Cabin fever already striking this winter?

My father would take my sister and I to the public library on a regular basis, and the checkout pile often contained books about fishing. I read about lure making, catching lunkers with nightcrawlers, kids fishing by Minnesota’s own Duane Lund, and species-specific tips from the Lindners. 

I enjoyed reading about fishing and learning how to improve even if I couldn’t visit a lake and experience it firsthand. If you have kids, I strongly recommend that you get them a library card for your local library and take them there regularly. Grab a few fishing books for them as they peruse whatever else interests them, and  you’ll feed their interest in the sport. 

Grab any of the books written by my favorite humorist, and outdoor writer, Patrick McManus. He’s written a lot of books and they are all about the outdoors, family-friendly, and loaded with short stories of his real and fictional misadventures. 

My Dad was a fan of McManus and his regular column in Outdoor Life going back to the late 1970s. When McManus wrote his first book “A Fine and Pleasant Misery in 1978,” my Dad checked it out and I remember hearing him laugh out loud at night as he read it in his favorite chair. He would also sometimes read the better stories to my Mom and I’d hear the two of them chuckling together. 

Around the age of 10 or 11, I picked up my first McManus book and instantly fell in love with the stories. Some are about his adventures as an adult, but my favorites were when he’d reminisce about his childhood in rural Idaho. 

The beauty of a McManus story is that if you love the outdoors, you can relate to everything he writes about even though he stretches the truth and exaggerates the reality. Misadventures are the best parts of outdoor experiences, and McManus has a special way of capturing the best parts of what otherwise makes us feel like total idiots. 

I’ve since read, and now own, all of the books he’s written. I also now enjoy reading the stories to my wife as we are laying in a tent trying to fall asleep. My kids enjoy having me read his stories to them as well and we all laugh together hardest at the parts that resemble our own misadventures – often involving my clumsiness or goof-ups as the paterfamilias. 

Buy the books like I have if you must, but there’s something special about thumbing through a well-read book from the library. Kids today need more reading experiences, and books about the outdoors are a great way to start. 

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