Unique reads with local ties
By: Lindsy O'Brien, Duluth News Tribune
As the holidays approach, we literature lovers will flock to (or log onto) our favorite book buying venues in order to find the perfect something for the fellow readers on our list. Local interest non-fiction is an excellent way to give a unique and memorable gift as well as support writers and publishers from our own hometowns. Two fabulous gift ideas for this holiday
season are “The Last Keeper at Split Rock” by Mike Roberts and “News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist” by Laurie Hertzel.
I had the privilege of meeting the real-life “last keeper” of Split Rock Lighthouse this summer at a signing for his new memoir, aptly named “The Last Keeper at Split Rock.” Between customers eager to speak with him or to have copies of his book personalized, Mike Roberts kept the crowd entertained with fascinating stories of his experiences at Split Rock Lighthouse and with the Duluth Coast Guard, an unfailing smile spread across his face.
Reading Roberts’ book felt like sitting around a campfire with him, maybe along the shore of Lake Superior itself with its infamous lighthouse in the background, absorbing his tales of adventures in the coast guard while he was caring for the light. The book is filled with stories that are a page or two long each, and they all ring with Roberts’ conversational narrative voice. It is the kind of book that will hook even the most reluctant readers and is great for picking up here-and-there in the midst of a busy schedule.
Another inspirational and entertaining local read is Star Tribune reporter Laurie Hertzel’s memoir “News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist.” “News to Me” chronicles Hertzel’s career as a reporter that started with her time at the Duluth News Tribune. Beginning with the launch of her own publication she called “Newspaper” as a preteen, Hertzel tells the story of her career with a voice that is both humorous and provocative. She describes the sights, sounds, and smells of the 1970s newsroom in a way that captures the spirit of the place, showing readers the typewriters and associated press machines that have since been replaced by computers and internet servers. “News to Me” will appeal to
aspiring and established writers and artists, those interested in the
history of the newspaper business, and anyone who loves to hear
tales of Duluth and its many notorious figures. The book’s cover is
a collage of items that illustrate the distinct flavor of the book: an
ashtray from the Pickwick, old Duluth News Tribune headers and a
Duluth Police Department press pass signed by none other than
former chief of police, Eli Miletich.
“The Last Keeper at Split Rock” and “News to Me” are both historically relevant and extremely readable works that chronicle unique stories of northern Minnesota career experiences. Filled with tidbits about people and places that will keep local readers intrigued from cover to cover, these books make fantastic gift ideas for even the most difficult to shop for friends and family members.
NEWS TO ME: ADVENTURES OF AN ACCIDENTAL JOURNALIST
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press 2010
by Laurie Hertzel
THE LAST KEEPER AT SPLIT ROCK
Publisher: North Star Press of Saint Cloud
by Mike Roberts