Catherine Watson's books are wonderful - she is the former travel editor of the Star Tribune and has collected her essays in two volumes "Roads Less Traveled" and "Home on the Road". Her writing is like sneaking into her suitcase and joining the trip.
Barns 0f Minnesota by photographer Doug Ohman and story by Will Weaver. This is more than just a coffeetable book, this is a great story accompanied by amazing photos that chronicle our state and our vanishing barns. His other books "Cabins of Minnesota" "Courthouses of Minnesota" "Churches of Minnesota" and "Schoolhouses of Minnesota" are wonderful as well.
900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier by Steven R. Kinsella. It's the chronicle, through photos, diaries and letters, of the people who came to the Midwest for a better life.
Sweetland - this is the independent film based on Will Weaver's short story "A Gravestone Made of Wheat". If you haven't seen it, run - don't walk - to the store for a copy. I just took the time to watch the extras and I fell in love with it all over again. The rerelease of Will's short story (along with others) is good too.
Broken by William Cope Moyers. William is the son of veteran journalist Bill Moyers and the vice president of External Affairs at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption is gritty and honestly shows the allure of addiction.
Torch by Cheryl Strayed. A family story of how you keep going when you lose the person that keeps you together. KAXE has a bit part in this one, the mother is a volunteer programmer.
Keeping the House by Minnesota native Ellen Baker. This novel is set in WWI and WWII and examines the roles of women during wartime.
The View from Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik. Set in Minnesota beginning in the 70's, it's the tale of Joe Andresen, a real good guy. This book has sex, drugs AND rock and roll!
Novels for Young Adults:
Will Weaver's Defect - the story of 15 year old boy who was born "defective" and is taunted by bullies until he starts going to an alternative school.
William Durbin's El Lector. Set in Florida, Bella wants to be a lector at a tobacco just like her grandfather. He reads books and newspapers to the cigar rollers until machines take over and the lector isn't needed anymore.
Alison McGhee's Falling Boy - Teenager Joseph is paralyzed and working in a bakery in the heat of the Minneapolis summer. A young girl, Enzo, sees the world through superheroes asking questions like "Did you really rescue your mother from a fate worse than death on a cliff overlooking the sea?"
Mary Casanova's The Klipfish Code. A historical novel set in WWII in Norway, 12 year old Marit's life changes drastically when Norway is occupied by Nazi Germany.
What were your favorite books of the year?