Pat Coleman’s Ideal Summer Reading List

Anyone who refers to Sigurd Olson as “Sig” has our vote of confidence when it comes to summer book picks

Canoeing With the Cree by Eric Severied (1968)
The quintessential, true-life adventure story for Minnesotans about a canoe trip from Fort Snelling to Hudson’s Bay. First published in 1935 under the future journalist’s original name, Arnold. 

Singing Wilderness by Sigurd Olson (1956)
Any book by Sig would be a great summer read. I especially like this example of Olsen’s spiritual and beautiful prose, describing the Quetico-Superior country. 

Wind Chill Factor by Thomas Gifford (1975)
Gotta be one mystery on a summer list. Snowmobiles and Nazis in Cooper (read: Taylor) Falls! A great read reminding you of the misery inflicted by Hitler and winter.  

Mississippi Solo: A River Quest by Eddy L. Harris (1988)
An entertaining nonfiction account of a young African American canoeing down the entire length of the Mississippi River.

House of Vanished Splendor by William McNally (1932)
A historical novel concerning the changing fortunes of a Lake Pepin and Frontenac-area family of entrepreneurs.  

Staggerford by Jon Hassler (1977)
Hassler’s fabulous first book describes the people of a fictional Park Rapids near where you are probably vacationing this summer.

Northern Lights by Tim O’Brien (1975)
Another book that is great literature and a great summer read. The book tells of brothers skiing in the Arrowhead wilderness.

November of the Heart by LaVyrle Spencer (1993)
One romance should suffice. This is the best-selling author’s novel about 19th century White Bear Lake Yacht Club and a man and woman from different classes. ’Nuff said.

The Grand Portage by Walter O’Mera (1951)
This is a very fun historical novel of the fur-trade era in Minnesota; meant to be read aloud in the car driving up the North Shore. 

Minnesota: A State Guide, compiled and written by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (1938)
This work is also meant to be read aloud. Don’t drive around the state this summer without it!

And three for younger summer readers:

Hatchet by Gary Paulson (1987)
The all-time best adventure for kids: a novel about a boy alone in the wild for 54 days with only his wits and a hatchet to survive. 

Kitty in the Summer by Judy Delton (1980)
Judy Delton, the Queen of Minnesota children’s writing, set this book in Norwood. Delton’s Kitty is Irish Catholic St. Paul’s answer to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. 

Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling (1941)
Fun, entertaining, and geographically educational. A carved model of a Native American in a canoe travels from a snow-covered hilltop above Lake Superior, through the Great Lakes, and out the St. Lawrence Seaway

Read more about Pat Coleman in “Land of 10,000 Stories.”

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