Lake & Island Notes                       October 2015

Apostle Islands Booksellers
Voted Best of the Lake 2014!
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Fall/Early Winter:
Mon-Sat 10am-5pm
Sun 10am-3pm
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and more!
PLUS, e-books downloadable to most e-readers!
Recent Media Attention

Star Tribune: Midwest Traveler: Your Guide to a Bookstore Roadtrip

Featured Title

Nopi: The Cookbook  

by Yotam Ottalenghi and Ramael Scully

You may not have heard of London restaurant Nopi, but surely you've heard of the restaurateur behind it: Yotam Ottolenghi, author of bestselling cookbooks like Jerusalem and Plenty. We should start by saying this is not the usual fare from Ottalenghi; these are restaurant recipes and are not intended for the "beginner" home cook. The book even begins with a disclaimer from Ottolenghi, who writes "Most of the recipes here will be more challenging for most home cooks." Some of the recipes are tricky, sure, but some of them are easily within reach of your typical home cook: simple salads like one with black radish, endive, and apples; paprika oven fries; spiced lamb meatballs studded with pine nuts; and french toast slathered with orange zest-spiked yogurt. Just make sure you read through the recipes first so you know what you're getting into. Still, it's a beautiful cookbook, and we highly recommend it if you're a fan of his other titles.

Featured Title

Little Paris Bookshop

by Nina George

In a somewhat slight, but agreeable, homage to the disappearing independent bookshop, George deftly paints the incomparable romance that is Paris. Bookseller Jean Perdu has a book barge on the Seine and a knack for knowing just exactly which book would heal whatever affliction that his customers might be experiencing. He sees himself as a latter day psychotherapist and a sweet and gentle one at that. He says, “I wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors. All those little feelings and emotions no therapist is interested in, because they are apparently too minor and intangible.” Things like “the feeling that washes over you when another summer nears its end” or a “nostalgia for the air of your childhood. Things like that." In Portuguese it would be called saudade; in French it is called la vie. The novel is not unlike The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin another melancholy, but uplifting, novel of contemporary bookstore life. Both are a pleasure to read.  

Featured Title

The Triumph of Seeds 
by Thor Hanson

A couple of weeks ago the so-called “Doomsday Vault,” the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, was opened for the first time in its history and a cache of seeds - copies of those previously deposited in an international research facility in war-torn Aleppo, Syria – were sent to Morocco and Lebanon for safekeeping. That reminded us of this fascinating volume published just last spring. Hanson takes us deeply into the world of seeds and reminds us how absolutely fundamental and ubiquitous they are in our lives. He ranges from his backyard to far afield in the rain forests of Costa Rica and Nicaragua and to the spice routes of Kerala in Southern India to share with us his knowledge, adventure and wonder regarding these sometimes tiny, sometimes huge progenitors of living things. Elegant and graceful, this book is, indeed, a great pleasure.
Other Links of Interest
Apostle Islands Booksellers
Bayfield, Wisconsin

We spent last weekend in Chicago at the annual Heartland Fall Forum of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA) and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA).  Once a year the booksellers, publishers and authors related to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region get together for a conference, trade show and gabfest about the state of the book business. There are seminars – some literary, some nuts & bolts – from which we are able to glean best practices, become acquainted with new authors and new titles, and renew old friendships. There are also author presentations, round tables and informal meetings long into the night. We had the great pleasure of introducing the very popular David Baldacci (110 million books in print!). Good food and drink were hardly scarce.
Year in and year out, of course, the principal theme is the precarious state of the book business as it adapts to the fast pace and volatile conditions of the new retail business paradigm. The internet is changing everything – including itself! This year the news is, on the whole, a bit more sanguine than in the past several years. People seem to be rediscovering the pleasure of handheld, paper books. The pace of e-reader adoption is slowing. Booksellers have discovered the value of positioning themselves as cultural centers in their communities. All in all, things seem to be looking up for independent booksellers.
Online commerce remains the principal threat. Amazon’s predatory price war continues. Its profits remain slim to none while its revenues continue to grow exponentially. It is a Goliath versus David mismatch. We’re still looking for a slingshot. Even public radio has become a cudgel in Amazon’s fist. Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) incessantly urges its listeners to shop at Amazon and blazes that appeal prominently on its website. We thought WPR was a friend of local business and local communities. Not so much! Like others, they go where the money is.  As they say on their website, "Strengthening Wisconsin's communities remains essential to WPR's mission"
. Ha!
In any event, we have rarely seen such a beautiful fall. The colors are astounding. The hay is rolled into golden bales scattered across the mowed fields. The evergreens are beginning to show up and dominate the emerging black and white of the forest landscape. The lake is choppy and white-capped. The long growing season has left our gardens veritable cornucopias of produce. Fire wood is cut and piled. The flies have moved on. It's fall!

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

All of us at AIB

What we're reading...

Dear Committee Members
by Julie Schumacher

On a lighter note, one of our neighbors down in the Twin Cities has just been awarded the 2015 Thurber Prize for American Humor. Her book – Dear Committee Members – is a hilarious compendium of letters of recommendation from the halls of academia. Schumacher is the first woman to have won the Thurber – other recent recipients include Jon Stewart, David Sedaris and Calvin Trillin – and this time even both runners-up are women – Roz Chast for her memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? and Annabelle Gurwitch for I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge. Failed novelist and tired academic, Professor Jason Fitger, is our anti-hero who provides a year’s worth of his recommendation letters for colleagues, students and even former wives and lovers. It’s a nice combination of comedy underlying social criticism and righteous outrage. Very, very funny!
The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World 
by Andrea Wulf

We often think that concerns over human impacts on our habitat and global climate change began to emerge around the time of the first Earth Day in the 1970’s. We forget that over 200 years ago, Alexander von Humboldt developed the “web of life” concept and warned that the despoilation of nature through mining, logging and other extractive activities would threaten human existence. This book reminds us that the Anthropocene and its consequences are not recent discoveries. It also reminds us that Humboldt was one of the great men of all time. He held salon with Goethe as a young man and engaged with Darwin as an old man. He influenced such widely disparate figures as Jefferson and Madison; Whitman and Poe; Thoreau, Marsh and Muir. Napoleon so envied his erudition that he ordered his deportation from Paris (the French scientific community intervened successfully). Wulf’s new biography – long overdue – is deeply researched and beautifully written. It should be read by anyone in the sciences or with an interest in human impacts and climate change.
Thirteens Ways of Looking
by Colum McCann

In the summer of 2014 author Colum McCann was brutally assaulted while attempting to stop a man from beating his wife. He was badly hurt — he fractured his cheekbone, broke several teeth and gashed his face — but the damage reverberated beyond the physical. While McCann started writing the stories in Thirteen Ways before his attack, how they ended up was directly impacted by it.  There are four stories here. One is a long novella of shifting tone and focus.  The others are short and more directed Each differs widely from the others, but all are connected by a sense that what is off kilter can perhaps be put right if the characters and the reader could just understand it better.
The title novella Thirteen Ways of Looking is inspired by Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," and bits of this poem are found throughout the story. If Thirteen Ways sneaks up on you, then the other stories here will smack you over the head. In the other short stories in this book, McCann addresses a mother who may have lost her child; a woman who sees her attacker many years after the fact; and closes with a writer who is struggling with writer's block. All four of these stories are brilliantly written.
Lizard Radio
by Pat Schmatz

Lizard Radio is a frequency that only Kivali can hear and that makes her special. Kivali nicknamed Lizard is fifteen and being sent to CropCamp to learn and conform to society before she reaches adulthood. She's a bender, someone who doesn't fit neatly into a category of gender. The camp is strict and you must follow the rules or be expelled from society.

Lizard Radio is young adult dystopian fiction of the most intelligent kind. When you begin the book the reader and narrator have all sorts of questions which are intelligently answered slowly as the book progresses. There is a unique form to the language in the book and the uses of certain words make you think of what the author is trying to say. Schmatz is an excellent writer who paints a creative world with her words. The writing is poetic, lyrical, and picturesque.

Final Thoughts...

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Shop Small is a movement encouraging people to shop at small businesses; millions of individuals, businesses, and communities have embraced it nationwide.

We think it's important to recognize that there are large corporations out there who acknowledge the importance of main street America. Thank you Amex!

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