And here we are again, in autumn. Yes, the leaves are crunchy and the light is golden and the air is crisp, and yes, I have kind of missed sweaters and corduroy and candy corn. But the best thing about fall is the annual lineup of writers coming to the University of Minnesota, to Mankato’s Good Thunder Reading Series and to the Twin Cities Book Festival. All of these events are free.
University of Minnesota
Patricia Smith, 7 p.m. Sept. 26, Weisman Art Museum, 333 East River Road, Mpls. Smith is the author of eight collections of poetry, including “Incendiary Art,” winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts poetry award, and “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah,” winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize. Smith is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion.
Frank Bidart and Maggie Nelson, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, Coffman Union Theater, 300 Washington Av. SE., Mpls. Bidart, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize and the 2017 National Book Award for “Half Light,” will be in conversation with Nelson, author of “The Argonauts,” winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
Adam Gopnik, 7 p.m. Oct. 10, Coffman Union Theater, 300 Washington Av. SE., Mpls. New Yorker staff writer Gopnik is the author of “At the Strangers’ Gate,” “Paris to the Moon,” and other books. He is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for essays and for criticism.
Yiyun Li, 7 p.m. Oct. 30, Weisman Art Museum, 333 East River Road, Mpls. Yiyun Li is the author of “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has also written two novels and a memoir, “Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life.”
Good Thunder Reading Series
Nick White, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11, Centennial Student Union, Minnesota State. White is the author of “Sweet and Low,” a story collection, as well as the novel “How to Survive a Summer.” He teaches in the MFA program at Ohio State University.
Danez Smith, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8. Minnesota native Smith is the author of “Don’t Call Us Dead,” published by Graywolf Press and a finalist for a National Book Award. “[insert] Boy” was a winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
The series continues in the spring with Jordan Deveraux, Layli Long Soldier, Lidia Yuknavitch, Lorna Pecard and Sequoia Nagamatsu.
Twin Cities Book Festival
This free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights (with free rides on Metro Transit). Speakers are too numerous to mention (and the folks at Rain Taxi, who have been putting on the festival every year for 18 years, are always adding to the lineup). But you can keep tabs at raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival. Here are some of the writers who will be here: Steve Almond, Dessa, Geoff Dyer, Shannon Gibney, Sheila O’Connor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o (and so many more).
You also might want to check out their pre-festival events — Gary Shteyngart at Macalester College on Sept. 24, and Olga Tokarczuk at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls., on Sept. 30. There’s a $30 charge for Shteyngart (but you get a signed copy of his book) but not for Tokarczuk.
Put on a sweater. Go to the readings. Buy the books. Be glad you live in Minnesota. Even if winter is coming.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/startribunebooks. On Twitter: @StribBooks.