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Friday, September 2, 2016



The book alternates between the present day and 1969, when Evie Boyd was 14 years old.  She lives in Petaluma, California, and her parents are divorcing.  Her father is living with a woman from his office. Her mother is dating men, all of whom Evie dislikes.  She feels her mother is desperate to find someone to date.  Evie has been best friends with Connie, and they spend a lot of time at each other’s house.  The author does a great job describing how young teenagers act and how they need each other.  The girls spend a great deal of time planning makeup, trying new beauty techniques, talking about boys and girls at their school, etc.  Evie has a crush on Connie’s older brother and secretly devastated when he elopes with his girlfriend.  The author captures the closeness girls feel towards each other and the change in the friendship when alliances shift.  Evie notices a group of people at a park, and focuses on the dark haired woman who seems the prettiest.    The second time she sees them, she goes with them to the ranch.  They are living in a dilapidated house and have barely enough to eat, and wear old, discarded clothes.  They all worship the 30 something leader, Russell, who is a failed musician.    When the book begins, we know that Evie was involved with the cult, and that people were murdered.  We don’t know until the end what happened.  But the emphasis of the book is not so much on the murder and the cult.  It’s more about how subserviant girls and women are to men, and how they feel they need approval from each other and men to fulfill themselves, longing for acceptance, trying to fulfill oneself by other’s approval.    The writer did a good job capturing the era of the late 60’s in California, and the attraction of cults. 



                                                       THE LILAC GIRLS BY MARTHA HALL KELLY

This well written novel  follows three women through the course of World War II and beyond. Caroline, a wealthy New Yorker, volunteers at the French consulate in New York, assisting refugees and raising funds.  Kasia, a young woman living in Poland during the Nazi invasion, works for the resistance until she is captured and sent with her mother to Ravensbruck, the women’s concentration camp. There, she encounters Herta, a female German doctor hired to help execute inmates and perform experiments.  Kasia is operated on, becoming one of  the “Rabbits,” inmates deformed from their surgeries.   After the war, the three women connect when Caroline travels to France to assist in locating missing people, and  learns about the Rabbits, including Kasia.    When the novel begins,   we see Kasia as a young teenager who wants to do something to help the war.  Caroline is into society life, and then changes.  Herta is a doctor who takes a job.    This is an amazing book that takes real characters (Caroline Ferridey, Herta Oberheuser) and the Polish girls who were operated on in experiments.  The author based her story on diaries, letters, museums, etc.) 


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Local Author Lisa M. Bolt Simons to Speak about her book Faribault Woolen Mill; Loomed in the Land of Lakes.

Come to the Northfield Public Library on Tuesday, June 7, at 7:00 pm and meet local author

Lisa M. Bolt Simons.  She will discuss her book Faribault Woolen Mill; Loomed in the Land of Lakes.

Lisa received her MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  During the day, she is an English as a Second Language Teacher.  She has published numerous essays, reviews and profiles, and has published 21 nonfiction books for children.

                Do you have Faribault Woolen Mill wool throws and blankets in your home?  Come and hear Lisa talk about the mill where your blanket was produced.  The Mill was established in 1865, survived five fires, changes in ownership, and is still producing their famous blankets today.  Lisa will talk about how she became interested in the Mill, and what she discovered writing her book.  The event is free and open to the public.


Monday, May 16, 2016


Have you been to the Northfield Public Library since we reopened on Saturday, May 7? 
The day began with speeches and ribbon cutting outside at 10:00 am, followed by excited and curious patrons pouring into the library.  On our opening day, 2,223 people walked into the library, 2,386 items were checked out, and 1,480 items were returned and checked in.  For the staff, it was like having a big party in the library all day, as we greeted patrons we hadn’t seen for a while, patrons who followed us to City Hall, and curious patrons who had never been to the library or hadn’t visited in a long time.
Local groups played music downstairs and outside, and patrons nibbled cookies in our new entry commons. 
Young children are delighted with the expansion of the children’s area.  The play area now has a wooden refrigerator, stove, and sink, a grocery store with play food and cash register with a play credit card.  You can also put pretend mail in a plastic blue mail box, or carry a postal carrier’s bag around the library.
Adult and children have more furniture to sit on and relax while reading stories.  Children’s story times will be in the children’s area.  There are also three adult public computers and one children’s computer in the juvenile area.  There is also a new copier downstairs.
Many patrons have commented on the beautiful gathering areas downstairs and upstairs.  Newspapers and some popular magazines are in the common areas.  Most of the magazines are at the top of the stairs, where patrons can sit comfortably in a glass in area.  We now have two small conference rooms upstairs for small meetings.  Check with the reference staff upstairs to use the rooms.  We have moved some collections.  For example, the adult fiction dvd’s are upstairs where the magazines used to be.
The new adult books are upstairs. 
The staff is very pleased to be back in our library, ready and able to help patrons find materials they want or need.  If you haven’t been the library yet, please visit us soon and enjoy our new space! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


 The Minnesota Book Awards were held on Saturday evening, April 16, at the St. Paul Depot.
As a judge, I received tickets, and I was able to attend.  The awards ceremony is like the Oscars, but for writers and books, which to me seems like more fun!  The 2016 winners are listed below.

Children's Literature
Red; A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall.

General Nonfiction
No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg.

Genre Fiction
The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart

Memoir and Creative Nonfiction
Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life by Karen Sabine

Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury by Larry Millett

Novel and Short Story
There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter

Beautiful Wall by Ray Gonzalez

Young People's Literature
See No Color by Shannon Gibney

Ellen Hart won her fourth Minnesota Book Award this year.  Ray Gonzalez won his third, and Charles Baxter and Michael Hall both won their second awards.
All of the above titles can be obtained through the Northfield Public Library.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


     National Library Week celebrates the contributions of our nation's libraries and library workers, and promotes library use and support.  Libraries provide free access to books, newspapers, magazines, dvd's and online resources to all patrons.  National Library Week was first sponsored by the American  Library Association in 1958 and every April, continues to celebrate all types of libraries - school, public, academic and special libraries.
     At the Northfield Public Library, we usually have special displays and events.  However, this year, we are getting ready for the reopening of our library!  We have been in City Hall since last July.
We have a small collection and have been interlibrary loaning materials for out patrons.  We are looking forward to being back in our library.  Our grand opening is set for Saturday, May 7!
We will be open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  This week boxes of books were delivered to the library and the library workers are busy putting books on shelves. 
 Come see our newly renovated library soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Two great Southern writers have died in the past month.  Harper Lee died on February 23, 2016 and Pat Conroy died on March 4, 2016.  Read my blog entry below, written on February 23, for more information on Harper Lee.
Pat Conroy, born Donald Patrick Conroy on October 26, died at the age of 70 of pancreatic cancer.  His father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, and his family moved often in Pat’s childhood.  His writing is heavily influenced by his identity as a military brat and by the influence his father had on his life.  His father was physically and emotionally abusive to his children.  Conroy revealed the pain of growing up with His father in his first novel, The Great Santini, published in 1976.  The main character, Colonel Bull Meecham, is based on his father.  This revelation of his family’s dynamics caused great upheavals in his family.  The movie the Great Santini , starring Robert Duvall, was released in 1979 and won two Oscars. 
In 1986 he wrote another novel dealing with his violent past.  The Prince of Tides focuses on Tom Wingo and his twin sister, Savannah.  Savanna, a poet, has attempted suicide, and Tom goes to New York to meet with her psychiatrist and help her deal with their past.  The book was made into a movie in 1991.
Conroy wrote a memoir in October 2013, The Death of Santini, which reveals the difficult relationship he had with his father, until his father’s death in 1998.  His father did attempt to change his behavior after his faults were so publicly revealed in the Great Santini!
Conroy spent most of his adult life in South Carolina.  He graduated from Citadel, the military college in South Carolina.  In 1980, he published The Lords of Discipline, based on his experience at the Citadel.  The main character, Will McLean, like Conroy, did not want a military career, but attended the college because of a promise to his father.  Conroy describes the brutal atmosphere of the college, especially the hazing of junior cadets.   Conroy was criticized by many alumni for portraying the military college in a negative light.  The novel was made into a movie in 1983.
Conroy’s writing legacy includes novels and memoirs about being a military brat, life in the South, and growing up in an abusive family.  He summed up the connection of his family life to his writing in an interview:
“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Mr. Conroy told the writer John Berendt for a Vanity Fair profile in 1995. “I could not have been born into a better one.” He added: “I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.”
Thank you, Pat Conroy, to your contribution to American, Southern literature.

Thursday, March 10, 2016



Northfield Reads is a community initiative to encourage people from across the Northfield area to come together to talk, to share ideas, to connect, and to open themselves to diverse perspectives.  The hope is that through shared readings and conversations, we will create more and broader connections and understandings within the community.This year, Northfield Reads will be discussing the book $2.00 a Day; Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer.  The book describes how a number of families live on virtually no income, and the reasons for their poverty.After two decades of research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed households surviving on virtually no income.  She worked with Luke Shaefer to discover the number of families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children.  One woman, heading a family of four, would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week.  Another woman and her teenage daughter often have no food on weekends except spoiled milk. 
Where do the families live?  How did they become so desperately poor?  Through her interviews, moving and startling answers begin to emerge.

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 6:00 pm  $2.00 Soup Dinner  at the UCC Church, 300 Union Street.  Community members are invited to attend a simple soup dinner and simulate trying to budget their life on $2.00 a day.  Two talks will be presented during the meal.  Gregory Ennis will talk about working in a homeless shelter and  Jim Blaha will talk about resources available to people living in poverty.

Thursday, March 17, 2016, 6:45 - 8:00 pm, Book Discussion at Content Bookstore, 314 Division Street.  Discussion of $2.00 a Day; Living on Almost Nothing in America.  Open to all community members.

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:00 pm Northfield Reads 2016 Community Event, at St. John's Lutheran Church, 500 West Third Street .  This final event will include music by The Broke Folk; a play, Table Where the Rich People Sit, adapted and directed by Kajsa Johnson; discussion of the book $2.00 a Day, testimonials by residents who have lived in poverty; and a discussion of what we can do next.   All community members are invited.                                   

How to Get a Copy of $2.00 a Day

Copies of $2.00 a Day; living on almost nothing in America are available through the Northfield Public Library, temporarily located on the second floor of City Hall,  (507) 645-1802.     Books can also be purchased at Content Bookstore, 314 Division Street, (507) 9238