Lake & Island Notes                           January 2017

Apostle Islands Booksellers
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AIB Book Club News

Our book club recently read and discussed Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s In My Words. We found the style of the book awkward in that it is really a collection of her speeches, not a biography. But, we appreciated the value in reading her own unfiltered words on a wide variety of subjects about which she feels strongly, ranging from Supreme Court process, culture and philosophy to her own role and responsibilities on the Court. We also honored her commitment to maintaining respect and civility with all members of the Court despite profound disagreement on many key issues. In the words of another Justice whom she quotes “I attack ideas, not people.”

Our next selection is On Beauty, by Zadie Smith. Set in a small college town just outside Boston, it is described by the New York Times as wonderfully engaging, wonderfully observed, as affecting as it is entertaining. Insight with good humor.  A great combination for February!

Join us on Thursday, February 9th at 4pm at Big Water Cafe to discuss this best-selling novel (note the date and time change, all other meetings will continue to meet on the first Thursday of the month.).

Featured Title

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
by Pablo Neruda

Over the holidays we saw the new film, Neruda, by Chilean director Pablo Larrain. We enjoyed it very much (and likewise loved his other current release, Jackie). But, it was Larrain’s periodic calling-up of Poema No. 20 in Neruda that took us back to our first reading of this little book in the mid-1960’s. We were twenty years old then – about the same age as Neruda when he wrote these love poems – and we were smitten. They are sometimes dismissed as sentimental, but they capture like few others the sweet and desperate passion of young love. Sentimental or not this remains the best-selling poetry book in the Spanish language ever – more than 20 million copies!

Featured Title

Difficult Women
by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay, author of the best-selling Bad Feminist has returned with a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. These stories feature women from many different backgrounds; lives of privilege, poverty, and everywhere in between, young and old, married, in a relationship, or single, these women are all haunted by something or someone. Many have suffered severe and traumatic experiences and all of the stories are told with a raw and brutal honesty. These are not your "typical" love stories but there is still love in its many different forms.
Featured Title

The High Mountains of Portugal
by Yann Martel

Sorrow connects this novel’s three main story lines, which follow three grieving men. Martel, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 for his novel Life of Pi, opens with the story of Tomás in early-1900s Lisbon: Reeling from a series of deaths in quick succession, he sets out across Portugal in search of a priest’s lost relic.
Other Links of Interest
Apostle Islands Booksellers
Bayfield, Wisconsin

We were both astonished and thrilled that the New York Times recently devoted an entire recent Travel Section (12/11/2016) to bookstores as a travel destination. We were thrilled because it was exactly that which led us to open a bookshop ourselves in 2010. For years as we traveled the world we invariably found local bookstores to be some of the most interesting and enjoyable stops along the way. We were astonished because we were unaware that such a multitude of others shared the same passion. It amazed us that the New York Times could dedicate a dozen full hardcopy pages to the pleasure of visiting bookstores in cities and towns across the globe.

Author Ann Patchett, who also owns a small independent bookshop in Nashville, Parnassus Books, says that people “come because they’ve heard about the shop dog or because someone told them years ago that bookstores were moving onto the endangered species list and they wanted to see one that was thriving in its natural habitat.” We experience some of that here - folks who walk in the door, inhale the fragrance, look around at the crowded shelves and say, “Oh! A real bookshop!” Some have come back to visit our shop dog, Kia, the miniature Husky shown at home in the photo above.  Many return for recommendations on books we think they might enjoy. Few leave empty-handed.

In our own travels we have found some favorites. Starting close to home, we love Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. Further afield we found Blossom Book House in Bangalore, India with all of its books horizontally stacked. And, of course there are some obvious natural habitats. We love the gorgeous galleries and stained glass of Daunt Books Marylebone in London (and its charming little sister in Chelsea). We have haunted Galinani the first English bookshop established on the Continent (in 1801) on the rue de Rivoli in Paris. And then there’s the vast Powell’s City of Books in Portland; the imposing St. Petersburg House of Books in Russia with its chic café; and, the elegant Munro’s Books in Victoria, BC founded by Jim Munro (who died just a month or so ago) and his then-wife Alice – yes, that Alice Munro! 

We would be remiss not to mention our local neighbors What Goes ‘Round Books right here in Bayfield, Chequamegon Books in Washburn with its enormous selection of used books, and the carefully curated collection of Redbery Books in Cable. We’ve never done the numbers, but Bayfield County with its four bookstores must have one of the highest per capita presences of bookstores in the world!

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

All of us at AIB

What we're reading...

History of Wolves 
by  Emily Fridlund

This debut novel began as a short story that won the 2013 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction. Set in our own Northwoods, History of Wolves weaves a haunting fabric from several threads from the life of the adolescent narrator, Linda. She lives in the remnants of a failed commune in the forest and is an outsider at home with her aging hippie parents. She links-up with a more conventional family that has moved in across the lake, but things bit-by-bit grow peculiar. At school she is an outsider as well and a creepy thread also emerge there. The voice and writing are compelling and this is unlikely to be a one-hit wonder for Ms. Fridlund.

The North Water
by  Ian McGuire

With Melville, Conrad and Patrick O’Brien, this book takes its place in the dark pantheon of maritime classics. It’s the 1850’s and the Yorkshire whaler, Volunteer, sets out for the north in search of the diminishing whale pods. Among those aboard is an opium-addicted surgeon, a veteran of the British Raj, Patrick Sumner; and, a vile and vicious harpooner, Henry Drax. Sumner, though flawed, is mostly good. Drax, with no redeeming quality is deeply bad. Their struggle is all male – no feminism here! – and is as violent and brutal as anything in the genre. Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

Upcoming Events...

THINKING AHEAD: An Important Presentation from Marieke Van Donkersgoed 

When: Tuesday, January 24th at 5pm 
Where: Apostle Islands Booksellers, 112 Rittenhouse Avenue, Bayfield
Free & open to the public

A number of books recently published, including bestsellers Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, have addressed directly and indirectly the topic of death and how each of us can plan and make conscious and informed choices about what is inevitable for all of us. We are launching what will be a series of conversations on a wide variety of subjects by inviting local specialists to lead these discussions. We are introducing Marieke Van Donkersgoed to lead the following discussion. THINKING AHEAD gives you a clear outline of the end-of-life care options available and what they mean. It will be one less big thing to worry about and give you and your loved ones peace of mind when other things become much more important.

Marieke van Donkersgoed, NLP life coach, end-of-life and grief care specialist, is the owner of The Cypress Center in Washburn Wisconsin. 715-292-4229. 

7th Annual Writers Read

When: Saturday, January 27th at 7:30pm
Where: Northland College, Alvord Theater, 1411 Ellis Avenue

We in the north are no strangers to darkness. Come listen to writers and poets tell stories about their darkest hours, guilty pleasures, life under a log, succumbing to your less than enlightened self or participating in activities you know are naughty, deplorable or decidedly un-sunny.

2017 Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races 
Author & Musher Blair Braverman 

When: Saturday, February 4th at 7pm
Where: Madeline Island Ferry Terminal (base of Washington Ave.)

By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a “tough girl”—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her. Blair is a nonfiction writer and dogsledder whose work has appeared in This American Life, The Atavist, Buzzfeed, Orion, The Best Women's Travel Writing and elsewhere. Join us as we learn more about Blair's journey. 
The Revolution Where You Live -
a Presentation from Sarah van Gelder

When: Tuesday, February 21st at 7pm
Where: Northland College, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute

Sarah van Gelder is cofounder and editor-at-large of the award-winning YES! Magazine. She explores the leading edge of change, writing and speaking internationally on a wide range of topics. America faces huge challenges climate change, social injustice, racist violence, economic insecurity. Journalist Sarah van Gelder suspected that there were solutions, and she went looking for them, not in the centers of power, where people are richly rewarded for their allegiance to the status quo, but off the beaten track, in rural communities, small towns, and neglected urban neighborhoods. Join us for what is sure to be an intriguing presentation and conversation.

Final Thoughts...

Ponder a few thoughts from one of our favorite poets Mary Oliver on what the art of poetry means to her. This excerpt is from her most recent book, Upstream, a collection of essays.

"I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple -- or a green field -- a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing -- an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness -- wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak -- to be company. It was everything that was needed, when everything was needed. I remember the delicate, rumpled way into the woods, and the weight of the books in my pack. I remember the rambling, and the loafing -- the wonderful days when, with Whitman, I tucked my trouser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time."

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