Friday, November 11, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is a Giftcard to Common Good Books

November, if you are unaware, is a special, special month. It is a month set apart by thousands of people around the globe as a swash-buckling, flying-by-the-seat-of-one's-pants attempt to write a novel. 50,000 words in 30 days. Check it out. I am one of those people. It has been fun.
Writing my novel has been taking up most of my free time (my excuse for the sparsity of posts... but who's counting, anyway?), as well as most of my free mind. But it doesn't just take; it gives back. And today, it has given back extravagantly. I have made a new friend.
A fellow novelist from school and I decided to meet at a cafe to write together. By the recommendation of a friend we chose Nina's Coffee Cafe in St. Paul. This place is my new best friend.
A view from the two-person-sized balcony in the corner
A large, lofty-ceilinged, many-nooked room greets you as you enter through a door on the corner of a huge, red-stone building. Arches and a tiny balcony and big windows, old chairs and couches and counters and tables, people typing away on laptops, chatting, reading books or newspaper comics, deliciously moist scones and hot chocolate in a big white mug with 'Nina's' scrawled on it in spindly black lettering... and best of all, down a much-postered stairway, Common Good Books.

At the top of their website it says "G. Keillor, Prop.". That should give some idea of the flavor of this place.
Nothing beats independent bookstores. You know every book in there is thoughtfully hand-picked;  love of books and personal care infuse the place with creative energy and curiosity. If you live around the Twin Cities and you like books, go there. Preferably with me. Call me, and we'll spend the day there.
While I'm on this subject, some of my other favorite bookstores are
Magers & Quinn, Uptown
Wild Rumpus, Linden Hills
North Winds Books, Hancock, MI
Drury Lane Books, Grand Marais, MN

And this is random but the Guthrie Theater giftshop is fantastic.

After my friend and I tore ourselves away, I took the scenic route home, rather than the freeway. Bubbly joy of the bookshop singing in my heart, old houses and brown, crunchy gardens lining the road, the raspy whispers of breeze-tickled golden leaves coming in through my open window, bright November sunlight and blue sky breathing their life into my lungs... I crossed the River from St. Paul into its twin sister city, mine, and laughed with joy at the blueness of the Mississippi against the red-brown of the wooded hillside, around me other cars and bikers and walkers, and cafes and a library... Mmmm...
It's good to be alive.
Praise the Giver.


  1. Just reading your description of Nina's Coffee cafe makes me feel warm inside. :)
    So what is your novel about? Can I ask that question??

  2. All I will tell you is that it is about a school. An unusual school. And some sort of secret society has been creeping into the story... :)