The Next Indiana Bookshelf is a collection of books that encourage communities to celebrate the Hoosier Bicentennial through reading and conversation.




The Next Indiana Bookshelf is a collection of 13 titles that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk about the present and future of Indiana. The Bookshelf includes fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry, as well as titles appropriate for adults, young adults and kids. Each book has a strong connection to Indiana, either set here and/or written by a Hoosier author.

Following an application period, a total of 55 sets of the Next Indiana Bookshelf have been awarded to libraries, schools and community organizations across the state (see the list of awardees). Each set includes one copy of each of the 13 titles. All schools and libraries will additionally receive a poster of The Indiana Chant.

The Next Indiana Bookshelf is a collaboration between Indiana Humanities and the Indiana Center for the Book. It is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Indiana State Library.


The Bookshelf features contemporary works, interspersed with a few classics, that explore the dynamic forces shaping Hoosier communities today, including returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, growing ethnic and religious diversity, changes in how we use our land, and new directions in food and agriculture. Several titles explore the complicated yet vital connections between our rural small towns and our rapidly growing suburban and urban areas.

The Next Indiana Bookshelf includes fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry, as well as titles appropriate for adults, young adults and kids. Each book has a strong connection to Indiana, either set here and/or written by a Hoosier author.

Many of the titles are available as book sets through Indiana Humanities’ free Novel Conversations lending library.



  • Earth Works: Selected Essays by Scott Russell Sanders raises big questions about how we are connected to each other and the earth, how our Midwestern roots shape who we are, and what it means to live a good life.
  • The Essential Etheridge Knight by Etheridge Knight gathers the works of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee Knight, who first started writing poetry as a prisoner at the Indiana State Prison in 1968.
  • Food For Thought: An Indiana Harvest by David Hoppe, photos by Kristin Hess captures and explores this exciting moment of change and possibility in Indiana food and agriculture.
  • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf tells the story of Syrian immigrant Khadra growing up in Indianapolis in the 1970s, questioning what it means to be “Muslim” and “American,” and follows her conflicted return to Indiana as an adult.
  • The Indiana Chant by April Pulley Sayre celebrates the nature and culture of the Hoosier State in a lively chant form that will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike!
  • Invincible, Indiana by Nate Dunlevy incisively captures life in small-town Indiana, where ambitious protaganist Dale Cooper coaches high school basketball and finds that both team and townsfolk alike are all too content to settle for mediocrity.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Letters by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., edited by Dan Wakefield collects more than sixty years’ worth of the irascible author’s observations and recollections about growing up “a native Middle-Westerner.”
  • Paper Towns by John Green is equal parts literary mystery, classic road-trip fiction and coming-of-age story as teenager Quentin explores the real and imagined landscapes of suburbia in his quest to discover the secrets of long-time crush Margo.
  • Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. lyrically and timelessly both celebrates and critiques the American dream by telling the story of one day in the life of Hoosier schoolteacher and poet John Shawnessy.
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix surprises readers of all ages as 13-year-old Jessie discovers the truth behind her seemingly simple life in 1840 village Clifton, Indiana and races to save the lives of her friends and family.
  • Sailing the Inland Sea: On Writing, Literature, and Land by Susan Neville asks us to consider the Hoosier landscape and the many writers who have shaped our appreciation of it.
  • Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe traces the stories of three Indiana National Guardswomen during twelve years of military service, revealing the sacrifice and fortitude of today’s new generation of veterans.
  • What This River Keeps by Greg Schwipps tells a familiar Hoosier story—an elderly couple fears the loss of their bottomland farm to eminent domain, their son struggles with duty to his family’s land and legacy—and, in so doing, asks us to consider how we balance public good and private interests.



Additional resources are available for download (including programming suggestions, a list of Indiana authors in the Novel Conversations collection and The Indiana Chant).


Contact: Leah Nahmias ( 317.638.1500)