Book Review: Books & Islands

The Travelling Bookbinder: Book review: Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country: Louise Erdrich

A book review on Books and Islands is my idea of heaven – the combination of two very favourite parts of my life. We have the bonus of being led on this voyage through Ojibwe land and linguistics by Louise Erdrich, who the Guardian describes as “One of the greatest living American writers.’

As she guides us through the land of her ancestors, Erdrich repeatedly asks a question that has defined and saved her life:

“Books. Why?”

Some of the islands in the Lake of the Woods archipelago are painted with symbols and signs.

“So these islands, which [she”s] longing to read, are books in themselves.”

One particular island on Rainy Lake holds the broad and rare collection of a man born in 1884, who was also saved by books…and paddling a canoe vast distances.

The notion of an island library has particular resonance.

Erdrich’s grandfather was the last person in her family to speak Ojibwemowin, so these pages are a testimony to his legacy and the living continuation of a lexicon filled with verbs – a language of action.

“It is a language that most directly reflects a human involvement with the spirit of the land itself.”

A slim volume, addressing political, personal and cultural issues with compassion and wit – a life-expanding read.

Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country, by Louise Erdrich, published by Daunt Books.

Watch this interview about her book The Sentence (which is on the top of my TBR pile…)

For a bookish 10% off your copy, click here to purchase from the Golden Hare, using the code bookbinderbookreview26 valid until 20th July 2023.

Also, when in Minneapolis, Birchbark Books is a must – please visit for me!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Books & Islands

  1. So exciting to see this post. I love Louise Erdrich, almost every book! The Sentence was so compelling, and I imagine this book coming out from that experience. I’ll order it immediately.

    I also like the concept of island as book. Gives me ideas for my own bookmaking. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Rachel for introducing Louise Erdrich to your audience of book lovers. As a child of the midwest, I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior and attended university in Minnesota, so Erdrich has been a favorite of mine forEVER! I have read all of her books (including Books & Islands) and just last summer had the pleasure of visiting her bookstore in Minneapolis, Birchbark Books. She is an amazing writer. Enjoy The Sentence. Miigwetch!

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