Built in 1930, the Hamline Midway Library in St. Paul is a lovely old brick building with bay windows, a grand front entrance and a fireplace. It is the fireplace we are most concerned with here — it’s the annual gathering spot, for six weeks each winter, of writers and readers.
In the old days, a fire blazed while writers read. Sadly, in recent years the fireplace has stopped working, but the writers will be still there as scheduled, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. between Jan. 23 and Feb. 27, and we are promised candlelight, if not firelight.
This year, in addition to reading from their own work, authors will talk about the meaning of home, a topic that fits nicely with the city’s “Read Brave St. Paul” initiative, which focuses on books about housing, such as Matthew Desmond’s prizewinning nonfiction account, “Evicted.”
And even though it’s hard, on a dark January night, to make yourself go out again — when you are finally home from work and it’s bitterly cold outside and you’ve shed the down and wool and boots and it’s warm and cozy in your house. But it’s well worth it.
The library is at 1558 W. Minnehaha Av., in St. Paul. The readings are free, and there will be hot coffee, hot cider, cookies and books. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided. And after the last one is over, it will be March. And March is spring. (More or less.)
Here’s the stellar lineup:
Sarah Stonich, “Laurentian Divide”: The second in a planned trilogy set up the North Shore, “Laurentian Divide” follows “Vacationland” to tell the story of the characters who live in the fictional town of Hatchet Inlet. Stonich is also the author of novels “The Ice Chorus,” “These Granite Islands,” and a memoir, “Shelter.” (7 p.m. Jan. 23.)
Wang Ping, “Life of Miracles Along the Yangtze and Mississippi”: In this memoir, Wang Ping, professor of English at Macalester College, traces her journey from China to America. Her book “The Last Communist Virgin” won a Minnesota Book Award. (7 p.m. Jan. 30.)
Gary Eldon Peter, “Oranges”: Peter’s collection of stories was the winner of the 2016 New Rivers Press Many Voices Project. He teaches at the University of Minnesota. (7 p.m. Feb. 6.)
Heid E. Erdrich and Gwen Westerman, “New Poets of Native Nations”: This anthology features 21 poets, all whom published their first book after 2000. Erdrich, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, is the author of five collections of poetry, including “Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media,” which won a 2018 Minnesota Book Award. Westerman is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is the co-author of the Minnesota Book Award-winning “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota.” (7 p.m. Feb. 13.)
Martin Case, “The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property”: Case was a key participant in the development of Why Treaties Matter, a collaboration of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center and the Smithsonian Institution. (7 p.m. Feb. 20.)
Karen Babine, “All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer”: In this collection of essays, Babine writes about food, illness, her mother’s cancer diagnosis and the family’s attempt to navigate it. Babine is also the author of “Water and What We Know,” winner of a 2016 Minnesota Book Award. (7 p.m. Feb. 27.)
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/startribunebooks.