As officials continue to urge people to stay at home and socially distance, here’s what Rivertown staff are reading in May.

Reporter Rebecca Mariscal

“A Short History of Women” by Kate Walbert

This book was a random clearance find that I ended up really enjoying. The novel follows five generations of women in one family, from a 19th century suffragette who starves herself in support of the cause to her great-great-granddaughter living in 2000s New York City. Each woman follows her own path, with their ancestors’ history woven into their own stories.

The writing style flows freely through the women’s thoughts and perspectives, and it’s easy to sit back and go with the current. It’s been a quick read, and a good choice for lazy weekend days.

Reporter Steve Gardiner

“This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger

When Albert and Odie O’Banion tragically lose their parents, the brothers are taken in at the fictional Lincoln Indian Training School in western Minnesota, an institution whose purpose was to remove any trace of Indian background from the students, often through abuse and backbreaking labor. The O’Banion brothers were the only white students at the school, so they often suffered the wrath of the cruel superintendent. When things finally got bad enough, they, along with two other students set out in a canoe on the Gilead River with plans to follow it to the Minnesota River and eventually the Mississippi River to reach St. Louis where they might be able to live with an aunt.

In an adventure reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, the foursome encounter frightening events and an interesting cast of characters along the river. Each person or group they meet is trying to do their best to survive the social and financial troubles of Depression-era 1932, while maintaining a sense of hope and following their dreams. The author, William Kent Krueger, lives in the Twin Cities.

Lisa Dankers, accounting clerk

“Royal Holiday” by Jasmine Guillory

This is a really fun romance story. The wise, big-hearted main character joins her daughter on a last-minute work trip to style a member of the royal family in England. She expects to spend her time sight-seeing while her daughter works, but she’s surprised by a holiday romance instead.

Reporter Rachel Fergus

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Kimmerer’s book weaves together her knowledge as a botanist, her poetic writing style and traditions she carries as a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation. Each chapter is an essay that is part memoir and part conversation around a plant and/or a complicated way to see and care for the Earth. One quote that I think sums up the book’s argument that “knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”

The book is about 380 pages long and is rather dense so don’t expect to finish it in one sitting. But it is well worth the time that it takes to digest.

News Director Anne Jacobson

“Adventure Relativity” by Steve Gardiner
News Director Anne Jacobson is reading "Adventure Relativity" by Rivertown's own Steve Gardiner. Anne Jacobson / Rivertown Multimedia
News Director Anne Jacobson is reading "Adventure Relativity" by Rivertown's own Steve Gardiner. Anne Jacobson / Rivertown Multimedia

More times during the pandemic than I care to admit I have had to ask, “What day is it?” So many signature events and daily activities that make up my internal calendar -- baseball opening day and Easter worship, school day drop-offs and work days at the office -- simply stopped in mid-March.

Publication this past week of “Adventure Relativity” by RiverTown’s own Steve Gardiner comes at the perfect time. He couldn’t have anticipated how perfect his subtitle would feel: “When Intense Experience Shifts Time.”

The book has 12 sections. Individual chapters in each section are standalone stories and can be treated that way, but together the breathtaking moments and nerve-wracking emergencies he shares will prompt readers to reflect on their personal time continuum.

Steve is right: How we perceive time determines much about how we view our lives.

I can’t wait to read another chapter tonight -- regardless of what day it is.