The lovely tradition of books, candles, hot cider, cookies (we haven’t had enough cookies yet, have we?) and new books continues this season with the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s annual Fireside Reading Series. Over six weeks, six writers and one artist will share their work with readers at the Hamline-Midway Public Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Av. in St. Paul.
The authors will read from their works (with American Sign Language interpretation provided), sign books and talk about our natural environment and what it means to them, as part of an ongoing citywide conversation, “Read Brave St. Paul,” on the theme of climate change.
The series begins Jan. 22 with William Kent Krueger and concludes Feb. 26 with poet Ed Bok Lee. The readings all begin at 7 p.m. By the time they are over, you might be hearing the first of the spring peepers and the drip of melting snow.
Jan. 22: William Kent Krueger, “This Tender Land.” Not one of Krueger’s famous Cork O’Connor mysteries but a literary novel, a companion to “Ordinary Grace,” this novel follows four orphans as they flee a wretched boarding school by taking a raft down the Mississippi River. Krueger is a bestselling novelist who has won many Minnesota Book Awards and the Edgar Award for “Ordinary Grace.”
Jan. 29: John Coy and Gaylord Schanilec, “My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall’s Story.” This is the story of a waterfall on the Mississippi River and how it has changed and migrated over 12,000 years. Coy is the author of numerous books, including young-adult novels and picture books. Schanilec is a wood-engraving artist and letterpress printer. He, Coy and the team of people behind “My Mighty Journey” are winners of this year’s Book Artist Award, one of the Minnesota Book Awards.
Feb. 5: Staci Lola Drouillard, “Walking the Old Road: A People’s History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.” The tiny peaked-roof church one mile east of Grand Marais along Hwy. 61 is the only building left of Chippewa City, a once-vibrant community of Anishinaabe people up Minnesota’s North Shore. In this book, the history of the vanished town is documented with intimacy and great detail by Drouillard, herself a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe. It is illustrated with vintage and contemporary photographs and packed with stories, characters and forgotten history.
Feb. 12: Laurie Allmann, “An Hour From Now.” Allmann, an environmental writer and a founding editor of Agate magazine, received a Minnesota Book Award for her essay collection “Far From Tame: Reflections From the Heart of a Continent.” Her new book is a collection of poems rooted in the natural world.
Feb. 19: Anika Fajardo, “Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family.” In this full, rich memoir, Fajardo travels to Colombia to meet the father she never knew and learn about a birth country she didn’t remember. Fajardo’s work has been widely anthologized and this book was a finalist for the Bakeless Literary Prize in Creative Nonfiction.
Feb. 26: Ed Bok Lee, “Mitochondrial Night.” Using mitochondrial DNA as inspiration, Lee how explores trauma, hate crimes and PTSD can be passed down from generation to generation in various ways — but he also finds a space of healing and sanctuary. Lee’s previous works have won an American Book Award, Minnesota Book Award, PEN/Open Book Award and other honors.
Attendance is free but registration is requested at thefriends.org/fireside. (Wouldn’t want to run out of cookies!)
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks.