Of course you could go Up North now and find all kinds of things to do. But as a hiker I prefer to wait until the snow is off the trails — which, honestly, could be a while. So for now, I'll make do with reading about being there.
Here are 10 books set along the North Shore and elsewhere in northern Minnesota. There are so many others! Feel free to add to this list. Happy dreaming.
"Virgil Wander" is Leif Enger's first novel to be set on the North Shore, and working on it prompted him and his wife to relocate to Duluth. It begins with a car sliding off Hwy. 61 into Lake Superior and ends with kite-flying and joy. In between: magical realism and literary references galore.
"Immoral," the first in the Jonathan Stride series by Brian Freeman, is set in Duluth, where Freeman lives. A young woman goes missing and the body of another woman is discovered half-buried in snow.
"History of Wolves," by Emily Fridlund. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, Fridlund's debut novel is the story of a teenage girl raised in a commune in the woods of northern Minnesota. She starts babysitting for a family and gradually comes to realize that something is not quite right.
The Eide family trilogy by Peter Geye includes "The Lighthouse Road," "Wintering" and "Northernmost," novels that trace the fortunes of a family living in the fictitious town of Gunflint. The town may be imagined, but the North Shore locale is unmistakable.
"A Place in the Woods," by Helen Hoover, who moved from Chicago to a cabin on the Gunflint Train in the mid-1950s. "A Place in the Woods" is her memoir of the first six months that she and her husband spent there. It was followed by a second memoir, "The Years of the Forest," both reissued by the University of Minnesota Press.
"Leave No Trace," by Mindy Mejia, is set in Duluth, Ely and the Boundary Waters, a thriller about a father and son who took off for the Boundary Waters, never to return, until the son emerges, alone — 10 years later.
"In the Lake of the Woods," by Tim O'Brien. A politician moves to a cottage in far northern Minnesota and finds one day that his wife is missing. The novel received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was named the best novel of 1994 by Time magazine.
"The Crying Sisters," by Mabel Seeley, is a sort of modern-day version of Jane Eyre, with a curious "spinster," a mysterious man and an isolated setting. Seeley was a native of Herman, Minn., who grew up in the Twin Cities and wrote seven mysteries in the 1930s and '40s.
"Vacationland," by Sarah Stonich, is a collection of linked short stories that tell the tales of the folks at Naledi Lodge, a crumbling old fishing resort up the Shore. Poignant, razor-sharp and funny as hell, the Star Tribune said in a review.
"Cold Comfort," by Barton Sutter, is a set of short essays set primarily in Sutter's adopted hometown of Duluth. Written to be read on public radio, these are laced with vivid descriptions of hilly streets, rugged people and the occasional bear.
I know I left out some of your favorites. (William Kent Krueger!) I didn't have room for everyone. Feel free to write and plump out this list before hiking season begins.
Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. email@example.com