Dakota by Kathleen Norris

dakotaKathleen Norris calls her Dakota (1993) a spiritual geography. While that terminology may not be clear on its face, it’s appropriate.

In Dakota, Norris writes about place. She writes about self. She writes about God and the intersection of all these that she’s found. The writing is lyrical (she’s a poet). At the writing of the book, she’s lived in Lemmon, South Dakota (that’s in northwest South Dakota, a town of 1,600 at the time of her writing but about 1,300 now) for nearly 20 years, moving there from New York City.

The book is about living on the Plains, about small towns. Community. Culture. Language. The arts. Faith.

I knew I liked Dakota while I was still reading the preface. Well before I was half way through this 220-page work, I decided that everyone I know should read this book. Now, that’s a qualified everyone — I don’t speak in such overarching language here (and I generally don’t say anyone should read any certain thing), and I might not take it quite that far. But if you’ve ever lived in a small town, or in the northern Plains, or in the Midwest, or been involved in any kind of small community (church, school, downtown association …), then you should read this book. I had barely set it down before my husband picked it up — this is the same man who said two months ago that he’d already read five books this year and he’d reached his quota. 🙂

I found this book via the Image Journal list, yes, the list I’ve committed to reading all the books of.

A great book. I can’t do it justice here. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?

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10 responses to “Dakota by Kathleen Norris

  1. This is one of KN’s that I haven’t read yet—thanks for the reminder! I also enjoyed her Cloister Walk and Vocabulary of Grace. I find her writing relaxes me.

  2. i love small towns.
    I always wished I lived in one
    thanks for this review, I will add this to my tbr list. 🙂

  3. I absolutely love this book, too. after I read it waas convinced that I needed to move to the Dakotas.

    Thanks for reminding me of it.

  4. I loved her Cloister Walk. I haven’t read this one yet. Thanks for the review.

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  8. I just returned to this book last week in order to review it on my site. I agree that it’s a great read for everyone, but you don’t have to have any experience with a small group to understand it. It truly is meant for everyone.

  9. I’ve never lived in the midwest or the plains, but I do live in a small community now, so I might enjoy that aspect of it.

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