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These 10 books capture the feeling of northern Minnesota

Jul 14, 2018 11:37AM ● Published by Editor

Photo:  Drury Lane Books


By Laurie Hertzel from the Star Tribune - July 13, 2018


Gwen Danfelt, manager of Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais, has come up with a list of books to put your mind Up North even if you can't be there yourself. 

It’s full summer, and if you’re stuck in the city you are likely dreaming of Up North.

And if you’re Up North, the rest of us are jealous.

When I head up the North Shore, I go to hike, but I bring a stack of books to read, as well. (For rainy days, for evenings, for lazy days, and because it is simply wrong to go anywhere without a book.)

Sometimes I like to read books that are set as far away from where I am as possible. Up North in the summer? Time to read “Consolations of the Forest,” French writer Sylvain Tesson’s memoir about living for a winter in a hut in the Siberian taiga.

But sometimes I like to read books that take place where I am.

Gwen Danfelt, manager of Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais — that tiny bookstore right on the water, right next door to the tiny doughnut shop — has come up with a list of books to put your mind Up North even if you can’t be there yourself.

Danfelt’s top 10 book picks

“North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast,” by Chel Anderson (local ecologist) and Adelheid Fischer. Has the substance of a textbook, but reads in a friendly and fascinating narrative. Hardcover, glossy photos. (University of Minnesota Press, $39.95.)

“The Hungry Coast: Fables From the North Shore of Minnesota,” by Marlais Olstead Brand, woodcuts by Noah Prinsen (local artist). Short stories that show the range of lifestyles and histories of the people on the North Shore. (North Star Press, $14.95.)

“Boundary Waters,” by William Kent Krueger. Krueger’s Cork O’Connor detective mystery series takes place in northern Minnesota. This is No. 2 in the series, which is now at 16 books and counting. (Atria Books, $16.)

“The Long-Shining Waters,” by Danielle Sosin. Novel set on Lake Superior, interconnecting three women during three time periods. Winner of the Milkweed Fiction Prize. (Milkweed Editions, $16.)

“The Years of the Forest,” by Helen Hoover. Adrian and Helen Hoover moved from Chicago to the remote Gunflint Trail in 1954. Her lovely writing introduced many readers to the joys and challenges of wilderness life. (University of Minnesota Press, $16.95.)

“A Taste of Life on the Gunflint Trail: Stories, History and Recipes From Area Lodges and Restaurants,” as told by the women of the trail. The subhead kind of tells it all. (Adventure Publications, $16.95.)

“The Lighthouse Road,” by Peter Geye. Generational immigrant saga set on the North Shore, the first in a planned trilogy of books by Minnesota writer Geye. (Unbridled Books, $18.)

“The Superior Life,” by Jean Miriam Larson. Wonderful chapbook of poetry and sketches of the big lake. (Broadcraft Press, $15.)

“Silent Words,” by Joan M. Drury (bookstore owner and local author). Female detective Tyler Jones travels home to the North Shore to solve a family mystery. (Women’s Press, $14.95.)

“Deep Woods, Wild Waters,” by Douglas Wood. Memoir/nature writing of the North Woods by a celebrated Minnesota author. (University of Minnesota Press, $22.95.)

So the Drury Lane list is a good starting point, but I can already think of so other books I’d add — Vidar Sundstol’s mysteries, or Brian Freeman’s mysteries, or Wendy Webb’s mysteries, or at least one of Nevada Barr’s mysteries. (Wait a minute — why are so many of the books mysteries? There’s really very little crime Up North.)

Time for you to weigh in — which books do you recommend that give the flavor of the North Shore? Send me an e-mail. We’ll come up with another list. books@startribune.com

 Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks

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