Linda Twichell likes to share recommendations of those books she thinks should be on a Thousand Islands bookshelf. Last year, she reviewed 31 books on her Facebook page – one book for each day of the month.
At the same time, TI Life has 20+ books on our “Books Tab.” ( Listed under the name of the author, with those recently published being designated with *new.)
Linda and I thought you might like to have our list as a reference. Several books are long out of print, but you may be lucky and find them in a used bookshop, or on sale on the web.
We hope Linda's reviews and by exploring our Books Tab, you will add to your bookshelf.
Over the year we encourage you to send your recommendations. (Title, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication) also, provide an online link if possible.)
Enjoy Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life.
Linda Twichell’s list:
* indicates it is not included on the TI Life page. Many are out of print.
DAY 1: ST. LAWRENCE ABC'S; 1000 ISLANDS, 26 LETTERS, 1 RIVER written by Silvana Gargione and illustrated by Megan Gaffney. Great book for River Rats of all ages... text full of interesting tidbits and delightful illustrations. Love this one!
DAY 2: COMFORT ISLAND; One Family’s Generational Journey by Tad Clark...love this book as this family came to the River about the same time as my family. Learning to conquer challenges of living in an old house on an island, making a life here and discovering that River friends will become the best friends of your life became true for his family and for mine. This is a great read!
DAY 3. SAMANTHA AT CONEY ISLAND AND A THOUSAND OTHER ISLANDS by Josiah Allen's wife. Josiah Allen's wife was a nome de plume of Marietta Holley, Jefferson County author. Holley was an early advocate of women's rights and children's rights. An exhibit of her life was featured at the Jefferson County Historical Museum, Watertown in 2017. She was a frequent visitor to the 1000 Islands and she is reported to have stayed at Westminster Park.
DAY 4: ONE IN A THOUSAND… This one is an e-book…..
by Ian Coristine with Donna Walsh Inglehart. More than a book... it's a multimedia platform with text, photos, and sound. In the dead of winter, no matter where you roam, you can hear river winds and the call of the loon. This is a favorite!!
DAY 5: 100 BUTTERFLIES* by Robbie Fanning. Young Adults FICTION!! dealing with coming of age at a time of parental loss. Based on the summer of 1963 in Westminster Park as a group of teens frolic through a magical summer together. When I flipped through my copy, I found slips of paper written by my mother where she tried to guess which character was which neighbor. Brings back special memories, such as a mid-summer party Robbie held on her Grandmother's porch. In walked a skinny boy from NJ who had a brown-paper grocery bag full of 45 rpm records. Nine years later I married him. See how the river works?
DAY 6: OF TIME AND AN ISLAND* by John Keats. A River classic made richer by friendships shared for which I am thankful. Thumbing through my copy I find newspaper clippings and flowers pressed long ago...signs of a well-loved book. One can learn a great deal about the River from those who lived in harmony with Her.
DAY 7: THE ISLAND* by Robert Russell. Another page-turner. Russell recounts his life as one who was "chosen by the River" as we say. He buys an island off Gan, rehabs a house, dock, boats, learns the ways of the water, the natural wonders of our area. Remarkable? Truly! For Mr. Russell was blind. How does a person without sight set out alone in a small boat to go fishing? How does he teach us to "see" the river in new ways? This book is full of the Old Wisdom of the River. It's a fascinating story and a remarkable study of the human spirit!
DAY 8: LEGENDARY WIT AND HUMOR OF AN ERA...IN THE AREA OF THE 1000 ISLANDS* by William C. Hartman. Confession: when my aunt passed this book to me for my River library, I thought it was corny. Fast forward 25 years... I love this book! Mr. Hartman recounts the stories of his grandfather, William Kepler. Many tales of the river and Wellesley Island are included along with the information we all seek: why is Densmore Church round, how did they get that ferry across the channel, how to catch a sturgeon.... If you see this book in a sale someplace, grab it! You'll like these tales!
DAY 9.... ESTHER AT THE THOUSAND ISLANDS* by Flora Longfellow Turknett. Stories of visits to the Thousand Islands were popular even in 1901. This book, written for young readers, tells tales of familiar places like TI Park, Lake of the Isles, Eel Bay, Round Island, etc. The characters share the excitement of steamers passing by... The Toronto, The Ramona.... well, lots of local flavor. Lovely half-tone photos of early river days.
DAY 10: GRINDSTONE by Donna Walsh Inglehart. Cover notes read, "Set in the wild beauty of the Thousand Islands, GRINDSTONE is ambitious, moving, and artfully imagined. ...brings... a deep sympathy for the Irish immigrant experience and the impact of the Civil War, creating a haunting narrative that is uniquely expressive of the American spirit." I enjoyed every page! Plus, the author is a family member of my neighbors. Have you read this? Weigh in!
DAY 11: RIVER VIEWS; A HISTORY OF THE THOUSAND ISLANDS IN 3-D by Tom French. If you love River history, this is a must-read. So much to learn and so many photos to study. Of particular note to my neighbors are the Westminster Park pages, including an Esson shot of my next-door neighbor's cottage, Sunset. Many 1000 Islands areas are covered in detail. And I recommend attending Tom French's lectures which pop up periodically in NNY. Very informative. Great book! Great historian!
DAY 12: GLIMPSES OF ST. LAWRENCE SUMMER LIFE; THOUSAND ISLANDS SOUVENIRS from the Robert and Prudence Matthews Collection by the Antique Boat Museum. Once on Facebook, Kris Pinkney posted a beautiful ruby flash pitcher which reminded me of this River treasure. If you need information about any of the many River collectibles, look here. This is a treasure trove of info written by some of my favorite people.
DAY 13: SAINTS, SINNERS, & SAILORS OF THE GILDED AGE by Rex Ennis. You can tell from all the bookmarks that this is of interest to me. It contains brief biographical sketches of the property owners named on the 1898 Frank H. Taylor Map of the Thousand Islands: Hotels, Parks, and Cottages which was found in Dean Thomas's cottage wall. (Westminster Park) It is a great jumping-off point for those of us who research River history and an interesting read for those who wonder who came before us. I am in complete awe of the effort that went into writing that book. And thank you, Mr. Ennis.... some of these people were hard to find!
DAY 14: STATE OF NEW YORK FOREST, FISH, & GAME COMMISSION 7TH REPORT, 1901.*
An “impulse buy” for me... paid way too much but never fail to enjoy looking at the plates in this book about the flora and fauna of NYS. Lots of interesting history as well... about the Saint Lawrence Reservation, early conservation efforts, the formation of The Angler's Association, etc. Worth a look.
DAY 15: A PINAFORE OF DREAMS* by Clover Boldt Baird, granddaughter of George C. Boldt. A sweet book of poetry illustrated by the author's daughter, Clover Ann Weller. This is a small volume with simple poems some pertaining to life in general; some to the River. A charming keepsake.
DAY 16:THE GREAT ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY* by Gail Gibbons. A great one for the kids... this explains the history and development of the Seaway in clear language with lovely watercolor illustrations. Informative for all of us!
DAY 17: IMAGES OF THE THOUSAND ISLANDS*; a picture book with illustrations by Hans Junga and story by Joan Walentuk. A travelogue of the area with pencil sketches and watercolor illustrations. We have seen so many changes since its publication in 1980, so it has become snapshots in time. I love Junga's work with a subtle structure of line work and a tender color palette. Brings the peace of the river to your armchair.
DAY 18: RIVER LIFE, THE THOUSAND ISLANDS, SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER by Michael Ringer. This is a good one. Vintage family photos and collectible postcards mix with Ringer's art, words clipped from history and Mr. Ringer's insights to the people, the places, and the life of the river. Very well done.
DAY 19: RUTH FIELDING ON THE SAINT LAWRENCE* by Alice B. Emerson. This novel from 1922, is one of a series of books written with a message to parents: "You want to be sure of the character of the books read by your boys and girls....reading material is clean, interesting, inspiring, and educational." A quick skim reveals that although there are geographical references we might relate to, there is more than a bit of reference to ethnicity that would not stand up to 2017 values. Interesting period piece. I would preview it before I gave it to those of a tender mind.
DAY 20: THOUSAND ISLANDS YACHT CLUB/ WELCOME ISLAND/ A HISTORY by Robert Matthews; illustrated by Bev Farrell. A well-researched book offering a peek at the origins, glory days, and demise of a great River institution. A quick read that offers a peek at the activities of the River Royals. Who would have guessed there were dog shows, elaborate balls, casino events...and even an aero-nautical division? You'll like this one written by one of my favorite River historians!
DAY 21: THE VISGER WORLD* by Les and Verda Corbin. If you love River history, you'll enjoy this account of two generations of The Visger family, leaders in the development of tourism and economic growth in the 1000 Islands region. Author Verda Corbin was one of those historians who inspired my love of this place. My mother always clipped "River Ripples", her weekly column of tidbits gleaned from historic newspapers which was published in the TISun. I later followed suit. The Corbin legacy was carried on by Marilyn and Hutch Hutchinson in everyone's favorite river bookstore, Corbin's. Am I the only one who misses that place?
DAY 22: PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE THOUSAND ISLANDS* by edited by Adrian G. Ten Cate.
Have you noticed I'm a sucker for books about the history of the St. Lawrence River, especially with tons of photos? This 1982 book was one of the earlier books I found and I was excited to find a photo of a naphtha launch at the Blandner's boathouse and also an entry about Westminster Park. After doing so much research on our area, I find the photos are even more entertaining. I recognize boats and places, etc. and delight in seeing a photo I've never seen before. It's a book that grows more enjoyable through the years.
DAY 23:. BREAKING THE RING* by Donna Walsh Inglehart. A Young Adult mystery/adventure novel set in 1000 Islands. Have you read this one?
DAY 24: CLASSIC BOATS OF THE THOUSAND ISLANDS* by Anthony Mollica, Jr.; photography by George Fischer: What a mix! Gorgeous photos, wooden boats, boatbuilding history, shiny pages… makes for a delightful book. Of special interest to Westminster Park readers is the story of the Black and Tan…page 102-105. Don’t miss it! Did you notice that all of the boat owners are smiling? Live vicariously with this book and you will smile too.
DAY 25: BOLDT CASTLE; IN SEARCH OF THE LOST STORY, FOOL'S PARADISE; REMEMBERING THE THOUSAND ISLANDS; A FLOATING WORLD; MORE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASTIMES OF THE THOUSAND ISLANDS by Paul Malo. What a distinguished career of a man who loved the 1000 islands. Malo was an architect with a passion for historical preservation. We remember his work as editor of www.thousandislandslife.com.,authoring these books, and generously sharing his love of our area with others.
DAY 26: ISLAND LIFE; ONE THOUSAND ISLANDS, ONE THOUSAND STORIES*; editor Kim Lunman: Taking a small step away from books to include this magazine because it is available up and down the River each Spring. Don’t miss it. Also, news to me: Kim now has a website so you won't miss out on past and present articles. It's islandlifemag.ca. For about seven years, Kim has treated us to gorgeous photos and interesting stories about the place and people of the 1000 islands. This year she hopped on a helicopter to gain a better vantage point. I look forward to seeing this each year! Great job, Kim Lunman!
DAY 27: THE FIRST SUMMER PEOPLE; THE THOUSAND ISLANDS 1650- 1910 by Susan Weston Smith. What an incredible resource! History Detectives, I recommend this for your bookshelf. Susie Smith's research goes well beyond many River historians. On a trip to England she had to opportunity to view the leather-bound chart records of the British Hydrographic service and found the original chart of the Canadian Lakes, 1815-1818. Additional research in National Archives of Canada and US Archives in Washington DC, as well as local resources, lead to a book full of information on early River explorations and settlement. Susan Smith has other writing credits, but is best known as the editor of thousandislandlife.com. Kudos, Susie, for promoting the love of the River and a fabulous resource.
DAY 28; A RIVER RAT’S GUIDE TO THE THOUSAND ISLANDS* by Shawn Thompson. Mr. Thompson has written a number of other River books: Soul of the River, River’s Edge, are two. I always enjoy a book written by those who love our area. So many interesting stories and perspectives… In today’s selection, the author explains the derivation of the term River Rat. I always bristled at being called a rat, but now I understand its legacy and may rethink my ideas. Mr. Thompson’s books are available at the MacSherry Library in Alexandria Bay.
DAY 29: THE THOUSAND ISLANDS, THE 1000 ISLANDS, AND WATER, WIND, AND SKY by Ian Coristine. Are we not fortunate to have a world-class photographer with the ability to capture the bird's eye view and to share his work with us all? If ever you are feeling down, a few minutes with one of these books will remind you that we are blessed to live in a place of ever-changing beauty and peace. Do you agree?
DAY 30: SECRET CASTLE* by Anne Colver. A 1969 mystery/adventure chapter book written for young readers. Although it is a fictional story, it is set in Alexandria Bay and centers around Boldt Castle, Devil's Oven and nearby islands, and the elements are pure River Rat. One "true" character is the Librarian of the Holland Library, Florence McDonell. Was Holland the former name of the MacSherry Library? Thank you to the person who posted this on a Facebook group and to my friend, Siobhan, who tracked down a copy and loaned it to me. It is an entertaining read. Keep an eye out at garage sales in the area. Great one to share with young family members.
A month of River books: DAY 31: Thanks to those who followed along. As you know, there are many more River books than the ones I have mentioned. For the last day of the list, let's hear your choice of a favorite River book. Please comment and let us know your pick.
Text by Linda Twichell.
Linda Lewis Twichell, a fifty-six-year resident of Westminster Park, has collected historical information on the Westminster community since the 1970’s. Presently, her research focuses on the lives of the people who settled here in the last quarter of the 19th century, and the cottages they built. A book of Westminster Park, its people, and their stories is in the works. Be sure to check out Linda’s other historical research published in previous issues of TI Life.
Photos from the TI Life Books Tab. Once again, please keep us informed of new author’s works!