Tag Archives: Independent bookstores-Minnesota

Escaping Anxiety This Summer of Our Discontent

By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something about the world.  Umberto Eco


In this summer of our discontent we have a sense that control has been wrested from our hands.  One way to be sure that we are not reduced by the situation in which we find ourselves is to explore our options – especially ideas and events that expand our thinking beyond the harsh reality of the day.  Here are just of few of the creative mind-refreshing events happening this summer – the tip of a mighty learning iceberg (which, unlike physical icebergs, is not melting as a result of human stupidity.) Clearly the major institutions have promoted grand events, exhibits, openings and more.  Following are just a just a very few of the initiatives with a bookish connection that may be slipping through the promotional cracks.  There’s no intent to be inclusive, simply to suggest that readers be on the lookout for escape routes from anxiety!

The 2017 Book Art Biennial.  “Shout Out: Community Intervention, Independent Publishing, and Alternative Distribution” is the theme of this biennial event.  Expect programming that “encourages people of all disciplines and skill levels to amplify individual and collective voice through grassroots artistic practice.” The centerpiece of the Book Art Biennial is the presentation of the MCBA Prize, a unique award that showcases and honors the best artists’ books in the world. The winner will be announced at a gala and awards ceremony the evening of Saturday, July 22. (http://www.mnbookarts.org/biennial)

Registration is open through June 11 for exhibitors at the Thirteenth Annual Twin Cities Zine Fest set for September 24 2017.   The Free For All Zine Lounge is now open through August 13 at Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Avenue South.  Sponsored by the Twin Cities Zine Fest (http://tczinefest.org)

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. June 12 (7:00 PM – 8:30 PM) Minneapolis Central Library. IBé, Bao Phi and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria as they read their essays from the timely book, “A Good Time for the Truth.” This collection from 16 local writers features reflective essays on life as a person of color in Minnesota. Q&A will follow the reading hosted by the editor Sun Yung Shin. Registration is encouraged and can be done here. (https://www.facebook.com/events/1761221477450326/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%223%22%2C%22ref_newsfeed_story_type%22%3A%22regular%22%2C%22feed_story_type%22%3A%22117%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D)

The East Side Freedom Library continues its monthly collaboration with A Greener Read Bookstore.  On June 16th the theme is “Storytelling through Vinyl and Film” Gather at 5:00 at the Bookstore, 506 Kenny Road in St. Paul, for happy hour and listening to music.  Focus will be on South African “kwaito” music, a blend of traditional South African forms and hip hop. ESFL will also continue their Women from the Center Reading Series, featuring the work of Midwest writers from diverse communities who support one another as they “write their truths.   Writers on the fourth Thursdays of the summer months include these:   June 22: Norah Murphy (White Birth, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir), July 27: Marcie Rendon (Murder on the Red River), August 24: Carolyn Holbrook (Earth Angels).  In fact, ESFL sponsors a robust summer programs overflowing with ideas and energy. ESFL is at 1105 Greenbrier Street, St Paul 55106. Check the full schedule here: (http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

On Wednesday, June 21, Minneapolis parks will open more than 50 new Little Free Libraries  a gift from the Minneapolis Foundation to local families in honor of Minnesota Public Radio’s 50th anniversary. MPR hosts, local authors, and other guest readers will celebrate by reading children’s books at story times in parks all over the city, from sunrise to sunset on summer’s longest day. Book It to the Parks!  (http://www.minneapolisfoundation.org/bookit/)

Silverwood Park, in the far Northeast corner of Hennepin County, is one of the mighty county’s lesser known havens for creative expression of every sort.  Focus is on the talents of local and emerging artists. Silverwood Onstage is the summer series of amphitheater programs that include Wednesday night concerts, movies and a mixed bag of performances. For details on the diverse selections click here:   (https://www.threeriversparks.org/page/silverwood-onstage)

If you’re not already in a book group, you might want to join one of the several sponsored by the Minnesota Women’s Press.  To learn more, click here:  http://womenspress.com/main.asp?SectionID=10&SubSectionID=36&ArticleID=38&TM=62697.43

When’s the last time you reached out to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar bookstore?  Here are some possibilities that will welcome you with open tomes:   (https://www.newpages.com/independent-bookstores/minnesota-bookstores)

My favorite indie, Eat My Words, is moving up the road a piece this summer – still in Northeast Minneapolis.  More in a related blog post.   Meanwhile, the EMW calendar indicates more, not fewer, events.  Proprietor Scott VanKoughnett  confirms that event attendees will not be asked to tote armloads of books to the new site.  Click here for an interview with EMW Scott  VanKoughnett::  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumRr08qkrc)

Traveling this summer?  The American Writers Museum, the gift of retired executive Malcolm O’Hagan and other donors, opened May 16 in Chicago.  (http://americanwritersmuseum.org)

Closer to home, you might want to check out the SoMN, a network of southern Minnesota history museums.  (http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/5-must-see-museums-in-southern-minnesota/)

For the motherlode of ideas for summer escapes explore with the editors of Explore Minnesota their “bucket list” of possibilities!       (http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/your-2017-minnesota-bucket-list/)

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Independent thinker? Think independent bookseller!

When legendary philosopher and social critic Jerry Seinfeld reminds fans that “a bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking” he refers to thinking about something more than “books about nothing.” I’m sure he’s also not thinking about chains but about the thinking possibilities that thrive in the atmosphere that only an independent bookstore can create.

Often nestled in quiet neighborhoods, indies reflect, shape and create vibrant communities of individual and collaborative thinking about ideas, stories, what’s been and what has yet to be.

This past few days I’ve been so busy hanging out in my neighborhood indies that I nearly overlooked the fact that next Saturday, April 30, we celebrate the second annual Independent Bookstore Day.   In 2015, the inaugural year of Independent Bookstore Day, at least 400 indies participated. Sponsors of IBD have made special efforts this year to reach lesser known and possibly more remote indies that enrich the lives of countless readers who yearn for more access to the written word.

For Twin Cities thinkers Mary Ann Grossman, renowned book editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, provides some great tips to local happenings. (http://www.twincities.com/2016/04/21/local-merchants-celebrate-independent-bookstore-day/)  She describes the ten TC’s bookstores that have joined forces to introduce a Bookstore Passport that encourages readers to travel the indie route for intellectual and economic gain.  She also notes the local authors who will be participating at indie bookstores. There will no doubt be further coverage in the local and neighborhood press in the days to come.  Bookstores are also working together and with supporters to create maps and guides to the fascinating mix of indies that the intrepid seeker can find on some unexpected sites ranging from rehabbed commercial enterprises to strip malls.

My recent time spent thinking in and about the atmosphere of two very special indie bookstores inspires my enthusiasm for IBD.    It’s interesting to observe that both of my Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood bookstore favorites, Corner Books and Eat My Words, feature used books. For me, used books somehow enhance the reading adventure – maybe because of the time spent with thinkers who have are inclined to  leave their indelible mark on the volume – by way of margin notes, bookmarks and/or coffee stains. I wonder as I read just what that reader was thinking as she thought about these same words.

One of my most frequent bookish haunts is Corner Books (http://www.cornerbooksmn.com, in the St. Anthony Village mall.  This past week proprietor Carol Urness celebrated her rich life of books with a most wonderful event.  In a three day celebration of eighty years of life Carol  shared a wealth of treasures – etchings, atlases, objects d’art and other fun stuff – with long-time friends, customers, scholars, birders, writers, and librarian colleagues. I couldn’t resist dropping in each of the three days of this unique tribute to the life of the mind.  I will happily share more about Carol and Corner Books when I can corner this unique dynamo for a long conversation and, as soon as she recuperates from the celebration, she will find an hour to guest star on Voices of Northeast. (http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/)

My other neighborhood indie favorite is Eat My Words where proprietor Scott Vankaughnett has built a community of thoughtful readers not with written words alone but with a rich agenda of creative programs designed to pique the fancy of any thinker. More about Eat My Words on an earlier blog post (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/hungry-for-a-good-read-try-eat-my-words/) – or view a delightful interview with Scott on the Voices of Northeast site. (http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/

Saturday, April 30, 2016 — Independent Bookstore Day

Support this community of thinkers built by independent booksellers, bibliophiles and discerning book buyers

 

 

 

 

Venture forth to celebrate Indie Bookstore Day!

Today’s the second day of May

First-ever Indie Bookstore Day

So browse the shelves, explore the nooks

Talk with folks about the books

Not just the books that grab the news

But those with fresh ideas and views.

Get to know the friendly clerks

Who know the authors and their works.

Today’s a day to celebrate

What makes each indie bookstore great!

Yes, this is a bit tardy, but it’s not too late – because your indie is likely to be within walking distance. And there will be a warm welcome, possibly a cup of tea, waiting for you. There may also be special Independent Bookstore literary gifts available only at indies, gifts including signed prints by graphic novelist Chris Ware and Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, a Roz Chast tote bag, a signed collection of essays by Roxanne Gay, or a set of tea towels with sayings by Lemony Snicket and Pat Conroy – stuff you won’t find online.

Over 400 stores around the country are participating in this new national holiday – each with its own unique panache, of course. The media offer some good points of entry to the many local options — MPR heralded Indie Bookstore Day with a lively discussion on Kerri Miller’s show and nice profiles and photos of some of the area’s indie’s by Tracy Mumford (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04/30/books-indie-bookstore-day)

Meanwhile, the Strib’s Laurie Hertzel provides an informative post about what’s happening at some of the TC’s indies. (http://www.vita.mn/crawl/302245541.html) Laurie offers a gentle suggestion that readers might want to spend the day visiting all of the area’s indie treasures. It’s a fun – if overwhelming – idea.

I’m thinking of an opposite approach – spending a few hours exploring the nooks and crannies –physical and intellectual – of just one neighborhood gem.   Either approach offers a lovely way to learn more about the creative ways in which independent bookstores enhance and expand this community of the book.

Daybreak Bookstore Brightens St. Paul’s Grand Avenue

  • NOTE – Daybreak was not open when last I checked – sign read “returning soon” – Best to check before you plan a trip.  MT

A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.

The source of this observation, skeptic Jerry Seinfeld, would be a welcome guest this evening for the grand opening of Minnesota’s newest indie, Daybreak International Bookstore at 1665 Grand Avenue in St. Paul. (http://daybreak.rabata.org)

In truth, opening festivities have been been going on all week with the Grand Opening Celebration set for later today, Friday, September 19, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. There will be live music, free food, performances by Ali & Patrick and the best and brightest of the TC’s bibliophile scene.

Though the word “unique” is much over-used, Daybreak truly deserves the adjective. For starts, the shop is organized by continent.   According to founder Tamara Gray, Daybreak “will focus on global books with themes including social justice, religion/spirituality, women’s issues, language, travel and children’s book, as well as literature.” Readers can take a break to view the news in Arabic, French, Spanish or language of choice (within reason). There will be guest appearances by scholars, book signings, performances, book clubs, language tutoring and classes on global themes. Gray adds that the hope is that Daybreak will also become a gathering place for the community.

What’s more, the bookstore is a nonprofit venture, a project of Daybreak Press, a division of Rabata (Rabata.org).

Gray brings broad experience to the book store. She manages the Rabata website and founded Daybreak Press and Ribaat, an online academic program that brings college-level Islamic learning to women around the world. Got 20 years Gray lived in Syria where she studied Islamic sacred texts and subjects. She has worked with schools globally to set up, evaluate and improve curriculum; today she is a doctoral student at the University of St. Thomas.

Store hours will be 10:00 am – 9:00pm Monday-Saturday and Noon-5:00pm Sunday.