I’m a reader. Always have been. I’ve held a library card since before I can remember. I credit my mom for this because she was never without a book. She read to me, took me to the library and bookstores, and encouraged reading all types of materials and topics. I can only hope to instill that same love for reading in my little boy.
But, because I’m now a mom of a rambunctious toddler, I’ve found my time for reading has decreased down to my bus commute to and from work, over periodic lunch hours, and sometimes before bed. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more in 2012. Fortunately, I live in a place that makes that easy. If you’re a fellow bibliophile and visiting Minnesota, you’ll fit right in.
Minneapolis Central Library
Photo by Todd Buchanan
Each year, Central Connecticut State University performs a survey of America’s most literate cities. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have been named in the top 10 multiple times; in 2010, Minneapolis ranked No. 3 and St. Paul ranked No. 7. The survey looks at factors like the usage and availability of newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries, and the Internet.
We’re a hotbed for literary prowess, too. You only have to name off the number of authors who come from Minnesota to prove it. Probably our most famous name is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who lived in many residences along Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Other authors who came from Minnesota include Sinclair Lewis (visit his boyhood home in Sauk Centre), poet Robert Bly, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gary Paulsen (I loved Hatchet), Garrison Keillor (A Prairie Home Companion), Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman, and Anne Tyler (who was just awarded the Literary Excellence Award from the Times of London). My mom introduced me to great names like John Sandford, Lorna Landvik (I recommend The Tall Pine Polka; catch her comedy show at Bryant Lake Bowl Jan. 20-21 & 27-28), Vince Flynn, and children’s author Nancy Carlson.
If you find yourself visiting without a book, you’ll find plenty of local bookshops to peruse, like Magers & Quinn (who got a shout out in the Huffington Post this weekend) in Uptown; Once Upon A Crime in Minneapolis; James & Mary Laurie booksellers (used and rare books) on Nicollet Mall; Common Good Books in St. Paul (owned by Keillor himself); Birchbark Books in Minneapolis (owned by Erdrich); and the wonderful kids’ stores like Wild Rumpus (complete with a pet chicken!) in Linden Hills and The Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul (my mom used to bring me here after lunch at Cafe Latte). Or, stop at the Minneapolis Central Library on Nicollet Mall to awe amazing architecture (designed by Cesar Pelli) and the 38.5 miles of book-filled shelves.