Improving Communities One Book at a Time with the Minnesota Book Awards

My love of books can be attributed to Calvin & Hobbes graphic novels and my endless trips to several Hennepin County libraries. My dad would walk me through the library so I could hand-pick two very special books to come home with me. I’m thankful that I’m near the Minneapolis–St. Paul area because the libraries in this area are passionate, organized, and dedicated to improving the community. Recently, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library announced the finalists for the annual Minnesota Book Awards, and I’m impressed with the nominations this year. I wanted to list my favorites from the list and share why these book awards are crucial for Minnesota.

The St. Paul Public Library is essential in creating educational growth in Minnesota. For starters, the library has an online learning platform that details how to create business plans. So, if you want to start your own business, the library may be your first stop in figuring out the first step. If I’m being honest, I would love to start my own cat café and bookstore, so I guess I should head down to the library to get this plan going. The library is also devoted to engaging the entire community by having after-school programs and story times, which, by the way, are available in nine different languages. The library has also had to adapt to newer technology by spending numerous amounts of time digitizing books and other resources.

I could write endless paragraphs about the benefits that I have received from the library, but I want to touch on the nominations from this year’s book awards. For those who are unfamiliar with the awards, there are nine categories of books. These include: Children’s Literature, General Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Memoirs and Creative Nonfiction, Middle-Grade Literature, Minnesota Nonfiction, Novel & Short Story, Poetry, and Young Adult Literature. The Minnesota Book Awards highlights the authors who are locally found all across Minnesota. There’s a sense of pride when reading a book written by someone from your home area. All of the nominations can be found by going to the current finalists page and reading the descriptions below each book. Here were a couple of books that are now on my radar.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Picture shows a book cover titled Tell Me a Tattoo Story. The cover has an adult male hugging his younger son. Exposed on the adult male is tattoos. Both the dad and the boy look happy.

Chronicle Books

This children’s book delightfully tells the story of a father telling his young son about all of his ink. Tattoos have quite the meaning behind them, and I think it’s great to introduce this to children.

The War on Science: Who’s Waging it, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto 

Picture shows the cover of book "The War on Science: Who's Waging it, Why it Matters, What We Can Do About it" The cover shows a view point coming from a rifle. There is a small circle with four lines around the circle. The center of the book is the target and science is written in the middle of that circle.

Milkweed Editions

As a former biology major and secretary of Astronomy Club, science matters to me. Politics has been one challenger to initiate this war on science, and this controversial book is one I need to read sometime soon.

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers 

Picture of the book cover "Assassin's Heart" by Sarah Ahiers. The book looks somewhat demented. The cover is covered in what looks like ashes raining down the cover. There is a dark castle at the bottom of the cover.

HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishing

This young adult novel provides a rebellious protagonist named Lea Saldana who seeks revenge for the death of her entire family. I can’t resist a strong female character, and based on the description of the book, Lea sounds like she can hold her own.


There’s still plenty of time to read all of these nominations, as the winners will be announced April 8 at the InterContinental Riverfront Hotel in St. Paul. There is also a reception at Open Book on March 21 where you can meet and hear readings by some of the finalists.

If it’s been a while, take a trip to your local library. You never know what you will find.

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