Great Reads by the Fireplace

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Michigan winters: They’re epic, they’re beautiful and they can leave even the most seasoned native wishing to be somewhere else. When blizzard conditions and ice-slick roads have you feeling a touch of cabin fever, go somewhere — and let a good book take you there. Here are some great winter reads with Michigan roots to accompany you on your armchair travels.

Welcome to Replica Dodge Book Cover1. Welcome to Replica Dodge”
By Natalie Ruth Joynton
Publisher: Wayne State University Press

This well-crafted memoir shares a heaping spoonful of what it’s like to live in northern Michigan, as told by a Texas transplant who moved to Mason County to get married and start a life there. Her adventures range from chuckle-worthy to heartwarming, warranting an “I’ve been there” thought or two in the spirit of true Michigander camaraderie. Author Natalie Ruth Joynton’s introduction to her new home seems even more surreal to her when the house she and her husband purchase includes a miniature town with an Old West theme right in their own yard.


2. Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers
By Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham
Publisher: University of Michigan Press

While Michigan is known for award-winning wines and the craft beers that have earned Grand Rapids the honorific Brew City, USA, what may be lesser known are the cocktails with Michigan ties. Bearing names like The Last Word and The Michigander, the drinks featured here are shared with Michigan trivia as well as pages of history on Michigan’s part in development, distilleries and distribution, even in the prohibition years. 


3. Saint Peter and the Goldfinch”
Poems by Jack Ridl
Publisher: Wayne State University Press

West Michigan poet Jack Ridl’s latest collection of poems is a delight, filled with the evocative style for which Ridl is known. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins said of this latest collection, “These poems typically begin with a series of quiet, levelheaded observations and end in a wild, imaginative leap.” What more could we ask? Perhaps the best work yet by Ridl, readers will find the works engaging, enlightening and insightful. 


4. Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction”
Edited by Anne-Marie Oomen
Publisher: Wayne State University Press

The writing here is nothing less than brilliant. The essays are expertly crafted and discerningly selected to complete this compilation, showcasing the Mitten State and all that is good — and sometimes challenging — here. Writers share glimpses of life from Michigan’s “thumb” to Glen Arbor, from Traverse City to Meridian Township, detailing the realness of the climate, landscape and wildlife.


5. The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball’s Pioneering Champions”
By Mitch Lutzke
Publisher: McFarland & Company

Adrian is the setting for this painstakingly researched piece of baseball history. Author Mitch Lutzke reveals that while it’s widely thought the addition of Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball marked the first integrated baseball team, there were people of color playing professionally as early as the late 19th century. Yet, with few such opportunities, all-black teams were formed, one being the Page Fence Giants, named for an Adrian business. The team, unofficial league champions, has remained largely unknown, overshadowed by teams from nearby large cities like Detroit and Chicago — until now. Lutzke’s book reveals an early power team in small-town Michigan while giving readers a look into baseball history.

– Julie Bonner Williams, Michigan BLUE Magazine.

*Photography courtesy BOOK PUBLISHERS


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