Find all of our past book selections at Hennepin County Libraries using our list on the library website or through the links below.

2020 Book:

Book cover of Virgil Wander, photo of author Leif Enger

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

When Virgil Wander’s car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior he survives and begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals. It’s a potluck of mystery and bootleg movies, fish tales and kite flying, baseball and lasagna.

2019 Book:

Photo of author Brian Freeman. book cover for Brian Freeman's Marathon

Marathon by Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman uses the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing as the template for an eerily similar plot, set in Duluth during the annual Grandma’s Marathon. While members of the FBI and local police department race to identify the culprit, social media fuels the worst instincts of the citizenry.

2018 Book:

Book cover Locally Laid by Lucie B. Amundsen

Locally Laid by Lucie Amundsen

Locally Laid How We Built A Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm–from Scratch (Book) : Amundsen, Lucie B. : The author shares how she and her husband became egg farmers, and how, with very little experience, they learned to manage their business and why they believe farms like theirs are vital to rebuilding America’s food system.

2017 Book:

Book cover The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson,a dying Vietnam veteran– and a convicted murderer, medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. Unable to reconcile Carl’s valor in Vietnam with the despicable acts of the convict, Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth.

2016 Book:

Book cover Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan O’Dell
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell

The story of two young mothers, Hazel and Vida, one wealthy and white and the other poor and black, who have only two things in common: the devastating loss of their children, and a deep and abiding loathing for one another.

2015 Book:

book cover for Vacationland by Sarah Stonich (graphic of a baby deer on an abstract background of the forest)
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich

On a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge–only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather’s care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images reflected across the mirrors of memory and water, much as the linked stories of Vacationland cast shimmering spells across distance and time. Those whose paths have crossed at Naledi inhabit Vacationland : a man from nearby Hatchet Inlet who knew Meg back when, a Sarajevo refugee sponsored by two parishes who can’t afford their own refugee, aged sisters traveling to fulfill a fateful pact once made at the resort, a philandering ad man, a lonely Ojibwe stonemason, and a haiku-spouting girl rescued from a bog. Sarah Stonich, whose work has been described as unexpected and moving by the Chicago Tribune and a well-paced feast by the Los Angeles Times , weaves these tales of love and loss, heartbreak and redemption into a rich novel of interconnected and disjointed lives. Vacationland is a moving portrait of a place–at once timeless and of the moment, composed of conflicting dreams and shared experience–and of the woman bound to it by legacy and sometimes longing, but not necessarily by choice.

2014 Book:

Book cover Kevin Kling's Holiday Inn
Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn by Kevin Kling

Celebrate all the holidays — and then some — with renowned storyteller Kevin Kling, whose sense of the ridiculous never gets in the way of his appreciation for human nature.

SIX WORD MEMOIRS can now be viewed anytime online via FLICKR.

2013 Book:

book cover Spirit Car Journey to a Dakota Past by Diane Wilson
Spirit Car by Diane Wilson

The author’s story about her search for her Dakota family past and Dakota history.

2012 Book:

book cover Under a Flaming Sky the Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 by Daniel Brown
Under a Flaming Sky by Daniel James Brown

On September 1, 1894, two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping more than two thousand people. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. As temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the firestorm knocked down buildings and carried flaming debris high into the sky. Two trains–one with every single car on fire–became the only means of escape. In all, more than four hundred people would die, leading to a revolution in forestry management and the birth of federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires.

A spellbinding account of danger, devastation, and courage, Under a Flaming Sky reveals the dramatic, minute-by-minute story of the tragedy and brings into focus the ordinary citizens whose lives it irrevocably marked.

2011 Book:

Book cover Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

When strange and seemingly unrelated events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

2010 Book:

Book cover Population: 485 by Michael Perry
Population 485
by Michael Perry

Mike Perry’s extraordinary and thoughtful account of meeting the people of his small hometown by joining the fire and rescue team was a breakout hit that “swells with unadorned heroism” (USA Today)

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485) where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew up here, and now-after a decade away-he has returned.

Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.

Tracing his calls on a map in the little firehouse, he sees “a dense, benevolent web, spun one frantic zigzag at a time” from which the story of a tiny town emerges.