Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Book news

Financial pressures will end World Book Night USA.

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 2, 2014 - 8:37 AM
Kate DiCamillo signs books for fans at a 2012 Magers & Quinn World Book Night party. That year DiCamillo's "Because of Winn Dixie" was given away.

Kate DiCamillo signs books for fans at a 2012 Magers & Quinn World Book Night party. That year DiCamillo's "Because of Winn Dixie" was given away, as was Leif Enger's "Peace Like a River." Both writers attended the event.

It will be sad to see World Book Night USA go. It was a crazy, ridiculous, beautiful scheme that sought to give away a million books every year on one specific day in April. The organizers quickly scaled back their goal to 500,000 books a year, but that's still a tremendous number, and over three years of giving they had a lot of success.

Every April since 2012, volunteers all over the country gave away boxes and boxes of books to anyone who wanted them, no strings attached.

In a press release this morning, though, the organizers have announced that because of financial pressures, they will cease operation in the United States. (The event began in Great Britain and Ireland four years ago, and spread to Germany for one year.)

"For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and we are so very grateful for all the support," the press release stated. "We did receive some funds via individual donations, and we worked very hard to get grants. We did get some, but there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much money available. We can't carry on without significant, sustainable outside funding."

Each year, World Book Night chose 30 titles for giveaway. Publishers absorbed the cost of printing special editions of the books, authors waived their royalties, and volunteers signed up to hand out the books--at community clubs, city parks, homeless shelters, nursing homes, taverns, schools and other public places. Bookstores and libraries served as book depots, housing the titles until giveaway night, and hosting parties for givers and authors.

Titles by Minnesota writers Leif Enger, Kate DiCamillo, Garrison Keillor, Cheryl Strayed and Peter Geye were among those given away over the years. 

Guardian Children's Prize longlist includes Kate DiCamillo

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 1, 2014 - 10:30 AM

Kate DiCamillo is just back from Las Vegas ("exhausted and overjoyed," she says on Facebook), where she was picking up the Newbery Medal that she won earlier in the year for "Flora & Ulysses," her funny, charming and poignant story about a girl, a squirrel and a vacuum cleaner. And she now finds herself on another longlist for yet another prize.

The Guardian of London has announced its longlist for The Guardian Children's Prize, a list that was described as being "challenging, funny, exciting, beautiful, thoughtful, bonkers," according to one of the judges, writer Gillian Cross.

DiCamillo's "Flora & Ulysses" is on the list, along with seven other books. Here's the list, with the UK publishers listed. (DiCamillo's US publisher is Candlewick.) The short list will be announced in August, and the winner will be annonced on Nov. 13.

"The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love," by Natasha Farrant (Faber)

"Phoenix," by SF Said (David Fickling)

"Flora and Ulysses," by Kate DiCamillo (Walker)

"The Dark Wild," by Piers Torday (Quercus)

"Shine," by Candy Gourlay (David Fickling)

"We Were Liars," by E Lockhart (Hot Key Books)

"She Is Not Invisible," by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)

"The Lost Gods," by Francesca Simon (Faber)

I don't want to jinx anyone, but wouldn't it be fun to have her report on Facebook in November that she is just back from London, exhausted and overjoyed?

American Swedish Institute to host discussion of Nordic Noir

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 25, 2014 - 3:31 PM

Jean Hanslin, the American Swedish Institute's book discussion leader (and a Swedish language instructor) will host a conversation in July on "Before I Burn," the Scandinavian crime novel by Gaute Heivoll and published this year by Graywolf Press.

Heivoll's book won Norway's Brage Prize, an annual prize that is considered to be the country's most significant literary award.

Participants in the July discussion are asked to read the book in advance. Coffee and treats will be provided. Register before July 13 online or by calling 612-871-4907. Cost is $20. The discussion will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday July 20 at the Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Hamline announces YA reading series

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 24, 2014 - 3:19 PM

Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu

As part of its Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults summer residency, Hamline University will host a ten-day reading series in July, featuring notable writers of books for children. Authors include Twin Cities writer Anne Ursu, whose latest book ("The Real Boy")  was on the long list for the National Book Award; Gene Yuen Lang, whose "Boxers and Saints" was a finalist for the award, and many others. The keynote address, which will take place at graduation, will be by author and illustrator Vera B. Williams, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award.

The series runs from July 11 through July 20 and is free and open to the public. All events will be in Room 110E of the Giddens Learning Center on the Hamline Campus, except for the keynote address, which will be in the Anne Simley Theater of the Drew Fine Arts Center.

Here's the schedule:

Ron Koertge, Marsha Qualey, Laura RubyFriday, July 11, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Clare Vanderpool: Saturday, July 12, 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Gary Schmidt, Jane Resh Thomas, Marsha Chall: Sunday, July 13, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Gene Luen Yang, Anne Ursu, Phyllis Root: Monday, July 14, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Swati Avasthi, Claire Rudolf Murphy, Jackie Briggs MartinTuesday, July 15, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Ricki Thompson, Alicia Williams, Melinda Cordell: Wednesday, July 16, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Sara Kvois, Mike Petry, Katie Knutson: Thursday, July 17, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Maria Macioce, Araceli EsparzaSaturday, July 19, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Vera Williams: Sunday, July 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m.,Drew Fine Arts Center, Anne Simley Theatre.

Journalist held prisoner 460 days in Somalia coming to the Loft

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 19, 2014 - 1:10 PM

Amanda Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout

As a girl, Amanda Lindhout had always wanted to see the world, and at age 27 she found herself in Baghdad, filing news reports for a couple of American networks and writing for her hometown paper in Canada. She headed for Somalia, where she hoped to do a month's worth of reporting, but on her fourth day she and the photographer she was traveling with were kidnapped by insurgents.

They were held 460 days, freed only after their families managed to raise $600,000 through fund-raisers, borrowing, donations, and other means. Lindhout (with New York Times magazine writer Sara Corbett) wrote a book about the experience, "A House in the Sky," newly out in paperback. (Here's a link to the Strib review.) 

While still a captive, Lindhout decided that if she was ever freed, she would work to help bring education and development to Somalia. She has since established the nonprofit Global Enrichment Foundation, which works with people in Somalia and Kenya. 

Lindhout will be in the Twin Cities at 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 24) at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls., at an event co-sponsored by the American Refugee Committee, the Loft, and Magers & Quinn.

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