Four short and sweet books you should read this spring

Apr 15, 2013

Let's cross our fingers and hope that spring is here to stay. As the grass gets greener and flowers begin blooming, why not welcome the warmer weather with some light spring reading?

Keith Taylor, a poet and writer, as well as a professor at the University of Michigan, has given us a few suggestions for our spring reading lists.

Don't worry, they're short.

"We should be getting outside, and working in the garden...we don't want to start reading Anna Karenina outside right now," Taylor said.

Here's what Taylor suggests for this spring:

1. The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison

Harrison has written 20-25 novels, and may be Michigan's best known writer. You may know him as the author of the book-turned-movie Legends of the Fall.

The River Swimmer is actually two novellas (a novella is usually about 100 pages long).  One is about an art historian who is embittered by living in a city for too long, and returns to his family's battered Michigan farm where he rediscovers why he loved art in the first place.

The second story, which shares its name with the book's title, is about a boy in Northern Michigan who loves to swim. Without giving too much away, Taylor said, Harrison employs what Taylor calls 'Midwestern magical realism.'

2. Theodore Roethke

Taylor recommends any book of poetry by the Michigan poet. Roethke died in 1963, and wrote poetry about his family's famous greenhouses in Saginaw.

3. American Poet by Jeff Vande Zande

Vande Zande's little novel is one of Michigan's notable books this year, and is about a poet in Saginaw, who is struggling to make a living as a poet in Saginaw's economy and goes a little crazy while he tries to save Roethke's house from being torn down.

4. Living Together by Gloria Whelan

Gloria Whelan is also a prolific author. Years ago, one of her books won a National Book Award. She is known for her stories for young adults (definitely check those out) but has recently published a collection of stories called Living Together.

Specifically, Taylor recommends the novella at the end of the book. It's called "Keeping your Place" and is about a widow returning to her family's cottage in Northern Wisconsin. 

"You can read this to get ready for your week or two or three up North - if you're lucky," Taylor said.

-Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom