What’s Next...

Reading Together 2015

The title chosen by the selection committee:

If fresh water is to be treasured, the Great Lakes are the mother lode. No bodies of water can compare to them. One of them, Superior, is the largest lake on earth, and the five lakes together contain a fifth of the world's supply of standing fresh water. Their ten thousand miles of shoreline bound seven states and a Canadian province and are longer than the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. Their surface area of 95,000 square miles is greater than New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island combined. People who have never visited them -- who have never seen a squall roar across Superior or the horizon stretch unbroken across Michigan or Huron -- have no idea how big they are. They are so vast that they dominate much of the geography, climate, and history of North America. In one way or another, they affect the lives of tens of millions of people.

The Living Great Lakes is the most complete book ever written about the history, nature, and science of these remarkable lakes at the heart of North America. From the geological forces that formed them to the industrial atrocities that nearly destroyed them, to the greatest environmental success stories of our time, the lakes are portrayed in all their complexity. The book, however, is much more than just history. It is also the story of the lakes as told by biologists, fishermen, sailors, and others whom the author grew to know while traveling with them on boats and hiking with them on beaches and islands.

The book is also the story of a personal journey. It is the narrative of a six-week voyage through the lakes and beyond as a crewmember on a tallmasted schooner, and a memoir of a lifetime spent on and near the lakes. Through storms and fog, on remote shores and city waterfronts, the author explores the five Great Lakes in all seasons and moods and discovers that they and their connecting waters -- including the Erie Canal, the Hudson River, and the East Coast from New York to Maine -- offer a surprising and bountiful view of America. The result is a meditation on nature and our place in the world, a discussion and cautionary tale about the future of water resources, and a celebration of a place that is both fragile and robust, diverse, rich in history and wildlife, often misunderstood, and worthy of our attention.

About Jerry Dennis

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Jerry Dennis
 

In the nearly 30 years that Jerry Dennis has earned his living as a freelance writer, he has emerged as one of America’s most celebrated writers about nature and the outdoors. His essays in such publications as Audubon, Smithsonian, Orion, and the New York Times have won many awards and are frequently reprinted and anthologized. His eleven books, most recently The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, have appeared on national bestseller lists, have been translated into five languages, and are taught in many universities and high schools.

His book The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas has won many awards and is frequently taught in colleges and universities. Among Jerry's awards are the Michigan Author of the Year Award, the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, Michigan State University's Great Lakes Culture Award, and four Best Book of the Year awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Jerry lives with his wife, Gail, near Traverse City, Michigan.