Now is the time to cozy up by the fire and read a good book. Here’s our roundup of local books, or books written by local authors, that were published in late 2021 and 2022. Please find them at Leelanau County’s locally-owned, independent bookstores

The next event in local writer Anne-Marie Oomen’s prolific career of creating history plays, poems, essays, and creative nonfiction will be the launch of her new memoir As Long As I Know You, The Mom Book on Oct. 6 at Kirkbride Hall in Traverse City at Building 50 from 5:30-7:30 pm. It is also a fundraiser for Michigan Writers Scholarships, and “Everyone’s invited!” The book is dedicated “To my mother, Ruth Jean Oomen, April 28, 1921–November 16, 2020, and to all of those ‘in the homes’.”

Leelanau County writer Stephanie Mills asks, “What does “watershed” mean to you?” A “watershed moment” can be a cusp, mark a divide. Earthly watersheds make for differences and natural diversity. Watersheds are basins that gather, channel, absorb and filter precipitation; they collect waters from their uplands. These flow downslope and congregate: seeps and rivulets connect with brooks, streams, rivers, lakes, and seas. Watersheds are life-places. They outline and embrace distinct realms. They collect fluid intelligence from animate terrains. Watershed maps strikingly resemble placentas. Their capillaries and tributaries, their veins and main stems, carry water and—every substance or organism— that can be dissolved, eroded, relocated, or washed from the land to replenish or contaminate the water bodies along the way to the world ocean.

In early October last year, I stopped by the iconic Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor to introduce myself—a local author whose book is carried there—and to sign copies. Entering the historic log cabin is literally a mood-altering experience. The open door beckons bookworms young and old. Inside, it’s chockful of books and sundry novelties, its walls notably displaying color-popping Greg Sobran prints of area landmarks. Indeed, Cottage Book Shop is the epitome of cozy.

Back in early July, on a windy Sunday, I woke before sunrise at the southern end of North Manitou Island and headed out onto the beach for the day’s work. There at Dimmick’s Point, a broad wing of dunes and wave-turned stones reaching out into the Manitou Passage, we find the largest nesting concentration of Great Lakes piping plovers in the world. Roughly a quarter of the population nests on the island, with another quarter nesting just across the passage. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to nearly half the breeding pairs of this endangered shorebird. At Dimmick’s Point, four days a week during nesting season from May to August, I walk the beach and monitor the plover activity. The point is closed to park visitors during that time, so I am typically the only human among the birds.

Prolific local poet, memoirist, essayist and playwright Anne-Marie Oomen creates an enduring sense of place and history. From her memoirs about growing up in Oceana County (100 miles south of Leelanau), to poems that capture the magic of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the western Michigan lakeshore, to history plays that re-create local characters and bygone times, Oomen’s work is always infused with images of the hills and the forests, the barns and the orchards, and the dirt and the compost of her native land. This summer two of Oomen’s history pieces will be performed as part of the Port Oneida Fair, sponsored by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear and the Port Oneida Fair Committee with a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council.

“Nearly four decades have passed since I first set foot in northern Michigan,” writes author Tim Mulherin in this humorous essay. “In that span of time, I’ve advanced from agog newbie to repeat tourist to seasonal visitor and property owner. Nonetheless, throughout my time Up North, I’ve noticed there are certain common traits in being a card-carrying, fully certified northern Michigander, and they have nothing to do with possessing a driver’s license issued by the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles.”

Last month, I took swim lessons for the first time. Always a lover of the water and often the first person in Lake Michigan during a beach gathering with friends, this has been somewhat surprising information to share with people. Don’t I already know how to swim? But I want to do what I love better, perhaps with a bit more efficiency and definitely with better breathing techniques.

Athena Gillespie, age 20, won the Audience Choice award at this year’s Empire Asparagus Festival poetry contest, held on Saturday, June 4, for her poem “Green Force.” Gillespie also submitted a poem to the contest in 2012, when she was 10 years old. Both poems are published here.

The Glen Lake Library will help celebrate the return of the beloved Empire Asparagus Festival on June 4 with their Ode to Asparagus poetry reading and Asparagus recipe contest. Click here for more information on how to submit a poem or recipe.