get these October events on your calendar!

hello-october

Here’s a rundown of things to get on your radar for October.We’re in FULL SWING busy season, so yes, you’re going to have to choose when there’s two events on the same night!

Again, I know I’m not super consistent with posting the same events every time (if they’re monthly or recurring) but just shoot me a line to include what I missed! I’ve tried to be more inclusive by focusing on each bookstore and linking to all their upcoming events after featuring just one on here.

As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings  and lit events in the Twin Cities area.

  • Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival is on Saturday, October 15th!  You don’t want to miss one of the most important TC literary events of the year! 
    • Normally I write this post in chronological order, but this event is just TOO COOL to pass up. It’s 1) at the MN State Fairgrounds and 2) it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE. I hope to see you there!!
    • And there’s an Opening Night Party!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

  • Friday, October 7th: Dave Eggers will be chatting with guests and signing books at new Milkweed Books! Don’t miss checking out the new bookstore, if you haven’t already!
    • There’s also an event also on Tuesday, October 4th:Poets in Conversation with Milkweed Editions featuring Michael Bazzett, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Chris Santiago, and Jennifer Willoughby and that will be a conversation about the formation of poets and the supporting ecosystem here in Minnesota, with Milkweed Editions’ publisher, Daniel Slager.
    • Though they’re a powerhouse press, they’re still a baby bookstore, so a lot of events are hosted or run by Milkweed Editions! For a list of all events at Milkweed Books/Editions, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Thursday, October 6th: Poetry Happy Hour hosted by MN Book Awards and Friends of the St. Paul Library featuring Todd Boss, Heid Erdrich, Dobby Gibson, Ed Bok Lee, and Katrina Vandenberg.
  • Also Wednesday, October 12th: Nathan Hill reads from The Nix at Magers & Quinn Booksellers!
    • Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost presents The Secret History of Twin Peaks on Saturday, October 22!
    • There’s more great ones this month including authors Charlie Quimby, Karen Brennan presenting her new book Monsters (get in the Halloween spirit!), James P. Lenfestey, and many others! For a list of all events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Monday, October 17th: Gary Dop and Amy Munson at Common Good Books! In undergrad, Amy Munson was my poetry professor and Gary Dob was my sister’s (though she turned out to be a better poet than me, I don’t think that has anything to do with our professors), so I’m a little biased but I think you should check them out. Amy Munson’s debut poetry volume Yes Thorn is now out from Tupelo Press!

And because this is literally only the first half of the month, but I’m already all our room, see below for other bookstores and their events pages, featuring authors such as Ben Percy, Caroline Burau, Cheri Register, Nick Flynn, and many others!

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month! 

Review: Underground Airlines by Ben Winters

underUnderground Airlines by Ben Winters (Mulholland Books, 336 pages)

Recommended for: Readers or fans of alternate history, historical fiction, or spy/crime/adventure stories. 

Underground Airlines is an intriguing, suspenseful alternate history novel which asks the question of What if the Civil War had never happened and slavery still existed? The reader is placed alongside an escaped slave named Victor in the “free” north where segregation is still grossly perpetuated in a United States where slavery is still practiced in the “Hard Four” states. He’s been captured under the Fugitive Persons Law by the government and made to be a “soul catcher,” finding escaped slaves and returning them to slavery.

Victor at first seems cold and unfeeling before one realizes he has his own ways of coping: “I was not a person but a manifestation of will. I was a mechanism—a device.” He is sent to capture his over-200th escaped slave while investing the modern representation of the Underground Railroad, hence the title. Almost immediately, the reader is reading a redemption tale—but will it be enough to justify the horrifying idea that slavery was never abolished?

“Freedman Town’s purpose is for the rest of the world. The world that sits, like Martha, with dark glasses on, staring from a distance, scared but safe. Create a pen like that, give people no choice but to live like animals, and then people get to point at them and say ‘Will you look at those animals? That’s what kind of people those people are.’ And that idea drifts up and out of Freedman Town like chimney smoke, black gets to mean poor and poor to mean dangerous and all the words get murked together and become one dark idea, a cloud of smoke, the smokestack fumes drifting like filthy air across the rest of the nation.”

Though some have deemed the world building Winters executes here a triumph, I found it hard to follow and a bit too fantastic at times, specifically his references to pop culture and black celebrities (Michael Jackson, James Brown). I would hope that in a world so different from ours, things would be more different and much worse. The writing was too often dry as well, and I didn’t care about the characters as much as I thought I would, probably because it takes way too long for Victor to explain why he’s so troubled by his situation. I also had a problem with the way women are represented in the novel, but that’s a discussion for another day. In all, despite the intriguing premise of the book, there wasn’t that much there to make it different from other novels covering stories of slavery except that the main character is working for the wrong side.

I am not a long-time fan of Ben Winters like many of the readers flocking to this book. I heard about it first on IndieNext and thought well, if indie booksellers like this one, then I’ll give it a go. I should have first remembered that books about slavery are so hard to read (I recently read Homegoing and with The Underground Railroad yet to review, I’m afraid of the timing). I’m not saying I want to shield myself and as a white person forget it happened, but my heart is so heavy given the events of July and these past few months. Much too late did I realize the horror of what I was reading: a book considering that slavery never ended when it did, written by a white man. While he was going for an eye opener, and something to reveal how this terrible occurrence isn’t really that far from the racism of our day, the more I read, the more disturbed I felt that this book was even written and a publisher jumped on it. I just couldn’t escape that. In all, to me it wasn’t that redeeming of a narrative, and so I fear the publisher accepted the work based solely on the alternate-history plot device. 3.5 stars.

That being said, a lot of people have loved this book, so if you’re at all curious, check it out here.  

For some, this book is going to be a brain churner, which is great. Book clubs who want to create a discussion on racism in America would probably like this book, as I’m sure there are many different opinions on its execution.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

help make Milkweed Books happen!

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(photo from http://www.openbookmn.org)

I haven’t yet written about Milkweed Editions‘ new bookstore opening in the Open Book building in downtown Minneapolis called Milkweed Books! This store is particularly exciting because 1) any new independent bookstore is worth celebrating, and 2) it will be rather unique even among indie bookstores.

Originally the store planned to open in late June but now the grand opening will be on September 20th. The store will be located in the Open Book building in Minneapolis, shared by The Loft Literary Center: one of the biggest nonprofit literary centers in the United States, which also houses the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Imagine all of these businesses in one building! There’s a small coffee shop/cafe inside as well as the MN Center for Book Arts’ retail store, meaning that if you like books or writing at ALL, you’ll be pretty happy hanging out there for hours on end. The Milkweed Books store will be open before that but the grand opening is scheduled for the 20th.

You can read more about the bookstore here, where there’s a Kickstarter raising money (their goal is $25,000) to help make the bookstore happen. You can pledge as little as $5, just the price of one fancy Starbucks coffee, to help make a difference. As of my writing this, they’re almost to $15,000 in just a few days since its launch.

“Milkweed Books will showcase and sell titles primarily published by independent presses, nonprofit presses, and other publishers working to bring the most exciting literary art to the marketplace. If you want to find the best new poetry, or creative nonfiction, or short stories, or translations, this bookstore is for you.”

The manager is Hans Weyandt, who edited a book with Coffee House Press called Read This! Handpicked Favorites From America’s Indie BookstoresI loved this book when I picked it up before National Indie Bookstore Day this year, and I especially love knowing the book recommendations come from experienced booksellers who have waded the vast pool of literature before me. I’ve said this before: the hardest part about being a bookseller myself is the ever-growing, endless TBR (to-be-read) list I create by talking with coworkers and customers!

Consider pledging to this fantastic new bookstore and supporting one of the coolest centers for books in the States. For more information, check this article by the American Booksellers Association. Hope to see you at the grand opening!

get these September events on your calendar!

I know I’ve skipped… well, way too many months. Summer IS much slower for literary events compared to the spring and fall. Are you ready for fall things like leaves changing and cider? I know, too soon, too soon.

Ever read Jonathan Safran Soer, Emily St. John Mandel, or Liane Moriarty? They, among many other great writers, are coming to MN!

Here’s a rundown of things to get on your radar for September. Again, I know I’m not super consistent with posting the same events every time (if they’re monthly or recurring) but just shoot me a line to include what I missed! I’ve tried to be more inclusive by focusing on each bookstore and linking to all their upcoming events after featuring just one on here.

As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings  and lit events in the Twin Cities area.

  • Thursday, September 8th: Graywolf Literary Salon: A World of Voices
    • Featuring authors Anuradha Roy, Solmaz Sharif, and Monica Youn in conversation with Graywolf publisher Fiona McCrae and executive editor Jeff Shotts about fiction, poetry, and twenty-first century ideas. With musical performances by cellists Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney, and percussionist Gary Waryan.
    • This event does require tickets, and they’re on the higher end, but consider it a donation to a FANTASTIC independent press.
    • It’s going to be so great.
  • Wednesday, September 14th: Sky Blue Water Book Launch hosted by Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers, the release of short story collection that celebrates Minnesota’s vibrant storytelling tradition, edited by Jay D. Peterson and Collette A. Morgan.
    • This event is offsite, but only a block from Wild Rumpus and they will be selling books for signing.
    • For a list of all events at Wild Rumpus, check out their Facebook events here!
  • Thursday, September 15th: Eric Dregni presents Let’s Go Fishing
    • Looking for the perfect Minnesotan coffee table book for dad for Christmas? This is your best bet! But shhhh (my dad doesn’t read this blog… I don’t think.)
    • For a list of all events at Subtext: A Bookstore, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website! They have a monthly book club, too!

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month! 

 

Review: Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz

Guys. GUYS GUYS GUYS I loved this book! Also, I’d like to announce that it’s the first NetGalley book I’ve finished and reviewed since creating an account and becoming a NetGalley “Professional Reader.” I was so excited when I got approved for this one and a few others, so expect a few more reviews from me from NetGalley.

rad women worldwideRad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz (Ten Speed Press, 112 pages)

As a woman and feminist, I was so proud while reading this book. Let me praise it from the rooftops and hand sell it to every girl, boy, mom, dad, relative, friend, you name it. Everyone could benefit from reading this.

I was devastated to discover I did not even know about most of these women before picking up this book. I felt myself longing to have had this book in my hands as a girl in school when it came time to pick the people I wanted to write my research papers on. When it’s published, you can bet I’m gonna be buying myself a copy to pass along to my children someday and will hand sell it at Christmas as such a beneficial book.

If you’re at all curious about the women included, pre-order a copy now. Here are some of the most badass mothers, social activists, astronauts, scientists, doctors, teachers, athletes, musicians, artists, suffragettes, queens, spies, and even a pirate! Imagine picking this up in school as a girl and realizing that the options for your career are ENDLESS and that no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. Each description is quite short, like a brief summary and biography of why this woman was/is a luminary and what she contributed to society. I wished they were longer, but it is really is just a gateway for you to learn the fast facts now and research more if you want to later. Also keep in mind it really is meant for a younger audience, but doesn’t alienate adults at all either. It’s nice to having something so short and yet empowering. Women seriously rock! I also was so happy to see diversity represented as well as giving women credit who lived so long ago (think: Ancient Egypt). At the back there’s a list of other rad women around the world divided up by country. I wish I could add some to the list, though it’s quite long as is.

In all, this book is well written, needed, and absolutely fabulous. The cut paper illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl were an incredible as well and added a dynamic to even the women featured who lived thousands of years ago, and the quotes were also a marvelous addition. You will not regret reading this book. 5 stars, without a doubt.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#24in48 readathon wrap up

Yes, oh yes, I know it has been like weeks since the #24in48 Readathon wrapped up, but IT WAS SO FUN SO I GOTTA POST ABOUT IT.

First, I did not make it to 24 hours of reading. But I got to 19 hours and 51 minutes logged, which is DANG INCREDIBLE if you ask me.

I only really updated Litsy, after the crash was fixed, because trying to keep up with multiple social media sites was actually exhausting. I mean, it’s actually always exhausted (confession time, ahh!) but that weekend was particularly bad. Also, there were distractions EVERYWHERE. Half of the time my tired brain was actually seeking them out in order to have a break from reading, but half the time my husband and cats were just being annoying ;). Then my brother and sister-in-law randomly decided to come to town and it was quite the full weekend. Here’s a rundown of what happened:

Friday, Day 0.5:

I read until about 1:30am the night the 48 hours started. This was spent finishing up He’s a Slut, She’s a Stud, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti (which, BTW, is a fantastic quick look at sexism everywhere and will probably make you a little mad. If it doesn’t, it should. But I digress). I also almost finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman that night, but I got soooooo sleeppyyyyyyy.

Saturday, Day 1: 

I slept in (THIS WAS MY DOWNFALL GUYS) until basically 10am and then began reading the Gaiman book and also Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther. I was all positive like “hell yeah I got this, so excited omg,” but after a few hours realized it doesn’t matter how fast I read, that will never give me more hours in this day. That was scary, I got sleepy, and then panicked because I didn’t have time for napping.

And then I realized: I didn’t have any audiobooks on hand!! One quick Google search for legal, free audiobooks and I found ThoughtAudio, which is a lot of classics badly narrated. But hey, some were short stories and thus only an hour, so I “rested my eyes” while listening to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Later, I worked on reading Asking for It by Kate Harding (wonderful, WONDERFUL BOOK on rape culture and what we can do about it) and A Good Time for the Truth edited by Sun Yung Shin. OH, and my goal for the weekend was to reach page 300 in Stephen King’s IT (having started at page 212… out of 1,000+ pages. Yep. I needed to make progress).

On Saturday night, we went to see Star Trek: Beyond with my husband’s brother and his wife, so that was fun but it took so many hours getting there early, finding bad seats (it was packed!), and we didn’t get home until late. I clocked right around 8 hours total for Saturday.

Sunday, Day 2: 

Slept in, again. By the time I woke up I realized there was no way I could read 16 hours before 12am. It just wasn’t actually possible. Never have I wished for more hours in a day, though, because I realized then how much fun I was having. I COULD ACTUALLY READ ALL DAY LONG, WHO KNEW!? Haha.

Books I worked on reading or finished: same as above, then adding PersepolisThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Fall of the House of Usher, Gold Fame Citrus, and The Bookshop.

I ended up getting very jealous of all my friends who went to a beach not too far away, so I ended up joining them for 2 hours and simply floating on the lake for a while. It was fantastic because it was SO hot out that weekend and our AC leaks and was a pain. I also meal prepped while listening to audiobooks and playing with my cats.

I finished the challenge exactly at midnight by completing The Bookshop, a short novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, clocking in at 19 hours and 51 minutes.

In conclusion…

Books I finished: 9 

  • He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know – Jessica Valenti
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  • A Good Time for the Truth  – edited by Sun Yung Shin
  • Spiritual Sobriety: Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad – Elizabeth Esther
  • The Complete Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
  • The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald
  • 3 stories/short novels: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allen Poe, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving

And I made progress in It (page 300!), Gold Fame Citrus, Asking for It, Alice in Wonderland.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. Would I try to make it to 24 hours? You bet! 

Mark your calendars! The next #24in48 readathon is on January 21-22, 2017! Click on that link to sign up!

the Harry Potter midnight excitement is contagious

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Are you excited for the new book? What are you doing this evening?

911Xmhn9+rLThe context: As you probably know, the most anticipated book (er, play) of the summer, the screenplay Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be released into the hands of fans at bookstores tonight at midnight or (like in my store’s case, at 10 am Sunday). This book is the only sequel to the beloved series and comes out the same day the play is premiered in the UK.

The audience: Are you, like me, almost exactly the same age as Harry? Did you, unlike me, grow up reading each one, attending book release parties and midnight screenings of the movies?

I unfortunately grew up in a conservative community who sort of shunned Harry Potter (I say unfortunate because I wish we hadn’t and that I had been allowed to read it, since I’ll always feel like I missed out) but when I was 19 I happily started reading the books and watching the movies with my friends. That was the summer the last movie was released, which I also didn’t watch until I had read all the books. (It’s already been 5 years!)

The happenings: So naturally I had to post about this because it’s exciting and fun. I’m not sure I’ll be attending any parties due to having to work 3-10 today, but if you live here or I’m sure anywhere as lots of B&Ns are having parties, you should join in the fun if you want. I love how a beloved storyline and characters can reveal a community of people who simply love fun, magic, and the values of love shown in the series. They truly are amazing books.

Will I be reading the screenplay? Well seeing as I don’t have more money for books right now, I checked the library, and there are OVER NINE HUNDRED HOLDS FOR OVER 100 COPIES OF THE PLAY.

So I’ll think it’ll be a while for me 😉 I’m also hesitant because it’s a play, but since I’m not a hardcore dedicated, grew-up-with-Harry fan, I’m not gonna write you a “this is why I’m not reading the Cursed Child” speech.

Here are some of the midnight release parties happening in the Twin Cities this weekend: (I started making this list but then found the rest over at the Pioneer Press)

 

Northgate Brewing: 783 Harding St. N.E., Minneapolis. Family-friendly activities beginning at 4 p.m. (This looks super fun. This is where I’d be if not working. Harry Potter and beer/cider!?!? Yes please!)

SubText Books: 6 W. Fifth St., St. Paul. 9 to 11 p.m. costume contest and drinks (for families) at Tin Whiskers Brewing Company, 125 E. Ninth St., St. Paul, followed by midnight-release party at the store with birthday cake and birthday party games.

Red Balloon Bookshop: 891 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Party begins at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by Wee Wizard Brunch at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with breakfast in the Great Hall and wizarding crafts.

Barnes & Noble: In Roseville, Edina, Maplewood, Minneapolis, Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Blaine, Minnetonka, Maple Grove and Mall of America.

Half Price Books: St. Louis Park and Coon Rapids

Valley Bookseller: 217 N. Main St., Stillwater. Opening at 8 a.m. Sunday to celebrate Harry Potter Day.

So to celebrate I may just be making butterbeer for my friends and I. Are you celebrating?

 

books & the literary community as healing

Alright, friends. Here I am after QUITE the absence, and for that I am sorry. It’s totally not that there haven’t been July events to keep you aware of or awesome June events to talk about (because there have been! I have so much to catch up on), but that I think it’s not secret July has been a total shitstorm in our country.

The day after Philando Castile was shot and killed, I decided to take a break from speaking my own voice out into the social media depths and simply share those voices which haven’t been feeling heard. I received some backlash, I solidified some viewpoints, I worked up the courage to share controversial content for what I believe in, and I got to know myself a bit better.

My desire is not for this blog to cover that content. Not because I don’t believe in speaking up, but simply because I don’t want to alienate anyone who loves books or calls Minnesota home, and also because I don’t think my voice, as a white woman, is so very different. I’m learning that the best thing I can do right now is support, learn, and assist those who’s voices need to be heard right now.

I AM going to plug what I’ve been reading and plan to read, of course, and coincidentally that covers the turmoil the nation has been experiencing. I think readers have a big responsibility right now to read and, at least for those of us who don’t experience racism good timeday to day, educate themselves and open up their minds to the voices and experiences of their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and fellow citizens.

MPR last week published a GREAT piece about how books about racial studies or by people of color are flying off the shelves of our local Minneapolis/St. Paul bookstores. I can testify that I’ve sold at least one copy a day of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I watched A Good Time for the Truth (by local, Minnesotan authors, which is what I’m reading now!) sell out before the weekend of July 9-10. I believe strongly in the power of that book:

The impact of “A Good Time for the Truth” is different, though, Zumberge said, because it’s local.

The book “is the experiences of people of color who live in this state. You cannot say ‘Oh, it’s not us,'” Zumberge said.

“I’m glad that people are turning to bookstores,” [Martin of Common Good Books] said. “Because it’s what bookstores are really good at: Helping understand the world around us.” (Read the whole piece here).

I echo that statement, which is why I see the literary community as a place for healing.

I had the privilege of experiencing that directly last Monday evening at Subtext Books. I heard word that there’d be a discussion of A Good Time for the Truth with editor Sun Yung Shin, and so my partner and I went even though I had only read the first two chapters at that point. We were a big taken aback that it wasn’t a regular event but rather an intimate book club of around 25 people, but we stayed and listened to a wonderful discussion about the influence of the book and the courage of the writers who have shared pieces inside.

Sun Yung Shin spoke about how the anthology came about, how she wanted an anthology including many different viewpoints and representations of different races, and that it was important for it to be a creative piece. Those of us there agreed–the stories really are so well written you feel as if you are friends with the writer and listening face to face. In that way, the stories are that much more real and influential. They cannot be ignored. 

I have more notes from that discussion that I’d love to share some other time, but it’s important that I say we all agreed that reading matters. Our discussion leader asked the question: is reading enough?

The unanimous conclusion was yes. Reading is important, and it does make a difference. If just one person’s mind is changed and they tell their friends, that’s a difference. If one of those people becomes an activist or has influence where some laws could be changed, that’s definitely a difference. And so on.

If you’re a reader who wants to make a difference but perhaps doesn’t know how, or doesn’t know where to start, or wants to know which books could be deemed most important right now, here’s a list of books Writers of Color Say We Should All Read Now. This list is so, so good because I don’t think any one person could have come up with all these important works. I’m a bookseller and I didn’t even know about most of them (partly because our sections on racial, gender, women’s, and LGBTQIA+ studies are always going fast! An awesome problem to have). blues vision

I would also like to spotlight Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota from the list, another anthology on race also published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press last year. I’ve sold books for well-attended readings from this anthology at the Loft and always been sad I couldn’t listen in from my book table. If there are more events like this, you can bet I’ll do my best to be there.

Don’t minimize the influence you could have. Read these books. Share them with people, and start seeing the literary community as a place of discussion, healing, and beauty.

Do you agree that books and the literary community can be a place of healing? Where have you see this for yourself? Do you have books you would recommend strongly at this period in time? I’d love to start a discussion on this! 

 

 

 

where I went in May

Here is my long overdue recap of the literary events I was able to attend in May! It’s a big season of change in my life right now, so bear with my lateness. I will also be posting very soon a post of literary news of things happening in the Twin Cities area that aren’t event-specific.

May was a busy month due to a wedding I was in and being out of town, but I caught some really great events featured below!

May Event Recap

On May 1, I was able to attend the Twin Cities bookstore Rep Night where we listened to Random House representatives talk about the exciting new books coming out this summer. I landed an ARC of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (review to come soon!) as well as some others I’m really excited to dive into quite soon. We also listened to short readings and talks by authors Peter Geye, author of recently released Wintering and Nathan Hill, author of The Nix. Other perks of being a bookseller include meeting other booksellers in the area and nerding over our love of books.

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Poetry bingo & Strongbow at honey mpls!

Later that week on Wednesday, May 4, my partner and I went to honey mpls for a poetry reading with Coffee House and Graywolf presses complete with POETRY BINGO, and it was bomb. The release of Amanda Nadelberg’s Songs From a Mountain from Coffee House Press. She was hilarious and, in honor of Mother’s Day, read excerpts from her mom’s journal from when Amanda was a baby. Good drinks with good publishing friends.

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This is my ACR of his short story collection along with teasers of 3 of his re-released novels!

Over the weekend on Saturday, May 14, Andy and I listened to Brian Evanson read at Magers & Quinn from his new short story collection A Collapse of Horses just out from Coffee House Press! It’s a delightfully spooky short story collection best read in Evanson’s voice himself. Saw friends from Coffee House at this event as well!

alimon_brightdeadthingsOn Monday, May 16, Milkweed hosted “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art: A Reading & Conversation with Ada Limón and Joan Vorderbruggen” at Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, which was an absolutely fantastic evening. Ada Limón read from her latest poetry volume Bright Dead Things, which was incredible, and they all had a lovely discussion about creativity and how it does or should fit into our lives. I will be writing up a whole separate post about this talk because it was just that good. And check out Ada’s poetry collection if you want to read some great poetry!

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to many events last month, but we are making up for it in June for sure!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in May, or listening to any readings on NPR or any book-related podcasts? Please share in the comments! 

my 2016 reads so far

It’s June! Can you believe it? It means we only have 6 more months of reading left in 2016! For those of whom have reading goals on Goodreads or otherwise, it can either be an encouragement or a source of fear.

As you may know if you follow my Goodreads, my goal for the year is to read one book for every week totaling 52 books. I’m probably going to surpass that, especially since I consider reading a job now (the books I get in exchange for reviews). As of today I’ve read 40 books of the 52, which is 17 books ahead of schedule!

(At this point, do you think I should nearly double my goal and try to read 100 books? I’m still not so sure. I would hate to not reach it! Maybe 75 is a more realistic number.)

Here’s a small selection of what I’ve been reading lately, along with whether it fits into my summer reading goals or not:

homegoing

This morning I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a heart-wrenching debut about two half sisters in Ghana, following their descendants both in Ghana and America. It’s pub day was this last Tuesday, so you can definitely find yourself a copy in bookstores today! This fits into my goal of readings more books by authors of color (and one of my 5 ARCS, along with another I just finished) and making sure they get represented equally in bookstores! I think M&Q does a good job of recommending literature of all backgrounds.

Currently finishing up Dark Sparklera poetry collection by Amber Tamblyn that I got signed when I met her earlier this year. These darkpoems about dead actresses are raw, gorgeous, haunting, and poignant. I’ve been taking it slow because I don’t want to be finished yet! I also Google quite frequently while reading, which is what Amber wants her readers to do. This is my May book of poetry goal! So yes, I already failed at reading a new one in June, ahh! But it’s so good!!

ongoingnessI recently started reading Ongoingness: the End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso from Graywolf Press and am loving it so far! I’ve also started to keep a journal again and opted for a 5-year one where I only have to record a few lines every day. It’s nice because now I can look back and remember each day, but I don’t have to be so steeped in recording the details, as Manguso stresses she was. “I wanted to remember what I could bear to remember and convince myself it was all there was.” It’s truly beautiful guys, and short, so you should check it out (: This counts as a book of essays, albeit short ones, for my summer goal.

On audiobook for my car rides, I listened to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain because I big magicdecided non-fiction would work better for stressful Minneapolis driving. Next, I’m starting Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’ll see how this goes, since I never finished Eat, Pray, Love, and I suspect this book is a lot of fluff. But I like knowing I’m getting reading done even while driving though! This is my second non-fiction book of the summer.

itTo fulfill my horror genre goal, I’ve started a classic: It by Stephen King, to a lot of peoples’ horror (haha, I know I’m terrible). It’s so long! Definitely feels like a summer book to me. I blew through 200 pages at the cabin a few weekends ago and feel like I’ve made zero progress when normally that’s at least half a book! But I really like it so far. I just can’t read it when my cat’s in one of his moods because he’ll scare me out of nowhere, it’s absolutely terrifying. This fits my summer goal of reading a horror novel.

Still working on my classic on my phone during random times of tesswaiting: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, I think it’s boring even though I’m sure it’s actually lovely. Maybe e-readers aren’t conducive to classics, like, at all. There’s a huge disconnect for me when I’m using an e-reader, almost as if I’m dreaming I’m reading the book but not actually. I like the physical experience of holding the book and having that relationship with it (hence, why I’m a good fit for being a bookseller! Yay!). This doesn’t count towards my summer goal of reading 3 classics, unfortunately, since I started it a while back.

That’s it for me, for now. I’ll probably start a new book today. I know some people think I read too many at a time, but I can’t just plow through a book like It without breaks to read something non-fiction or beautiful 😉

What are you reading? Making progress towards your summer or yearly goals? Tell me in the comments!