top of page

2023 Winner of the Sarton Women's Book Award for Memoir
2023 Finalist for the WILLA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction
Named as a "Favorite Book of the North for 2022" by
the Anchorage Daily News


Spirit Things


A collection of essays exploring the secret histories, myths, and science of objects on a fishing boat in Alaska

illustrated by Roger Peet

Spirit Things cover image.jpg
Spirit Things cover image.jpg

Spirit Things recounts stories of fishing, family, synesthesia, storytelling, gender, and violence against the backdrop of the Alaskan fishing industry. Each essay follows an object through its history, drawing together the delicate lines that link things through their making and use, their genesis and evolution, and the ways they gain significance in an individual’s life.  


“The sensual pleasure of Messersmith-Glavin’s language interweaves with her capacious spiritual inquiry; her lithe prose is an absolute delight. This luminous, magnificent project is a gift [she] has brought us from the ocean, full of awe and beauty, salt and light.” 

–Alicia Jo Rabins, author of Divinity School


Fishing nets, a favorite knife, or the bioluminescent gleam of seawater in a twilight that never truly grows dark—these things provide an entry point for meditations on the ways in which patterns, magic, and wonder overlap. Spirit Things are those mundane objects that offer new insights into the world on closer consideration.

"Many fishing memoirs are filled with high seas drama, but Messersmith-Glavin focuses instead on what Blake called the 'luminous details' as revealed in the 'spirit things' she chooses to carry her story, objects as seemingly mundane as a glove and as complex as a wave. Spirit Things will appeal to anyone who’s fallen hard for Alaska and wants to be reminded what they love—and miss—about wilderness, fishing, and those who are drawn to the far North.”
—Holly J. Hughes, author of Hold Fast, Passings, and Sailing by Ravens

Spirit Things by Lara Messersmith-Glavin

University of Alaska Press: Alaska Literary Series

(an imprint of University Press of Colorado)    

Publication date: April 2022

202 pages; 17 illustrations

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60223-455-0           

EISBN: 978-1-60223-456-7                          

6 x .07 x 9 inches; 9.6 ounces   

bottom of page