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Laurie Hertzel

Senior Editor | Books
phone: 612-673-7302
Laurie Hertzel is the books editor for the Star Tribune, which means she spends hours every day opening boxes, and each night lugs home more books than anyone could read in a lifetime. But she's not complaining and knows exactly how lucky she is to be paid to write about books. (When she's not opening boxes.)
Recent content from Laurie Hertzel
Reviews: 'Dogs on Instagram,' and 'Cats on Instagram'

Reviews: 'Dogs on Instagram,' and 'Cats on Instagram'

NONFICTION: The dogs and cats of Instagram are hamming it up in two new books of mostly pictures.
What's the best book you ever got as a gift? Readers share stories

What's the best book you ever got as a gift? Readers share stories

"The Pickwick Papers" and "The Tawny Scrawny Lion" were among the favorites.
Memoirs that captivate, from Regina McBride, Danielle Flood and Decca Aitkenhead

Memoirs that captivate, from Regina McBride, Danielle Flood and Decca Aitkenhead

It’s the voyeur in me, maybe. Or the years spent as a newspaper reporter. But for whatever reason, I am fascinated by the lives of…
Review: 'Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart,' edited by Krista Halverson

Review: 'Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart,' edited by Krista Halverson

NONFICTION: An affectionate, gossipy history of the legendary Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Co.
10 websites for lovers of the written word

10 websites for lovers of the written word

It is probably a bad idea to write this, because we already spend way too much time on the web. But as I sit at…
The 50 best books for holiday giving

The 50 best books for holiday giving

Our annual holiday books guide highlights a dozen novels and a dozen books of nonfiction, as well as a liberal sprinkling of glowing picture books; important young-adult fiction; bold, gorgeous graphic novels, and regional books steeped in sense of place.
Review: 'Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,' by Joe Jackson

Review: 'Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,' by Joe Jackson

NONFICTION: This sweeping biography of the visionary Black Elk is also a history of the destruction of an ancient culture.
How do you choose your next book? Readers reveal their secrets

How do you choose your next book? Readers reveal their secrets

Can't decide on a book? Read reviews, turn to page 69, or just let your cat pick.
Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis win National Book Awards

Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis win National Book Awards

The annual awards ceremony was infused with politics and the 2016 presidential election. Finalists with Minnesota ties missed out.
Review: 'Footnotes From the World's Greatest Bookstores,' by Bob Eckstein and Garrison Keillor

Review: 'Footnotes From the World's Greatest Bookstores,' by Bob Eckstein and Garrison Keillor

NONFICTION: Illustrated anecdotes from 75 indie shops — most living, a few sadly dead.
Review: 'Schoolhouse,' by Marc Nieson

Review: 'Schoolhouse,' by Marc Nieson

NONFICTION: A New York City writer heads to Iowa to escape a tortured romance and finds his true self in the countryside.
As libraries change, we lose little pieces of history, like card catalogs

As libraries change, we lose little pieces of history, like card catalogs

Everything about a library opened doors, let in light, told you more than you had ever expected to know. Perhaps best was the card catalog which was filled with history and possibility.
Bookmark: Scary books to read for Halloween

Bookmark: Scary books to read for Halloween

I don’t like being scared. The older I get, the more susceptible I am to “ghoulies and ghosties/And long-leggedy beasties/And things that go bump in…
Best-selling author Ann Patchett gets up close and personal

Best-selling author Ann Patchett gets up close and personal

The novelist broke a longtime vow, drawing on her own life for her latest book.
How poet Elizabeth Alexander turned sorrow into a celebration of love

How poet Elizabeth Alexander turned sorrow into a celebration of love

In her acclaimed memoir, author Elizabeth Alexander writes about the excruciating loss of her husband – but also of their joyous life together.
Elizabeth Alexander, Colson Whitehead and others lined up for Talking Volumes

Elizabeth Alexander, Colson Whitehead and others lined up for Talking Volumes

Funny and serious, fiction and nonfiction, the book club's 16th season has something for everyone.
Meet Marlon James, other top writers at Twin Cities Book Festival

Meet Marlon James, other top writers at Twin Cities Book Festival

Meet favorite authors and pick up some books at the annual Twin Cities Book Festival.
Review: 'The Trespasser,' by Tana French

Review: 'The Trespasser,' by Tana French

FICTION: A beautiful woman is killed, and everyone around her has a different story.

Bookmark: Contest with major award announced for Midwestern fiction writers

It's a well-known fact that right after I moved away from Duluth, the town became hip. Brewpubs and galleries opened; food became artisan and locavore;…
So many books, so little time: How do you choose what to read next?

So many books, so little time: How do you choose what to read next?

There are millions of books out there, and new ones publish every week. What's your method?
Review: 'Moscow Nights,' by Nigel Cliff

Review: 'Moscow Nights,' by Nigel Cliff

NONFICTION: An affectionate, entertaining biography of American pianist Van Cliburn, whose passion for Russian music briefly paused the Cold War.
University of Minnesota and Mankato State bringing in big writers this fall

University of Minnesota and Mankato State bringing in big writers this fall

I am trying to imagine what a conversation might be like between Claudia Rankine and Marilynne Robinson. Two brilliant women, successful writers, deep thinkers. What…
Fall brings big books and big author events to the Twin Cities

Fall brings big books and big author events to the Twin Cities

Get hip to fall's biggest books, plus local readings by Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon and more.
When squiggles became words: Readers share stories of learning to read

When squiggles became words: Readers share stories of learning to read

Some of you learned to read by looking at photo captions in National Geographic, the printing on your mother’s cigarette pack, the label on your…
Review: 'Leave Me,' by Gayle Forman

Review: 'Leave Me,' by Gayle Forman

FICTION: A woman starts over in implausible yet entertaining "Leave Me."
Review: 'Generation Chef: Risking it All for a New American Dream,' by Karen Stabiner

Review: 'Generation Chef: Risking it All for a New American Dream,' by Karen Stabiner

NONFICTION: You'll gobble up this delicious behind-the-scenes account of a start-up restaurant in New York City.
Review: 'How to Be Perfect: An Illustrated Guide,' by Ron Padgett, pictures by Jason Novak

Review: 'How to Be Perfect: An Illustrated Guide,' by Ron Padgett, pictures by Jason Novak

POETRY: Ron Padgett's poem comes to bemused life with Jason Novak's cartoons.
Why do books publish on Tuesdays?

Why do books publish on Tuesdays?

This week, on Tuesday, Ann Patchett’s new novel, “Commonwealth,” will be published. So will Ian McEwan’s “Nutshell,” and Marisa Silver’s “Little Nothing.” “The Lesser Bohemians,”…
20-year-old St. Paul poet wins prestigious national award

20-year-old St. Paul poet wins prestigious national award

With his poem "what the dead know by heart," Donte Collins has won the Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets.
10 books – both fiction and nonfiction – to read for Labor Day

10 books – both fiction and nonfiction – to read for Labor Day

Labor Day, of course, is not a holiday to mark the end of summer and the beginning of school. That’s just what we pretend it…
The life-changing moment of learning to read

The life-changing moment of learning to read

I learned to read in the quiet of an upstairs bedroom in our house in Duluth, the room where my little brothers slept side-by-side in…
Gryphon Press marks 10th anniversary, recommends animal books for kids

Gryphon Press marks 10th anniversary, recommends animal books for kids

Emilie Buchwald, scholar, editor and author, has always been passionate about books. A co-founder of Milkweed Editions, she worked there for 24 years, publishing the…
Readers weigh in on books that encourage the travel bug

Readers weigh in on books that encourage the travel bug

Wow, you are a well traveled, well read, curious bunch. I was delighted by the response to last month’s column about reading books before (or…
8 books to make you laugh in these dire times

8 books to make you laugh in these dire times

The first funny book I remember reading was James Thurber’s “My Life and Hard Times.” I read it over and over, and it…
International F. Scott Fitzgerald conference will be in St. Paul next year

International F. Scott Fitzgerald conference will be in St. Paul next year

St. Paul is haunted by the ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Go just about anywhere and you will be treading ground that he did —…
Nothing prepares you for a trip – or helps you relive it later – more than a book

Nothing prepares you for a trip – or helps you relive it later – more than a book

The last time I was in London (which was only the second time I was in London), I hauled with me a hard-bound copy of…
Kindness of strangers – and a banana – saved this bike trip from disaster

Kindness of strangers – and a banana – saved this bike trip from disaster

With no training and little preparation and in the scorching heat of summer, she set off to ride from Duluth to La Crosse, Wis.
Writer Salman Rushdie to speak at Macalester College

Writer Salman Rushdie to speak at Macalester College

Although he has written more than a dozen books, Salman Rushdie might best be known for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” and the death…
Book healing: What writers of color say we all should read now

Book healing: What writers of color say we all should read now

In the wake of the recent shooting death in Falcon Heights of Philando Castile, Twin Cities writers, artists and teachers of color have suggestions for books that might help bridge the gap between our cultures.
Bookmark: Floating Library to spend this summer at Lake Phalen in St. Paul

Bookmark: Floating Library to spend this summer at Lake Phalen in St. Paul

The Floating Library first bobbed out onto a Minneapolis lake in the summer of 2013. Volunteer librarians handed out chapbooks, art books and other unique…
Is Ann Patchett's list of 'best books' really the best?

Is Ann Patchett's list of 'best books' really the best?

Yes, I find lists of “best books” to be irresistible. And yes, they make me crazy. Recently, Parade magazine asked novelist Ann Patchett to come…
Review: 'The Voyeur's Motel,' by Gay Talese

Review: 'The Voyeur's Motel,' by Gay Talese

NONFICTION: Gay Talese's reportage on a Colorado man's years spying on guests makes the reader uncomfortably complicit.
REVIEW: 'Dinner With Edward,' by Isabel Vincent

REVIEW: 'Dinner With Edward,' by Isabel Vincent

NONFICTION: The story of a relationship between a younger investigative reporter and an elderly bon vivant.
The delightful, unsettling feeling of being drunk on books

The delightful, unsettling feeling of being drunk on books

A friend calls it being “book drunk” — that woozy sensation you get when you read book after book after book, without a break in…
Review: 'Vinegar Girl,' by Anne Tyler

Review: 'Vinegar Girl,' by Anne Tyler

FICTION: This smart and funny retelling of "The Taming of the Shrew" is vintage Anne Tyler.
British writer Max Porter explores loss in 'Grief Is the Thing With Feathers'

British writer Max Porter explores loss in 'Grief Is the Thing With Feathers'

Brief, moving and powerful, Max Porter's debut book "Grief Is the Thing With Feathers" is billed as a novel but is more like a play for voices or, possibly, a prose poem.
For Father's Day: More bad mothers of literature

For Father's Day: More bad mothers of literature

Today is Father’s Day, so you might expect that I will be writing about the worst dads in fiction. But ha! Surprise! Bad dads are…
Bookmark: The guilt of an accidental book thief

Bookmark: The guilt of an accidental book thief

If my friend Lynette is looking for her copy of Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety,” I can tell her exactly where it is: It’s on…
Readers respond to e-book/print book debate

Readers respond to e-book/print book debate

I was pretty sure that people felt strongly about books — as opposed to e-readers, I mean — but it was still heartening to receive…
Review: 'Fever at Dawn,' by Peter Gardos

Review: 'Fever at Dawn,' by Peter Gardos

FICTION: Liberated after World War II, two concentration camp survivors face a new battle, this time for love.
Be glad these literary moms are not your moms. And happy Mother's Day!

Be glad these literary moms are not your moms. And happy Mother's Day!

The most wonderful mother in fiction, of course, will always be Marmee March from Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Pious and selfless, sensible and loving,…
Minneapolis author Louise Erdrich finds writing humor is the 'hardest thing'

Minneapolis author Louise Erdrich finds writing humor is the 'hardest thing'

Louise Erdrich's latest novel, "LaRose," is a page-turner that reflects her experience of family and resilience.
Celebrating a world before Kindle

Celebrating a world before Kindle

Dublin abounds in museums and libraries. Here are three that are custom-made for lovers of the printed page.
Bookmark: Reading e-books just isn't a 'tactile' experience

Bookmark: Reading e-books just isn't a 'tactile' experience

Early last year, a linguistics professor at American University in Washington, D.C., surveyed more than 300 college students around the world and found that —…
Bookmark: Quotation books ready-made for Twitter

Bookmark: Quotation books ready-made for Twitter

Pluck a quote out of its context, surround it with serious white space, give it a page all to itself, and suddenly it sounds profound.Let's…
Minnesota natives T.J. Stiles and Jack Ohman win Pulitzer Prizes

Minnesota natives T.J. Stiles and Jack Ohman win Pulitzer Prizes

Stiles won his second Pulitzer for the bio "Custer's Trials" while Ohman was honored for his political cartoons. And Twin Cities reporter Robin McDowell shared the public service award.
Familiar names lead the winners of the Minnesota Book Awards

Familiar names lead the winners of the Minnesota Book Awards

A handful of repeat winners collected 2016 honors at the Minnesota Book Awards gala.
Review: 'Eligible,' by Curtis Sittenfeld

Review: 'Eligible,' by Curtis Sittenfeld

FICTION: A modern-day retelling of "Pride and Prejudice" falls flat, despite the author's strong effort.
Hmong writer Kao Kalia Yang writes memoir of her father's life in Laos and Minnesota

Hmong writer Kao Kalia Yang writes memoir of her father's life in Laos and Minnesota

Kao Kalia Yang's second memoir focuses on the life and art of her father, a Hmong song poet.
Bookmark: Should we throw Gay Talese under bus for comments about women writers?

Bookmark: Should we throw Gay Talese under bus for comments about women writers?

Some years ago, I had breakfast with Gay Talese. Well, that’s not precisely true: I had breakfast in the vicinity of Gay Talese. We were…
Gary Shulze, longtime owner of Once Upon a Crime Bookstore, has died

Gary Shulze, longtime owner of Once Upon a Crime Bookstore, has died

Gary Shulze, who knew just about everything there is to know about local writers, mystery writers and the wonderful, delicate art of selling books, died…
Mpls. author Kate DiCamillo tells 'true story of my heart' in new novel

Mpls. author Kate DiCamillo tells 'true story of my heart' in new novel

Kate DiCamillo's new novel, "Raymie Nightingale," comes straight from her own Florida childhood.
Author James McBride finds humor in pain and pain in humor

Author James McBride finds humor in pain and pain in humor

The bestselling author doesn't find everything funny. Humor, he notes, depends on context. He will speak Wednesday night at the University of Minnesota.
What's on the 'manuscript wishlist' of literary agents?

What's on the 'manuscript wishlist' of literary agents?

  The other day, a friend sent me a link to something called “manuscript wishlist” — a Twitter thread (#MSWL) from literary agents who are…
National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony was a night of heartfelt love for books

National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony was a night of heartfelt love for books

I was very excited last week to fly off to New York (my first visit in 20 years!) so that I could come back and…
Review: 'Dimestore: A Writer's Life,' by Lee Smith

Review: 'Dimestore: A Writer's Life,' by Lee Smith

NONFICTION: Lee Smith's intimate memoir explores the Appalachian upbringing that sings through her novels.
Bookmark: 10 books to read about Ireland

Bookmark: 10 books to read about Ireland

Some years ago, I contacted a Twin Cities academic and asked if he could recommend a list of Irish books that everyone should read. He…
Bookmark: A writing retreat for any need at Banfill-Locke in Fridley

Bookmark: A writing retreat for any need at Banfill-Locke in Fridley

I have always dreamed sort of halfheartedly of going on a writing retreat — space, solitude, time to write. My father was a MacDowell Colony…
Twin Cities authors, actors on what 'Mockingbird' meant to them

Twin Cities authors, actors on what 'Mockingbird' meant to them

“To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee died Friday. Here are local writers’ and actors’ responses when asked what the book meant to them and…
Finalists for 2016 Minnesota Book Awards are announced

Finalists for 2016 Minnesota Book Awards are announced

Seven books published by the University of Minnesota Press are among the finalists.

Love books? Get reading with libraries' Winter Reads Twin Cities program

When darkness falls at 5 p.m. and the evening is long and quiet, you can turn on the TV and watch another rerun of “The…
Holiday books: Nonfiction

Holiday books: Nonfiction

Top nonfiction picks include "Bettyville" and "In Manchuria."
Holiday books: Biography

Holiday books: Biography

Biography picks include "Custer's Trials" and "Becoming Nicole."
Holiday books: Regional books

Holiday books: Regional books

Top picks for regional books include "Minnesota State of Wonders" and "Everybody's Heard About the Bird."
Minneapolis author John Coy recounts basketball's racially integrated Secret Game

Minneapolis author John Coy recounts basketball's racially integrated Secret Game

Minneapolis author John Coy tells the remarkable story of one of basketball's first integrated games.
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