84 Twin Cities Living 2014-2015
play | culture
Bookworms unite! With a literary history
and future present in the Twin Cities, it’s
easy to find a good book and a great nook
to read it in the area. In fact, a 2014 study by
Central Connecticut State University placed
Minneapolis third and St. Paul seventh in its
list of America’s most literate cities.
Great authors have called the Twin Cities
home, with many recognizable names, past
and present. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a St.
Paul native and lived in the Summit neighborhood where his birthplace is now a literary landmark. Crime novelist John Sandford
sets most of his stories in Minnesota, allowing
for imaginations to run wild around the
state. To find the works of two of the area’s
great authors, you can go to their own stores.
Humorist Garrison Keillor’s Common Good
Books ( www.commongoodbooks.com) on
Grand and Snelling in St. Paul is a great
place to peruse before heading to hear his
radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, live
at the Fitzgerald Theater. Readers can find
works by Native American Minnesotans and
other favorites at Louise Erdich’s Birchbark
Books ( www.birchbarkbooks.com) in
Minneapolis, as well as her own books, such
as Plague of Doves, which was nominated for
the Pulitzer Prize.
Other beloved local authors include Laura
Ingalls Wilder, Gary Paulson, Leif Enger,
Neil Gaiman, Vince Flynn, Anne Tyler,
Nancy Carlson and Maude Hart Lovelace.
many of which are rare and hard to find.
Magers & Quinn Booksellers ( www.mag-ersandquinn.com) in Uptown Minneapolis
offers a huge selection of titles, while the staff
picks their own favorites for a special easy-to-browse shelf. Midway Used and Rare Books
( www.midwaybook.com) at University and
Snelling in St. Paul hosts their own collection
of novels and stories, while Wild Rumpus
( www.wildrumpusbooks.com) is a perfect
destination for kids, with children’s titles and
live animals in-store.
For all things words, The Loft Literary
Center ( www.loft.org) provides the nation’s
largest and most comprehensive literary center, offering programs and services for readers and writers in their downtown location.
Once housed in an attic space above an old
bookstore near the University of Minnesota,
the center has come a long way in its facilities and program outreach.
Looking to discuss your latest read? The
Twin Cities has dozens of book clubs and discussions ready to be joined. Talking Volumes
is the joint book club of Minnesota Public
Radio and the Star Tribune and a collaboration with The Loft Literary Center. The club
spotlights a different book each month with
articles, live author broadcasts, lectures and
more. You can also spend time with your
favorite authors through the Hennepin
County Library Pen Pal series—a longstanding opportunity for guests to meet and greet
with five showcased writers.
Poets and playwrights have also called
Minnesota home, while Gustavus Adolphus
College professor, and University of
Minnesota graduate, Joyce Stuphen currently
serves as Minnesota’s poet laureate.
There is no shortage of books available
to avid readers here in the Twin Cities. The
Hennepin County Library system alone boasts
more than five million books, CDs and DVDs
and 1,750 public computers. The 41-library
system includes the stunning 353,000-square-
foot César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central
Library ( www.mpls.lib.mn.us), complete
with 38. 5 miles of shelving. Home to the
largest library collection in the state, the building houses special areas for kids and teens,
a New Americans Center, and computers
and wireless technology throughout. The
eye-catching canopy roof projects over the
entrances at Hennepin and Nicollet avenues,
while a blend of transparent and translucent
glass showcases seasonal Minnesota imagery
and an 18,560-square-foot “green” roof grows
sun-and drought-resistant ground cover. This
Minneapolis landmark provides a dynamic
gathering place and inspires communitywide
learning and interaction.
Book lovers also enjoy Once Upon a
Crime ( www.onceuponacrimebooks.com),
where you can find hundreds of crime fiction, new mysteries, and thrillers on the
shelves. James and Mary Laurie Booksellers
( www.lauriebooks.com) on Minneapolis’
Nicollet Mall has more than 120,000 books,
DistinctlyMinnesota: Cheryl Strayed
home to the likes of Prince, Garrison Keillor and
Bob dylan, Minnesota is not short in the talent department. a recent addition to this top
tier of recognition is Cheryl Strayed, who spent
her Minnesota childhood in both Chaska and
McGregor. Strayed burst onto the literary scene
with her breakout novel, Wild, which depicts her
hiking journey on the Pacific Crest trail.
Starting out college at the University of St.
thomas, she eventually transferred to the University
of Minnesota where she completed her bachelor’s
degree. Strayed often mentions her Minnesota roots
throughout the pages of Wild, while including the
reader in her early childhood. Often citing the pride
she had in a Minnesota education during interviews,
Strayed widely broadcasts her time in the state.
Wild, and Strayed herself, have received lots of
praise, as the novel was chosen as the first inclusion
of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, while Strayed was interviewed by Winfrey herself. Wild was also No. 1 on
the New York Times bestseller list, and Tiny Beautiful
Things, a collection of Strayed’s letters as an advice
columnist, found itself on the list as well.
Keep an eye out for Strayed’s local appearances, as she comes back to Minnesota for literary
talks and discussions as well as promotions for her
novels. If you’re looking for a new read by a local
author, head over to Magers & Quinn Booksellers
and find Strayed’s new book, Torch, which is her
first release of a fiction novel. Plus, keep your eye on
local show times at movie theaters, as Wild is about
about to come to life on the big screen, with reese
Witherspoon playing Strayed.