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Lake & Island Notes                                  February 2016

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Bayfield couple travels to Cuba on agricultural research visas

Featured Title



Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain


First published in 1933, this memoir of the First World War still holds a place in the modern era because it so beautifully captures a time in which the virtues and illusions of an old age were put to death in a way that no other generation has yet to live through. Written by a woman in a time when most war literature came from men, it brings a different perspective to the genre. 
 
Vera Brittain was a young woman in her first year at Somerville College, Oxford, when the Great War broke out. Putting her studies on hold to become a nurse, she spent four years helping with the war effort and simultaneously watching all the men she loved die. Though shattering, the novel is also beautiful and uplifting, as Vera details life after, including her efforts with the League of Nations, feminism with the women's vote, and simple survival as life continued.
 

Featured Title



The Past
by Tessa Hadley


Many of us up here have experienced the drama of being in a circle of siblings faced with dealing with a treasured country house or cottage. As was said about old age, “It ain’t for sissies”! Likewise for familial co-ownership! Here four adult siblings have inherited their grandparent’s country home and are there for their annual reunion. They are faced with the problem of what to do with it. The tangled memories and relationships range from les evenements of Paris in May, 1968 to the “disappeared” in 1970’s Argentina. Hadley writes with magical phrasing and seems to get everything just right. Her clear-sightedness and sensitivity are reminiscent of Alice Munro.  An odd factoid: there is a character named Grantham Fellowes - shades of Downton Abbey!  Wonderful book!

Featured Title



I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
by Malala Yousafzai


Adapted from the adult bestseller, this inspiring memoir by activist Yousafzai sketches her brave actions to champion education in Pakistan under the Taliban. The narrative begins with a prologue in which a Taliban gunman boards her school bus and asks, "Who is Malala?" The authors then offer insight into the cultural and political events leading up to the shooting that followed and Yousafzai's dramatic recovery. Yousafzai highlights the escalating tensions as the Taliban takes hold—including the strictures against girls attending school, the obliteration of Western influence, violence, and the eventual war—but also brings the universal to life as she quarrels with her brothers, treasures her best friend, and strives to earn top grades. It's a searing and personal portrait of a young woman who dared to make a difference. Ages 10–up.
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Apostle Islands Booksellers
Bayfield, Wisconsin
Greetings!

We’ve had a rather mild winter here in the Northland. There has been a moderate amount of snow with most of it coming in 2” to 6” tranches. Temperatures have infrequently dropped below zero and only rarely have gone above freezing. So, the snow cover has been stable, uniformly white, and spread like whipped cream across the landscape. It’s been a beautiful winter. The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race (Feb. 4th & 5th) attracted a record number of spectators and, while a bit warm for the dogs, conditions were good and the races exciting. Similarly, Book Across the Bay (Feb. 13th) was a great success despite rumors that the ice might not be sufficient to bear the weight of the nearly fifteen-hundred people making the trek across Chequamegon Bay from Ashland to Washburn. No problem! It was a beautiful night.  Meanwhile, preparations for Bayfield’s Winter Festival: Celebrating Snow, Ice and Cabin Fever (Mar. 4th – 6th) continue apace with every expectation of a good crowd and great fun.
 
But, all of this joyous frivolity in our pristine surroundings is in dramatic opposition to a deeply troubling political environment. We think of our grandfather, a long-time Ashland lawyer and rock-ribbed Conservative, and wonder how he would have experienced the shenanigans being played out during this nominating season. We think he would be rolling in his grave! Meanwhile, a hundred years of building Wisconsin’s brilliant network of environmental, natural resources and fresh water conservation to balance the state’s development process is being dismantled with lightning speed. One can only quote Yeats yet again: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
 
Going back to the lighter side, we note the hopeful news of a renaissance in the world of the independent bookstore. We remember that between 2000 and 2007 over 1000 independent bookstores across the country went out of business. Competition with the big-box stores and Amazon was cutthroat and the big guys held the knife. Then they turned on each other and Borders went down and Barnes and Noble has been deeply wounded. But then, from 2009 to 2014, the number of independent bookstores has increased by 27% and their sales have outpaced the growth of book sales in general. So, what are independent bookstores doing right? Four things: (1) They offer an experience, not just a transaction; (2) They know books and offer invaluable assistance to their customers choices; (3) They have expanded their offerings to include products from reading glasses to cards to games and puzzles to adult coloring books that appeal to a literate clientele; and (4) They are engaged in their communities doing book signings, reading groups, panel discussions, and other literary events that enrich and enliven the public generally. We try to do those things ourselves and our trend is consistently upward. That’s the good news!


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

All of us at AIB

What we're reading...


Dark Money 
by Jane Mayer

In this age of insipid political self-promotion on the one hand and political hatchet jobs on the other, comes this robustly reported account of the incredible strategic achievements of the right-wing Koch brothers. Mayer, a long-time writer for The New Yorker, spent five years on this thick, scrupulously-documented volume and the result is both impressive and frightening. First off, for a book of this type, Mayer’s story is nicely structured, her prose is a pleasure to read, and her conclusions are clear as a bell. Secondly, she shows how the Koch project, begun under the radar in 1980 (coincident with the election of Ronald Reagan), has been an overwhelming success in redefining so-called “conservatism” and winning the election of its adherents to public office at all levels of the American political system. In many ways it now holds an iron grip. This is must reading for any student of the American political process as well as for any truly engaged citizen.
 
Brooklyn
by Colm Toibin


It’s getting to be Oscar time and one of the nominees for Best Picture (it won’t win!) is based upon Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn. This quiet, poignant novel chronicles the life of a young Irish immigrant, Eilis Lacey, in Brooklyn in the early 1950’s. Her leave taking from home and family in Enniscorthy was wrought with inevitability and anguish. The voyage to America was ghastly. Her seeming passivity made her a ghost to those who encountered her in the New World. Her love with an Italian-American young man is fraught. And then she is called home. In our humble opinion there is no better contemporary writer than Colm Toibin.
Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow


Well, you can’t get a ticket, but you can read the book! The wildly popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, is inspired by this book. While the musical is the unlikely hip-hop inspired retelling of Hamilton’s role in our revolutionary history, the book is an equally (on its own terms) compelling biography of this enigmatic figure. He arrived on our shores from the Caribbean orphaned, penniless, and not knowing a single soul. He became the most influential of the founding fathers, or perhaps of all subsequent American leaders, to never achieve the presidency. Clearly this is the best biography ever written of the man and Chernow combines superb historiography with a moving narrative story. How it inspired a hip-hop version on Broadway is a story unto itself!

Final Thoughts...


Have you heard about the latest publication from JK Rowling? She has collaborated with playwright Jack Thorne to write the next chapter in the Harry Potter story - on the stage! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be on stage in London this Summer, and on July 31st (aka Harry's birthday!) Scholastic is publishing the script. We find this intriguing. The Harry Potter story has been read by millions world wide. Will they appreciate the script format? Will the play encourage young people to learn more about the art of theatre? We certainly hope so. 

This community is so fortunate to have a thriving theatre community. We thought we'd encourage you to take advantage of the productions by the local non-profit organization The Groundlings at StageNorth in Washburn. Currently playing is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, playing through this Sunday, February 28th. Directed by artist-in-residence George Grant (American Shakespeare Co. in Washington DC). Following Caesar is a fast-paced comedy by the contemporary playwright, David Mamet. A Life in the Theatre serves as an invitation to the audience to experience the "backstage" experience. This show is directed by our very own store manager, Kristen Sandstrom. Visit www.stagenorth.com or call 715-373-1194 for tickets. 


 
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AIB Book Club Meeting

March 31st at 4:00pm
- Join us for the next AIB Book Club meeting as we discuss the book, White Collar Girl, written by Renee Rosen. We will meet at Big Water Coffee Roasters.
If you're interested in ordering a copy of the book, remember you get 20% off with the book club discount.
All are welcome!

Save 20% Off One Book!


Just mention this newsletter and use this month's passphrase:
WILL SPRING BE EARLY?
Book must be in stock, some restrictions apply.
This coupon may not be combined with any other promotions or discounts.
Limited to one use and one coupon per customer.

Offer expires March 15th, 2016
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