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Birchbark Blog

Hey Good Looking!

Louise Erdrich - Saturday, July 02, 2011
Dear Good Looking Friends,

I've noted it -- everyone who enters Birchbark Books is really good looking.  I don't know why it is, but just a fact.  And particularly when clad in a Birchbark Books organic cotton T-shirt of any vintage everybody is good looking.  That is why we are asking you to send your picture wearing a Birchbark T-shirt to our Facebook page.  We have several editions of our T-shirt now, each one produced for us by that fabled local company, Monkey In a Dryer.  We have the birchbark brown, the robin's egg blue, the erotically charged graphite gray, the current deep Currant, the current Lucky Blue, and I can't remember what else.  If you've got the inclination, please include your favorite book, dog, or tree.   Please tell us where the picture was taken, as long as you were there legally.  Truly, we'd love to meet you wherever you are! 

This is Tree Month -- have you  noticed?  The trees in Minnesota have now fully leafed out and this week just past the solstice they are in such glory it gives a person green brain.  Time to read eaarth, by Bill McKibben to find out what you can do to help your best tree friend.  We cannot exist without trees, and they would certainly do better without us, but they continue to be the most generous living beings on earth.   I'm reading Keepers of the Trees, by Ann Linnea, meeting people who devote themselves to the love of trees.  One of my favorite characters in the book is Merve Wilkinson, who devoted himself to a tree-lot and logged it over the span of fifty years in such a profoundly thoughtful way that there is now more wood in the forest than when he started.  He figured out how to sustain himself, his family, and the forest and has educated people ever since.

We have books on Remarkable Trees, More Remarkable Trees, Tree Houses --  as I'm sitting here writing the late afternoon sun is flowing down through the still, tiny leaves of my favorite locust tree just outside the window.  I know people don't like these trees much because they have big thorns.  Yet their blossoms are swooningly fragrant, they're unkillable, and unfathomably lovely.  But really, isn't every tree helplessly gorgeous, just like the people who come into Birchbark Books?

Book People!  Thanks for your support this summer!  Oh, before I forget, I'd also like to celebrate the Green Team who have made such a beautiful impact on the other side of the street from the bookstore.  Come and see!  People gardening what was once a small wasteland of asphalt -- children learning to grow food -- this is truly inspiring.  Subject of next blog . . . 

Ten Years of Books

Louise Erdrich - Tuesday, June 08, 2010
This June will mark the TEN YEAR anniversary of Birchbark Books.  I just spent a rainy morning in the bookstore.  It feels like a hundred years and no time at all; it feels like the most unlikely place in the world and the most inevitable; it feels like everywhere in the world and it feels like home.   

The story of our store is on the website -- how we leased the space and took thirteen layers of floor and dentist office equipment.  Check it!

We started out with books culled from BOOKMAN, our local book distributor.  Bookman was absorbed by Ingram and its funky/lovely warehouse turned into Lofts.  Ten years ago, I went there with a shopping cart and loaded the cart, hand picking the likely titles from dim piles, riding up and down a freight elevator, checking out at the end with Bookman clerks including one who was and became the terrific writer Kate DiCamillo.  We put the books on the shelves and tried to figure out how to sell them.  We weren't very good at it.   Denny Magers of Magers and Quinn let me buy some books from him.  I set out books from my own library -- at the time we had a used/new mixture.   

Thank god I kept my day job and the asema that was placed in the walls kept on attracting people who understood that the art of bookselling is unlike any other business.  It is a way of life.  It is an odd and mundane passion.

Books must contain mysteriously the whole of human experience. -- yet sometimes one can hardly believe that there remains yet a new book to be written.  

I just fell in love all over with a big stack of books that have never been written before.  (The Farmer's Daughter by Jim Harrison, and More Remarkable Trees, and everything by Ha Jin). Or books I haven't read yet. (Bleak House)  Or books that made me laugh until I got sick.  (Awkward Family Photos).

I'll write more all summer about bookstore life.  I am just absorbing the fact that we are still here.  Thank you to our devoted customers and delighted newcomers!  Thank you tribal schools and tribal colleges, thank you local schools and teachers.  Thank you everyone who has passed through the blue door.

Louise Erdrich

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