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What We’re Reading: MN Publishers Summer Round Up

2015 June 11

What We're ReadingIt’s time again for me to make a list of the books I’ve had piling up that I want to add to my cabin dock-reading list, porch-reading list, park-reading list, anything summery-sounding list — you name it. Sometimes when creating these lists, I get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. This time, I’m focusing on (relatively) recent releases from some of my favorite local Minnesota publishers and/or authors.

my feelingsMy Feelings: Poems by Nick Flynn (June 2015, Graywolf Press)
This fourth book of poems from Flynn is said to be an intimate and tumbling look into the poet’s psyche. Personal, contemporary, and clear, Flynn manages to write striking poems across a spectrum of emotions that reflect the self. Marie Howe says in her blurb about My Feelings, “Here he is again, writing as if his life depends on it, using every trick he can find to carve the tunnel through the mountain. Words are what he uses; silence is the sound they make. […] I read Nick Flynn’s poetry to feel alive.”


sins of our fathersSins of Our Fathers by Shawn Lawrence Otto (November 2014, Milkweed Editions)
Otto is the acclaimed screenwriter of Oscar nominated film The House of Sand and Fog. He puts his experienced chops to work with Sins of Our Fathers, a novel that is sure to keep you turning the pages with race, greed, morals, and money all at the center of the plot. It chronicles the questionable ethics of small-town banker JW as he deals with depression, gambling, and his complicated relationship with a Native American banker.


birchwood cookbookThe Birchwood Cafe Cookbook by Tracy Singleton and Marshall Paulsen, with Beth Dooley, Photography by Mette Nielsen (2015, Minnesota Press)
Don’t know ’bout choo, but I get my cook on in the summer! Fresh herbs from my garden, veggies from the farmer’s market, and grilling weather have me jazzed up to test out this new cookbook from local Birchwood Cafe. The cookbook is organized by season, making us think about where our food comes from, and when. The book’s blurbs talk about how the cookbook echoes the restaurant’s innovative approach to food, keeping things fresh and delectable. Excuse me now while I flip to the summer section…


best to laughBest to Laugh by Lorna Landvik (2015, Minnesota Press)
Best to Laugh is something a little lighter for your summer reads (but don’t mistake that for fluff: Landvik has literary merit fo’ sho’) that will go well with a glass of sauv blanc in hand. Main character Candy moves from our good ol’ land of 10,000 lakes to Hollywood to make her break as a comedian. Hilarity and life lessons ensue. Landvik is queen of wit and charm with her storytelling, and I’m sure this one will keep me (and you) chuckling.


What books are on your summer reading list (Minnesota-based or otherwise)?


Fall Book Preview

2014 September 12
Comments Off on Fall Book Preview

What We're ReadingFall came up in a hurry here in Minnesota. The last few days have brought temps in the 50s and gusts of wind that signal summer is over. Fall is one of those seasons where I want to wrap myself up in a blanket with a hot cup of tea (or maybe a pumpkin porter) and sit down with a good book. Today, in embracing the spirit of fall, we’ve pulled together a short list of upcoming fall book releases that have our tongues a-wagging, itching to carve aside some time to read.

baboonBaboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press, short fiction)
This is a book I am especially excited about, and you will see a full review soon from me. Aidt pulls back the layers to reveal a raw look at daily life of her different characters, and the darkness that lies there, brooding. These are stories of average people, but with an underbelly of desperation at the cusp of crisis: husbands cheating on wives, bizarre experiences, experimental sexuality and more. These moments of crisis are magnified to uncomfortable closeness, as we face truths all to familiar.

Best to Laugh by Lorna Landvik (University of Minnesota Press, fiction)
Minnesota author Landvik strikes again with a book about a young stand-up comedian who leaves the Midwest to make her big break in Hollywood. Landvik pulls from her own experiences (she has done stand-up shows herself), and woos the reader with her well-spun combination of humor and heart. This is sure to be a fun romp of a novel for those looking for something lighter after reading Baboon.

a girl is a half formed thingA Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Coffee House Press, fiction)
A young woman and her relationship with her brother are at the heart of this debut novel; family, violence, sex, and trauma are all subjects brought into play with the characters. McBride has the literary world a-buzz, having been called a “genius” with “uncompromising”, “shocking” and “incredibly original” style. Girl has already won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Kerry Group Irish Novel of the year award and the Goldsmiths Prize. This is a must-read.

Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson (Milkweed Editions, poetry)
Bone Map is the first collection from Johnson, and is a tightly wound, visceral force of a collection that has already won the 2013 National Poetry Series. Nature, animals, and the body collide with violence, raw intensity, and insight. It will be an exercise in imagery and physicality for the reader.


What new or forthcoming books have you excited for fall reading — what’s missing from our list? Do you have a favorite fall reading routine?