Fireside Reading Series & Podcast

Fireside Readings and PodcastsSix Weeks of Readings by the Fire

Wednesdays, January 20-February 24, 7 p.m.
Hamline Midway Library, 
1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.

With cookies in one hand and coffee in the other, cozy up to the fire for six weeks of free readings by some of Minnesota’s finest writers. Now in its 22nd season, the Fireside Reading Series is one of The Friends’ oldest and most popular events. The series annually highlights the work of some of Minnesota’s finest writers who have published a new work in the previous year.

Continuing last year’s efforts, The Friends will offer the entire season as a free podcast, available on the website (links below) and on iTunes.

 2016 Season

Fireside 2016 thumbnailsFaith Sullivan – Jan. 20
Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse

Faith Sullivan returns to kick off the 22nd annual Fireside series with a reading from her new novel, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, which celebrates the strength and resourcefulness of independent women, the importance of community, and the transformative power of reading.

Nell Stillman’s road is not easy. When her boorish husband dies soon after they move to the small town of Harvester, Minnesota, Nell is alone, penniless yet responsible for her beloved baby boy, Hillyard. In the face of nearly insurmountable odds, Nell finds strength in lasting friendships, and in the rich inner life awakened by the novels she loves.

Sullivan is the author of seven award-winning novels, including Good Night, Mr. WodehouseGardeniasThe Empress of One, and The Cape Ann. A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” she is also an indefatigable champion of literary culture and her fellow writers, and has visited with hundreds of book clubs. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Faith Sullivan lives in Minneapolis with her husband.

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Rick Shefchik - Jan. 27
Everybody’s Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Minnesota

This behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal account relates how a handful of Minnesota rock bands erupted out of a small Midwest market and made it big, covering Augie Garcia and Bobby Vee to The Trashmen and the Castaways. Through interviews with many of the key musicians, combined with extensive research and a phenomenal cache of rare photographs, Everybody’s Heard about the Bird reveals how this monumental era of Minnesota rock music in the 1960s evolved.

Shefchik spent almost thirty years in daily journalism, mostly as a critic, reporter, and columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is the author of From Fields to Fairways: Classic Golf Clubs of Minnesota, among other nonfiction and fiction works, and has been in several working bands as a guitarist and singer. 

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Beth Dooley - thumbnailBeth Dooley - Feb. 3
In Winter’s Kitchen: Growing Roots and Breaking Bread in the Northern Heartland

Coming from her native New Jersey, Beth Dooley had a lot of preconceptions about the Midwestern food scene. As she explored farmer’s markets and the burgeoning co-op scene in the Twin Cities, these assumptions faded and she eventually discovered a local food movement strong enough to survive the toughest winter.

Through In Winter’s Kitchen, Dooley shares her journey of coming to know and be an integral part of the Heartland food community. From the husband and wife who run one of the largest organic farms in the region to Native Americans harvesting wild rice, and from award-winning cheesemakers to Hmong immigrant farmers growing the best sweet potatoes in the country, a rich ecosystem of farmers, artisanal producers, and restaurateurs comes richly to life in this fascinating book, demonstrating that even in a place with a short growing season, food grown locally and organically can be healthy, community-based, environmentally conscious, and—most of all—delicious.

Beth Dooley has been involved with the local food movement for over twenty years. She is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks about Heartland food traditions and her travel and food writing has been featured in the Star Tribune, Fine Cooking, Delta Sky Magazine, and the North American Review. She is also regularly a featured guest on MPR’s Appetites with Tom Crann.

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Erika Lee - Feb. 10
The Making of Asian America: A History

In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States’ Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our “nation of immigrants,” this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.Lee is the granddaughter of Chinese immigrants who entered the United States through both Angel Island and Ellis Island. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches history at the University of Minnesota, where she is also the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History and Director of the Immigration History Research Center.

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Anton Treuer - Feb. 17
Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe

Ojibwe historian and linguist Anton Treuer presents his latest work, Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe, a fascinating history which offers not only a chronicle of the Red Lake Nation but also a compelling perspective on a difficult piece of U.S. history.

The Red Lake Nation has a unique and deeply important history. Unlike every other reservation in Minnesota, Red Lake holds its land in common—and, consequently, the tribe retains its entire reservation land base. The people of Red Lake developed the first modern indigenous democratic governance system in the United States, decades before any other tribe, but they also maintained their system of hereditary chiefs. The reservation is also home to the highest number of Ojibwe-speaking people in the state.

Warrior Nation covers four centuries of the Red Lake Nation’s forceful and assertive tenure on its land. Treuer conducted oral histories with elders across the Red Lake reservation, learning the stories carried by the people. And the Red Lake band has, for the first time, made available its archival collections, including the personal papers of Peter Graves, the brilliant political strategist and tribal leader of the first half of the twentieth century, which tell a startling story about the negotiations over reservation boundaries.

Treuer, professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, is the author of Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask and twelve other books on Ojibwe history and language.

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Catherine Madison - Feb. 24
The War Came Home with Him

Catherine Madison closes the Fireside Series with a reading from The War Came Home with Him, which tells the stories of two survivors of one man’s war: a father who withstood a prison camp’s unspeakable inhumanity and a daughter who withstood the residual cruelty that came home with him.

Doc Boysen died fifty years after his ordeal, his POW experience concealed to the end in a hidden cache of documents. In The War Came Home with Him, Madison pieces together the horrible tale these papers told—of a young captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps captured in July 1950, beaten and forced to march without shoes or coat on icy trails through mountains to camps where North Korean and Chinese captors held him for more than three years. As the truth about her father’s past unfolds, Madison returns to a childhood troubled by his secret torment to consider, in a new light, the telling moments in their complex relationship.

Journalist Madison was editor-in-chief of Utne Reader, senior editor at Adweek and Creativity Magazine, founding editor of American Advertising, and editor-in-chief of Format Magazine. She has written articles for many publications, including the Chicago TribuneStar Tribune, and Minnesota Monthly.

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Past Events



Marlon James - Jan 21, 2015

Novelist Marlon James kicks off the series with a reading from his new book, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Listen to the podcast >>

Swanson-StolenWilliam Swanson - Jan 28, 2015

Stolen from the Garden William Swanson joins the series to discuss his new book, Stolen from the Garden, the thrilling true crime story of the 1972 abduction of Virginia Piper, one of the largest kidnap-for-ransom cases in the history of the FBI. Listen to the podcast >>



Ping-and-LefesteyWang Ping and Jim Lenfestey – Feb 4, 2015

Ten Thousand Waves and The Cave Wang Ping and James Lenfestey return to the Fireside Series for an exploration of China through poetry and prose. Listen to the podcast >>


Lorna-LandvikLorna Landvik - Feb 11, 2015

Best to Laugh Writer and comedian Lorna Landvik joins the series to read from her new novel, Best to Laugh, which follows her latest irresistible character, Candy Pekkala, from Minnesota to Hollywood as she pursues her dream of becoming a comedian. Listen to the podcast >>


EskensAllen Eskens - Feb 18, 2015

 The Life We Bury Author Allen Eskens adds some literary chills to the series when he reads from his twisting and evocative mystery The Life We Bury, called a “masterful debut” in a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly. Listen to the podcast >>



Linda-LeGardeLinda LeGarde Grover - Feb 25, 2015

The Road Back to Sweetgrass Linda LeGarde Grover closes the series by sharing her powerful debut novel of love, hardship, and family bonds: The Road Back to Sweetgrass. Listen to the podcast >>