Great gifts for Great Lakes enthusiasts

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The Inner Coast by Donovan Hohn

By Eric Freedman

Looking for a holiday gift with the spirit of the Great Lakes region? If so, here are books (in alphabetical order by title) that Great Lakes Echo has written about this year, including interviews with their authors.

Eating with the Seasons, Great Lakes Region by Dereck Nicholas

This cookbook combines recipes, language and the history of the Anishinaabeg people.

What the author says: “Back in the day, elders would take their sons and their daughters out fishing and they would use the language. You’d hear how to catch the fish, how to net fish, how to cook the fish. Nowadays that’s just not the case. If we can revitalize the language and the food, or both, it will all come together as one.”

Available: free on the University of Minnesota website or order print copies at for $16

Gangsters Up North: Mobsters, Mafia and Racketeers in Michigan’s Vacationlands by Robert Knapp

Tales of mobsters, gamblers, gun molls and booze smugglers Up North.

What the author says: “I continued to be fascinated by these guys.”

Available from Cliophile Press ($24.95).

The Inner Coast by Donovan Hohn

A collection of essays on topics ranging from farm auctions in Southeast Michigan to the trauma of the Flint water crisis ice canoe racing on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

What the author says: “One legacy of that [Flint water] crisis is a corrosion of trust. I was trying to make sense in the essay of how trust can or should be earned.”

Available: W.W. Norton, $16.95

Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes (5th edition) by Jim DuFresne

This is the new edition of the longtime guidebook to trails on Isle Royale with updated downloadable maps and QR codes.

What the author says: “What we tried to do is merge the printed guidebook with digital, downloaded content. People buy the book, they go to Isle Royale, they choose these trails they want to hike, and they often read an account of what they will be doing in the book.

Available:, $17.95

The cover of Theodore Karamanski’s book, “Mastering the Inland Seas.” Image: University of Wisconsin Press

Mastering the Inland Seas: How Lighthouses, Navigational Aid and Harbors Transformed the Great Lakes and America by Theodore Karamanski

The book explains how industries and communities dependent on the lakes have created tools and markers to safely navigate them.

What the author says: “The Great Lakes are deadlier than the Rocky Mountains or the Mojave Desert because of the people that use them. Scores of them die every year. What they forget is that once you step off the beach, this is a wilderness. This is a force we have never controlled.”

Available: University of Wisconsin Press, $36.95

Northern Harvest: Twenty Michigan Women in Food and Farming by Emita Brady Hill

It’s about the drastic culinary transition as restaurants started booming in northern Michigan.

What the author says: I have been going up north for over 50 years and I was used to seeing no restaurants and then out of nowhere, these phenomenal restaurants started opening up. It was fascinating to see these changes take place throughout my lifetime, especially in the last 20-30 years. I thought, ‘How could I not write about this?’”

Available: Wayne State University Press, $24.99

Of This River by Noah Davis

This collection of poems is set on the Allegheny Front in Appalachian Pennsylvania.

What the author says: He hopes readers will “want to go and find the mystery in their own wild natural places.”

Available: Michigan State University Press, $15.95

Wolf Island: Discovering the Secrets of a Mythic Animal by L. David Mech

This memoir recounts the earliest days of research into the predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose on Isle Royale in Lake Superior.

What the author says: “[Wolves] travel far and wide to find an animal vulnerable to kill with enough safety.”

Available: University of Minnesota Press, $24.95

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