The first four to be featured are works of non-fiction, one of which is autobiographical. The other three have several common bonds, the primary one being that they focus on some unique charms of life in Northern Michigan. Next week, well introduce you to four quite diverse fictional works from writers John Fulton, Christopher Knight, Constance Cappel, and Expresss own Harley Sachs.
One Rose Blooming: Hard Earned Lessons about Kids, Race and Life in America by Rose Martin with Doug Truax
Ann Arbor resident Martin grew up in a New Jersey ghetto, and lived virtually on her own from the time she was seven and began a trek through 38 different foster homes. Her life was as rough as it comes, but she possessed an indomitable spirit and refusal to fall victim of a life of defeat. In 1971, she and her children began a new life in Michigan, where she began work with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. Later, she became the director of the citys Peace Neighborhood Center, where she still serves today, one of many acts of public service that resulted in her recently being honored with the Winning Spirit grand prize on the Rosie ODonnell Show and carrying the torch at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Though it is a poignant memoir, this inspiring, heartfelt book gives Martin a unique platform to address a wide range of topics which she has personal experience with and deep passion about, including nurturing children, helping the less fortunate, race, and breaking down personal barriers that stand in the way of achieving ones potential, to name a few. She talks straight and sensibly, and her words are worth taking seriously.
Good Taste: A Guide to Northern Michigan Cuisine by Patty LaNoue Stearns
Stearns, formerly of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Monthly magazine, has become northern Michigans pre-eminent food critic since transplanting herself here with husband Joe a few years ago. She writes a weekly restaurant review column for the Traverse City Record Eagle, and this summer, released two books, the first being the delightful “A Cherry Home Companion“ cookbook.
Her second, the hot-off-the-presses “Good Taste,“ is a compilation of her restaurant reviews and a “foodies bible“ to the regions cuisine, from the elegant Tapawingo to what to nosh on at the National Cherry Festival. The first section of the book is dedicated to the restaurant write-ups, and there are very few worth mentioning that arent included here and rated from two stars (“good“) to five (the best). The second section includes her “Best Bets“ for artisan bread, burgers, cheese, Cherry Festival food, designer milk, homemade ice cream, farm markets, ice cream, pie, pizzas, local wineries, and more, including business locations, hours, phone numbers, and web sites. She rounds out the book with “Fave Foodie Spots by Location.“
Stearns is a knowledgeable, thoughtful and very fair food critic, and when she likes an eatery, her enthusiasm is contagious enough to make one want to book the next possible reservation. She plans on updating the guide in the future to keep current with the ongoing changes in the regional restaurant scene, and those who enjoy the great dining options we are fortunate to have here will want to keep tabs with her.
Vintage Views of Leelanau County by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson
For nearly two decades, Byron and Wilson, Grand Rapids-based history and post card buffs who frequently retreat to their cottage on Glen Lake, have been collecting antique postcards and Michigan travel memorabilia about Leelanau County, circa 1890-1960. The result of their treasure hunting is this wonderful coffee table book from Sleeping Bear Press that is a must-have for anyone who has ever been in awe of the distinctive magic of a place whose history is “as unique as its natural beauty and geographical setting.“
The remarkable collection of postcards here that range from historic and nostalgic to whimsical and even breathtaking are accompanied by newspaper clippings and snippets from ads and travel brochures, which collectively form a unique portrait of Empire, Glen Lake, Glen Arbor, Lake Leelanau, Leland, Omena, Suttons Bay, the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, and North and South Manitou Islands. The authors have done meticulous research in crafting this loving look at the “Land of Delight,“ and the text is an impeccable match for the scores of evocative images.
As the reader time travels through the book, you are struck by how much the character and flavor of these villages and the county as a whole has been preserved over the years, and there are very places of which that can be said. This is a book to curl up with and lose time over, one that will surely introduce you to new facets of Leelanau County, no matter how well you might know it. And count on buying two of these - in addition to the one you keep for yourself, this would be a marvelous gift for someone else.
Look About You: A Magical Childhood in Michigans Wild Places by Erin Anderson and Mary Fuscaldo
Anderson is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, where she majored in creative writing, and a recipient of the Grace Paley Fiction Award in 1998, 1999 and 2000, and Fuscaldo has specialized in painting the landscapes of northern Michigan since she moved to the Leelanau Peninsula a while back. Their collaboration here makes for one of the most stunning books for younger readers I have seen in some time, but that may actually be boxing the book into a category that it is much began than, for it certainly has appeal for readers of any age and was created to reach the child within all of us.
The focus of the book is on the “extraordinary wild places“ of Northern Michigan that are so special that they are home to faeries, the most magical creatures of all, and ones whose spirit and beauty are a match for the woods and waters, trees and trails, and rocks and rivers that grace this area. As a father teaches his daughter about the importance of respecting and preserving these spaces, he turns to the faeries to help reinforce his lessons, which the young girl carries with her as she grows up and into adulthood, ultimately to pass on to her own children.
This is a lovely story, gracefully told by Anderson and complemented by Fuscaldos lyrical illustrations. And if that alone isnt enough to lure you, heres another impressive feature - publisher Rimwalk Press will donate a portion of the proceeds from ech sale to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Leelanau Conservancy, and the Little Traverse Conservancy.