New Books On Minnesotah? You Betcha!

minnie-books.JPGSo often folks walk through River City Books’ doors interested in books about this great state. Either they want a gift for an out-of-town friend or they just want to learn more about Minnesota. Fortunately, there are a lot of terrific books on this topic, many that include eye-catching photos, and several that are hot off the press.

RCB has a great regional section and I always make a point to stick my beak in that corner of the store. Also, there’s a display of newly published titles with Minnesota themes behind the counter. I got a shot of a few such titles; perhaps you might want to take a gander at them next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Summaries for three of the latest-greatest titles about the North Star state:

Schoolhouses of Minnesota
By Jim Heynen

Schoolhouses of Minnesota is a magical foray into the nearly forgotten world of one-acre school grounds, kerosene lanterns, coal-burning stoves, and old desks that eventually had sixty years’ worth of initials scraped into them. In the fourth book in his popular Minnesota Byways series, photographer Doug Ohman once again treats readers to the fruits of his state travels — including a trip to Minnesota’s last remaining one-room schoolhouse in Angle Inlet — with 120 color photographs that illuminate the simple, often abandoned, sometimes refurbished, and nearly vanishing Minnesota pioneer and early schoolhouses.

Bridging the past with the present, critically acclaimed writer Heynen, writer in residence at St. Olaf College, complements Ohman’s images with 25 beautifully crafted tales on the evolution of lunch pails, the consolidation of rural schools, profiles of bullies and teachers’ pets, and the timeless wish of schoolchildren of all generations — school closing on “snow days”! Heynen, who learned to read and write in a one-room schoolhouse, uses his trademark wit and down-to-earth style to bring back memories of the early days of Minnesota education, taught by hundreds of rural teachers across the state to thousands of farm and town kids alike.

Minnesota: Yesterday and Today
By Layne Kennedy

This delightful book compares our images of Minnesota today with pictures of Minnesota past. In its pages, readers will see the state capitol building transformed from one era to the next, grand old cinemas rising and giving way to the multiplex, the grain-milling district remaking a swath of the Mississippi, farms with barns and windmills making way for mighty wind generators, Duluth shipping and Iron Range ore mining as they were and are, and the state fair and the ice palace over the years. Historic images, vintage postcards, brochures, and ephemera, set against photographs by some of the state’s best photographers, offer unique visual insight into how Minnesota has changed, and how it remains the same.

Courthouses of Minnesota
By Mary Loque

They stand at once as silent reminders of time past as well as the hub of our daily lives. They are the focus of activity in every county — the site of political speeches, holiday parades, and community picnics. They are the courthouses of Minnesota’s eighty-seven counties. Writes author Logue, “With a clock tower, the courthouse becomes metaphor, literally the ticking heart at the center of a county.”

In this beautiful book are photographs celebrating the variety of Minnesota’s county courthouses. From the classic Beaux Arts dome atop the Stearns County courthouse to the unadorned simplicity of the Sibley County courthouse, this book offers a parade of some of the finest public buildings in the North Star State.

Paired with Ohman’s warm photographs in this newest book from the Minnesota Byways series is an essay by mystery writer Mary Logue that reveals the secrets of these buildings we thought we knew. Together they tell the story of these distinctly American structures, symbols of the ways Minnesotans live under the law — with justice, equality, and fairness.

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