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Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country: Traveling through the Land of My Ancestors (2003)

by Louise Erdrich

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3431374,364 (3.74)54
Biography & Autobiography. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

For more than three decades, bestselling author Louise Erdrich has enthralled readers with dazzling novels that paint an evocative portrait of Native American life. From her dazzling first novel, Love Medicine, to the National Book Award-winning The Round House, Erdrich's lyrical skill and emotional assurance have earned her a place alongside William Faulkner and Willa Cather as an author deeply rooted in the American landscape.

In Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, Erdrich takes us on an illuminating tour through the terrain her ancestors have inhabited for centuries: the lakes and islands of southern Ontario. Summoning to life the Ojibwe's sacred spirits and songs, their language and sorrows, she considers the many ways in which her tribeâ??whose name derives from the word ozhibii'ige, "to write"â??have influenced her. Her journey links ancient stone paintings with a magical island where a bookish recluse built an extraordinary library, and she reveals how both have transformed her.

A blend of history, mythology, and memoir, Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country is an enchanting meditation on modern life, natural splendor, and the ancient spirituality and creativity of Erdrich's native homelandâ??a long, elemental tradition of storytelling that is in her bl… (more)

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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Reading #1: WOW. "Books. Why?" This book brought up a lot of strong emotions in me, quite unexpectedly.

Reading #2: Makes for soothing pre-bed reading and slippery dreams.

Reading #3: I listened to the Kitchen Sisters' "Fugitive Wave" podcast about wild rice and the Ojibwe tribes, and it sparked an urgent craving in me for this book; I had to read it while the sound of the water and the sound of the voices were still in my ears. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
The title and subtitle pretty much describe the book - but don't mention that the Author at almost 50 is traveling with her 18 month old daughter. And having what sounds like mostly idyllic times with her. An easy comforting read for the most part with reminder though of the brutally hard times behind the people and the landscape. ( )
  quondame | Jul 28, 2023 |
Author Louise Erdrich recounts a trip she takes with her young child to visit that child's father, see the rock paintings on the islands in the Lake of the Woods in Ojibwe Country in northern Minnesota and southern Canada, and revisit a library kept by a previous traveler.

I was expecting more about books and reading, based on the title, but instead Erdrich's book is a meandering and thoughtful pondering of her indigenous culture, the islands and their history and, yes, a little about books and why she finds reading so important. There are a lot of observations about her daughter, taking a boat out on the lake, and exploring. The journey is the tie along which she strings shorter topics, showing her thought process from one to another. ( )
  bell7 | Jul 19, 2023 |
A relaxing mix of connected travelogue, stories about the Native American Ojibwe peoples’ spiritual geography and occasional comments about books originally published in 2003.
I particularly enjoyed Erdrich’s descriptions of wildlife encounters, appreciating the joy and wonder that can arise from seemingly mundane sightings.
I have recently read Indigenous Continent by Pekka Hämäläinen, so this book might have been more accessible to me than someone with no previous knowledge of Native American traditions (I’m British), but this was an enlightening read if you are open minded about those traditions.
It would be interesting to know Erdrich’s opinions about these traditions now twenty years later, although my edition includes a positive afterword from 2013.

In the final chapter, Erdrich talks about returning to her Birchbark bookstore in Minneapolis, noting the old Catholic confessional over against one wall, which also appears in the fictionalised version of the bookstore in The Sentence, of course! ( )
  CarltonC | Apr 21, 2023 |
At the age of 47, Louise Erdrich unexpectedly found herself pregnant by a man she refers to here only by the name Tobasonakwut, and whom she never publicly identified, but who almost certainly was this highly respected Anishinaabe teacher, philosopher and activist. When the child known as Kiizhikok (full Ojibwe name Nenaa'ikiizhikok after her grandmother) was 18 months old, Erdrich took her on a quest of sorts, into the island country of Northern Minnesota and Canada, home to their ancestors. This book is a memoir of that journey, and a reflection on the importance of language, both written and oral, in preserving a culture and a sense of belonging. Beautiful reading. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Mar 10, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
"This book is a treasure and a delight."
added by SaraElizabeth11 | editThe Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
"We know we are in the hands of an exceptionally skilled, sensitive, observant writer."
added by SaraElizabeth11 | editThe Washington Post
 
"Fans of Erdrich's earlier fiction...will glimpse the very foundation of her literary vision."
added by SaraElizabeth11 | editThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
"The dilemma of being caught between two cultures are at the heart of [Erdrich's] work as a novelist. ...She as shown that she is just as capable of using this material to work magic i nonfiction, as well."
added by SaraElizabeth11 | editThe Sunday Times (London)
 
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for Nenaa'ikiizhikok
and her brothers and sisters
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My travels have become so focused on books and islands that the two have merged for me.
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Biography & Autobiography. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

For more than three decades, bestselling author Louise Erdrich has enthralled readers with dazzling novels that paint an evocative portrait of Native American life. From her dazzling first novel, Love Medicine, to the National Book Award-winning The Round House, Erdrich's lyrical skill and emotional assurance have earned her a place alongside William Faulkner and Willa Cather as an author deeply rooted in the American landscape.

In Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, Erdrich takes us on an illuminating tour through the terrain her ancestors have inhabited for centuries: the lakes and islands of southern Ontario. Summoning to life the Ojibwe's sacred spirits and songs, their language and sorrows, she considers the many ways in which her tribeâ??whose name derives from the word ozhibii'ige, "to write"â??have influenced her. Her journey links ancient stone paintings with a magical island where a bookish recluse built an extraordinary library, and she reveals how both have transformed her.

A blend of history, mythology, and memoir, Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country is an enchanting meditation on modern life, natural splendor, and the ancient spirituality and creativity of Erdrich's native homelandâ??a long, elemental tradition of storytelling that is in her bl

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