A Lake Michigan Calendar, Books Spotlighting Iconic Chicago Scenes and Destinations, and Nature Books to Fill Your Holiday Stockings


If you’re looking for holiday stocking stuffers, consider the following nature- or Chicagoland-oriented calendar and books.

My friend TED GLASOE, an environmental advocate and an award-winning nature photographer and a champion of protecting Lake Michigan, offers a 2021 calendar and photographic prints that feature breathtaking images of our beautiful inland sea. You can purchase them at his website. Ted’s calendar—as well as his greeting cards—are also available at a store called Shaker Traditions (613 Dempster Street, Evanston, IL 60201, Facebook). Additonally, click here to read my interview with Ted, “Nature Photographer Discusses His Love of Lake Michigan and What We Can Do to Protect It.”

“Cloud Mountains,” copyright Ted Glasoe
“Halved Sunrise,” copyright Ted Glasoe


Over the years at Nature in Chicagoland, I’ve had the chance to interview several authors about nature (including tallgrass prairies and dragonflies), amazing spots in the Midwest such as The Driftless Area, and environmental conservationists. Their books are great gifts for people who love the environment and who’d like to learn about some great destinations in Chicagoland and the greater Midwest.

CINDY CROSBY is the author of a new book titled Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History, as well as Tallgrass Conversations: In Search of the Prairie Spirit and The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction. She also teaches natural history subjects, regularly speaks to conservation groups and other organizations, and is a steward at the 3,500-acre-plus Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove, Illinois, and steward supervisor at the Schulenberg Prairie at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. To learn more about her books, check out my articles, “Author Discusses the Joys of the Tallgrass Prairie” and Author Discusses the Joys of Dragonflies and Damselflies.”

DR. KEVIN KOCH is a Professor of English at Loras College and the author of The Driftless Land: Spirit of Place in the Upper Mississippi Valley; Skiing At Midnight: A Nature Journal from Dubuque County, Iowa; and The Thin Places: A Celtic Landscape from Ireland to the Driftless. To learn more about The Driftless Land and his books, check out my article, “Author and Professor Discusses the Magical Driftless Area.”

ARTHUR MELVILLE PEARSON is the author of Force of Nature: George Fell, Founder of the Natural Areas Movement. He is the CEO of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and the past-director of the Chicago Program at the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, which helps protect and restore natural lands in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His writing has appeared in Chicago Wilderness, Outdoor Illinois, and other publications. To learn more about George Fell and to read my interview with Arthur, check out my article, “George Fell: A Tireless Advocate for Nature in Illinois.”

If you live in Chicagoland and beyond, you’ve seen BARRY BUTLER’S wonderful landscape and cityscape photographs on television newscasts, on social media (including on his Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts), at his website, and in photo exhibitions. His creative vision and deft touch with the camera turns everyday sights we sometime take for granted—skyscrapers, street scenes, the Chicago River, our parks, Lake Michigan, and other landmarks—into art. Great art makes people feel intensely, think more deeply, and sometimes just entertains us and makes us forget our troubles. Barry Butler certainly makes great art, capturing wonderful human moments and public spaces in Chicagoland (and Ireland, too). In addition to publishing an annual calendar that features his work, Butler has recently published Chicago-A City Above All, a book of his photographs. Click here to read my interview with Barry about his book and work.


The Chicago metropolitan area (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau) consists of nearly 11,000 square miles. In this vast area, there are a plethora of awe-inspiring nature destinations. But people who do not have access to a car may feel that these destinations are out of reach. But this is untrue. Our area’s vast transportation system—Metra, South Shore Line, and CTA trains, as well as buses and Divvy—allow the carless to access some amazing places. Identifying nature spots that can be visited via public transportation may seem daunting, but a new book, Chicago Transit Hikes: A Guide to Getting Out in Nature Without a Car, by LINDSAY WELBERS, provides all that you need to know to enjoy Chicagoland nature via public transportation. This useful book not only spotlights nature destinations that can be reached by using public transportation, but also provides information on train and bus lines, schedules, the distance from station to trailhead, degree of hiking difficulty, family friendliness, and other details that will make your explorations easier and more rewarding. I recently talked with Lindsay about her book. 


AMY BIZZARRI is the author of 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss, The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road, 111 Places for Kids in Chicago You Must Not Miss, and other books and articles about Chicagoland and the Midwest. Click here to read my interview with Amy about 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss.



Looking for more great nature destinations in Chicagoland? If so, I just published Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit. It features amazing destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Click on the title to learn more. 

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CAN I TAKE A FEW MOMENTS TO TOUT MY OWN PUBLICATIONS? I founded my company College & Career Press back in 2002 to provide trusted resources for students and their parents, as well as school counselors, librarians, and teachers. My college-planning books and newsletter are perfect gifts for college-bound teens. And my career-planning books and newsletter will be helpful for those who need info on the latest hot careers, or if you’ve got one of those kids in their 40s who has returned home and lays on your couch all day not knowing what he or she wants to do in life (other than picking your fridge clean). My books also are good for steadying wobbly furniture and to start fires in a post-apocalyptic world, but not for stopping a bullet. Here are some of my publications to check out and some great reviews from library journals, career columnists, and the “average joe”:

I also write this blog, Nature in Chicagoland and The Morkes Report Blog: College and Career Planning Trends.

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes

Copyright (photos) All profile subjects hold the rights to images of their work.

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