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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Light Up Your Heart

I love books that sample a favorite writer’s old poems and also present new ones. Ted Kooser introduces The Woods Are on Fire: New and Selected Poems, by Fleda Brown, and you can’t go wrong with this collection. Open it anywhere. Read the poem on that page. Sink into it, and let it sink into you. Worth the price of admission! Thank you, Fleda!

The Woods Are on Fire: New and Selected Poems
by Fleda Brown
Paper, 275pp

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Advanced Studies in American History

If you’re an American, no matter your skin color or religion or ethnic background, no matter the size of your house or bank account, this could be the single most important book you read this year. The most well-educated historian will find surprises here, and to most of the rest of us it’s a view of our nation’s past that we’ve never had before. After saying that much, do I really need to add that I recommend it most highly?

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
by Nancy Isenberg
Hardcover, 459pp with notes and index

Friday, January 20, 2017

Island Getaway, Anyone?

Did you know there are around 35,000 islands in the Great Lakes? How many have you visited? Of the ones you haven’t explored, which would be your #1 pick – or don’t you know? This book may help you decide.

Complete with maps and color photographs and arranged geographically, Great Lakes Island Escapes tells you how to get to each island and how to get around on it once you’re there. What to see, where to stay, websites and addresses are also included, but I especially appreciate the “Parting Thoughts” for each island visit the author made.

I'd like to visit Beaver Island

and revisit Harsen's Island

It’s winter. It’s time to dream. Let your spirit fly away!

Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and
       Bridges to Adventure 
by Maureen Dunphy
Detroit: A Painted Turtle Book
Paper, 427pp w/ index & illus.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Are You Scientifically Curious?

If you are, then these two books should pique your interest.

Michael McCarthy’s lyrical book, The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy, puts a new slant on species extinction. He remembers riding in a car at night when he was a boy and how moths appeared in the car’s headlights, “in such numbers there would be a veritable snowstorm....” I remember summer nights as filled with lightning bugs as the sky was filled with stars. Moths and lightning bugs still appear in our evening world, but not anywhere near the numbers Various insect species have declined 70-90% since 1968. Did you notice those populations dwindling? What should we think about their decline?

A different exploration, a “conversatioal essay” (according to the Weekly Standard), is The Wandering Mind: What the Brain Does When You’re Not Looking, by Michael C. Corballis. The author takes up a defense of absent-mindedness! Surely, many of us will feel vindicated and comforted by his evidence and arguments!

The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy
by Michael McCarthy
Hardcover, 262pp w/ index

The Wandering Mind: What the Brain Does When You’re Not Looking
by Michael C. Corballis
Paper, 173pp w/ index

The new hardcover books in the photo below are now on sale at Dog Ears Books, at 30% or more off the original retail price.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Visit Montana, Stay in Michigan – or Both?

This little anthology from Elk River Books is called by Pete Fromm “the most important book you’ll buy this year, or maybe any other.” I’ll just say that it’s a collection of essays, fiction, and poetry by a stunning cast of writers. You’ll recognize many of the names, including that of Leelanau County's most famous author, Jim Harrison. Other than showcasing beautiful writing, however, Unearthing Paradise is a call to arms at a time when public natural resources are more than ever in need of protection from destructive private exploitation. You don't want to miss this book.

Unearthing Paradise: Montana Writers
      In Defense of Greater Yellowstone
edited by Marc Beaudin, Seabring Davis,
      And Max Hjortsberg
with Foreword by Terry Tempest Williams
Paper, 179pp, $15

And if staying here to face Michigan cold with Up North courage (not to say sisu and steal a march from the Yoopers), while at the same time catching up with fictional Sheriff Ray Elkins, you’ll want to pick up the latest Aaron Stander novel, Gales of November. What dangers and puzzles will the sheriff meet this time? Read and find out!

Gales of November
by Aaron Stander
Paper, 25pp, $17.95

My advice is to buy and read both books, because by now we've barely gotten started on winter, and there is going to be a lot of good reading weather ahead.

Thursday afternoon excitement: sunshine!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wendell Berry Is Here Again

And if anything could make a new book of
Wendell Berry’s poetry and prose even more attractive, it’s what this book features – beautiful engravings by Wesley Bates. A keepsake book, if there ever was one. A spring tonic in the midst of winter!

Roots to the Earth
by Wendell Berry
with wood engravings
      by Wesley Bates
Hardover, $26