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Lake & Island Notes                                  August 2016

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August 28th through September 25th
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Apostle Islands Booksellers
Voted Best of the Lake 2014!
AND 2016! Thanks to everyone who voted!

Featured Title



Parnassus on Wheels 
by Christopher Morley


In 1917 William Morley anticipated the bookmobiles of today! In this short and charming novel Roger Mifflin, a squat, balding, red-bearded man, plies his trade as an itinerant bookseller from a horse-drawn cart called Parnassus. Seeming to have had about enough of it, he seeks to offer it for sale to a farmer-turned-author who lives in isolation with his sister. Instead, the sister (old and fat by her own reckoning) and seeking escape from the drudgery of her lonely life, preemptively buys the Parnassus herself and sets out with Roger to learn the trade. What follows is a sweet tale of love and marriage bound together by a love of books.

Featured Title



Little Paris Bookshop 
by Nina George


Okay…Parnassus was a horse-drawn book wagon. The Literary Apothecary is a book barge moored along the bank of the Seine from which the owner, Jean Perdu, dispenses books that he prescribes for those suffering the slings and arrows of modern life. The only patient he seems unable to heal with this literary pharmacy is himself and the heart that was broken when he was left by his great love. So, finally he sets sail to ply the rivers of southern France (with blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef) dispensing wisdom along with his paper-bound pharmaceuticals. Not as deep as the Seine, but winsome little book.

Featured Title



The Bookstore Mouse
by Peggy Christian

Cervantes is a mouse who lives in a bookstore. Not just any bookstore, but an antiquarian bookstore. He loves words and knows his way around and in books. His diet is of delicious words from fancy cookbooks. He can throw sharp words and pointed remarks...and does at Milo, the bookstore cat who would love to get his claws on Cervantes.
Other Links of Interest
Apostle Islands Booksellers
Bayfield, Wisconsin
Greetings!

Well, the new Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – was released a few weeks ago. We followed the global hype and scheduled a midnight release party for our little town of 487 souls. Some brooms were painted gold and hung from the schoolhouse ceiling lights along with flying candles. Thirty-five copies of the book were on hand and perhaps twenty late night denizens were expected. Lo and behold at midnight the store was jammed wall-to-wall with laughing and chattering Harry Potter fans. Trivia games and costume contests were underway. Introverts had retreated to benches to read the new-found treasure. The thirty-five copies were long gone and orders were being taken from disappointed late-comers. A great success and a great failure – we could have sold fifty copies!
 
It gave us pause to consider what we had wrought in deciding to open a bookstore back in 2010. It was, perhaps, the nadir of the independent bookstore as a viable business. The big-box stores (Barnes & Noble and Borders) had fired the opening volley and Amazon (which we call Voldemort) had administered the coup de grace. But, hey, we loved bookstores and had visited them around the world. What better retirement option? We can do this! And we have. Our bottom-line has remained black and our trend is consistently upward. We have joined that quirky and exclusive club of those who have cast their lot in the book business.
 
We love it when someone comes through the door, takes a deep breath, and says, “Ah! This smells like a real bookshop!” Or, when a customer sets a few volumes on the check-out and says, “You have a really good collection!” Or, when we’re able to say, “Yes, we do have Vargas Llosa’s The Bad Girl, or Stegner’s Angle of Repose, or John William’s Stoner. Or, when we can say, “No. But we can have it for you on Wednesday.” It makes us think that we are in pretty interesting company. This curious community of booksellers has not gone unnoticed in the literature. Whether it’s Morley’s Haunted Bookshop or Auster’s Brightman’s Attic or Rowling’s Flourish & Blotts, bookstores provide great plots, great settings, and even great characters in both fiction and non-fiction works. See some of our favorites below.


Remember, if you’ve lost yours,
we are your local bookstore!

All of us at AIB

What we're reading...


The Seven Stairs
by  Stuart Brent

A week or so ago a young woman came into the store and asked if we had known Stuart Brent. Well, no we hadn’t. So, who was he? He was her father (or, maybe, grandfather) and he had a place on Bark Point on the south shore of Lake Superior not far from here. And, he was the founder in 1946 of the Seven Stairs bookstore on Rush Street in Chicago. Interesting! She returned a few days later and handed us a copy of The Seven Stairs. Embarrassing! Little had we known that one of the great literary lights of the upper Midwest had been our neighbor. He had died here on his Bark Point place within days of the opening of our bookstore in 2010. This is the memoir of one of the most colorful and revered independent booksellers in the country. He knew them all – on the back cover of the book is a group photo of him with Studs Terkel, Robert Parrish, Stephen Spender, Jack Conroy and Nelson Algren! The subtitle is An Adventure of the Heart – a love affair with life and literature. We wish we had known him!
 
84, Charing Cross Road 
by Helene Hanff 


In the mid-20th century Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus, London was an enclave of salons and accompanying businesses of the literary world including bookstores. In this quirky little novel one such was Marks & Co. whose chief buyer was a man named Frank Doel. A New York writer, Helene Hanff, responding to an ad began a 20-year exchange of letters with Frank and, from time to time, a few others in the store. Her letters are brash and witty. His are formal and frank. Their sweet and savory correspondence ranges widely across literature and life in general. Their epistolary relationship matures and deepens. Helene takes on a charitable role as war rationing settles on London and she sends food parcels that are received with huge enthusiasm. An enchanting little book!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin


Open the doors at bookseller A.J. Fikry’s Island Books (where “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.") and find tragedy, comedy, romance, mystery, and more. Open this book and find an affectionate portrait of a curmudgeonly bookseller who faces loss through literature, with surprising results. While it may be simply written, and unlikely to dramatically change lives, we fell in love with these characters and their stories.

This book seems to have been written for those who truly love bookstores - those who spend time haunting the aisles of small independent bookstores wherever they can be found. Each chapter is named after a story that Fikry himself quickly reviews or summarizes. And so we get snippets from Roald Dahl, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor and J.D. Salinger. More than tributes, these brief passages provide Fikry an opportunity to philosophize on how his worldview is similar to or different from the story in question, and they frame each portion of the book very well.

We might also note that we may have loved this book simply because it is a small bookstore in a small town, with characters to whom can easily relate. Zevin has identified the day-to-day operations of a bookstore beautifully - even if it is describing the oh-so-exciting task of breaking down boxes after a delivery!

Final Thoughts...

 
“When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.”

~ Christopher Morley

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 Lake & Island Notes, an e-newsletter for customers and friends of Apostle Islands Booksellers, Bayfield, Wisconsin. Apostle Islands Booksellers makes every effort to honor the privacy of our customers. All emails are permission-based and will include an opt-in and opt-out function. Apostle Islands Booksellers will not share email lists with any other business, person or promotional entity.

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