“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
Really, Camus? Really? If you wanna’ get all existential about autumn, how about, “Autumn is about rain and raking leaves. Autumn is about going back to school. Autumn is about the stark reminder that winter is within a meteorologist’s snowball’s throw.” Hurray, it’s the autumn of our years!
Oh, autumn also gives us football, harvest (and the really good seasonal brews), inspired poetry and more creative uses of color than a vintage Jefferson Airplane concert poster. And books? Oh yeah, autumn has inspired some pretty great reads, too!
Sorry kids, but Michigan law requires you to go back to school. Not my fault. What’s more, Michigan law requires you to take reading, writing and arithmetic. What’s even more more — Michigan reading teachers are legally required to make you read books. Cool. Some of my very favorite young adult and kids’ books about school include:
The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier ($8.99). Not only one of the best ever books about coming of age, but also one of the most controversial and banned young adult titles. Wonderful and devastating!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling ($10.99). Yes, I uttered the book whose name must never be uttered, but it really is that good (and you probably already know that because you’ve already read it, but in case you haven’t…)
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child ($6.99). For kids around three or four. I chose this book because it has one of the greatest “why do I have to go to school” questions ever: After all, why would she need to count higher than 10 when she never eats more than 10 cookies at a time? Answer that one public schools!
Nasreen’s Secret School – A True Story From Afghanistan by Jeannette Winter ($16.99). This is the book that will help children to feel grateful for being able to go to school. Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared. In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness? Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
The Bountiful Harvest
Michigan has many microclimates which support the growth of more than 200 commodities on a commercial basis, making the state the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation.
Michigan has more than 10 million acres of farmland
Michigan is second nationally for beans, carrots, celery and plums and third in asparagus production.
A typical teenage boy can consume close to 25 percent of Michigan’s entire annual harvest while breaking from intense Portal 2 engagements.
Thank goodness there are some wonderful books to help us cope.
Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Home Grown Food by Jaye Beeler ($29.95). Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Homegrown Food embraces the surging interest in eating local food, for our physical and economic health and for the tasting pleasure of simple, delicious, beautiful food. This culinary tour reaches north from the cranberry bogs and thimble berry jam of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the southeastern inner city garden plots of Detroit. Michigan grows homespun food in every corner of the state and in its great, Great Lakes. Seasoned journalist Jaye Beeler and award-winning photographer Dianne Carroll Burdick team up to take you through their visual and descriptive look at the essence of agricultural Michigan.
Fall and Winter Gardening: 25 Organic Vegetables to Plant and Grow for Late Season Food by R.J. Ruppenthal ($6.99). Forgive me for boasting, but I believe that I’m in the top 2 percent of all procrastinators in Michigan so please indulge me a chance to throw some seed in the ground so I can feed my kids before winter break. This book explains which vegetables can survive in cold weather and how to grow them. This book is recommended for backyard gardeners and container gardeners who want to grow food for fresh eating all year round.
Every fall a funny thing happens to the local media. News stories about homicides, stock market crashes and silly things politicians say don’t count as primary news stories. Seriously, with football on the front burner, how could it? Sorry, but our nation was built on the shoulder pads of warriors. After all, if not for the Patriots, we would all be eating crumpets and drinking tea and warm beer. So, with our local lads clad in Green and White, I would be remiss (and unpatriotic) to not mention Michigan State University (MSU) Alum, Jack Ebling’s magnum-opus, Heart of a Spartan – The Story of a Michigan State Football Renaissance ($49.95). As an added bonus, Jack is scheduled to appear for a book signing on Friday Nov. 23 at EVERYbody Reads (proceeds for the day’s sales go to the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s Garden Project).
Bonus (great autumn songs): “ Autumn Almanac” by the Kinks, “Autumn Sweater” by Yo Lo Tengo, “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young, “Autumn Leaves” by Eva Cassidy (my favorite version), “Autumn” by Vivaldi and “Forever Autumn” by the Moody Blues.
Bonus 2: If you felt teased by the Camus quote and NEED more Camus, how about the following three word reviews:
The Stranger ($12.95). Absurdity, alienation, anxiety.
The Plague ($14.95). Allegory, horror, resilience.
The Fall ($13.95). Self-examination, self-doubt, anguish.