This article originally appeared as the introduction to the April edition of Madison Magazine’s monthly “Sunday Reads” newsletter, curated by Associate Editor Maggie Ginsberg. The rest of the monthly newsletter includes links to other articles within and outside of the magazine, plus book coverage and other literary news around town. Sign up for future newsletters here. There is still time to sign up for the next newsletter, which will be emailed on Sunday, May 29.
For the May issue, we three editors each got to take a road trip to a Midwest location of our choosing. As soon as we found out this was happening, we began eagerly scouting potential “hidden gem” towns. Both Andrea Behling and Maija Inveiss started by searching for the best food and drinks within driving distance. I, naturally, Googled bookstores.
As a visitor, I believe there is no better doorway into a town than the local bookstore or library. There is arguably no better measure of a community’s health than whether it can sustain an indie bookshop. And if you’re lucky enough to find a book about the area you want to visit, it can add the richest layers to any vacation.
I’ve been known to drag along a stack of history and guidebooks on family trips and read aloud to my captive carload so they better appreciate where we’re going. But my favorite is to look up local authors in my destinations and find a novel they’ve written, especially if it’s based in their town. For example, one time on the way to somewhere else, a series of unfortunate events left us stranded for two weeks in Great Falls, Montana. When I learned it was the hometown of the author Pete Fromm, I had two of his novels sent to me there. As we explored our unexpected destination, I felt like I was experiencing the town on an entirely different plane, losing myself in a fictional world with a far deeper and more authentic point-of-view than I would have had I read the books at home. It’s difficult to articulate, unless you’re a book lover. Then you know.
After scoping out Fair Trade Books and noting the robust events list supporting local authors, I chose Red Wing, Minnesota, for my road trip. I had a wonderful time exploring the town, which you can read about in the new issue along with the amazing dining, drink, recreation and leisure activities we all found in our travels. In Red Wing, be sure to stop by the bookstore and meet the shop dog, and the owner who gives every first-time customer a free book. There’s just one catch: She gets to pick it — which I think is absolutely perfect.
This article originally appeared as the introduction to the April edition of Madison Magazine’s monthly “Sunday Reads” newsletter, which is curated by Associate Editor Maggie Ginsberg and includes a rundown on current the print issue, links to print stories you might have missed, web exclusive content like the Doug Moe’s Madison blog, author Q&As and other literary coverage around town. To sign up for the monthly newsletter, enter your email address below. The next newsletter will be emailed on Sunday, May 29.
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Maggie Ginsberg is a senior editor at Madison Magazine. Her long-form features have garnered numerous honors since 2006 including from the National City Regional Magazine Association, the Milwaukee Press Club and the American Society of Journalist and Authors. In addition to helping edit the work of Madison Magazine's contributing writers, freelancers and essayists, she writes features and the monthly Looking Back historical photo department page. Online, Maggie conducts monthly author Q&As and covers the local literary scene with her Sunday Reads monthly e-newsletter. Her own debut novel, "Still True," was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in September 2022 and was the honorable mention selection for the 2022 Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award, as well as a 2023 Midwest Book Award honoree.