GVSU professor publishes book ‘Thoughts on Thursdays’


“Thoughts on Thursdays” is a compilation of columns written by Tim Penning. Courtesy Penning Ink

A Grand Valley State University professor of advertising and public relations has published a book of his columns for the Grand Haven Tribune.

“Thoughts on Thursdays: Views from the Shores of Lake Michigan” is a collection of 65 columns Tim Penning has written since he began contributing to the Tribune in 2002.

The columns have appeared on the second Thursday of each month in the Tribune and provided both West Michigan-focused musings, as well as views on national and global issues from a Midwesterner’s perspective.

“At the beginning, I wrote about a wide range of topics, and I still do,” Penning said. “People ask me what my column is about, and I have to say whatever is on my mind. Sometimes, it's light-hearted, humorous observations. Sometimes, it's opinion on serious matters. In my introductory column, I said I would try to make people laugh, and I think I've kept that voice.”

Midwest perspective

When asked why he felt it was important to share a Midwestern perspective on national and global issues, Penning was quick to answer.

“Some media scholars have noted that there can be a form of regional or bi-coastal media bias with regard to covering national news," Penning said. "I also just think, personally, that the major magazines and networks are dominated by New York or L.A. states of mind. More voices from the heartland are good for national discussion. We certainly have that more with blogs and social media, but I wanted to say with my book that the columns are not just about local topics, but a local perspective on broader subjects. Hence the subtitle, ‘Views from the Shores of Lake Michigan.'”

Penning said it took him about a year to cull together the final selection of columns, and he based his choices on what he thought would have the broadest appeal.

“Even though some columns mention Grand Haven specifically, they are exemplary of issues and topics people might address in any community,” he said.

The book's topics include advocacy of public parks, the foibles of airline travel, the popularity of cooking shows, college education, local tourism, having faith in government and many others.

In addition to writing the community column and being a professor at GVSU's School of Communications, he also contributes to grbj.com's PR & Media blog and writes a public relations blog, GRPR.

Penning self-published the book under the name Penning Ink, his freelance business.

The book is available from Schuler Books in stores and online, as well as from Amazon.

He hopes to also have copies of the book available for sale at Grand Haven bookstores and select merchants.

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