The most recommended books about Minnesota

Who picked these books? Meet our 72 experts.

72 authors created a book list connected to Minnesota, and here are their favorite Minnesota books.
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Book cover of Warrior Girl Unearthed

Bradley W. Wright Author Of Infinity Blast and the Space Weapon of Doom

From Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Teacher Technologist Owl enthusiast Reader

Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Bradley W. Wright Why did Bradley love this book?

I read this book because I loved Fire Keeper’s Daughter. Boulley’s writing is gripping. Her characters are fully realized, and her fast-moving plots are unpredictable.

I have a middle-grade novel in production that is about my great-grandfather (Dakota/Ojibwe ancestry, born and raised in the Minnesota territory). While writing the book, I read every middle-grade and YA novel I could find by native writers.

This YA novel told a great story and told it well. It was good to catch up with the characters from Fire Keeper’s Daughter and learn more about the protagonist, Perry—a great character with a strongly rendered personality.

By Angeline Boulley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Warrior Girl Unearthed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best YA Summer Book 2023

#1 New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley takes us back into the world of Firekeeper's Daughter in this high-stakes mystery about the power of discovering your stolen history.

HONOUR YOUR ROOTS. BREAK THE RULES. UNCOVER THE TRUTH.

Perry Firekeeper-Birch has always known who she is - the laid-back twin, the troublemaker, the best fisher on Sugar Island. Whilst her overachieving sister works away at an internship, Perry's holiday plans mostly involve doing absolutely nothing.

But her carefree summer is brought to an abrupt end when she meets 'Warrior Girl', a Native…


Book cover of The Quarry Girls

Kathryn Knight Author Of Silver Lake

From Kathryn's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Ghost hunter Fitness instructor Bookstagrammer Pet rescue volunteer

Kathryn's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Kathryn Knight Why did Kathryn love this book?

This novel has so many of the things I look for in a book—mysterious disappearances, dark and suspenseful secrets, and compelling, realistic characters that I care about.

But it also had some things I wasn’t expecting…an eerie setting that felt like its own character and a timeframe in the past that brought me back to my own childhood. The accuracy and nostalgia surrounding the 1977 setting pulled me right in, and the mystery heightened as the teenage characters’ friend becomes one of the missing.

Reading this book was like finding treasure, and I quickly purchased all of this author’s other books.

By Jess Lourey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quarry Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Killers hiding in plain sight. Small-town secrets. A girl who knows too much. From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things and Bloodline comes a nerve-twisting novel inspired by a shocking true crime.

Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it's not all fun and games.

Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can't forget. They've decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is…


Book cover of My Name Is Joe Lavoie

Curt Brown Author Of Minnesota, 1918: When Flu, Fire, and War Ravaged the State

From my list on Minnesota stories to get through a long winter.

Who am I?

After more than 30 years in daily journalism in Minnesota, I moved to a trout stream near Durango, Colo., to stage a second act. Editors at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where I worked for 26 years, gave me a freelance contract to write a Minnesota History column every Sunday. It’s morphed into a popular crowd-sourcing of history with readers feeding me delicious family stories. I’m the lucky one who gets to weave these stories—enriching my knowledge of what being Minnesotans is all about.

Curt's book list on Minnesota stories to get through a long winter

Curt Brown Why did Curt love this book?

A master of nonfiction crime writing, William Swanson uses his W.A. Winter pen name for fictional works, including this 2022 book that clung to my thoughts weeks after the last page. Based loosely on a Minnesota crime spree in the 1950s, Winter takes readers into the mind of Joe Lavoie—the wheelchair-bound lone survivor of three brothers who engaged in a shootout with police in 1953. Set in 1991, 38 years after the crippling police gunshot, the taut writing takes you into Joe’s mind and explores his dysfunctional family on what turns out to be his last stand.

By W.A. Winter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Name Is Joe Lavoie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Minneapolis, 1953—A wild crime spree stuns the Upper Midwest, leaving a trail of blood and betrayal that terrifies a region and shatters the family at its core. 

Thirty-eight years later, the tattered remnants of the notorious LaVoie crime family—sisters, brothers, and children too young to remember or understand—gather for an edgy reunion in a Minneapolis suburb. Among the guests is Joe LaVoie, sole survivor of the fraternal gang behind the ’50s bloodshed, a convicted cop-killer crippled by a police bullet during the final shootout. Now, an old man facing his own death, Joe is both desperate and terrified to learn…


Book cover of The Land of Dreams

Adrian Stumpp Author Of The Crow's Head: The Chemical Marriage

From my list on crime with supernatural overtones.

Who am I?

I’m not a genre purist. I adore combining classic forms in new and exciting ways to make stories that have never been told before. The novels on this list are like that. They refuse to obey genre rules. Detective fiction suggests our questions have answers. The truth is rational and we can discover it. The supernatural elements of occult fiction say otherwise. Human consciousness cannot comprehend the nature of reality. Our investigations fail to understand our lives—the best we can do is explain them away. When these perspectives collide, it can result in interesting ways to see the world, familiar but fresh, as we have never known it before. 

Adrian's book list on crime with supernatural overtones

Adrian Stumpp Why did Adrian love this book?

Superficially, The Minnesota Trilogy is a murder mystery. When two Norwegian tourists are slaughtered in a national forest, it seems like an open and shut case. All the evidence points in one direction, but park ranger Lance Hansen is not convinced. He suspects his own brother. Hansen’s amateur investigation accidentally uncovers a second mystery involving his ancestor and the death (murder?) of a nineteenth-century Ojibwe medicine man. Sundstøl’s depiction of contemporary rural Minnesota is as full of magic, menace, and intrigue as the best fantasy world-building. The American Midwest becomes a land of prophetic dreams and roaming ghosts. The clash of cultures is less political than mythic, and the stakes are spiritual. History is still happening. Family is deeper than blood. These books open my imagination and tear my heart in half.

By Vidar Sundstøl, Tiina Nunnally (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Land of Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time, The Land of Dreams is the chilling first installment in Vidar Sundstol's critically acclaimed Minnesota Trilogy, set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior and in the region's small towns and deep forests.

The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally…


Book cover of The Assassination of Hole in the Day

Colin Mustful Author Of Resisting Removal: The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850

From my list on Minnesota’s Native American history.

Who am I?

I was attending graduate school in Mankato, Minnesota when I first discovered that 38 Dakota men were hanged there on December 26, 1862. I was shocked to find out that the largest simultaneous mass execution in United States history happened right where I lived and I knew nothing about it. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to learning, understanding, and sharing the history of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Over the years, I’ve discovered not just the history, but the legacy of that history for us today. Someday, I hope we all come to understand, and eventually break down, that legacy.  

Colin's book list on Minnesota’s Native American history

Colin Mustful Why did Colin love this book?

Bagonegiizhig, better known as Hole in the Day, is an extremely charismatic figure in the history of Minnesota, yet few know of his life and leadership. In The Assassination of Hole in the Day, Ojibwe historian and scholar Anton Treuer skillfully reveals the rise and downfall of this clever, polarizing figure. An expert at his craft, Treuer provides readers with an excellent historical context to understand the world in which Hole in the Day lived. Then, Treuer shows readers how Hole in the Day rose to prominence and why he should not be overlooked by the annals of history.  

By Anton Treuer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assassination of Hole in the Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On June 27, 1868, Hole in the Day (Bagonegiizhig) the Younger left Crow Wing, Minnesota, for Washington, DC, to fight the planned removal of the Mississippi Ojibwe to a reservation at White Earth. Several miles from his home, the self-styled leader of all the Ojibwe was stopped by at least twelve Ojibwe men and fatally shot.

Hole in the Day's death was national news, and rumors of its cause were many: personal jealousy, retribution for his claiming to be head chief of the Ojibwe, retaliation for the attacks he fomented in 1862, or retribution for his attempts to keep mixed-blood…


Book cover of Cracking the Bell

Sharon Michalove Author Of Dead in the Alley

From my list on mysteries to give you that Great Lakes feeling.

Who am I?

As a Chicago native, the Great Lakes area is part of my identity. My family spent summers in Michigan and, one year even went up to Sault St. Marie on the border between Michigan and Canada to spend a week on Lake Superior. A knitting retreat in Petosky was another Michigan adventure I enjoyed. The idea of writing about Northern Michigan turned out to be a fascinating exploration of an area I barely knew. And I’ve been able to meet other writers from there and enjoy their varied mysteries set in the region. From Minnesota to Ohio, I hope you enjoy the many faces of the Great Lakes.

Sharon's book list on mysteries to give you that Great Lakes feeling

Sharon Michalove Why did Sharon love this book?

Geoff Herbach is the award-winning author of YA books. His latest, Cracking the Bell, deals with a major issue in contact sports—concussion. After several years of online writing with him, we met in person at a big mystery convention. A college professor in Minnesota, Land of a Thousand Lakes, he has produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. 

When the main character, Isaiah, is knocked out on the field, the consequences reach far beyond his ability to play, forcing him to think about life with football. He has to consider tough decisions that will have an impact on his family, his team, and his future. How do you decide your path to the future when none of your choices are good?

By Geoff Herbach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cracking the Bell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the…


Book cover of Key Lime Pie Murder

Andrea Christenson Author Of How Sweet It Is: A Deep Haven Novel

From my list on when you’re in the mood for food.

Who am I?

I’m an aspiring foodie and a huge lover of books with a great food subplot (or main plot!). I’ve been known to read cookbooks for fun and probably the most thumbed book in our house is my copy of The Joy of Cooking. I’m a firm believer in reading books at the lunch table and that no book should be read without a cup of coffee and a cookie (at the minimum) near one’s elbow. Hopefully you find these books to be as drool-worthy as I did!

Andrea's book list on when you’re in the mood for food

Andrea Christenson Why did Andrea love this book?

I admit it. I read the Hannah Swensen books by Joanna Fluke all out of order.

Key Lime Pie Murder is the ninth book in the series, but the first one I read. I picked it up because I love Key Lime Pie! Joanna Fluke delivers in this murder mystery full of laughs, twisty turns, and delicious desserts. If you’re looking for a good place to start reading this series and you’re not committed to starting at the beginning, try a little Key Lime Pie.

By Joanne Fluke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Key Lime Pie Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While getting ready to judge the baking contest at the local town fair, Hannah Swensen, the owner of The Cookie Jar, goes on the ride of her life when she stumbles upon the dead body of a fellow judge, along with a smashed key lime pie.


Book cover of Ordinary Grace

Margo Sorenson Author Of Secrets in Translation

From Margo's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Delighted grandma Hapless punster Italia and Hawaii fan

Margo's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Margo Sorenson Why did Margo love this book?

This is a gentle, tender, yet gripping story of a family, its faith, and their reckoning with a murder in their small Minnesota town.

It is a mystery whose solution is completely unexpected and, yet, well prepared for, a tribute to a deft and accomplished writerIt was amazing how everything got resolved in a way I couldn’t imagine—so well done.

I also loved the fact that it was set in a small town in Minnesota, a place that means a great deal to me, and Krueger does it justice; the gentle way of life disrupted by a murder will haunt readers, as it does me. Krueger does an amazing job of bringing the varied characters to life—there is not a false note among them.

I never wanted this book to end!

By William Kent Krueger,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Ordinary Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
WINNER OF THE 2014 DILYS AWARD
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013

From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger, a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

"That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word."

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their…


Book cover of Leaning Into The Wind: A Memoir Of Midwest Weather

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

From my list on literary memoirs from the Midwest.

Who am I?

I grew up in Minnesota, and although I have not lived there for most of my adult life, it will always be home for me. I miss the prairie, the lakes, and the wide open skies; I even miss the winters. So I love reading good books set in the Midwest. To me these five books exemplify all that is best about Midwesterners: their honesty, their modesty, their connection to the land; their belief in themselves, and in the interesting and good people in this part of the country. Each of these writers shows that sometimes you can go home again: and that it can be worth it to do so. 

Janet's book list on literary memoirs from the Midwest

Janet Hulstrand Why did Janet love this book?

I love the very idea of a whole book devoted to poetic writing about the weather.

Weather in the Midwest tends to be particularly dramatic, and to have a particularly marked influence on daily life. Susan Allen Toth is a wonderful writer; with humor and insight, she leads the reader on a thought-provoking exploration of how weather affects our lives, our memories, and even our character. 

By Susan Allen Toth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leaning Into The Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Midwesterners love to talk about the weather, approaching the vagaries and challenges of extreme temperatures, deep snow, and oppressive humidity with good-natured complaining, peculiar pride, and communal spirit. Such a temperamental climate can at once terrify and disturb, yet offer unparalleled solace and peace.Leaning into the Wind is a series of ten intimate essays in which Susan Allen Toth, who has spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, reveals the ways in which weather has challenged and changed her perceptions about herself and the world around her. She describes her ever-growing awareness of and appreciation for how…


Book cover of Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Author Of The Real History of Thanksgiving: Left Out of History

From my list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories.

Who am I?

I'm an avid reader, lover of history, and newly-published author of The Real History of Thanksgiving (with more projects in the works!). I'm a mother of two and come from a large family at Gaa-waabigaanikaag, White Earth Reservation. I'm enrolled citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. I'm also an Oneida descendent with Irish, French, and Black ancestry. Much of my journey as a writer has been exploring the threads of our humanity and histories. It's powerful to think that we are still here, through time, distance, love, pain, and survival. There is immense beauty in being human and being Indigenous, and these books have been a source of connection and learning in my journey.

Cayla's book list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Why did Cayla love this book?

This book explores blood quantum, a faulty metric of “Indian blood” used to determine who is eligible for citizenship in a Native American tribe.

Blood quantum is a hot topic of discussion and continues to be controversial in Indian Country. Doerfler frames the issue expertly when she explores the real history of how White Earth Anishinaabeg at different periods of time conceive of identity. Or rather, who belongs, which is at the root of being Native American, both politically and personally.

My own feelings about blood quantum, once waffling and unsure, have evolved over the years. This book solidified my belief that blood quantum is built to destroy tribal nations and Indigenous identity.

By Jill Doerfler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Those Who Belong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite the central role blood quantum played in political formations of American Indian identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are few studies that explore how tribal nations have contended with this transformation of tribal citizenship.

Those Who Belong explores how White Earth Anishinaabeg understood identity and blood quantum in the early twentieth century, how it was employed and manipulated by the U.S. government, how it came to be the sole requirement for tribal citizenship in 1961, and how a contemporary effort for constitutional reform sought a return to citizenship criteria rooted in Anishinaabe kinship, replacing the blood…