One of the strengths of this book–at least for me in terms of our reading challenge–is the acknowledged contrast between Chicago and the small town of Cypress, north of Duluth, Minnesota. Several times it’s noted that Cathryn’s infidelity would hardly be noticed in Chicago, but in Cypress she, and even those who associate with her–like […]

Lake of the Woods is the perfect getaway. Tim O’Brien’s novel is set, in part, in that little bit of land, connected to Manitoba, and separated by the lake from the state of Minnesota of which it is actually a part. … an old yellow cottage in the timber at the edge of Lake of […]

I can see why this book won the 1963 National Book Award, and why it’s considered a classic for the disillusioned working class–think inept colleagues, vindictive superiors, and fruitless and boring busywork with Father Urban as a successful, charming, handsome traveling salesman. It is a slow build to its comic climax, and it is more […]

“You know, my grandmother was a very wise woman and well respected in the tribe. She used to tell me that even when life gives you shit, you can use it for fuel.” —The Wild Birds by Emily Strelow

As I mentioned on the main Minnesota page, this book didn’t seem like a great choice for my reading challenge, although it was an interesting read. For at least 80% of the book, the setting was mostly ignored–even though in the very beginning of the book the main character visits the reservation where her birth […]

This was a great peek into one of the historical labor union strikes of the early 1900s that helped make factory work more bearable. And the timing of this read is appropriate since the teachers of Los Angeles Unified School District just finished a labor strike, and Denver Public School teachers have also voted to […]

When I think of Minnesota, I think of Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” I loved Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and I think any contemplation of Minnesota must include some sort of reference to it, despite the allegations of […]

This one was set on Cape Cod, and Hoffman did a wonderful job with the setting! This is the Cape Cod of the locals–fishermen and cranberry bogs and wild blueberries. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I’m glad I added it to my list. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so […]

Hmmm. I’m torn about this one. It has some great things to say about race but I don’t think the target audience is going to sit still long enough to get the message. One of my concerns since my son was born is that so many fantastic new books for young people have strong female […]

Wow! If Run by Ann Patchett was the best pick for (somewhat) contemporary Boston (1990s), then Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks was the clear winner for historical Massachusetts, covering Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on those where the setting […]