Iowa Author Awards

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2014 Iowa Author Awards

Travel – Science – Memoir – History - Humor

Whatever your reading taste, the Des Moines Public Library Foundation invites you to an event that fits the “bill!”

2014 Iowa Author Awards Dinner
"An Evening with Bill Bryson"

Saturday, November 8 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Des Moines Marriott Downtown
700 Grand Avenue

The Des Moines native and internationally best-selling author, Bill Bryson, has written more than 20 books, including A Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Bryson’s reflection on growing up in Des Moines), A Short History of Nearly Everything, and his newest work, One Summer: America, 1927.

The evening will include:

  • Presentation by Bill Bryson
  • Michael Gartner as the Emcee
  • A delicious dinner, wine, live and silent auctions
  • The 2014 Iowa Author Award and the Friend of Literacy Award
  • Book signing (books available for purchase courtesy of The Bookstore)

We anticipate a sold-out event, so please consider making your reservation of tickets or a sponsorship today.

Individual tickets are $150 ($110 tax deductible). Sponsorships are also available. Please show you value the critical role the Des Moines Public Library plays in the life of our community by attending this year’s event! For reservations and information click below.

Questions? Please contact Dory Briles, DMPL Foundation Executive Director, at 515.248.6402 or

Sponsor Opportunities Form [pdf]

Ticket Reservation Form [pdf]

Bill Bryson - 2014 Iowa Author Award Recipient

Bill BrysonBill Bryson’s books have sold more than 16 million copies and been translated into over 30 languages. His bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods (currently being filmed in North Carolina and starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte), Notes From a Small Island, In a Sunburned Country, Dictionary of Troublesome Words, At Home: a Short History of Private Life, and A Short of History of Nearly Everything, which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, the European Union’s highest literary award.

Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He moved to England, where he worked for The London Times and The Independent, and wrote for many major British and American publications including National Geographic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Washington Post while developing his diverse literary talents.

His best known book in the Des Moines community is his hilarious childhood memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. In it Bryson travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. In his most recent critically lauded book, One Summer: America 1927, Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy. With the trademark brio, wit, and authority that have made him an internationally acclaimed writer of narrative non-fiction, he rolls out an unforgettable cast of vivid and eccentric personalities to bring to life a forgotten summer when America came of age, took center stage, and changed the world forever. 

Honors Include:

  • 2013 – Made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society, becoming the first non-British citizen to receive the honor.
  • 2012 – Received the Kenneth B. Myer Award from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience in Melbourne.
  • 2012 – Awarded an honorary doctorate from King's College London.
  • 2009 – Made honorary fellow of the Kavli Institute of Particle Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • 2008 - Royal Society of Chemistry started the annual Bill Bryson Prize for the best school science project in the United Kingdom.
  • 2007 – Museum of Science in Boston, gave him the Bradford Washburn Award, its highest award, for contributions to the popularization of science.
  • 2007 – Named Schwartz Visiting Fellow of the Pomfret School in Connecticut.
  • 2007 – Received The James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin and the Golden Eagle Award.

Bill Bryson’s favorite library experiences:

"My favorite library experiences are all tied to the old Central Library. I loved everything about that building – putting books down the chute, going into the mighty rotunda, looking through the old card files, and staring at the WPA murals in the children’s library in the basement. I was amazed at the seeming endlessness of the stacks, stepping out onto the balcony overlooking the river on a hot summer’s evening. I could go on and on – and probably will when it comes time to speak at the 2014 Iowa Author Awards Dinner."

Michael Gartner - Master of Ceremonies

Michael GartnerMichael Gartner, 75, was born and raised on 40th Street in Des Moines. He is a graduate of Carleton College and the New York University School of Law. Gartner is a celebrated American journalist and businessman.

As a journalist, he has been Page One Editor of The Wall Street Journal, editor and president of The Des Moines Register, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, general news executive of the Gannett Company and USA TODAY, and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing at the Ames Tribune, where he was editor and co-owner.

As a public servant, he served seven years on the Iowa Board of Regents, including three years as president. For five years Gartner served as chairman of Vision Iowa, the program that leveraged $300 million of state money into more than $2 billion of infrastructure, changing the face of the state and, in particular, of downtown Des Moines.

As a businessman, he is the majority owner of the Iowa Cubs baseball team and a partner with the Hansen Cos. in several downtown projects, including Ballyard Lofts. Gartner is the minority stockholder of Big Green Umbrella Media, which, among other things, publishes Cityview. He writes the “Civic Skinny” column for that Des Moines weekly newspaper.

Gartner is also a lawyer, a husband (of one), a father (of three), and a grandfather (of four).

Michael Gartner’s Des Moines Public Library Memory:

“My first job, when I was 14, was as a page at the late, lamented Waveland Branch of the Des Moines Public Library. Thus, I am one of the few living Iowans who understands the Dewey Decimal System, which I have never had occasion to think about – let alone use – since I left that job in 1953, to go to work answering phones in the sports department of The Register. However, I still carefully line up books on my bookshelves to make sure the books are even and touch the outside edge of the shelves, fearing that if I don’t do that the ghost of Miss Wilson, the librarian, will rise and smite me.”

Thank You to the 2014 Iowa Author Awards Dinner Sponsors!

Publisher's Prize Sponsor

Wells Fargo logo

Heritage Sponsor

Meredith logo

Masterpiece Sponsors

Rita Perea Leadership Consulting logo

Janis & John Ruan
Rachel Staufer
Kent Swanson
Morgan Stanley

Bestseller Sponsors

Dory Briles
Kevin Crowley
Davis Brown Law Firm
Drake University
Cindy & Larry Eisenhauer
Friends of the Franklin Avenue Library
Denise & Alan Holck
Ellen & Jim Hubbell
Joseph Jones
DM Kelly & Company
Knapp Properties
Cyril & John Mandelbaum
Mark Movic & Susan Skinner
Elizabeth Nelson
Pioneer, A DuPont Business
Kay & Bob Riley
Kimberly & Dr. Craig Shadur
State Public Policy Group & Tom Slater
Susan & Carl Voss
West Bank
Connie Wimer & Frank Fogarty

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