Essential Minnesota Books to Read from 2022

Till the wheels fall off by Brad Zellar

Local writer Brad Zellar’s debut novel, released in July 2022, is a very, very loosely autobiographical tale of Matthew, a kid in 1980s small-town southern Minnesota consistently plagued by insomnia, and finds solace in music. When Matthew returns to his town, years later, his life and family are completely different, he looks back at what changes—and what never really does.

Tits on the Moon by Dessa

It’s no secret that Dessa is so much more than a rapper and musician—she’s a podcaster, educator, memoirist, and poet, among other touted titles. And if you’ve ever been to a Dessa live show, you’ve probably heard her poetry, which she often intersperses between songs. tits On The Moon, Her latest poetry chapbook, explores concepts like stage diving, science, and, yes, imagining what a certain body part would be like in outer space.

Before All Is Said and Done: Practical Advice for Living and Dying Well by Pat Miles

When Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Famer Pat Miles’s husband died in tktk, she lost more than the love of her life—suddenly, her sense of security vanished too. She had no idea what came next: legally or emotionally. But other intrepid widows and supporters helped her along the way, and her recent book is a testament to the lives we lead after loss—and how to go on when it seems impossible.

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa

George Floyd is a name that has changed the world. After his unjust murder by Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, protests erupted world-wide to fight the broken and racist policing systems implemented today. But what existed for Floyd before he became a current-day martyr of civil justice? Prizewinning Washington Post journalists, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, reveal how America’s systematically racist roots shaped Floyd’s life and tragic experience.

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

After the Mass Dragoning of 1955, a day when ordinary women sprouted wings, scales, and talons, and transformed into dragons that left fiery destruction where an ordinary mother or wife once stood, life was never quite the same. For Alex Green, the transformation only opened a door to questions she wished could be answered: Why did her Aunt Marla change but her mother didn’t? Will any of the women ever return? Was it their choice? The only answer is to wait and deal with life post-dragon change – a protective mother, a distant father, being told her aunt never existed, and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond normal.

Farewell Transmission by Will McGrath

Minnesota based journalist and memoirist Will McGrath came out with another book this year — Farewell Transmission: Notes from Hidden Spaces. The book is a series of essays following his travels across the globe. He ventures to Yemen, the Bronx, Spain, and more in a whirlwind of storytelling. He even lands in Minneapolis and by chance explores the indie wrestling scene in the Twin Cities. This book is unique from his previous works, since it has a diverse essay collection. Reading it is a great opportunity to travel and learn without leaving the toasty comfort of your home this winter.

True North Cabin Cookbook by Stephanie Hansen

Stephanie Hansen is somewhat of a renaissance woman when it comes to life, but especially when it comes to food. This year, she publishes her first cookbook true North Cabin Cookbook: Recipes And Stories From A North Woods Table, where she explores classic Minnesota cabin eating, and the foods that make Minnesota summers so classically delicious.

Prince: All the Songs by Benoît Clerc

For anyone who calls themselves a Prince fan, this tome delves into the stories behind every Prince song ever released. That’s 50 years of albums, EPs, and rarities, revealing everything from Prince’s recording choices to what he really meant between his lyrics. Author Benoît Clerc is a forensic analyst here, exhaustively exploring everything we know about the eternal purple enigma.

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld

In her debut memoir, Emi Nietfeld details her traumatic Minnesota upbringing and her tortured relationship with her mother, surviving a period of self-harm and time in a mental hospital, and what it took for her to transcend her pain and make her own way— all the way to halls of Harvard and New York City. As she told us this year, “How do I tell the story without seeming ungrateful, while still being very honest about what stories like mine cost?” For fans of Prozac Nation and Girl, Interrupted.

The Hurting Kind by Ada Lemon

Minnesota-published poet Ada Limón had an eventful year. Last spring, she published her sixth collection of poetry, her fourth since she started working with Minneapolis’s Milkweed Editions in 2010. The Hurting Kind is a testament to the power of sensitivity and feeling. Through her poems, she threads connections through human life and the natural world, between life and death, and the intellectual and spiritual. In September, she received the congressional honor of being named the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States.


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