Best books and parks near campus

A guide to the best bookstores and parks near campus.

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Graphic by Mary Ellen Ritter

This is the next big novel for the Minnesota author.

by Saija Maki Waller

With summer officially upon us, here are some of the closest bookstores to the University of Minnesota campus and the best parks to read at. 

The Book House in Dinkytown

The Book House has been a staple in Dinkytown for 38 years. After several hardships, including student housing developments that meant relocating their archive collection, The Book House is now located on the second floor of the Dinkydale building where they have “carved out a labyrinthine series of book rooms,” according to their website

If you frequently walk through Dinkytown, you may see their “free books” cart on the front sidewalk of Southeast Fourth Street. Inside, there are books in each corner and on every wall. Even the back rooms and offices overflow with books on seemingly every subject. 

It is “the store you would go to, not to find something you’ve been specifically looking for but to run into something new,” said Matt Hawbaker, an owner and manager of The Book House. 

Van Cleve Park in Como

A 15-minute walk from The Book House in Dinkytown is Van Cleve Park. Located in the Como neighborhood, Van Cleve features softball fields, tennis courts, a playground and plenty of green space. 

“They have a lot of great amenities and a lot of people my age hang out here so that draws me in too,” said Annabelle Langer, a student in the Twin Cities. She often comes to the park to read.

“I knew if I would stay in my apartment I would just be on TikTok or on social media so I was like, I’ll just take a book out to the park and read for a little bit,” Langer said. 

Langer said she recently started reading “The Stand” by Stephen King and has enjoyed spending time at Van Cleve as she continues with the book, despite being intimidated by its size. 

May Day Books in Cedar Riverside

Located near the West Bank of the University campus, May Day Books is “a volunteer collective dedicated to selling left-wing literature,” according to their website.

May Day Books has been open since 1975 in south Minneapolis and has been located in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood since 1990. 

Craig Palmer, manager and member of the May Day collective, would consider himself and May Day politically farther left than the Democratic party. 

“To sum it up we’re anti-war, anti-capitalist,” Palmer said. 

Palmer is passionate about anti-war politics because of his personal life experiences, emphasizing the importance of history he “had to learn the hard way” during three tours in Vietnam.

Palmer pointed to the book “Take the Streets” by Ed Felien as an important guide to local history. The book discusses the anti-Vietnam War protests that took place at the University in the early 1970s, and even features some Minnesota Daily articles from that time. 

“Trying to change the world: that’s what May Day is all about,” Palmer said. “To change the world you have to understand the world.” 

Palmer said the most challenging part of running May Day books is maintaining the energy to keep it open. 

“It’s just hard to get people to pay attention to politics,” Palmer said.

Bohemian Flats Park on West Bank

A 14-minute walk from May Day Books is Bohemian Flats Park, located along the West Bank campus and the Mississippi River. 

Bohemian Flats Park is also the departure point for the Mississippi River cruise. 

When the Washington Avenue bridge was built over the Mississippi, a small village-like community existed where the park is now, according to David C. Smith and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board website. 

In 1980, the area became a park, and “in 2018 it became a new nursery site to stage young trees to be planted by park board forestry in the spring,” Smith said. 

Now, there is plenty of green space in the park to enjoy your favorite book.