‘Island Booknotes 2020’ in post office boxes now

December 4, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

A new take on an old concept, with more island participation
BY MARCY SHORTUSE-  If you haven’t checked your post office box in a while, and you’re a lover of books, you might want to stop by and get the mail. This week the Johann Fust Library Foundation sent out their “Island Booknotes 2020,” and it is filled with very interesting writing, reviews and more from some of Boca Grande’s most prominent writers.
Bobbie Marquis, the Library Foundation’s executive director, said this 28-page booklet showcasing the island’s fascinating literature was a labor of love for herself as well as the Foundation’s board.
“It was so nice to have so many willing participants,” she said. “We dropped one in every post office box on the island and mailed out 500 copies to people on our list who haven’t come back down to the island yet. Anyone else who would like a copy can contact me, and I will mail one out.”
Marquis explained that while Booknotes isn’t a new project, in the past it was more about their speaker series for each season. Because this year’s in-person activities still hang in the balance, they decided to take a new approach.
“Over the past three years we have had a few book reviews in there, but mainly seasonal events,” Marquis said. “We really don’t know what we’re doing this year, because circumstances are not conducive to gathering. We thought this would be a great way to reach out to the community. Each participant has Boca Grande ties, and many of them spend at least the season here. They were all very enthusiastic to be part of this.”
Marquis said that once she and her board started plotting their new course, it developed a life of its own. 
“We realized there are a lot of writers – and readers – in the community: This is a literary town,” she said. “After it was published, it came to my attention that we had missed a few, particularly a couple of poets, so we already have people lined up for the next edition.”
In their attempt to emphasize the island’s culture of reading and writing, Marquis said there is a link on their website to a forum that coincides with Booknotes. It is, as she said, a writing invitation of sorts.
“We’re not expecting great works. We just want people to express themselves, whether it’s about their love of writing or reading, or even a book they have read that means a lot to them,” she said. “We think this ties in really well with the mission of the Foundation. We want to support the literary and cultural aspects of the community. We’re just trying to do our part, considering these trying times. It’s great to have the input of fine writers and fine thinkers.”
Some of the contributors to Island Booknotes 2020 are Jane Geniesse, Alice Gorman, Karen Grace, Davis Hammond, Susan Hanafee, Sandy Jacobs, Jan Karon, David Sparks and Lindsay Major.
There are many more, though, such as Dr. Daly Walker, who teaches at Dartmouth in the summer months. He gives a review of Emily Nemens’ book, “The Cactus League.” He also discusses short story writing and gives his recommendations. 
Candy Hooper, one of the island’s finest historical writers, reviews the intriguing book by Megan Kate Nelson called “The Three-Cornered War,” which examines the country’s war on Native Americans, slavery and the overall prosecution of the Civil War that occurred in the country, particularly in the west.
“It’s interesting, because that’s a part of the Civil War you don’t read too much about,” Bobbie Marquis said. “It was particularly nice of her, considering she is currently working on her own newest book at this time.”
There is also a page devoted to Julian Keevil, an island favorite who passed away this year. Shown in a photograph at the top of the page is Keevil addressing a crowd in the library loggia, with his dear friend Les Nash in the front row. Nash has his own page in the booklet as well.
Davis Hammond discusses his love of Sir Walter Scott, particularly Scott’s works titled “The Heart of Midlothian” and “Old Mortality.” The library actually houses a Scott collection in the rare books room, donated by Roger Amory.
A very interesting piece on page 3 of the booklet is written by Louise Amory (who died in 1979), one of the founders of the library who used to help run the book boat called Papyrus. Her writing includes the ship’s logs for the boat, written in first person, and a story of how the library was named.
If you have any ideas for the next edition of Booknotes, call Marquis at the Foundation’s office, 964-0211. You can also call that number if you would like a copy of this interesting celebration of writing mailed to you.