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Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day nationwide, but we love books so much in Minnesota that the "day" lasts from Wednesday through Sunday.

During that time, 28 Twin Cities shops will be part of Rain Taxi Review's Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Passport, which "unlocks" discounts, prizes and coupons and it's available for free at all 28 stores. That's the most stores that have ever participated in the event. All of them will celebrate with author events, book launches, gift baskets or treats.

"There are really only a couple other cities in the country that share with us this unique passion for the book," said Eric Lorberer, editor of Rain Taxi. "Due to the plenitude and sheer level of enjoyment we feel spending times in these stores, we expanded the passport to almost a full week, so we have time to visit all these bookstores."

Many thousands will participate. And Lorberer said several dozen booklovers will hit all 28 stores, which include Black Garnet in St. Paul, the Vintage Bookseller in Maple Plain and Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's science fiction and mystery stores in Minneapolis. The more stores participants visit, the more chances they have to earn coupons and discover one of 500 "golden tickets," which have bee hidden in stores across the nation, entitling finders to a dozen free audiobooks. (At least two local stores report they have tickets.)

With people flying into the cities to take part, Lorberer said it's clear the day, now in its 11th year, is about more than books. "Independent bookstores are really gathering places for the community to experience, in real life, what it means to be in this place, what ideas are circulating in this place, how we are living our lives."

But it is about books, too. So, we asked five Minnesota shops to find out what they're "hand-selling," meaning which books they're recommending.

Birchbark Books: Receiving manager Penny Weiland said "Moon of the Turning Leaves," by Waubgeshig Rice, is flying off the shelves. "It's a sequel to his 'Moon of the Crusted Snow,' this incredible dystopian novel, but you could just read it on its own. People who have read it have loved it and he's come into the store a few times. He's a super-sweet guy." Birchbark also is selling a lot of "The Lost Journals of Sacajewea" by Debra Magpie Earling, about whom Weiland adds, "Her 'Perma Red' is also really, really good."

Drury Lane Books: The Grand Marais store's Cynthia Burton said she's recommending "To Shape a Dragon's Breath," by Moniquill Blackgoose. "It's young adult, fantasy, alternate history, steampunk. It reminds me a little of 'Harry Potter' but it's also way different." Other currently popular titles include Percival Everett's "James," a retelling of "Huckleberry Finn," and Tania James' "Loot," which Burton said is "historical fiction that takes place between India and Paris. It's fun, not super-serious, kind of an adventure."

Excelsior Bay Books: Co-owner Ann Woodbeck is recommending Ariel Lawhon's "The Frozen River." "One thing we talk about is that it features a strong woman in her time, the 1750s, when a woman had no power, but one beauty of the book is it features a really egalitarian marriage. I tell people this is one I didn't get my chores done when I was reading it." The paperback edition of J. Ryan Stradal's comic novel "Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club" is a staff favorite, as is a title from a few years ago, Nathaniel Ian Miller's "The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven." After her book club chose it, Woodbeck said, "I thought, 'This is not my type of book. I'm not reading this.' But I couldn't have been more wrong" about the Swedish-set adventure, which Woodbeck reports "seems to appeal to women as well as men."

Subtext Books: Patrick Nathan, who manages the St. Paul store (and whose novel "The Future Was Color" is due in June), is high on Lily Meyer's debut, "Short War," a fictional tale that begins with the overthrow of the Chilean government in the 1970s. He's also urging customers to consider Andrew Boryga's novel "Victim," about a Bronx kid with Puerto Rican parents whose counselors urge him to push a victim narrative to get ahead: "More and more white people tell him to play the victim card and it really works out. It's a great satire of the way social media has taken this social justice framework and run with it."

Valley Booksellers: Like Woodbeck, the Stillwater store's events coordinator Pamela Klinger-Horn is all about Lawhon's "The Frozen River." "We hosted her a few years ago and she's just gone from strength to strength. I think this is her best one yet. It came out in December and it shows no sign of slowing down. The staff loves it, readers love it." Valley staff members also are high on Daniel Mason's novel "North Woods" and Antonia Hylton's nonfiction "Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum," which Klinger-Horn said is "just incredible."