Readers of the new release from the wildly popular New York Times best-selling writer, Emily Henry, may find themselves a bit confused. The just-out novel, “Funny Story,” takes place in the fictional town of Waning Bay. For good reason, Waning Bay sounds a lot like Traverse City. Henry will be the first to tell you that Waning Bay was inspired by Traverse City and its neighboring towns.

As a result, readers will be pulled into an explanation of what is a Petoskey stone and a Fudgie. They will read about places like the Cherry Hill Winery and Chill Coast Brewing and find these fictional locations that sound very familiar. Then there’s a trip to Big Louie’s Drive-In with its 50s theme that sounds very close to Don’s Drive-In.

Emily Henry book

Henry’s novel is just one of several books just recently out that centers around Traverse City. Those tales are not limited to works of fiction; many are guides to the perfect vacation destinations.

Take Andrew Nelson’s book, “Here Not There” from National Geographic. Nelson explores what he calls “100 unexplored travel destinations.” Currently, travel jargon would call them “Travel Dupes,” or vacation destinations that are alternatives to the more crowded and explored locations.  Nelson offers Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as an alternative to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Nelson told Traverse City Tourism that once he visited the area, it was destined to be in his book. "What a surprising, thriving scene is unfolding in northern Michigan --Traverse City is to the Leelanau Peninsula, as Healdsburg is to Sonoma, a humming cultural hub filled with good food, cold drinks, and warm welcomes,” Nelson said.

Nelson shares the Anishinaabe legend of the Sleeping Bear, he highlights the views from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. He also spends time on a whirlwind tour of Traverse City.  

Nat Geo book

Two new books give more detailed travel itineraries. In “Perfect Day Michigan,” Amy Eckert says, “Traverse City’s distinct four-season climate makes this region of Michigan a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.” She offers a tour that includes the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail, trips along the TART Trail, a visit to Grand Traverse Lighthouse, and a drive along M-22 with stops in Glen Arbor and Leland. Eckert stops in for dinner at Trattoria Stella in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Grand Traverse Commons is also a key theme for Amy Piper’s book, “Secret Michigan” which promises a guide to the weird and obscure. Piper takes a look in the tunnels that link the buildings of the old Traverse City Asylum, now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. These old tunnels connected the buildings with their heat and electrical needs and today make for a fascinating tour.

perfect day book

“While Traverse City is a well-known destination, it has many secrets to tell—weird, wonderful, and obscure,” said Piper. “Some may be an obvious fit, like a secret garden. Still, others are more obscure, like endangered species, a heritage seed farm, and former careers preparing winery owners for their new business. These behind-the-scenes stories add fresh perspectives to a famous destination.”

More books that showcase Traverse City are in the works. Look for a coffee table book from Tyler Liepprandt of Michigan Sky Media. He’s taken some iconic pictures of the Northern Lights at Mission Point Lighthouse, along with other memorable photos, including one of a Stealth Bomber flying over the University of Michigan stadium. Liepprandt has a book slated for release in August called “MIconic.” Many of the images will capture this region,” said Liepprandt. "A large portion of my upcoming book, MIconic, features beautiful imagery around Traverse City.  From Mission Point Lighthouse to fruit orchards, to Clinch Park, Traverse City has so much to offer,” Liepprandt concludes.

If you are looking for a summer read, a guide to the region, or a way to re-live your vacation to Traverse City. It appears you have many options to choose from.