Day 25: Minnesotans have more skills than people in other states

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Minnesota finalist:

The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More by Chris Niskanen
Published by Minnesota Historical Society Press
Category Sponsor: Meyer, Sherer & Rockcastle (MS&R)The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More by Chris Niskanen

The Minnesota Book of Skills brings to life the basic know-how that makes us uniquely Minnesotan. Seasonal tips like how to gracefully exit a ski lift mingle with skills your grandparents knew well, such as what to forage for while on a hike. Maybe you’ll never carve an ice sculpture or build your own coffin—but isn’t it comforting to know that one handy book offers just the guidance you need?

Excerpt from The Minnesota Book of Skills:

Sauna Etiquette

An invitation to visit a sauna usually begs a nervous question from the novice sauna user: clothes or no clothes? In Finland and among Finnish Americans, the sauna’s purpose is to cleanse the body and soul, so wearing clothes in the steam room is as ridiculous as showering in your pajamas. But novices are usually cut a little slack and may be allowed to wear a swimsuit. However, they soon learn it’s not comfortable sitting in 160-degree heat with any clothes on, even a swimsuit.

In traditional Finnish sauna culture, one behaves inside a sauna as one would inside a church. No loud talking, swearing, or drinking alcohol. (Besides, beer quickly gets warm in a well-heated sauna, so it’s best to keep it outside in the snow.) ….

Chris Niskanen

Chris Niskanen is communications director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and former longtime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is the author of Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks.


“A fun look at some of the skills that are unique to Minnesota.” — MN Book Awards Judge

“Author Chris Niskanen augmented decades of experience as an outdoorsman with stories about the people behind the skills — the sorts of stories his newspaper audience relished.” — SC Times


Chris Niskanen is a man who knows his way around Minnesota. Click here to listen to a Q&A with the author by Tom Crann of Minnesota Public Radio.


Chris Niskanen  joined KSTP to talk about his new book

Do you have the skills to be a Minnesotan? Making a snow fort and catching and filleting a fish are just a couple skills you might be able to learn from Chris Niskanen’s book. Here, the author joined Veneeta Sawkar at KSTP to talk about his new book.

In the press:

“Got skills? Niskanen’s latest book challenges you to do something new”   MinnPost Feature

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read The Minnesota Book of Skills? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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