If you’re anything like me (and good luck to you if you are), every time you go to a bookstore it feels a little like a party. You’re in a warm, inviting place; there are smart, friendly people to chat with; and, of course, there are plenty of bookshelves to browse if you don’t feel like making small talk.
On April 28, Independent Bookstore Day, it’ll be a party to the power of 18 — at 18 bookstores across the Twin Cities, you’ll find any or all of the following: authors recommending books by other authors; free pastries and coffee; live music; freebies and games; beer and wine. Like at any good party, you’ll want to be the last to leave.
Indie Bookstore Day began in California in 2014 and has grown to be an annual celebration at almost 500 bookstores across the country. This year’s national ambassador is writer Celeste Ng, but let’s focus on what’s going on in Minnesota.
You can pick up a “book passport” and have it stamped at each store you visit. Each stamp will activate discounts. There are free maps of the bookstores of the Twin Cities, drawn by Minneapolis artist Kevin Cannon, and of the bookstores of the Upper Midwest. He does very cool maps. (We have run some in this paper before.)
Get your passport stamped at 10 stores and you will be entered into a raffle to receive a prize pack of 10 books. Visit all 18 stores and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win 18 books — one from each store.
Even without a passport, there’s tons going on. At Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., the theme of the day will be “kids.” Students from elementary schools and middle schools will sell books — not manning the cash registers, perhaps, but helping people choose books in the children’s section.
In the evening, folks are invited to get up and read their own writings from childhood. There will be a sign-up page on Facebook for this.
At Common Good Books, 38 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, writers Mindy Mejia, Sally Franson and Louis Jenkins will recommend books.
At Subtext in downtown St. Paul, you can eat well: coffee and doughnuts in the morning, and local beer in the evening (along with live music). There will be a children’s story hour at 11 a.m., and writer Nora McInerny will recommend books midday.
At Birchbark Books, 2215 W. 21st St., Mpls., there will be Morris dancers, face-painting, storytime, cookies and May Day baskets in the morning, Newbery Award-winning writer Kelly Barnhill at 2 p.m., and prizes throughout the day.
Moon Palace Books, 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., is partnering with the adjacent Geek Love Cafe — free coffee in the morning, beer and wine specials midday, and pizza and cheesecake specials if you have receipts from a requisite number of bookstores. (It’s a well-known fact that buying books can work up an appetite.)
They’ll also host a poetry reading from the folks at Poetry Asylum beginning at 6 p.m. and various other activities, including Tarot readings.
At Red Balloon, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, there will be special programming and exclusive Indie Bookstore Day merchandise.
The 18 bookstores are: Addendum Books; Birchbark Books and Native Arts; Boneshaker Books; Chapter 2 Books (Hudson, Wis.), Common Good Books, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Dreamhaven Books and Comics, Excelsior Bay Books, Lake Country Booksellers, Magers & Quinn, Milkweed Books, Moon Palace Books, Once Upon a Crime, Lake Harriet Paperback Exchange, Red Balloon, Subtext, Valley Bookseller and Wild Rumpus.
Yes, a lot of ground to cover, from Excelsior to White Bear Lake.
Think of it as a traveling party — with books.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks