflake), the poems in this book boast a flair and joy that you won't find in any instruction manual. Poets from Kwame Alexander to Pat Mora to Allan Wolf share the way to play hard, to love nature, and to be grateful.
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop
Explore the roots of rap in this stunning, rhyming, triple-timing picture book!
What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems
For thousands of years, people have been writing poetry. But what is poetry? Award-winning wordsmith Michael Rosen has spent decades thinking about that question, and in this helpful guide he shares his insights with humor, knowledge, and appreciation — appreciation for poetry and appreciation for twenty-first-century children embarking on their own poetic journeys.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers
For the first time ever, 75 beloved songs from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and The Children's Corner are collected in this charmingly illustrated treasury, sure to be cherished by generations of children as well as the millions of adults who grew up with Mister Rogers.
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.
Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake
This delicious collection of poems by the innovative Marilyn Singer is accompanied by vibrant splashy artwork by two-time Caldecott honoree Marjorie Priceman.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics
This board book of poems and portraits from writer Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael López celebrates the lives and accomplishments of amazing Hispanics.
A buoyant, breathtaking poem from Juan Felipe Herrera -- brilliantly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo -- speaks to every dreaming heart. Now in a Spanish-language edition!
Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice
Woke: A Young Poet's Guide to Justice is a collection of poems to inspire kids to stay woke and become a new generation of activists.
On the Horizon
From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII's most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.
Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast
Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast is guaranteed to make readers laugh, imagine, write, and dream.
From a lizard playing a mandolin (although not very well) to the surprised guest of honor (at a birthday party he threw for himself), there's something for everyone in Jack Prelutsky's Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast. Illustrator Ruth Chan's lively and hilarious black-and-white art jumps off the page and illuminates a wide array of poetic forms, from haiku to concrete poems and everything in between.
Delicious! Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World
This poetry collection celebrates all the different kinds of street food from around the globe, introducing young readers to snacks they know and ones they've never heard of--showing that no matter where we live, we all appreciate a yummy treat!
Poetry for Adults
The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns
Composed around the Buddha's lifetime, the original Therigatha ("Verses of the Elder Nuns") contains the poems of the first Buddhist women: princesses and courtesans, tired wives of arranged marriages and the desperately in love, those born into limitless wealth and those born with nothing at all.
When This is Over: Pandemic Poems
The poems in this collection function almost like diary entries. Things are pulled from the news: Tony Fauci, the Orange Man, murder hornets, masks mandates, George Floyd.... But it's not all worry beads and despair. Not by a long shot. The poems aim for a touch of whimsy. They bring a single flower to the plague. They dress up. And they look to the future while, yes, wearing a mask.
What Kind of Woman: Poems
A stunning and honest debut poetry collection about the beauty and hardships of being a woman in the world today, and the many roles we play - mother, partner, and friend.
An Incomplete List of Names: Poems
An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.
Sorry I Haven't Texted You Back
Returning to the form of Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately, Sorry I Haven't Texted You Back is a beacon of light for all who struggle or have struggled with their mental health.
Homie is Danez Smith's magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith's close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer.
The Death of Sitting Bear: New and Selected Poems
Pulitzer Prize winner and celebrated American master N. Scott Momaday returns with a radiant collection of more than 200 new and selected poems rooted in Native American tradition.
American Melancholy: Poems
A new collection of poetry from an American literary legend, her first in twenty-five years.
Beowulf: A New Translation
A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novel The Mere Wife.
Light Filters In: Poems
In the vein of poetry collections like Milk and Honey and Adultolescence, this compilation of short, powerful poems from teen Instagram sensation @poeticpoison perfectly captures the human experience.
Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose
One of America's most celebrated poets challenges us with this powerful and deeply personal collection of verse that speaks to the injustices of society while illuminating the depths of her own heart.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey and the sun and her flowers comes her greatly anticipated third collection of poetry.
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons): Poetry
In this intimate collection, the beloved author of The Poisonwood Bible and more than a dozen other New York Times bestsellers, winner or finalist for the Pulitzer and countless other prizes, now trains her eye on the everyday and the metaphysical in poems that are smartly crafted, emotionally rich, and luminous.
When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through
This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear.
A Fortune for Your Disaster
"When an author's unmitigated brilliance shows up on every page, it's tempting to skip a description and just say, Read this! Such is the case with this breathlessly powerful, deceptively breezy book of poetry." --Booklist, Starred Review
In his much-anticipated follow-up to The Crown Ain't Worth Much, poet, essayist, biographer, and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib has written a book of poems about how one rebuilds oneself after a heartbreak, the kind that renders them a different version of themselves than the one they knew. It's a book about a mother's death, and admitting that Michael Jordan pushed off, about forgiveness, and how none of the author's black friends wanted to listen to "Don't Stop Believin'." It's about wrestling with histories, personal and shared. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside--from Marvin Gaye to Nikola Tesla to his neighbor's dogs--to create a mirror, inside of which every angle presents a new possibility.
Set in a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods leading to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called The Boots seizes on the opportunity to round up communities of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ+ into labor camps.
In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After he loses his livelihood as a drag queen and the love of his life, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer, who helps them plan an uprising at a major televised international event.
With her signature “raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful” (Booklist) prose, Catherine Hernandez creates a vision of the future that is all the more frightening because it is very possible. A cautionary tale filled with fierce and vibrant characters, Crosshairs explores the universal desire to thrive, love, and be loved for being your true self.
How Beautiful We Were
From the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers comes a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company.
We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue's powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of cleanup and financial reparations to the villagers are made--and ignored. The country's government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interests. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price.
Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community's determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman's willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people's freedom.
Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall―an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. A dark part of him wonders whether it would be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if he had to fight for his life.
The New Wilderness
Margaret Atwood meets Miranda July in this wildly imaginative debut novel of a mother's battle to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change; A prescient and suspenseful book from the author of the acclaimed story collection, Man V. Nature.
Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, consumed by the smog and pollution of the overdeveloped metropolis that most of the population now calls home. If they stay in the city, Agnes will die. There is only one alternative: the Wilderness State, the last swath of untouched, protected land, where people have always been forbidden. Until now.
Bea, Agnes, and eighteen others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State, guinea pigs in an experiment to see if humans can exist in nature without destroying it. Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, they slowly and painfully learn to survive in an unpredictable, dangerous land, bickering and battling for power and control as they betray and save one another.
But as Agnes embraces the wild freedom of this new existence, Bea realizes that saving her daughter’s life means losing her in a different way. The farther they get from civilization, the more their bond is tested in astonishing and heartbreaking ways.
At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood and what it means to be human, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary novel from a one-of-a-kind literary force.
Master of Poisons
The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.
Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.
Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.
Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston's characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.
Who Fears Death
Now optioned as a TV series for HBO, with executive producer George R. R. Martin!
An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.
In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue.
Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny – to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture – and eventually death itself.
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny's dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?
Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy's Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.
A Children's Bible: A Novel
A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking story of generational divide offers a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.
Empire of Wild
“Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!”—Margaret Atwood, From Instagram
“Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive—all the while telling a story that needs to be told by a person who needs to be telling it.”—Tommy Orange, author of There There
A bold and brilliant new indigenous voice in contemporary literature makes her American debut with this kinetic, imaginative, and sensuous fable inspired by the traditional Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of native people’s communities.
Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year—ever since that terrible night they’d had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.
One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he's wearing a suit. But he doesn't seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.
Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.
The Disaster Tourist
Jungle is a cutting–edge travel agency specializing in tourism to destinations devastated by disaster and climate change. And until she found herself at the mercy of a predatory colleague, Yona was one of their top representatives. Now on the verge of losing her job, she’s given a proposition: take a paid “vacation” to the desert island of Mui and pose as a tourist to assess the company’s least profitable holiday.
When she uncovers a plan to fabricate an extravagant catastrophe, she must choose: prioritize the callous company to whom she’s dedicated her life, or embrace a fresh start in a powerful new position? An eco–thriller with a fierce feminist sensibility, The Disaster Tourist introduces a fresh new voice to the United States that engages with the global dialogue around climate activism, dark tourism, and the #MeToo movement.
From the award-winning author of the bestselling epic Ibis trilogy comes a globetrotting, folkloric adventure novel about family and heritage
Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one that turns Deen Datta’s world upside down.
A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen’s eyes to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey that will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood, and about the world around him.
Amitav Ghosh‘s Gun Island is a beautifully realized novel that effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.
The Ministry for the Future
From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.
Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.
Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.
It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.
Parable of the Sower
A New York Times Notable Book: In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future.
Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.
When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.
Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She's become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience--but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she's learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.
Gold Fame Citrus
Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most “Mojavs,” prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps. In Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, two young Mojavs—Luz, once a poster child for the Bureau of Conservation and its enemies, and Ray, a veteran of the “forever war” turned surfer—squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Holdouts, they subsist on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.
The couple’s fragile love somehow blooms in this arid place, and for the moment, it seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. They head east, a route strewn with danger: sinkholes and patrolling authorities, bandits and the brutal, omnipresent sun. Ghosting after them are rumors of a visionary dowser—a diviner for water—and his followers, who whispers say have formed a colony at the edge of a mysterious sea of dunes.
Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
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