6 Books to Read for Northern Michigan Travel Inspiration

 Let these books, and their beautiful Northern Michigan settings, inspire future vacations. 

Recommended by Kim Schneider, Traverse Magazine’s travel writer and the author of “100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die” (a must-read for locals and visitors alike) and Tina Greene-Bevington, owner of Bay Books in Suttons Bay

Book: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman
Meet Sam, who couldn’t wait to get away from the family’s orchard and pie shop. If you’ve visited Suttons Bay and Leelanau County, you can guess what happens when Sam starts wandering the orchards “dusted in pink snow” in blossom time, sampling local wine and roaming Lake Michigan’s shorelines … Bonus: recipes with every chapter.

Plan a Trip: Go farm-stand hopping or take a blossom drive. Taste the Local Difference offers maps by county and bounty; or just head straight up the center of the Leelanau Peninsula and let yourself get lost on back roads.

Book: Secrets of the Asylum by Linda Hughes
Through this mystery set in 1921, you’ll experience The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City like you’ve never imagined as you see it through the eyes of a woman wrongly sent to live in the one-time psychiatric hospital, now turned urban redevelopment beauty.

Plan a Trip: Add an asylum tour to your Michigan bucket list. The Twilight Tour includes firsthand experiences of former staffers as part of a walking tour of completed and original spaces and underground tunnels. For the full effect, rent a room in an on-site condo fashioned from a former asylum cell.

Book: Wolf by Jim Harrison
This novel launched Jim Harrison’s storied career. Written as a memoir, it tells the tale of a man who sets out to see a wolf in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Plan a Trip: Join a Moosewatch Expedition, which is not at all about just moose. Researchers have made this project on stunning Isle Royale the world’s longest predator-prey study as they’ve examined the delicate balance between the island’s wolves and moose.

Book: The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
A young girl, Helena, is raised in the remote woods of the Upper Peninsula by her disturbed father, who teaches her survival skills. More than 20 years later, Helena has escaped her past and has a loving husband and children, but when her father escapes from prison, she knows she’s the only one who can help police capture him. Keep your eye out for how Traverse Magazine plays a pivotal role in the mystery!

Plan a Trip: One of the significant scenes in the book is set at Tahquamenon Falls. Book a site at the Rivermouth campground—site #19 is the most popular—and spend a weekend exploring the area. Ideas: Hike the River Trail, rent a rowboat and paddle to Lower Falls Island and attend a nature program at the state park.

Book: Spirits & Wine by Susan Newhof
Soon after moving into their first home, a newlywed couple discovers the house, located between the towns of Ludington and Manistee, is haunted. As they investigate who these spirits might be, they learn about the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 and wonder if it’s related…

Plan a Trip: Manistee’s SS City of Milwaukee was designed in the 1920s. It sailed Lake Michigan for years transporting passengers and rail traffic. Today, the steamship operates as a floating bed and breakfast. Most visits are peaceful, complete with sunsets and a continental breakfast. But come October, the bed and breakfast shuts down and it turns into a ghost ship. The haunted boat is open on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the month.

Book: Wonderous West Shore by Todd and Brad Reed
This stunning photo book by the Ludington area photographers is so popular it sold out on their website. However, you can view small versions of the images and read each caption here, and all photos are available for purchase.

Plan a Trip: The book features nine counties—Mason, Manistee, Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, Kent, Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse—and each one deserves a visit. Let your favorite images from the book be a starting point. A few of our favorites, “Point Betsie Reflections” and “Top of Little Sable,” have us thinking about a late-summer lighthouse tour, and National Lighthouse Day is fittingly on August 7.