We say that we love Minnesota because the harsh climate keeps out the riff-raff. But watch out! Now the riff-raff have a guidebook: "The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More," by Chris Niskanen, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Niskanen, former outdoors writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, explains just about everything one needs to survive a year in this state: what to bring in a daypack, how to cook venison, how to tap a maple tree, what to do with that muskie once you have it on your line.

On Dec. 1, Niskanen will be at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater at 1 p.m., and at the St. Olaf College bookstore in Northfield at 5:30 p.m.

Also ...

• "Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey," poems by Robert Bly, is out in paperback from W.W. Norton. Bly, author of "The Light Around the Body" and many other collections, lives in Minneapolis.

• "Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy," by Douglas Smith, has been published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Smith, who now lives in Seattle, was born and reared in the Twin Cities.

• "One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota," by John B. Lundstrom, has been published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Lundstrom is curator emeritus of history at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

• "Vikings 50: All-Time Greatest Players in Franchise History," by Jim Bruton (with a foreword by Fran Tarkenton), has been published by Triumph Books. Bruton is the author of several other books about the Minnesota Vikings and is co-author of several memoirs, including Mark Rosen's "Best Seat in the House."

• "Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota," by Stewart Van Cleve, has been published by the University of Minnesota Press. Van Cleve is a former assistant curator of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota. He will be at SubText Bookstore, 165 N. Western Av., St. Paul, at 7 p.m. Nov. 27.

• This month's Readings by Writers is devoted to poetry. Todd Boss, Emilio DeGrazia, Jim Heynen (even though his most recent book is a novel), Leigh Herrick, Ethna McKiernan, Dan Tilson and Susan Deborah-King will read at the University Club on Summit Avenue in St. Paul at 7:30 p.m. Tues. All free, though a collection will be taken in support of Public Arts St. Paul's sidewalk poetry project.