Common Good Books Poetry Contest 2018 Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Common Good Poetry Contest, and thank you again to all who entered. 

White stars have fallen into the trees  
of Rice Park where we can see 
the cold statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald
wearing his stocking cap of snow.  
Nearby, a silver platter of frozen ice
is etched by many blades.  
Skaters look like figurines cast against
the granite walls of Landmark Center. 
Thousands of years ago people used
animal bones lashed to their feet. 
How long since we last let go, pushed off?
$8.00 rents two old pairs of leather skates. 
The unsteady boats of our bodies set out
on a wobbly go-round-the-rink. 
Muscle memory instructs: relax knees
so legs can shove and stroke to glide. 
Soon we will orbit like planets, following
others in bright coats who follow us.  
Everything whirls: snowflakes, lights, stars.
We blow blue clouds of breath into the night.  

--Margaret Hasse




He sits hunched over on a camp stool
under the arching dome of gray plastic
that nearly disappears in a wilderness

of gray ice.  He is creating a quiet place,
a chance to collect himself or think 
of nothing at all.  There is only the muffled

sound of a winter wind and the slight slap
of water at the hole.  He could easily buy
a fish at the market, but it would be only 

a fleeting moment, whereas fishing lasts 
until he wishes to leave, and the fish 
is really not the most important thing.

--Norman Holen


On greeting an acquaintance at the Ordway, after several years

“I’m a fast-fossilizing fella,” said
the most interesting man at the opera.
Eighty, at least, maybe older, bearded,
ancient and classical and seemingly
permanent, a human Stonehenge,
aged ladies’ man, tall, loose-limbed.
Still half in his heavy charcoal coat,
he rises to embrace me, conducts
stage business with his cane,
gripping its fancy finial.

--Tina Karelson


1000 Pieces

Back in dark November we started a puzzle: a bright panorama of St. Paul
from the University Club bluff. Tulips meant the thousand days of winter
would someday pass. And it’s true. Piece by piece red petals materialized
in the foreground,  while far below ice left the Mississippi loose and   
shining.    You found the back half of a black lab, and sure enough, it
wagged. And we persisted.

Now in March, how eager we are to be done! But as usual, the sky is the
problem.  Luckily we have your puzzle-piece-clipper handy,  and  with
judicious trimming, careful as carpenters, we’ll reshape fragments of a
troubled sky. Soon one morning, my love, you will press the first day of
spring firmly into place.

--Connie Wanek

Mark your calendars

For only the second time in its history, the international F. Scott Fitzgerald Society will gather in the author’s hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, for a week-long conference.  The conference will include a host of papers and presentations, public programs and festivities, as well as a celebration of the Minnesota roots in his writing.  The conference is open not only to members of the Fitzgerald Society, but Fitzgerald fans and scholars everywhere.

Our Favorite Books of 2016

We read a lot of books here, and each year a few stand out to us. This list is personal, even idiosyncratic. These aren't necessarily the best books of the year, but they're the books that have stayed with us, and they're the books we don't want to stop talking about.

Staff Pick Logo
Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and the Summer Before the Dark Cover Image
By Volker Weidermann, Carol Janeway (Translator)
ISBN: 9781101870266
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Pantheon Books - January 26th, 2016

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Hot Milk Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620406694
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Bloomsbury USA - July 12th, 2016

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The One-In-A-Million Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544947214
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 18th, 2017

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Zero K Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501135392
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 3rd, 2016

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The Annie Year Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939419965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unnamed Press - October 11th, 2016

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Everything Is Teeth (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Cover Image
By Evie Wyld, Joe Sumner (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781101870815
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Pantheon Books - May 10th, 2016

Staff Pick Logo
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780544272880
Availability: Unavailable - Out of Print
Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 1st, 2016

Staff Pick Logo
Aeneid Book VI: A New Verse Translation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374104191
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 3rd, 2016

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Little Red Cover Image
ISBN: 9781561459179
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Peachtree Publishers - April 1st, 2016

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A Gentleman in Moscow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

The First Big Book of the Fall

I know, I know. It's only a bit after Labor Day, but the big fall books are already arriving. First up is The Nix by Nathan Hill. The book has already prompted one of the season's best headlines: "Nathan Hill is compared to John Irving. Irving compares him to Dickens." from the New York Times.

First-time author Nathan Hill spoke to MPR. You can hear that interview here. And you can meet him for yourself when he visits Common Good Books on September 10.

Check out detail on this and all our upcoming events on our calendar. We've got a lot of great things coming up this fall.

The Nix Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101946619
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 30th, 2016

"The Must-Read Novel of the Summer"

When people in the book world can't stop talking about a book, we call it buzz. For Emma Cline's fantastic new novel The Girls, that buzz is more like roar.

  • "Emma Cline’s first novel, The Girls, is a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story hinged on Charles Manson, told in sen­tences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry."--The New York Times
  • "[A] startlingly assured debut... Cline wonderfully evokes the flushes of feeling that come with early adolescence."-- The AV Club
  • "The strength of The Girls lies in Cline’s ability to evoke both the textures and atmosphere of those painful in-between times; the desperate rush to fill an emotional vacuum."--The Guardian

And let me tell you, that praise is justified. The Girls is a tense literary thriller, a story at once gorgeous and repellent like the California cult at the book's center. Cline's narrator is inexorably drawn into darkness, and you'll be horrified even as you sympathize with her choices.

You can hear Cline read a portion of her novel at MPR. Once you're hooked, come in and get your own copy at Common Good Books.--David

Staff Pick Logo
The Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998603
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

Suggested Reading for Summer

Booksellers love to recommend books to our customers. It's a thrill to see a book we enjoy going home with an enthusiastic reader and to know that it's found just the right reader.

If you come in and talk to me in the next few weeks, I'm going to chew your ear about Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I fell in love with this novel last year, and I am pretty sure you will, too. It's a smart and inventive novel that also manages to be a fun pageturner. You might read it on the beach, but you won't feel like you're just filling your mind with junk food.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the story of Eva, a Midwestern girl who grows up to be a world-class chef. Along the way, you'll meet a range of foodie types, from the rural to the rarified. J Ryan Stradal roasts them, but only to bring out the best in his cast of characters. This is a gentle satire, and you will enjoy seeing the culinary world through Stradal's kind eyes. I can't recommend it enough.

(And if I've already talked you into reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest, then ask me about The Jesus Cow. That's another great tale from the middle of the country and another perfect summer read.)


Kitchens of the Great Midwest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109419
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 7th, 2016

And the winners are...

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Common Good Books Poetry Contest.

First place poems:

  • "Flight" by Charles Atkinson
  • "Still Life with Gratitude" by Dean Rader
  • "Gratitude List" by Laura Foley

Second place poems:

  • "Ode to the Pull-Out Couch" by Sonja Johanson
  • "One Summer Day on the Number One Train" by Anne Whitehouse
  • "Still I Give Thanks" by Marie Reynolds
  • "Bounding Flight" by Chera Hammons

Congratulations to everyone who entered. Click here to read the winning poems.

Let's Go Back, Former Comrades!

A lot of big books are getting attention this week, but there's also a little novel that you might not hear about that's still worth a look. If you enjoy a bit of armchair travel, this book could be just the ticket. The feckless narrator of Guillermo Erades’ novel Back to Moscow arrives in the Russian capital with a fellowship to study the country’s literature and a yen to study its young women. His plan to combine the two tasks, if a bit suspect academically, nonetheless makes for an entertaining read, as Erades combines the formless grad school noodling of Leaving the Atocha Station with the clubbing and casual relationships of Bright Lights, Big City. Erades’ portrait of expat life in a newly capitalist Moscow is crisp and memorable.--David

Staff Pick Logo
Back to Moscow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865478374
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 3rd, 2016


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