Tag Archives: Read Across MN

CMLE Reads Across MN: Rez Life

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!


Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life, by David Treuer



This week I’ve been reading the nonfiction book Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life, by David Treuer. I’m about half-way through it, and feel like I’m learning a lot about life on reservations. Growing up as a white person, in the cornfields of Central Illinois, I knew essentially nothing about modern Indian life. As I’ve traveled more, especially out West, and spent more time visiting both modern and historic sites, reading and talking with people, I’m learning more about the different history and cultures of tribes. (I cried when visiting Big Hole National Battlefield and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – but it would be hard not to. And you see how much more there is to learn in these visits.)

So I am always interested in learning more,  and more about Minnesota cultures. I found this book in the shop at the Grand Portage National Monument. (Yes: I’ve never passed a single state or national park/forest/monument that I didn’t want to visit!) I’m not finished with it yet; but am enjoying it enough to recommend. Treuer explains some of the challenges faced by his tribe, the Ojibwe; and also the larger picture of life on reservations, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

As with other cultures I don’t share, it’s daunting to realize how much I don’t know, and that I will never understand it all. But more understanding, more learning, and more ideas about the ways other people approach life is always good!

As a member of the library profession, I definitely like to learn more – and to have another interesting book to recommend!

From Amazon:

“Celebrated novelist David Treuer has gained a reputation for writing fiction that expands the horizons of Native American literature. In Rez Life, his first full-length work of nonfiction, Treuer brings a novelist’s storytelling skill and an eye for detail to a complex and subtle examination of Native American reservation life, past and present.

With authoritative research and reportage, Treuer illuminates misunderstood contemporary issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, and natural-resource conservation. He traces the waves of public policy that have disenfranchised and exploited Native Americans, exposing the tension that has marked the historical relationship between the United States government and the Native American population. Through the eyes of students, teachers, government administrators, lawyers, and tribal court judges, he shows how casinos, tribal government, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have transformed the landscape of Native American life.

A member of the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota, Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation, but was educated in mainstream America. Exploring crime and poverty, casinos and wealth, and the preservation of native language and culture, Rez Life is a strikingly original work of history and reportage, a must read for anyone interested in the Native American story.”

CMLE Reads Across MN: Iron Lake

Iron Lake: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #1), by William Kent Krueger


I love to read books in a series, and this is the first one in this series. If you like mysteries, or books set up in the northern woods of Minnesota and the Boundary Waters area, these may be for you. I was recently in the area, and listened to these books; it was great to hear a book where it is set. (It always makes a book more fun for me to  listen to it in the setting; I really feel like I’m so much more immersed in the story!) I listened to the first one, filled with Minnesota snow and cold, on a hot summer day while I hiked – and I think it helped me to keep cool!

Try them for yourself, and see if you feel like you are enjoying this scenic area of Minnesota!

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our favorite fiction is set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

Krueger brilliantly evokes northern Minnesota’s lake country — and reveals the dark side of its snow-covered landscape.  Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Embittered by his “former” status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.
As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork must dig out the truth among town officials who seem dead-set on stopping his investigation in its tracks. But even Cork freezes up when faced with the harshest enemy of all: a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.

CMLE Reads Across MN: From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis

 From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis, by Hudda Ibrahim “From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis gives readers an invaluable insider’s look into the lives and culture of our Somali neighbors and the important challenges they face. Designed with a diverse audience in mind, this book is a must-read for students, health-care professionals, business owners, social service agencies, and anyone who wants to better understand the Somali people.

In providing a great understanding of Somali culture, tradition, religion, and issues of integration and assimilation, this book also focuses on why thousands of Somali refugees came to live in this cold, snowy area with people of predominantly European descent.”

This was such an interesting book to read!! I first heard about it from one of our members, who said Ms. Ibrahim would be talking about her new book at an event at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. She is a faculty member there, and as you can see the community turned out to celebrate her work!

When Ms. Ibraham spoke, it was so interesting! And the people who introduced her at the event had such glowing things to say – I had to  know more!

I am new to Minnesota, and was surprised to find such thriving Somali culture here; and I have so much to learn about my new community in general. So a book that helps me to learn more about people in the community is helpful for me personally! (If everything about Minnesota, and libraries, had an easy to read book, I would understand so much more about my new environment!)

And I think it would be helpful for anyone who wants to learn more about their Somali neighbors. Mayor David Kleis gave a testimonial printed on the back of the book: “I highly recommend this book to educational institutions, the business community, healthcare departments, and anyone who works and continues to build for community.” As library people, we work to serve our community members; and understanding interests and needs is a key part of that!

Her book is broken into easy-to-follow chapters:

  • Overview of Somalia history
  • Immigrants, refugees, and identities
  • Culture and religion
  • integration and assimilation
  • Business
  • New immigrants’ health challenges.

You can definitely read straight through it pretty quickly; or you can dip into different sections of interest. I initially started flipping through the pages, not intending to read it that day. But as I got sucked into the information being shared, I would realized I had missed a point earlier in the chapter, so quickly zipped back to start the chapter from the beginning. And I eventually had to just start at the first page and go straight through – because I so wanted to see how it all unfolded! It is a quick read – I did it in one day; but it is something you will want to return to, as you have more questions or want to see what you might have missed!

CMLE is establishing a professional skills lending library for our members. So, we encourage you to buy it (click the link at the top to buy from Amazon and give CMLE a little of the sales price!); or you can check it out from our member libraries – always a good idea! But we can also loan you our copy. Contact us to get our copy for your reading enjoyment!

And we have updated our Google Map, to show our progress in reading across Minnesota! (Click the link, or search for “CMLE Reads Across Minnesota” for the map.)

Do you have suggestions for this series? Send them in!

CMLE Reads Across Minnesota: Monkeewrench

Minnesota Interstate Map

We love books! We love Minnesota!

You put those two great things together and you get some great results! (No, sorry – not a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, for all of you old enough to remember thrilling vintage 80s commercials.) We are gifted with a huge range of books set here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. And CMLE wants to help you explore both books and Minnesota!

Our first book is the first in a series: Monkeewrench. The books are written by a mother/daughter team, under the name P.J. Tracy. These books are set mainly in Minneapolis, but of course adventure takes them elsewhere, as happens in mystery stories. “People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective out in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game. But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they’ll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased-and the horror they thought they’d left behind. If they don’t, eighteen more people will die…”

Once you read this tangled tale of the Monkeewrench crew, you will need to go on with the rest of the series:

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our favorite fiction is set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!