Minneapolis Reading Time: Jazz Music at the St. Paul Public Library


Rice Park’s statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald on a snowy spring day not unlike today. You know, Fitzgerald hated snow!

[Cross post with my Reading Rainstorm blog segment, Land of 10,000 Pages]

I attended a very interesting little event at the St. Paul Public Library a few weeks ago and have just gotten around to writing about it! Music of the Jazz Age was a relaxing, casual Sunday afternoon event held at the ornate Magazine Room on the third floor of the George Latimer Central Library. This was one of the first events by a new literary group in the Twin Cities, Fitzgerald in St. Paul, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating the achievements of classic American author F. Scott Fitzgerald in his hometown of St. Paul.


George Latimer Central Library, St. Paul

This is particularly interesting to me as I prepare to move in with my sweetheart into Fitzgerald’s very own neighborhood in St. Paul! Yes, I’m crossing the river and moving into the other Twin City! As was mentioned by the librarian in the introduction to the Music of the Jazz Age program, we were walking in the footsteps of Fitzgerald in at the George Latimer Central Library, and in my own daily life too! Of note, the Magazine Room also houses the F. Scott Fitzgerald Reading Alcove. It was a superb space to listen to some of the music of his time. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald themselves coined the term “the Jazz Age,” to refer to the era they lived in, and some very talented musicians were invited to perform some examples of the jazz that inspired the moniker.

Vocalist Connie Evingson, accompanied by Dan Chouinard on piano and Chris Bates on bass, performed some elegant renditions of some popular pieces from the 1920s, including some mentioned in a few of Fitzgerald’s stories. Three O’Clock in the Morning, one of the songs sung by Evingson, was mentioned in The Great Gatsby, for instance. A few excerpts from Fitzgerald’s works were read and one felt almost as though one had gone back in time, to when you were actually allowed to smoke in the library! Although Lindsay and I were among a handful of people under age 50 in the audience, I would recommend people of all ages keeping an eye on Fitzgerald in St. Paul, which will be offering a monthly series the first Sunday of every month at FitzFirst@Four. The next one, at Common Good Books, discusses Fitzgerald’s story The Rich Boy on April 3rd at 4 pm. Similar stories appear in one of the books I mentioned in my entry My Twin Cities Reading List, The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald.


153518Next, I think I’ll be reading this book, A Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul.l Perhaps, as I walk in the footsteps of the great writer, I’ll share more of my discoveries!







Winter Jackets: Hot Reads for Cold Nights


Winter Jackets set up next to self check out at East Lake branch library.

It looks like some snow is coming today, maybe? It currently seems to be doing a little freezing rain out. In any case, not too pleasant, but not unheard of in a Minnesota winter. With any luck, there will be a nice snowy covering across the city and fields, making for some nice cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or whatever other winter activities please you most. This year, so far, has not been the best for those who enjoy the snow, unfortunately, but it’s been chilly enough to keep people indoors. What to do while waiting for the snow to pile up to enjoy? When it’s cold, grey, or slushy, and not much fun for anything? During the storm when the roads are bad and it’s best to stay home? One thing that Minnesotans have been doing for awhile is taking the time to read, of course.

As a new employee of the Hennepin County Library, I felt I should spread the word a bit about a program that’s been going on for this January and February to take advantage of just this tendency. In the free Winter Jackets adult reading program, you can go to any MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency) library location to share a review of a book you’ve read this season to participate in a variety of activities and events. Here in Hennepin County, you can go for a chance to win a nifty “Read This!” travel mug to carry your hot beverage to stay warm as you commute, or read, this winter. While, as a county employee, I can’t participate this year, I managed to score one a couple years ago, and I really enjoy it! There are also going to be a variety of author events to coincide with the event. Over in St. Paul, you can even read down your library fines! Hey, I think I might still have some over there…

If you are looking for some reading suggestions, I could probably help, but this list put together by the University of Minnesota alumni association has some interesting choices, a few of which I’ve read already! Looks like a good list, I’ll have to check a couple of these titles out myself, especially with my foolhardy self challenge of two hundred books this year. Plenty of cold nights left to go, I think, but the Winter Jackets program lasts until last day of February.

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Cold night at East Lake Library!