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 Libraries

Craving green and blooming fragrant things? Head to Gustavus Adolphus

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 2, 2013 - 11:10 AM


 Oh, gosh, it is brown out there. (But at least it's no longer white.) (Sorry, Owatonna.) But this weekend marks Gustavus Adolphus Library Associate's annual Books in Bloom exhibit at the college in St. Peter, Minn., which features 30 floral arrangements designed to compliment 30 books.

The exhibit will be open all weekend (hours: Friday, 3-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) with a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. (Not all writers will be at the book signing. For example, Victor Hugo almost certainly will not make it.)

Some of the titles, such as Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus," or Faith Sullivan's "Gardenias," seem as though they would lend themselves to fabulous and exotic displays. Not easy, but maybe a bit less of a challenge than, say, "Philosophical Investigations" by Ludwig Wittgenstein, or ""The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West," by Patricia Nelson Limerick. Go, florists!

Here are this year's featured titles:

"Minnesota's Outdoor Wonders," by Jim Gilbert

"Little Wolves," by Thomas Maltman

"The Night Birds," by Thomas Maltman

"Because of Winn Dixie," by Kate DiCamillo

"On Three Continents" and "Mimbo Ma Ki Kriso," by Ruth Nelson Johnson

"Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo

"The Disappearing Spoon," by Sam Kean

"The Hunger Games Trilogy," by Suzanne Collins

"Sophie's Choice," by William Styron

"The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien

"The Lighthouse Road," by Peter Geye

"Planting a Rainbow," by Lois Ehlert

"Black and Bold," by Bruce Gray

"Elizabeth the Queen," by Sally Bedell Smith

"On His Watch," by Dennis Johnson

"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," by Aimee Bender

"Downton Abbey," by Julian Fellowes

"The Round House," by Louise Erdrich

"Wicked," by Gregory Maguire

"Yes, Chef," by Marcus Samuelsson

"Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin

"The Night Circus," by Erin Morgenstern

"Olivia," by Ian Falconer

"The Legacy of Conquest," by Patricia Nelson Limerick

"Gardenias," by Faith Sullivan

"Philosophical Investigations," by Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Travels with Charley," by John Steinbeck

"The Boy in the Suitcase," by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

"Supper with the Savior," by Barbara Sartorius-Bjelland

"The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters," by Elizabeth Robinson.

This year's Books in Bloom, which is at the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, is dedicated to the memory of Marlys Johnson, one of the event's founders, who died last month after a short illness.

Libraries are my weakness

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: February 4, 2013 - 9:46 AM


Pam Houston

Pam Houston


We probably don't call attention often enough to the outstanding lineup of writers the public libraries bring in. Sometimes you have to look at the whole list at once to be impressed.

So let's get impressed:

Club Book will bring fiction writer and memoirist Pam Houston ("Cowboys Are My Weakness" "Waltzing the Cat") to Maplewood tomorrow. She'll read from her new book, "Contents May Have Shifted," at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Drive.

Later in February, local favorite Lorna Landvik ("Patty Jane's House of Curls") will be in Prior Lake. She'll make a return performance in April at the Chanhassen Library. (Dates are: 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av., and 2 p.m. April 21, Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd.)

Landvik, the author of nine novels, many of them best-sellers, is trying something new with her latest book: She self-published "The Mayor of the Universe."

The Club Book lineup continues through the spring with Arthur Phillips (whose parents still live in the Cities), Cheryl Strayed, John Sandford, Brenda Langton, Benjamin Percy (now teaching in Minnesota), and poet Li-Young Lee.

Meanwhile, the Pen Pals lecture series--the only library series that carries a ticket charge--is bringing in cartoonist Roz Chast, writer Dennis Lehane, and Armistead Maupin. And Talk of the Stacks--held at the downtown Minneapolis library--is bringing in the Smitten Kitchen writer, Deb Perelman; best-selling memoirist ("Look Me In the Eye") John Robison (and watch for a Q&A with him in an upcoming Variety section of your Strib); and New Orleans-by-way-of-Romania poet Andrei Codrescu.

Shall we go on? Because we can.

Chris Niskanen (today, at the Osseo Library); Connie Brockway (Feb. 11, Edina Library); Larry Millet, Feb. 16, Nokomis Library; cookbook authors Phyllis Louise Harris and Raghavan Iyer, Feb. 16, Maple Grove Library); Mary DesJarlais, March 9, Rogers Library; Atina Diffley, March 16, Nokomis Library; Peter Geye, March 18, Ridgedale Library; Erin Hart, March 26, St. Anthony Library; and Brian Leehan, March 26, Brookdale Library.

Impressed yet? I am. Our tax dollars at work.





Cheryl Strayed, Arthur Phillips headline next season of Club Book

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: December 27, 2012 - 11:13 AM


Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed


Over the next five months, Club Book will bring eight writers to metro libraries, including New York Times best-selling authors Cheryl Strayed, John Sandford, Arthur Phillips and Pam Houston.

Club Book is a program of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, funded in part through Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. All events are free and open to the public.

Here’s the lineup:

Pam Houston: 7 p.m. Feb. 5, Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Dr., Maplewood. Houston, author of “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat,” is a novelist, essayist, editor and teacher. Her new novel is “Contents May Have Shifted.”

Lorna Landvik: 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av., Prior Lake, and 2 p.m. April 21, Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen. Landvik, who lives in the Twin Cities, is the best-selling author of “Patty Jane’s House of Curl,” “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” and other novels.

Li-Young Lee: 7 p.m. March 18, St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Av., St. Paul. Li-Young Lee is a poet and memoirist, the author of “Behind My Eyes” and “The City in Which I Love You,” winner of the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection. His memoir, “The Winged Seed,” won an American Book Award.

Cheryl Strayed: 7 p.m. March 19, Central Park Amphitheater, 8595 Central Park Pl., Woodbury, and 7 p.m. March 20, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley. Strayed, who grew up near McGregor, Minn., and attended the University of Minnesota, is the author of “Wild,” a memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The book was an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection and has been optioned for film. She is also the author of “Tiny Beautiful Things” and “Torch.”

Arthur Phillips: 7 p.m. April 18, Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater. Phillips was born in Minneapolis and is the author of five novels, including “Egyptologist,” “Prague” and “The Song Is You.” His most recent novel is “The Tragedy of Arthur,” about the supposed discovery of a lost Shakespeare play.

Brenda Langton: 7 p.m. April 24, Hennepin County Library-Southdale, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Restaurateur Langton established and ran Cafe Kardamena and Cafe Brenda and now operates Spoonriver, all specializing in local and organic cuisine. Langton is the author of “The Spoonriver Cookbook,” and has been a judge for the James Beard Foundation’s annual cookbook awards.

John Sandford: 7 p.m. May 8, Rum River Library, 4201 6th Av., Anoka. As a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Camp (pen name: John Sandford) won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories about a farm in crisis. Now a fiction writer, he is the author of the “Prey” series and the series featuring Virgil Flowers. His newest book is “Silken Prey.”

Benjamin Percy: 7 p.m. May 29, Hennepin County Library-Southdale, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Percy is a novelist and essayist, author of “The Wilding” and, forthcoming in May, “Red Moon,” as well as two collections of short stories, “Refresh, Refresh” and “The Language of Elk.” He is a regular contributor to Esquire and is writer-in-residence at St. Olaf College in Northfield.


Nordic mystery writer Jo Nesbo coming to town

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: October 12, 2012 - 2:17 PM


Jo Nesbo.

Jo Nesbo.


His Norwegian crime novels have astounded and entertained millions of readers across the world, translated into 40 languages and hitting best-seller lists. Jo Nesbo will be in St. Paul later this month, at an event co-sponsored by Micawber's Books and Friends of the St. Paul Library.

He'll read from "Phantom," his latst Henry Hole thriller, at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Ave.

Nesbo is the author of more than a dozen novels, including "The Snowman" and "The Leopard." Detective Henry Hole, one of his most popular characters, is an Oslo detective with a drinking problem who fights not just criminals, but his own personal demons.

Nesbo is also an economist and a musician, so who knows what he'll do in St. Paul, exactly? Sing? Read? Help you with your taxes?

Here's Nesbo at Book Expo America earlier this year:


From alt-indie-rock-star to children's author

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: September 12, 2012 - 4:58 PM


Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis.

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis.

 One of the great things about Club Book is the fact that they bring in such a wide variety of writers. Well, there are other great things--the fact that it's free, for instance, and the fact that its whole reason for being is to bring authors to far-flung places where people actually live (Apple Valley! Stillwater! Brooklyn Center!) instead of making everybody drive to downtown Minneapolis of St. Paul.

But the variety of authors is also admirable.  In the past there years they've brought in novelist Gish Jen and storyteller Kevin Kling; memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert and novelist Stuart O'Nan; uber-librarian Nancy Pearl and author (and uber-Twitterer) Colson Whitehead.

Next month, Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis will present their new book at the Roseville Public Library as part of Club Book. Not exactly household names? They should be. They will be. They are going to be on the Simpsons in December! But you get to see them first. (Their Club Book appearance is at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Av. That's the cool refurbished library with the Dunn Brothers Coffee Shop attached.)

Meloy is the lead singer of the indie folk band The Decemberists, a Portland, Ore., band that has been around since 2001. His new book, "Under Wildwood," pubs later this month from Harper Collins and is the second in the Wildwood Chronicles, a fantasy series for young adults which takes place in the mythical and dangerous Impassible Wilderness outside of Portland.



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