Twin Cities weekly literary round up

Fellow Twin Cities book lovers!

There’s so many new things to write about now that my motivation is coming back (seriously, I was wondering if I could even consider myself a blogger anymore), so I think I’m going to try to compile the latest and greatest for you to peruse. Here’s just a few recently awesome local literary news on my radar:

loft_facebook1. Get reading recommendations and a writing prompt from Kao Kalia Yang: 

Even if you don’t live in the Twin Cities, this still applies to you! If you support the Loft Literary Center by becoming a member—with a contribution of any amountby November 9you will receive an exclusive writing prompt and reading recommendations from our very own local author Kao Kalia Yang! Contribute here at loft.org/support.

kao-kalia-yang(If you don’t know who she is, get on that! Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and more recently The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016) and a speaker and teacher.)

I can’t get over how incredible this opportunity is! the-latehomecomerReally a win-win for everyone! For more information, visit the Loft’s website or their Facebook page with this announcement for more information.

 

mn-state-arts-grants

 

2. The winners of the Minnesota State Arts Board Grants were announced yesterday!
No one is better at reporting local literary book news than Laurie Hertzel, so head on over to the Star Trib to learn about who won Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. Among the winners are 10 poets and 32 prose writers including familiar names such as Sun Yung Shin, Kao Kalia Yang, and Ed Bok Lee. Congratulations to everyone!

3. NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month) has begun!
I’m sure most writers are going to busy typing furiously at their keyboards this month. I am honestly jealous of all of you! I participated in years past and “won” a few times, but those novels were always trash and I never ever wanted to see them again. This year I get to watch my husband participate while I sit back nanoand partake in NaNoREADMo, so I’m fairly pleased. There’s even a website over on Tumblr so like, it’s pretty official guys. Haven’t made any goals yet, but I’ll get back to you if I do. And heck, I may decide to just try writing personal essays or something this month anyway.
Happy writing!
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get these October events on your calendar!

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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! 

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! 

 

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! 

get these June events on your calendar!

june events post graphic

You guys, June is seriously rocking it with well known and esteemed authors coming to town. It’s like, each day gets better and better. SERIOUSLY, I was blown away! I regret to say that I already have to miss many of these, but I hope you don’t have to. Here is your rundown of awesome June events coming to a Twin City near you:

(Each month, I will be posting a “looking ahead” post of events coming up that month to stay tuned for! These are events that are on my radar, either via Facebook or events I am personally interested in going to or have knowledge of the author/book. 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 in the Twin Cities area. If I’ve missed any that you think need more media attention and marketing, let me know!

  • Also that day: The June meeting of the MN Publishing Tweet Up from 5-7pm!
    • I REALLY HOPE TO BE THERE this time, so please come! We could go to Natalie Goldberg together afterwards (: Also, it’s at the Community Keg House which is wonderful place where you get to pour your own beer or cider! So yummy.
  • Tuesday, June 21: Rebecca Kanner at Common Good Books, 7pm

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! 

get these May events on your calendar!

3. common good3

Each month, I will be posting a “looking ahead” post of events coming up that month to stay tuned for! These are events that are on my radar, either via Facebook or events I am personally interested in going to. 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 in the Twin Cities area.

I already posted just yesterday, but I know it’s a little late in May already, so here is your rundown of awesome May events coming to a Twin City near you:

  • Wed, May 11: MN Publishing Tweet Up from 5-7pm
    • These happy hour socializing events for publishing and book industry people are run by the MN Publishing Tweet Up group. I haven’t been to one since January, but it’s a great place to meet people in the industry. The “pitch” event I went to was a different format and authors came to pitch their manuscripts to publishing professionals.
  • Mon, May 16: Milkweed and the Loft’s “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art,” a discussion with Ada Limón (poet with Milkweed!) and Joan Vorderbruggen, moderated by Kathryn Savage, with a reading & book signing from Ada Limón to follow at the Loft Literary Center at 6:30pm.
    • Free to the public, but RSVP requested.
  • Tues, May 17: Sun Yung Shin presents A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota at Magers & Quinn at 7pm.
    •  This book! I am so excited to read this book. I think it’s such an important topic that unfortunately needs more attention than it’s getting. Consider coming to hear from the editor the following contributors: Kao Kalia Yang, Ibé, David Mura, Venessa Fuetes, and Diane Wilson. 
    • I will be working in the store this evening, and sadly won’t be able to sit down and listen, but you can always come chat with me before and afterwards too! Extra incentive (:
  • Sat, May 21: Little Free Library Festival at Minnehaha Park from 10am-4pm.
    • Free and open to the public! From the Facebook page: “The Little Free Library Festival is an opportunity to spend an afternoon celebrating the joys of sharing books and reading.”
    • OMG I am so sad I have to miss this (in a wedding).
  • Thurs, May 26: Story Club Minneapolis at Bryant Lake Bowl, 7pm.
    • Usually they have two featured performers read/perform and then open up the stage to others, but in May this will happen: “this month we are delighted to give our stage to a memoir writing class from residents of Redeemer Health and Rehab. We will be glad to share more details about the performers and their work as the month goes on.”
    • “As always, Story Club features both an open mic segment and a curated selection of stories from invited performers. Our stage showcases stories, like a slam, but with a more welcoming structure – no judges, no scores.” (from the Facebook link above)

And that’s it! Did I miss anything, anyone? I’m SURE I missed many, but as I said, these are the ones that have been on my radar. I really 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! 

 

my summer reading goals

summer reading goalsAfter much deliberation, the Minnesota weather has decided to grace us with spring! Which means, for us Minnesotans, jumping right in to summer activities while the weather lasts us. I’m not saying summer is for sure here to stay (*knocks on wood*), but I’ll take the 70-degree day I had yesterday as a sign that my summer reading list should be set in stone and ready for reading.

Thus, here you have it. I decided to make the goals first and end up with whatever number seemed reasonable after all the goals I wanted to accomplish. So the number doesn’t really matter.

  1. A book on a craft/skill (not a language)
  2. One book of poetry every month (May-Aug)
  3. A biography or autobiography
  4. A book of essays
  5. A horror novel or book of short stories
  6. Book(s?) by an author of color
  7. 3 classics or timeless books (Jun-Aug)
  8. At least one translated work
  9. A nonfiction book to edify (i.e. self help, spirituality, home care, psychology, career, etc)
  10. A book I’ve never heard of before
  11. A book of short stories (regular fiction)
  12. At least galleys/ARCs that are still unpublished (which goes with my goal of sending reviews to Indie’s Next List, which has to be 2 months in advance)
  13. 13 is my lucky number! This goal is going to come from YOU. Leave a comment! (I will wait a few days to decide who gets the spot, or I may take every suggestion—I get to decide since this blog is a baby!)

I reserve the right to add to this list but not take any item away. Also, as of May 2, any book I have started to read before today will not count towards my goal (which means the 8 books I’m reading right now, lol). I will post an update about my summer reading goals monthly, but of course periodically may mention how I’m doing here and there. I’m also planning on posting a projected reading list of books I am looking forward to reading most but may of course not get to them all this summer or have to choose others in favor of my goals.

What are your summer reading goals? Any particular genres, authors, or titles you are looking forward most to reading? What goals do you think I should add to mine!? Leave me a comment! 

 

ideas for indie bookstore day

HEY GUYS, guess what!

Saturday, April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day. 

indie bookstore day 2016

You heard me: a day to celebrate all your favorite indie bookstores! Visit! Read! Buy! Say hello!

Though I work that evening (at my very own favorite indie bookstore), I have until 4pm to hit as many Twin Cities metro bookstores as possible. And yes, that is my goal.

Actually, here’s the part where I tell you that my goal for this summer is to hit them all. All of them that are within an hour or two of Minneapols, anyway. Unless of course I’m on a trip up north or wherever, then I will make it a point to visit any bookstore within 30 miles of my location. Don’t worry, I’ll be chronicling my adventures—with photos!—on this blog. I’ll make it a point to meet a person at each bookstore and HOPEFULLY (if I can afford it) buy a book or piece of memorabilia from each store. I haven’t solidified all the “rules” yet, but those are what I have so far.

Anyways, back to April 30.

I can’t tell you all the details yet, because I’m not sure who even knows them all. But on April 30 you can get a Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Day Passport. There are 10 stores featured (but that’s the part I don’t know yet. The only store I know for sure is Magers & Quinn!), and if you collect all 10 stamps on your passport, take a picture of the completed stamps page, and tweet it to @MidwestBooks, you’ll apparently receive a $10 gift certificate from all 10 participating stores. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

I got this limited info from Magers & Quinn. So you should start by going there (shameless plug!) 😉

Please, if you can, take this opportunity to show the love to the independently owned and bookish and amazing stores that keep readers’ hungry minds happy. Skip Barnes & Noble, and skip Amazon—at least just for the DAY—and experience something totally new, even if you only visit one!

Here are some ideas for the frugal or the time-limited indie bookstore shopper:

  1. Buy a new (or unique used!) book as a Christmas present. Just don’t forget where you stashed it when wrapping season comes around! But think of how prepared you’ll feel!
  2. Check out some of the awesome, limited one-day-only merchandise that will be available at participating stores! Like the temporary tattoos available at M&Q!
  3. Buy a book of poems for National Poetry Month before it’s over! Heck, maybe you should read one poem at every bookstore (hmmm, I might actually have to steal this idea)…
  4. Take a photo of the most unique book, rare, used, or otherwise—that you find and share it on social media! Don’t forget to use the #IBD2016 tag! Check out my own Instagram (link in about) for my #IBD2016 adventures.

Don’t forget to have fun and share the book love with everyone you know!

Here’s the list of participating Minnesota bookstores that I found hereSince some are fairly far apart, try just visiting the ones in the Twin Cities or near suburbs at least!