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Books for Fall

It is a sure bet that you are a reader and a safe bet that you like to read about the area you live in,  so here are some great books that are placed in and are formed by North Idaho:


In 1980 Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, was published with little fanfare. I found it by accident five years later on the shelves of the old Sandpoint Library. The compelling story is set in Sandpoint. The author’s skill in describing scenes is so remarkable that after twenty-five years, every time I cross the Long Bridge, I visualize a train diving into the water like an otter sliding off a rock.


Robinson was a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Housekeeping but didn’t win this coveted award until 2005 with her second novel Gideon. When asked why she hadn’t written for twenty years, Robinson replied that she had been reading. She has become an essayist and continues to pick up accolades for her literary output. 


If a well-told tale of a fascinating hobo aunt, maternal suicide and eccentricity isn’t your cup of tea and you want a more robust blend of blood and guts check out the books of the Spokane author Jess Walter. He has written some great mysteries set in Spokane: Over Tumbled Graves, In the Land of the Brave, Citizen Vince. If your tastes run to humor, his most recent novel, Financial Lives of Poets, is beyond funny; the wit is as brilliant as a diamond and as sharp.


If non-fiction is appealing, Walter has that covered too. He earned his chops covering news for the Spokesman Review and wrote Ruby Ridge, the truth and tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family (aka Every Knee Shall Bow) in 1982. This is a disturbing—and you should be disturbed—fair-handed and well-researched account of the Ruby Ridge debacle.


In the realm of non-fiction, Legendary Lake Pend Oreille Idaho’s Wilderness of Water, published by Keokee Books, is a remarkable compilation of Hope author, Jane Fritz. Joined by other local authors with essays and articles about all things lake, Fritz has found her voice, “Love the Lake.”


More than informative articles about Farragut and lovely essays on canoeing, the 391 page book has stunning photographs on nearly every page, some taken by Ross Hall, some from family albums and tribal archives. 


In addition to the beautiful photos, every recreation resource is accounted for. Hiking trails, boat docks, kayak put-ins, campgrounds are organized by location and thus easy to plan an outing. Maps are plentiful throughout the guide section.


More than just a carefully laid out guide to recreation, the book contains wonderful information about the geologic and human history of Lake Pend Oreille. There is much to learn about the people—Kalispell—who have lived here for 10.000 years. This book succeeds in a great part to give a glimpse of tribal life before European contact.


Anecdotes about early settlers around the lake help explain place names and are interesting for any history buff, Lists of wildlife and descriptions of the Delta are satisfying. And did I mention how great the photos are?
While I am awed by the literary genius of Robinson and the wit of Walter, I am floored by the amount of well-organized and beautifully-presented material in Legendary Lake Pend Oreille. This is a book that you want on your dinner table to thumb through and read in odd moments.  This is a book you can wrap up in festive paper and give proudly to your lake-loving friends.


Editor’s note: Lou is in no way affiliated with Keokee Books.

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Author info

Lou Springer Lou Springer lives in Heron when not out on a river somewhere.

Tagged as:

Lake Pend Oreille, Keokee books, Legendary Lake Pend Oreille, Jane Fritz, Ross Hall, books, Housekeeping, Marilyn Robinson, Jess Walter, Every Knee Shall Bow, Ruby Ridge

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