Bestselling Gift Ideas for the Young Readers

In our last post we shared a long list of our bestselling titles of 2016 for adults. You were likely wondering, what about the kids? Here are a few lists from our 2016 sales starting with the Young Adults down through the under five crowd. And, don't forget now through December 24th we are offering 15% off of all hardcover books for young readers!

Young Adults:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Maze Runner by James Dashner
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Middle Readers:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and all other Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling (very successful 2016 July 31st midnight release party!)
Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
Water Runs Through this Book by Nancy Bo Flood (2016 winner Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute Nature Writing Award for Young Adult Literature)
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (All of Riordan's books do well here!)
Lego Star Wars: the Visual Dictionary by Simon Beecroft
Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm
Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp
Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World: Young Reader's Edition by Malala Yousafzai
Bfg by Roald Dahl
Wildwood series by Colin Meloy
Say Good-bye to Dork City by Lincoln Pierce
Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Children Over Five Years Old:

Who Pooped in the North Woods? by Gary Robson
North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette (2016 winner SOEI Nature Writing Award for Children’s Literature)
Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling
On Sand Island by Jacqueline Martin
Hungry Coyote by Cheryl Blackford (2016 runner up SOEI Nature Writing Award for Children’s Literature)
Wonder by Faye Hanson
Curious Critters series by David Fitzsimmons

Children Under Five Years Old:

How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
Madeline Island ABC Book and ABC Coloring Book by Marcia Henry
Plip, Plop, Pond! (and others) by Kaaren Pixton
Sniff! (and other books) by Matthew Van Fleet
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
Moose on the Loose by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Ladybug Girl by David Soman
Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney

Also selling well for us this year was the Monkey With a Tool Belt series by Duluth writer and illustrator, Chris Monroe. Monroe visited both the Bayfield and Washburn schools this past May and was incredibly well-received. Due to Monroe's visit we do have several signed copies of her books!

Many of these titles are available on our website as well, so if you're not in the neighborbood, there are still ways to support your favorite local bookstore. Some of these titles are only available through our store, but we're happy to ship special orders to you or your loved ones.

Our 2016 Best Sellers Make Great Gifts!

Holiday time has arrived! We thought we’d give you an idea of our 2016 bestsellers (our “Top 40” List) to help with your gift selections. Of course, many great books don’t necessarily make this list because they don’t sell in quantity, but the ones on this list do tend to be really good books. No surprise to us -- that means we have discerning customers who make very smart choices!

Apostle Islands Booksellers "Top 40"

Regional Fiction: 

Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye 
Wintering by Peter Geye (2016 release - author signing)
End of the Lupine Season by Laurie Otis (2016 release - author signing)
Manitou Canyon by William Kent Krueger (latest in Cork O’Connor series, 2016 release -author signing)
Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler (set in Eau Claire)
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (first in Cork O’Connor series)
Family Trees by Kerstin March
Branching Out by Kerstin March

General Fiction:

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Stoner by John Edward Williams
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Regional Nonfiction (set in, or particular to, our area):

This Superior Place: Stories of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands by Dennis McCann
Apostle Islands: From Land and Sea (gallery and souvenir editions) by Craig Blacklock
Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols (2015-2016 Community read – author visit)
On the Streets of Bayfield, Wisconsin by Mary Carlson
Apostle Islanders: The People & Culture by Robert Nelson
Jewels on the Water: Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands by Jeff Rennicke
Rock Pickers’ Guide to Lake Superior by Mark Stensaas
Is This an Agate? by Susan Robinson
Lake Superior: Blood on the Ice by John Esposito
Apostle Islands Water Trips by John Frank
Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin
Unholy Apostles by James Keller
Amazing Agates by Scott Wolter
Best of Wild Rice Recipes by Beatrice Ojakangas
Old Rittenhouse Inn Cookbook by Mark Phillips
Delorme Wisconsin Atlas

General Nonfiction:

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer (SOEI Adult Nature Writing Award winner 2014)
For the Love of Rivers by Kurt Fausch  (SOEI Adult Nature Writing Award winner 2016 – author signing)
F in Exams: The Very Best in Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Many of these titles are available on our website as well, so if you're not in the neighborbood, there are still ways to support your favorite local bookstore. Some of these titles are only available through our store, but we're happy to ship special orders to you or your loved ones. 

What I Learned After an Hour In a Real-life Bookstore

We stumbled across this article and just had to share it:

Enjoy and appreciate your local bookstores!

Sigurd Olsen Writing Awards

braiding sweetgrass cover image This year we have had the distinct honor and pleasure of serving on the juries which determined the winning books in both the adult and children’s categories. The winners have just been announced. In the adult category, the prize goes to Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Dr. Kimmerer has her PhD in plant ecology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is currently Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at SUNY. She beautifully blends the indigenous wisdom of her Native American roots with the rigor of her scientific knowledge to create a work of rare grace and inspiration. Braiding Sweetgrass weaves its way toward her central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

place for turtles cover image


The children’s award goes to A Place for Turtles written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond. This book simply and beautifully introduces young readers to ways human action or inaction can have a direct impact on the creatures that share our world, and opens children’s minds to a wide range of interrelated ecological issues.

What Is the Group Reading?

 Winter scene with bookHi Everyone! It's Winter in Bayfield and we're reading! The AIB General Book Group got off to a great start for its third season.  We chose to meet again at Big Water Coffee Roasters across the street from the bookstore -- the second Wednesday of each month from 3:00 to 5:00 pm around the big table, all comers welcome.  We had enthusiastic participation and some great book choices.  The first book we read was The Lighthouse Road, Minnesota author Peter Geye's second novel.  It is the story of a young immigrant woman settling into life in Duluth in the 1890's still shocked at finding herself stranded in a new country alone and adrift.  Our group loved the book appreciating the authentic historical details, the exquisite language and the nuanced characters and relationships.  It's been a real pleasure to share this special book with our customers.

Our next Book Group choice, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, inspired a fascinating discussion about memory.  Everyone in the group liked the book and was glad we read it, less for any specific memory techniques than for the author’s examination of the history, science and sociology of memory and of memory’s evolving role in human interaction from the time before writing when memory was the only way to pass along information to the present where devices are being researched and developed to fully externalize memory, making internal memory theoretically completely unnecessary.   Yikes!  There are also some really simple techniques in the book which render some practical situations that call for memory a lot easier.  For example, all those bookstore customers who visit us frequently but often with long absences between visits.   I am always so glad to see them and mortified that I cannot remember their names!

One very important thing of which I was reminded from reading Moonwalking  is that, if we don’t take simple affirmative steps to place information likes names and faces into our long term memory, it will not simply happen automatically.  Period.  It’s a question of basic science, not declining mental capacity.  And, in this day when I depend on my “smart” phone for all those names, numbers and addresses that I used to know, unfortunately I guarantee that my phone is a lot smarter than I am!  So, I am designing my memory palace and images as I write!

How Much of "History" Is Fiction?

At the March meeting of our AIB Book Group, we discussed Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff.  While many of us found good reasons to read this book, virtually everyone agreed that it was poorly written and surprisingly so since the author had won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier biography and Cleopatra, itself, was named a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. But, it just wasn’t a compelling read. It kept wandering away from the main subject and the writing was scattered and disjointed. It was almost as if the author had taken all her note cards, thrown them in the air and then pieced them together wherever they happened to fall. We had to keep rereading paragraphs and even sentences just to follow the thought thread. Personally, I have never seen a book that used so many dashes to offset ideas and factoids that sometimes were completely unrelated to the sentence in which the offset appeared. Others felt the same way about the footnotes.

Having said all this about the style and structure, the research is impressive and the content itself is fairly interesting. As one reader noted, Cleopatra’s family makes the Sopranos look like the Waltons. It is also very interesting to note how little has changed about politics in 2000 years. But, most importantly, Schiff offers a very interesting and completely different perspective on Cleopatra than we have seen before. Her main premise is that the popular image of Cleopatra to date has been based on “facts” gleaned from people who either were her enemies or who lived centuries later and really had no idea what had happened, yet in both cases presented their stories with great apparent knowledge and certainty. The fact is there are very few facts about her. Most of the stories are manufactured and yet have been accepted as history. Today, all many people know about her is from the Hollywood movie featuring Elizabeth Taylor, and maybe from a session or two of class in elementary school history. This is unfortunate since she is one of the most powerful, important and intriguing figures in ancient history. What Schiff’s book does is invite us to look with an open mind, not just at Cleopatra, but at many other figures in history that have been described by authors, scholars and theologians, and ask how much of this “history” is fiction and how much is fact? This should seem obvious but it’s really not. It is extraordinary how much we accept as truth if it’s just stated confidently and eruditely enough. What Schiff herself says is that “[mostly] I have restored context.” There are no reliable sources so she couldn’t do much more than that. We just wish she had done it in a more organized and reader-friendly way.

We have our final meeting of the 2011/2012 season on Tuesday, April 3 at 3:00pm at Big Water Cafe & Coffee Roasters at which we will discuss Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls and make our tentative plans for the next season which will begin in November. Our central figure in Half-Broke Horses does not individually have the historical significance of Cleopatra but she certainly represents an important cadre of women in history who in their own personal ways blazed the trail for the rest of us. I really look forward to talking about this book with our group. Remember, anyone is welcome, even if you haven't read the book and want to come just to sit in.

What are you reading?

Well, the nine of us who got together the other day for Apostle Islands Booksellers General Book Group had a very lively discuCleopatra book cover imagession based on our reading of Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs definitely would not have been nominated by our group as Boss, Father, Husband or Son (or really anything human) of the Year, but there was general acknowledgement of his creative genius and extraordinary marketing skills, and a recognition of his profound effect on world culture. 

Our conversation largely wound around what are the true costs and benefits of the non-stop technological revolution that we have experienced over the past half-century (epitomized by Steve Jobs), and its ever-increasing pace, in terms of human/labor capital and working conditions, civility and sensitivity in human interaction, environmental waste and/or savings and so on. How have these innovations helped our lives? How have they hurt them? How can we help our children to use technology as a useful tool and not let it overwhelm their lives or substitute for direct interaction with their environment (nature, friends, family) and our broader society? How do you effectively balance access to virtually unlimited information with making quiet time to plumb the depths of your own intuition or reaching out for other direct human resources close to you like your grandparents, teachers, or just perusing a real book or encyclopedia all of which provide a different experience than electronic research? Do the new skills and tools we are all learning and using come at the expense of old skills like handwritten notes and leisurely telephone conversations or not? Lots of questions and food for thought, not so many answers but some good ideas were shared. In case anyone hasn’t seen it, we have a new book in the store that plays off this theme of the modern “connected” family – ­Goodnight, iPad – a Parody for the Next Generation, which parodies Good Night Moon and guides you throughout your house at bedtime turning off all your devices! 

What are you all reading out there? Any great books that you want to share? For our next Book Club meeting, we are switching gears entirely and reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, and for the April meeting, which will be the last one until next Fall, we chose Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. If you have read any of these titles let us know what you think and you can be a part of the conversation from afar.

Bayfield Businesses Featured in Lake Superior Magazine

We'd like to thank Lake Superior Magazine for featuring Apostle Islands Booksellers and several other Bayfield businesses who are working to stay open throughout the quieter months of the year. If you'd like to see the article, check out this link:

Please stop by the store to see the magazine in person. We have plenty of copies in stock.

It's Snowing!

I love the snow!  Big, dry flakes, billowy confetti clouds, and everything in between.  Sometimes floating and slowly swirling, sometimes blowing and frenzied, gentling all sounds, coating the leafless trees and shrubs and the dry brown fields, turning all in to a wonderland of light and sparkle.  And of course opening the door to endless outdoor winter activities! 

bayfield creek with snow When Theron and I moved to Bayfield from Northern California, my family and friends worried about me.  Theron had grown up in Wisconsin.  They were assured he knew what he was getting.  I had attended law school here but waaaay down South in Madison.  Not the Northwoods.  They asked me if I knew that temps plunged well below zero, that it got really dark and that it snowed over 8’ in the winter?  I said, absolutely!  I can’t wait!  And so the first few years, it did, and we loved it.  This year, it didn’t or at least it hasn’t.  But, as of today, we’re finally getting our first real taste and it’s delicious! 

But, snow or no snow, we kept on reading.   Tsar Peter and King Charles XII concluded their final climactic battle in their longstanding and brutal war, and I needed to put Peter the Great aside for a bit to concentrate on our January and February AIB Book Club selections -- The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  When I first read The Sense of an Ending I really didn’t think I got it.  Barnes’ novel had won the 2011 Man Booker prize and was critically acclaimed but, as often happens, I didn’t see what the critics saw.  Not until I read it again.  It is a short book and I highly recommend reading it twice.  I might even read it a third time.  I have already read many paragraphs repeatedly.  There is a lot in this book that unfolds differently and more deeply with each pass through it.  

Our group met on January 3 to discuss it.   I think I can safely say that all of the 11 or 12 folks that attended liked it very much, many as much as I did and most didn’t even have to read it twice!  We had a very interesting discussion that, like the book, morphed and deepened each time we revisited a certain event or scenario in the book.  Book Club has been a really fun for me.  It’s a great way for an eclectic bunch of us to get together to share different perspectives and gain insight on subjects that we might not normally even think to discuss with others.

And now I’ve just finished Steve Jobs.   Wow.  I’m really glad I read it.  I used to work in that environment and even with some of the people in the book, but I don’t think that was relevant to my appreciation of the incredible story it tells of a man and how the birth and development of a technological revolution led to a societal revolution that has altered our world dramatically and forever. 

Winter Travels from the Comfort of My Easy Chair

Peter the Great cover imageSomething I love so much about books is how I am able, without leaving my favorite chair by the woodstove, to go anywhere in the world (or even out of this world), to any time and culture in history (or in the future) and dive right into it.  Just by curling up, opening the cover and turning the page.  Today, the setting is late 17th and early 18th century Russia, the author Robert Massie, the book Peter the Great.  As many of you know, Robert Massie is one of the world's leading experts and most prolific writers on the Romanov period in Russian history.  His latest book, Catherine the Great, was just released only a few weeks ago, and is already moving to the top of the national bestseller lists.  I was all set to read it and my brother said, no! You have to read Peter the Great first.  It will be a tremendous gift to yourself, one of the best books you will ever read.  Massie did win the Pulitzer Prize for it so I agreed.  What is another 900 pages?  I am so glad I did!  What an excellent book, so compelling, you don't even know you're not right there with them in Moscow during the internecine battles and struggles for power, in the dark, low-ceilinged rooms of the Kremlin and the monasteries where the women were secreted, in battles for the Steppe and the Black Sea with the Turks and the Tatars, during the creation of the Russian navy and the building of St. Petersburg, in Louis IV's Versailles (Except when Kia bites my foot because I am ignoring her!).  Another world, another time, the literary magic of yet another great author.  I have such gratitude for them.  On to Catherine next!

Bringing myself to the present, I am really looking forward to Bayfield's Holiday Shopping Night this Thursday, December 15, from 4-7PM.  Apostle Islands Booksellers will be welcoming Bayfield watercolor artist, Francie Austin Miller, who will be demonstrating her craft at the store.  I hope you will all come out and support our local businesses.  We want so much to be here for you so we really appreciate when you support that outcome by shopping locally!  Even if your local purchases are only a part of your holiday shopping, every bit counts and is valuable to sustaining our local businesses and all the people who work in them.  And, as an added benefit,  many local businesses are contributing a portion of their evening's sales to the Bayfield Area Food Pantry, something I know we all support.


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