Cincinnati livin' is easy once again. The warmer temps serve as a not-so-subtle nudge to get outside. It's heartening to see that in addition to Mother Nature's annual show, there's an abundance of wonderful writers, fascinating stories and engaging adventures here in our backyard.

Cincinnati's literary roots go deep. We were recently named the 9th Most Literate City by USA Today. Here are some reasons why:

» 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Cincinnati covers the best hiking spots within an hour's drive. Selected for family friendliness, scenery and history, many of the hikes are three to five miles in length, which provides parents with relaxing and revitalizing hikes that even the kids can enjoy. With this guide, you'll discover hidden hiking treasures. Places like Caldwell Nature Preserve, Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary and Quiet Trails Nature Preserve offer incredible views, ample wildlife and wildflowers and a chance to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature. There's a hike for everyone and every region, with trails in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The hikes range from easy to you-must-be-joking difficult. For example, Sharon Woods is a mostly paved trail, while Clifty Falls State Park will challenge you to concentrate on crossing slippery, tippy rocks without falling into the stream.

» As baseball blooms with summer, the 20-year anniversary of the Reds pennant season is captivatingly recalled in The Wire-to-Wire Reds. The 1990 Reds delighted fans by claiming first place on Opening Day and never slipping. They snared the National League pennant, then swept the heavily favored Oakland A's in the World Series to become one of only three wire-to-wire champions. The Wire-to-Wire Reds brings back memories with original interviews, more than 100 photos and riveting storytelling by award-winning Cincinnati Enquirer columnist John Erardi and blogger Joel Luckhaupt. The foreword is by Hall of Fame Reds announcer Marty Brennaman.

» From one grassy expanse to another: A local husband-wife team delivers Plugged "” part business book, part golf parable. Perfect for the airplane or a rainy afternoon, the life lessons will resonate. Krissi and Dan Barr use their extensive business success to provide real-world insight for the home, office or golf course. Concise and immediately applicable, Plugged teaches to "shoot for PAR": Prioritize. Adapt. And be Responsible. The Barrs have created a professional training tool, free at www.pluggedthebook.com.

» While the Caribbean might seem a world away, prominent Cincinnati businessman Ed Neyra brings it home in his moving story Cuba: Lost and Found. In 1962, 11-year-old Neyra left his parents and home as part of a secret operation that relocated 14,000 children to the United States. Safe in America, he faced new customs, a new language, and a new life in Cincinnati "” significant hurdles for any teenager. You will warm to this illuminating and powerful personal tale that is the quintessential American Dream "” candid, heartfelt and ultimately triumphant.

» Finally, local magazine editor Craig Heimbuch shifts gears in Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry, coming soon to a bookshelf near you. A pre-publication "Great Lakes, Great Reads" Award winner, Heimbuch's story is a hilarious, touching and fascinating chronicle of his journey around Lake Erie in hopes of bringing Perry to life. He travels to battlefields, meets historians, re-enactors and surly border guards, while coping with missed opportunities, frightening motels and a broken-down car. It's a trip you won't want to miss.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was "don't try to say something that someone else already said better," so I'll conclude with this quote from bestselling author Will Blythe: "Mild-mannered Craig Heimbuch grew up in a Midwestern family inclined to view the Grand Canyon as just "¢a big hole in the ground.' So why is his account of a little jaunt a few miles up the road to Lake Erie exactly what American travel writing needs? Because he's helplessly funny, as sweet and un-neurotic as vanilla ice cream, and because he reveals that the greatest adventures are often found in the near-at-hand of self and family."

Richard Hunt has been in book publishing all his life. He works at Clerisy Press in Cincinnati. His essay "My Oh My, O-hi-' recently appeared in The Great Lakes Reader, published by HarperCollins/Delphinium Books.