38 Snelling Ave S, St. Paul, MN 55105 • 651-225-8989
the ncb newsletter
F E B R U A R Y . 2 7 , . 2 0 2 3
Howdy, readers! We're currently getting set up for the David Mura event here in an hour or two. But I have a lot to tell you about today -- this newsletter is a doozy.

This week we have zines about train-hopping, a forthcoming urban fantasy novel by a local author, an audiobook by William Kent Krueger, preorders for the next Margaret Atwood short story collection, a triple-whammy poetry event slated for mid-March, and a recipe for vegan Dorito-flavored chicken wings...

All that and more, in this edition of the NCB Newsletter!
What We Did With Our Winter
In our last newsletter, I mentioned that the first few months of the year are fallow time for bookstores, which we approach as an opportunity to expand and refine our selection. Each bookseller chooses a pet project or two; as I wrote, one of my goals was stocking us up on quality chocolates and candy. Now I'd like to tell you about everything else, because we have been busy!
David has added a small section of Spanish-language books! Though it's not a huge number of titles, there's a wide variety on offer here, including some of our bestsellers. David had this to say:
"¡Ya tenemos libros en español! Nos alegra mucho ofrecer opciones para quienes suelen leer en español, y para quienes están aprendiendo a hacerlo (como yo). Tenemos novela, poesía, ensayo… de todo. Ven a ver lo que hemos incorporado a nuestra sección y cuéntanos qué más te gustaría leer en el futuro."

I have no idea what this means, but I'm on board with it!
To peruse our Spanish selection on the website, go to our advanced search page and select 'Spanish' in the language dropdown menu!
Joe ordered us some zines from our friends at Microcosm Publishing! The focus here is on train-hopping: self-published journal/memoirs about riding the rails in different countries. It's a fascinating topic, and reading one of these will take you there. We've also got some other Microcosm favorites here and around the store, including the only commercially available book that explains how to induce abortion.
For my part, I was focused on our kid's section, expanding our Graphic Novels for Young Readers shelf with some personal favorites and popular authors we'd been missing out on. Kids love comics!! All-ages graphic novels are also, in my opinion, easier for older readers to enjoy than many all-ages prose books: unlike written language, the language of image knows no age. Favorites on this shelf for young and old alike include Bone, Nimona, Salt Magic, Mamo (see below), Island Book, Squire, and Little Monarchs.
I also spent some time rearranging and redecorating. You'll now find one huge, eye-drawing table of picture books next to the picture books shelf, with middle-grade novels on the adjacent shelf and table. Two chains of pennants mark the section so it's clearly visible from the entrance. Although these pennants were not decorated by actual children due to prohibitions against child labor, I tried to channel my inner child while scribbling on them myself.
Lastly, we now have a "Witch Corner"! This shelf includes Tarot cards, oracle decks, and books about witchcraft, astrology, and esoterica. Beware ye the witch corner unless ye be a witch!
News In Photos
We were forced to close early Wednesday and remain closed Thursday last week due to so much snow. We made the difficult choice to push back last Friday's meeting of the Sci-Fi Fantasy Club to March 31st (see below for further details).
We're very excited about local author Kat Howard's next book, A Sleight of Shadows, sequel to An Unkindness of Magicians. It's coming out April 25th, and we'll be having a special release event here at 6pm. Preorder here for a personalized copy!
Chairs have returned to the store, as the pandemic weighs less heavily on our minds (and Minnesota's numbers remain solid).
Our rotating zodiac display has entered Pisces Season! The books on this display will change daily, so come check it out!
New Books

The Levee — William Kent Krueger

An audio original novella from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace and the Cork O'Connor series, The Levee is a propulsive, heartfelt tale of courage, cowardice, and sacrifice in a historic moment when the indomitable human spirit is pitted against the destructive power of nature. It’s 1927, and the most devastating flood in American history has swelled the Mississippi River to a width of eighty miles. In an attempt to save a family trapped by the rising water, four men in a tiny rowboat battle the treacherous flow: three are convicts, on loan from the local prison and pressed into service; the fourth, the leader of the team, is driven by his own hidden motives. But to their surprise upon arrival at Ballymore, an ancestral home protected by a high, circular levee, not everyone in the family feels the need to be saved. Pride, greed, loyalty, and even love create their own complex currents behind the massive wall. As the threat from the flood increases and time ticks away, the crew and the family must decide on a course of action, and a desperate plan is hatched to save the weakening levee and all it was built to protect.

The Lives We Actually Have — Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie

We live in a world that demands relentless perfection, but what if our actual lives don’t feel very #blessed? Might our everyday existence be worthy of a blessing too? Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie offer creative, faith-based blessings that center gratitude and hope while acknowledging our real, messy lives. Formatted like a prayer book, The Lives We Actually Have is an oasis and a landing spot for weary souls, with blessings that focus on the full range of human moments: garbage days, lovely days, grief-stricken days, and even (especially) completely ordinary days. These heartfelt blessings are a chance to exhale when we feel everything from careworn to restless, devastated to bored. Let’s have a reminder that we don’t need to wait for perfect lives when we can bless the lives we actually have.

The Crane Husband — Kelly Barnhill

A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mom, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them. Yet when her mom brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mom abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands. In this stunning contemporary retelling of “The Crane Wife,” one fiercely pragmatic teen forced to grow up faster than was fair will do whatever it takes to protect her family—and change the story.

Enchantment — Katherine May

Many of us feel trapped in a grind of constant change, perpetually depleted. In Enchantment, Katherine May invites us on a journey to reawaken our innate sense of wonder and awe. She shares stories of her own struggles with work, family, and the aftereffects of pandemic. She explores the restorative properties of the natural world, identifying the quiet traces of magic that can be found only when we look for them. Through deliberate attention and ritual, she unearths the potency and nourishment that come from reconnection with our immediate environment. Blending lyricism and storytelling, Enchantment invites us to open the door to human experience in all its sensual complexity, and to find the beauty waiting for us there.

Old Babes in the Wood — Margaret Atwood

One of the great visionaries of the modern canon returns with fifteen stories exploring the full warp and weft of experience. The two sisters of the title story grapple with loss and memory on a perfect summer evening; “Impatient Griselda” explores alienation with a fresh twist on a folkloric classic; and “My Evil Mother” is told by the daughter of a purported witch. At the heart of the collection are seven stories that follow a married couple across the decades, the moments that make up a long life of uncommon love—and what comes after. Returning to short fiction for the first time since 2014, Atwood showcases both her creativity and her humanity in these remarkable tales which by turns delight, illuminate, and quietly devastate.

Birnam Wood — Eleanor Catton

On New Zealand’s South Island, a landslide has left a sizable farm abandoned. The disaster presents an opportunity for Birnam Wood, the guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops where no one will notice: to occupy the farm would mean a shot at solvency at last. But billionaire Robert Lemoine has purchased the plot to build his end-times bunker, or so he tells Birnam’s founder, Mira, when he catches her on the property. He’s intrigued by Birnam Wood; though they’re poles apart politically, they have common enemies. But can they trust one another? A gripping thriller from a Booker winner, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its drama, Austenian in its wit, and, like both influences, fascinated by what makes us who we are.
New In Paperback
As always, our newsletter can't fit everything, so check out the other new arrivals and recent bestsellers on our website!
Upcoming Events
Literary Bridges

Sunday, March 5 at 2:00pm

Literary Bridges marks 50 years of the Onionskins, a writing group, featuring Pat Barone, Carol Masters, Sharon Chmielarz, Donna Isaac, Mary Kay Rummel, Norita Dittberner-Jax, and Kate Hallett, Dayton. Host Donna Isaac states: "It has been my privilege to be part of this writing group for several years, but it has been around for 50, so it's time to honor that dedication. We will also remember Ethna McKiernan, who sadly passed away, but who was integral to the group, and Margaret Hasse, who will be out of town. Since it is Women's History Month, how fitting to celebrate these talented, brilliant women poets!"
V. V. Ganeshananthan (Brotherless Night) with Zeke Caligiuri and Aamina Ahmad, moderated by Leslie Nneka Arimah

Tuesday, March 7 at 6:00pm

Jaffna, 1981: sixteen-year-old Sashi wants to become a doctor. As a vicious civil war tears through her home, she becomes a field medic instead, for the militant Tamil Tigers, who, following years of state violence, are fighting for a separate homeland. But after the Tigers murder one of her teachers Sashi decides to join a secret project documenting human rights violations, embarking on a dangerous path that will change her forever. Brotherless Night is a heartrending portrait of one woman’s moral journey and a testament to both the enduring impact of war and the bonds of home. V. V. Ganeshananthan (she/her) is a member of the boards of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies and the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota, where she is a McKnight Presidential Fellow and associate professor of English. She also co-hosts the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast on Literary Hub, which is about the intersection of literature and the news.
Manga Club: Solanin

Saturday, March 11 at 5:00pm

Come to NCB at 5pm on the second Saturday of every month to talk manga with other weebs! Hosted by our resident manga experts Emily and Graham (yours truly), the Manga Club provides free Japanese snacks, a 10% discount on ALL manga in the store, and most importantly, a forum to discuss a new title every month. For our fifth meeting, we're finally reading Inio Asano's Solanin! Join us to discuss this sweet and wistful coming-of-age story about the difficulty of finding your place in society and the liberating power of self-expression. It would be incredibly reductive to call it the Japanese 'Scott Pilgrim,' but I already said it, so there.
An Evening of Poetry:
Sharon Chmielarz, Elizabeth Weir, and Tracy Youngblom

Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00pm

Join us at 6pm on Tuesday, March 14 for an evening of delightful poetry! We'll have three acclaimed local poets:
  • Sharon Chmielarz was born and raised in Mobridge, South Dakota, but has spent her adult life in Minnesota. Her book The Other Mozart, a biography in poetry, was made into an opera, while her collection Visibility: Ten Miles was a finalist for the 2015 Midwest Book Awards.
  • Elizabeth Weir grew up and in England and worked as an RN in South Africa before coming to live in Minnesota with her family. As the writer for Skyway News, she reviewed Twin Cities theatre productions for some 14 years. She served as Mayor of the City of Medina, retiring in 2014. ​For Weir, the best poems are windows, where the mind is conscious of the pane but sees a world beyond.
  • Tracy Youngblom is the author of two chapbooks, Driving to Heaven and One Bird a Day, and one full-length collection, Growing Big. She lives in Minneapolis and teaches English at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
Ellie Roscher and Heidi Barr: Conversation & Signing

Wednesday, March 15 at 6:00pm

Heidi Barr is a writer and wellness coach with over fifteen years of experience in health promotion. Her work is founded on a commitment to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities, and the planet. She is also editor of "The Mindful Kitchen," a wellness column in The Wayfarer Magazine. She lives with her family in Minnesota. Collisions of Earth and Sky is an invitation to live in a way that is attuned to nature. It is a journey of self-inquiry for digging into our origins and roots, figuring out what it means to be a good community member--both to other humans and to nonhumans--and integrating those truths so we can add to the healing of the world.
Ellie Roscher is hosts the Unlikely Conversations podcast and teaches writing and yoga at The Loft Literary Center, the Minnesota Writing Project, and Up Yoga. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. The Embodied Path tells more than twenty body stories to do the essential work of resistance and repair at the individual and communal level, including the story of a woman who sees her hijab as an extension of her body, a quadriplegic woman who became a lawyer to advocate for herself, and a transgender man who underwent a transition after birthing two children. It also includes profoundly simple, beautiful stories of broken bones, motherhood, sickness, and healing toward wholeness.
Rachael Hanel — Not the Camilla We Knew

Tuesday, March 21 at 6:00pm

Behind every act of terrorism there is someone’s child. Take Camilla Hall, a pastor’s daughter from small-town Minnesota who joined the ranks of the notorious Symbionese Liberation Army before dying in a shootout with LAPD in 1974. Through in-depth research and extensive interviews, Hanel pieces together Camilla’s transformation from a gentle, artistic young woman, working for change within the system, into a gun-wielding criminal involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. During this time of mounting unrest, Camilla Hall’s story is of urgent interest for what it reveals about the forces of radicalization.
Rachael Hanel is associate professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her book We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter, also from the University of Minnesota Press, was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.
Sci-Fi Fantasy Club: Amatka

Friday, March 31 at 5:00pm

There's no final frontier for the Sci-Fi Fantasy Club! Join us the last Friday of every month as we uncover and rediscover forgotten classics, titles that blur genres, small press stunners, and all the books you missed because they don't have Brandon Sanderson's marketing budget. Our second meeting has been pushed back to March 31st due to the snowstorm. We'll be discussing Amatka, a surreal debut novel set in a world shaped by language, in the tradition of Atwood and Le Guin. Vanja is sent to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka to collect intelligence for her employer. Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But everyone in Amatka keeps secrets, and Vanja and Nina's world -- a world holding back chaos through labels and names -- is about to collide with the ineffable. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by a captivating new voice.
From Our Shelves
Staff Pick Spotlight:
Mamo Sas Milledge

A queer, witchy homecoming story featuring richly imagined magic and vivid, imperfect characters. With loose, flowing artwork, this lovely little modern fairytale deserves a spot on your shelf next to the classics.

Fact of the Week:

Amazon, through its platform Audible, has claimed upwards of 90% of the audiobook market, by some estimations. This stake is expanded through predatory consumer practices and heavy use of digital rights management software (preventing you from, for example, sending an audiobook you own through Audible to a friend). The audiobook alternative for readers concerned with protecting independent bookstores is Libro.fm, a digital audiobook retailer which donates a portion of every sale to a bookstore of the buyer's choice. (You can support Next Chapter on Libro.com here.)

Learn more ways to protect bookstores
50 Ways to Protect Book Stores, by Danny Caine
Featured Excerpt:

Dorito-Spiced Chick'n Wings
For the Dorito dust:
  • 1½ cups nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons citric acid

For the wings:
  • 6 cups large cauliflower florets, about 2 inches, from 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 cups rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Safflower oil for frying
  • Vegan queso, prepared or homemade (optional, for serving)
  • Pico de gallo, prepared or homemade (optional, for serving)

  1. Make the Dorito dust first. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 20 seconds. Let the dust settle before opening the lid. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the wings: Wash the cauliflower florets so they're clean and all wet. You'll want to keep them damp throughout the dredging so that the coating sticks.
  3. Place the rice flour and cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Take a few wet cauliflower pieces and roll them around in the flower to coat. Continue until all are coated.
  4. Preheat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add about 1/4 inch oil. When the oil is hot, fry the cauliflower in batches until golden, flipping with tongs to brown all sides. It will take about 10 minutes total.
  5. Place the Dorito dust in a large bowl. Lift the cauliflower from the oil and toss it in the Dorito dust to coat. Serve immediately!

-from Fake Meat by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Next Chapter Reader Poll
Thanks to everyone who responded to last week's poll! Our question was:

For those who've tried them, what's your favorite flavor among our new candy bars?
  1. Coffee Break - 44.4% (4 votes)
  2. Kitchen Sink - 22.2% (2)
  3. Space Bar - 22.2% (2)
  4. Cloud Nine - 11.1% (1)
  5. Fix Bar - 0% (0)
  6. Pride Bar - 0% (0)

Ah, interesting! We've already sold out of the Kitchen Sink bars, so those seem to be the most appealing initially, but going from those who've bought the bars here, seems like they're second to Coffee Break. Well, we still have Coffee Break in stock, as well as the other four, so try one next time you're in! (For Kitchen Sink, we'll be reordering once we run through some of the other flavors. Sorry if you didn't get a chance to try it yet. I bought the last one!)

Now for this week's poll! (Sorry for being repetitive; consider it market research.) This is a multiple-choice question, so click the 'Select' button to choose an answer. I'll include the results in the next newsletter. And our question is:
For those who've tried them, what's your favorite flavor among our new chocolates?
Prairie Dog (milk chocolate, sea salt, toffee, and almonds)
Salty Dog (dark chocolate and sea salt)
Super Red (dark chocolate, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries)
Milk Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
We Are Open!

Three ways to shop with Next Chapter Booksellers:

1. Come in the store and browse. Talk to a bookseller or peruse the shelves, as you prefer. Although the mask mandate is no longer in effect, we appreciate it if you choose to wear a mask. 

2. Order online or over the phone for in-store pickup. We'll let you know when your books are ready, then you can swing by and pick them up at your leisure.

3. Get your books delivered to your home. We can mail your books (no charge for orders over $50) or hand-deliver them (to addresses in St. Paul only, and again for orders over $50).

We're here 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.
Thanks for reading
all the way to the end.

As always, we've got lots more great books in the store. Come on in and ask us for a recommendation -- or tell us what you're reading right now! And follow us on social media for the latest news: we’re Next Chapter Booksellers on Facebook, @nextchapterbooksellers on Instagram, and @NextChapterMN on Twitter.

See you in the stacks!

Graham (and all of us at Next Chapter Booksellers)