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: 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.

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! 

Updated event: Max Porter on June 23

briefOriginally I posted about a reading at Magers & Quinn on Thursday, June 23 that I am SUPER excited for: Max Porter reading from his debut from Graywolf Press, Grief is the Thing With Feathers.

BUT let me tell you, I just found out that Man Booker Prize winner and author of A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James will be joining him (and reading from his own book)!

WHAT. Oh my gosh I’m excited. I saw Marlon James at Friends of the Hennepin County Library last year even though I didn’t get to personally meet and he is incredible. You don’t want to miss this, guys.

Excerpt from the M&Q event page41xE70s+S8L._SY344_

“One of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. [Porter] combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself. Says Crow of grief, ‘It is everything. It is the fabric of selfhood.’” —Sarah Manguso

P.S. Sarah Manguso also happens to be a Graywolf author, and I am reading her book Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, and it is beautiful. Just sayin’.

review: And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile

Finally, an ARC and a book that counts toward my summer reading goals: a book by an author of color. Jowhor Ile is a Nigerian writer, and this is his debut novel. I was so excited to be able to request it as a review copy! As always, you can find or request books like this at your local bookstore (bonus points, yes, if it’s Magers & Quinn, haha).

aamdAnd After Many Days by Jowhor Ile (Tim Duggan Books, 244 pages) 

A spellbinding debut about a country rife with change and a family’s bond and growth, And After Many Days is a novel I will remember for a while. In Port Harcourt, Nigeria in the 1990s, we meet the Utu family—a middle class, respected crew of five—through the eyes of the youngest child, Ajie, on the tragic day of his older brother Paul’s disappearance.

Ile’s description of Nigeria and village life is rich with poetic language, but the stark details he includes are refreshing and make for a quick read. “The skies open and drop water all day—drizzle this time, but the streets get flooded, drainages overflow, okada men in rain capes hang about under the eaves of roadside shops, shielding their motorcycles from the water, ignoring prospective passengers.” His talent for showing emotions without explanation of the family’s reaction to events is to be praised. This style wouldn’t work for every novel, but here it brings the vibrant Utu family’s interactions to life.

Unlike mysteries where the story begins with the puzzle and works to solve it, this book starts with the catalyst that sends the Utus’ normal existence spinning but then backtracks, starting with background family history and launching into Ajie’s childhood memories. The jump is almost startling. “The seeds of Paul’s disappearance were sowed by his parents. This was what Ajie decided. . . As for Paul, you really can’t blame a person for his own disappearance, at least not while he is still missing and cannot speak for himself. . . To tell Paul’s story, you would have to start from before he was born.” Unfortunately, we are fully immersed by Ile into the past and don’t return again to the present until it is almost forgotten, and by that point it is unclear exactly how many years have passed. Sometimes the story moves at a slow pace and other times you could have skipped many years without knowing. Though Ile’s talent lies in connecting the changing atmosphere and political strife of Nigeria to the growing children’s perception of their world through the eyes of Ajie, it was not enough to make the writing flow easily enough.

Though Ile is lauded by some for his seamless switching of stories through time, I found the book slightly confusing. I was in fact almost worried we would never find out what exactly happened to Paul, at least not to the level of detail I wanted, since the present does not get referenced in the past. Furthermore, there are instances in the book that make the reader uncomfortable—and that is what makes it interesting—but it almost didn’t have enough of Ajie’s personal thoughts or details of Nigeria’s tumultuous state (both extremes) to make the impact it could have. In all, I would laud this as a successful debut and one I wouldn’t steer anyone away from, but I just can’t call it the masterpiece I wanted to. Still, it gets 4 (or 3.5) stars on my Goodreads for being compelling, important, and a beautiful literary piece. 

 
I received this book free from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program in exchange for an honest review. 

where I went in April

Alright, so since there’s a TON of events going on and my poor fingers can’t keep up with typing up each one after I attend, I thought I would do monthly recaps of the awesome ones I went to. This way, you get a look at the bigger picture of what’s going on in the Twin Cities every month!

I will also be doing monthly looking ahead event posts so I can highlight some of the awesome things coming up in the near future! These will be posting towards the beginning of each month. (But bear with me as I form these blogging trends on this baby blog!) I’m working on a post to give you SOON because there’s some great ones coming up just this week!

April Event Recap

As you know, the last day of April included the second annual Independent Bookstore Day 2016, which you can read about here (part 1) and here (part 2).

milkweedOn April 29, my husband and I attended Milkweed Editions’ and Motionpoems’ National Poetry Month + Reading Party at Milkweed Editions and the Loft Literary Center in the Open Book building. I wasn’t able to attend the pre-party, but the reading was BOMB. So. Good. First, Adam Clay read from his new poetry book, then Mary Austin Speaker, and lastly Anders Nilsen.

And let me tell you, I was blown away by all three. Anders brought a fantastic twist to the reading by showing us his drawings as he read his poetry/stories, and I was floored. Definitely so thankful I attended this. download

On April 21, as I talked about here, Andy and I were able to attend Coffee House Press’ Bowling & Books Happy Hour event at Bryant Lake Bowl. It was so fun to get to know some of their staff on a more informal level while bowling, and now I am way more excited to read more of their books that I now have to explore!

helen macdonald

April 14 marks the day I met Helen Macdonald at the Loft. I think it’s safe to call it an understatement how EXCITING THIS WAS. She was just lovely—so very personable, relatable, and down to earth. I loved hearing her stories about what raising her hawk Mabel taught her. Seriously, I wish I could grab tea with this woman. So much wisdom, ugh! I have yet to locate the picture that was taken of us at the Loft by their photographer, but when I track it down it WILL be on social media, haha. This event was also fairly bittersweet because it was my last official event I worked for Magers & Quinn. I am now just part time a bookseller in the store and occasionally help out with in-store events only now. This event was extra special as I was able to take care of selling books while also hearing the talk on the big screen in the overflow room. It was so wonderful. I wish I had the time to read her book NOW.

h is for hawk

our book table at the Helen Macdonald event! 

 

Even though it feels like such a short month for me with only 4 literary events that I attended, that’s still hitting my goal of one every week! I actually looked back at it like this yet and it feels so good to be closer to accomplishing all my professional goals. Of course, there were many great ones that I know I missed. I’d love to hear about them from you!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in April, or listening to any readings on NPR even? Please share in the comments! 

featured event: Books & Bowling

So as you may know, one of my goals of this blog is to use it to promote and record (the ones I attend) literary events in the Twin Cities community. The more I grow in my network and meet new people, the more I realize how vibrant this community is! So why not have more to show for the events I attend than a few acquaintances?

downloadYesterday, my husband and I both drove to Bryant Lake Bowl in Uptown, Minneapolis for a Coffee House Press event: Books & Bowling. I was so timid going in: how does one play bowling games with people one has only interviewed with and seen in formal events before? But it was a really neat way to connect with CHP employees and other readers. We even had name tags that said “what are you reading?” which is my FAVORITE question and sparked a few good conversations.

I played a round of bowling with my husband Andy and Carla Valadez, Production Director at Coffee House, and met others such as Chris, Lizzie, and Rob, while seeing familiar faces from Graywolf and meeting authors as well! It was fantastic. Thanks, Coffee House, for hosting such a great event!

Next up is next Friday, April 29 is Milkweed Editions’ and Motionpoems’ National Poetry Month Party + Reading! Tickets are required if you are attending the party at 5:30, otherwise just an RSVP is needed for the “Being Among Strangers” reading at 7pm. From the Facebook event: “Celebrate new books by authors Adam Clay, Mary Austin Speaker, andAnders Nilsen. Find out how the ordinary can take on a generative new strangeness when cast in the light of a poem, and how the practice of drawing inspiration from strangers in public places can create new ways of seeing. Target Performance Hall, Open Book.”

Can’t wait to see you Minnesotans there!

favorite (contemporary) lit luminary

Since the name of this blog does imply it’s about human luminaries, I thought I’d start off with one that inspires me the most.

When people ask me who my favorite writer is, I’m often very stumped. Not only do I hate “favorite” questions, but there’s so many to choose from! And then there’s the matter of what works you have read by said writer, and how many are needed to feel justified in favoriting them. I actually don’t read as much or am not as well-read as people think. I wish I was, and yes, I was an English major, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee I’ll know even a lot there is to know about writing, and I wish I knew more writers. Factors such as the school, the professors, preferences, and even the year change things drastically. I haven’t even most of the classics other English majors have (although I have read, finished, and written an extensive literary theory paper on Bleak House by Dickens, of which I am quite proud). So I wanted to focus on my favorite contemporary literary luminary, since lately I’m reading lots of new ARCs and recent lit.

So when I think of my “favorite” writer who is also still alive, I think of someone who, though I may not have read everything by this person,  challenges me almost daily to be a better person. I think of this person’s words almost every day—that is how much they resonate with me.

anne lamottThis writer is Anne Lamott.

My favorite words of hers are always changing. I loved her book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, but I actually disliked the only novel of hers that I’ve read (Blue Shoe). However, for the writers out there, her writing “advice” book Bird by Bird, which I DID read in college, is UH-MAZING.

But the writing that has resonated the most with me are her occasional Facebook posts. They are small gems of essays that literally look and sometimes read like she wanted to write a Facebook status but then had so much wisdom she just let herself go. Sometimes they’re rambly, sometimes very well thought out, and always insightful.bird

My faith is something so small and quiet these days, and it’s not something I like to talk about very much. However, Lamott reminds me that my roots remain true, that there is hope, and that it doesn’t have to be conservative Republican 😉 (Trying to avoid politics AND faith topics on this blog, just so I can encourage unity, but this is what had to be said. I’ll leave it at that.)

She also is a firm feminist, believes in equality and human rights, and isn’t afraid to speak up or go against the status quo. She talks about the tough stuff. She talks about real life. She has dreadlocks, she gets a little sweary, and her angst is real and raw and admitting to fault but not afraid to say it like it is. And yet she remains a positive voice impacting many—regardless of faith, sexual identity, political opinions, or other differentiating factors. AND OF COURSE she loves books.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

—from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (emphasis mine)

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Anne Lamott, thank you for your words on life and hope and mental illness and grief and trying to enjoy and life fully each day. You are a one of my favorite voices, and I want to go on reading your Facebook posts forever. If I could have coffee with any writer on earth (which is SUCH A HARD QUESTION) it would be you.

Sincerely,

An admiring writer.

What about you? Who is your favorite contemporary literary luminary? Or, if you could have coffee with one writer on earth, who would it be?

Leave a comment! Chat with me on social media!