Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People

“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose”. – Charles Dickens

There are people who like to go for a walk and then there are…walkers. Famously, John Muir, Henry Thoreau, Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among many others, were known for their love of long-distance walking. Add to that list Robert and Martha Manning, who have written Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People.

This book highlights 30 hikes on every continent which can be taken by “ordinary people”. They range from the 11 mile Cinque Terre trail in Italy, to the Camino de Santiago at 480 miles (which does not sound ordinary to me). Most qualify as only low to moderately challenging and the average length is more like 100 miles. The many color pictures attest to the fact that they are all beautiful, taking the intrepid walker through some of the most lovely terrain imaginable.

The Mannings tell you everything you need to know about each walk, including over-night accommodation possibilities along the way, where to hang out when you are not walking, what to bring, what the food is like, where the pubs are, a little bit of the history of the trail and, briefly, some of their own experiences on each trail, for they have walked them all. Partly a how-to guide but, more importantly, a why-to guide, they place long walks in the “must do” and "can do" categories of lifetime adventures.

So, where to begin? I have no immediate plans to take a long, long walk in Europe, but one can dream. That is what this book is really good for: inspiring the latent long-distance walker to imagine the possibilities. In the meantime, there are lovely walks all over Ann Arbor and we have books to guide you in that adventure, much closer to home.

Get an Inside Look at the White House...When Audrey Met Alice

Ever wonder what life is like for a kid in the White House? Then check out When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens.

Thirteen-year-old Audrey Rhodes became the First Daughter when her mother was elected the first female President of the United States. Sadly, life in the White House is far more frustrating than fun. After her last hope of making friends at her new school is ruined by a security breach, Audrey feels alone and miserable. Then she discovers the diary of Alice Roosevelt, eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt and a former First Daughter herself. Alice seems to understand exactly how Audrey is feeling, and while reading about the lively and rebellious Alice – whose antics included taking her pet garter snake, Emily Spinach, to dinner parties and sneaking a boy into the White House by dressing him up like a girl – Audrey decides to try out a little of Alice’s rebellious spirit. By channeling Alice, Audrey is eventually able to stand up for a cause both she and Alice believe in – marriage equality.

I have been a big fan of Alice Roosevelt ever since reading the wonderful picture-book biography What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley, and so I loved getting to learn more about Alice and her White House adventures. Readers who enjoy spunky female characters and kids who stand up for what they believe in will definitely enjoy meeting Alice for themselves.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good

Mark your calendars: Kathleen Flinn, author of Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: Recipes of love, loss, and adventure from an American Midwest family, is scheduled to visit Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 20 at 7 pm. The book, according to a description in the AADL catalog, "...Presents a recipe-augmented family history that traces the origins of the author's love affair with food to her Midwestern youth and her parents' San Francisco pizza parlor . . ."

Mystery Author Linwood Barclay Coming to Ann Arbor

Popular writer Linwood Barclay, whose latest book at AADL is No Safe House, will appear at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 4, starting at 7 pm. Here is a description of the book from our AADL catalog: "Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry's wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents' seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals. But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown. For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it. Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn't fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable..."

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #472 - "For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love." ~ John Steinbeck

Three noteworthy debuts set against the vast Montana sky, a place "(o)f wide open spaces and lives narrowly, desperately lived at the bitter ends of dirt and gravel roads."

Billings (MT) attorney (Yale Law, Oxford-Rhodes Scholar), Carrie La Seur's debut is "a blend of romance, nostalgia and suspense." The Home Place has been "part of the family for generations, ...built by her great-grandfather and represents to Alma comfort and memories of simpler and happier times." Twelve years after walking away from an accident on an icy Montana road that killed her parents, and left her younger sister Vicki maimed, an unexpected call from the local police draws the successful lawyer Alma Terrebonne back home. Vicky is dead. Whether her death is accidental or not, the lying, party-loving and drug user of a single mother left behind a traumatized daughter. Alma not only comes face to face with cold-hard realities, family secrets, small-town ways, but also her unresolved feelings for Chance Murphy, the high school sweetheart she left behind.

"Walloping in suspense, drama, rage, and remorse, this debut is an accomplished literary novel of the new West."

The #1 pick Indie Next Great Reads for August - Painted Horses * * by Malcolm Brooks captures the grandeur of the American West and prosperity of mid-1950s America.

Catherine Lemay, a young archaeologist is tasked with rescuing any historical artifacts in a Montana canyon ahead of damming and destruction for a hydroelectric project that has divided the locals, including the Crow Indians and others with an interest in the future of the land. Meeting trickery and deception at every turn, she eventually enlisted the help of the Crow girl Miriam, and John H, an artist, a former mustanger who was living a fugitive life in the canyon. When they met, intrigue sparked respect, which eventually flared into passion.

Brooks' themes suggest Jim Harrison or Cormac McCarthy and will remind readers of the great Wallace Stegner.

PEN Literary Award winner Smith Henderson sets his debut Fourth of July Creek * * in the Montana of the late 1970s-early 1980s, and explores "the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation's disquieting and violent contradictions."

Tenmile, Montana, impoverish and miles from nowhere, just the place for dedicated social worker Pete Snow who finds solace in its remoteness and plenty of dysfunctional families in need of his services. But he never expects to be a person of interest to the FBI when he takes on the case of Benjamin Pearl, a nearly feral 11-year-old boy, whose father, Jeremiah is a profoundly disturbed, paranoid survivalist.

"First-novelist Henderson not only displays an uncanny sense of place, he clearly knows rural Montana and its impassable roads, its dank bars, its speed freaks and gas huffers; he also creates an incredibly rich cast of characters, from Pete's drunken, knuckle-headed friends to the hard-luck waitress who serves him coffee to the disturbed, love-sick survivalist. Dark, gritty, and oh so good."

These debuts will appeal to fans of Rick Bass, Ivan Doig, and Larry Watson "who writes with ruthless honesty about his characters' stunted dreams, unpredictable emotions and outbursts of senseless violence, showing once again that he understands not only the West but the untamed hearts that have roamed it. "

* * = 2 starred reviews

'Show Off' This Summer!

Are you bored? Need something fun to do this summer that doesn't involve sleeping? Then check out Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines Stephensand Bethany Mann! Both kids and adults will find something to love in this book of explosive fun. Inside you will find stunts, tricks, pranks, experiments, projects, recipes, games, and more! Maybe you've always wanted to spin a basketball on your fingertip, astounding your friends. Or perhaps you wish you could move on the dance floor like a worm, baffling your enemies into silence. Your bucket list will be cheering you on as you cross off item by item! Many of the activities in this book suggest grown up supervision, but you can rest assured that you can definitely "try this at home!" Check out this book. Your ego will thank you.

In-season cooking

Now is the perfect time to take advantage of all the fresh produce available from local grocery stores, farmers markets and maybe even from your own back yard! For many, the biggest question is how to prepare all your yummies once you get them home. At the Ann Arbor District Library you can find a bounty of fresh produce cookbooks that might give you new ideas on how to cook old favorites or help you find new favorites to add into your daily menu. In Susie Middleton’s cookbook Fast, Fresh & Green you’ll find simple recipes that will teach you how to turn out delicious vegetable side dishes in under 30 minutes. On a side note, don’t expect a vegetarian recipe book when checking this one out as the chef uses pork in a few dishes. Of course, you can almost always modify recipes to meet your dietary needs.

If it's vegetarian recipes you’re looking for you can check out issues of the magazine Vegetarian Times. Vegetarian Times is a monthly magazine published nine times a year (three double issues) that is chock-full of healthy recipes geared for cooking with in-season produce. In addition to the tantalizing recipes each issues offers product recommendations, as well as great tips for making your cooking experience easier.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #471 - "Knowledge is gained through wisdom, my friend. Use the sword wisely.” ~ Brian Jacques

With swashbuckling action that brings to mind Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers, Sebastien De Castell launches a dynamic new fantasy series with Traitor's Blade *, where a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.

The Greatcoats were once the king's elite magistrates, 144 men and women whose mission was to travel the land and uphold the King's Law. But the powerful Dukes overthrew the king and the Greatcoats were scattered and disgraced. Now Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti are reduced to working as bodyguards and mercenaries, jeered by the citizenry as "trattari" - tatter-cloaks, and branded as traitors. Implicated in a carefully orchestrated series of murders (including that of their employer); and the life of a young orphaned girl is at stake, they must search for a way to reunite the Greatcoats, and to restore order to Tristia, with nothing more than the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands.

"This debut is a triumph of character, with every protagonist a fascination, especially Falcio, a tormented and ridiculously honorable man. Humor abounds, mostly in the sparkling dialog among our Three Musketeers-esque band of brothers..." Look for Greatcoat's Lament and Tyrant's Throne, Book 2 and 3 of The Greatcoats series already in the works.

In the meantime, you might enjoy these readalikes:

Gentlemen of the Road * * * (a personal favorite) by Micheal Chabon. In the Caucasus Mountains in 950 A.D., two adventurers wander the region, plying their trade as swords for hire, until they become involved in a bloody coup in the medieval Jewish empire of the Khazars as bodyguards for a fugitive prince. A swashbuckling adventure yarn, along the lines of The Arabian Nights.

Captain Alatriste * by Arturo Perez-Reverte, the first installment of a historical series where wounded 17th c. Spanish soldier Alatriste works as a swordsman-for-hire in Madrid.

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Happy 313rd Birthday, Detroit!

Another year, another birthday for the D. But this year’s celebration stands out because it’s the 313rd birthday for a city with area code 313! That number rings loud and clear in Detroit and surrounding cities. 313 is worn with pride on shirts and tattoos across town.

To get more of your fill of this dynamic, struggling and recovering city, check out some of the newer books in our collection regarding Detroit food, travel, art, recreation, and more:

Detroit food: coney dogs to farmers markets

Lost Detroit: stories behind the Motor City's majestic ruins

Belle Isle to 8 Mile : an insider's guide to Detroit

Detroit country music: mountaineers, cowboys, and rockabillies

Built in Detroit: a story of the UAW, a company, and a gangster

Detroit an American autopsy

Detroit City is the place to be: the afterlife of an American metropolis

Best bike rides Detroit and Ann Arbor: great recreational rides in Southeast Michigan

For more titles, be sure to check out the rest of the book titles in our collection. There are so many good ones!

Cozy Classics

If you ever get tired of checking out the same board books about shapes and colors, you can round out your board book reading with Cozy Classics. Each of these adorable little books feature classic stories such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Each classic tale is condensed into 12 words that relate to a child’s world such as “friend,” “mean,” or “chase.” On the page opposite each word appears a needle-felted illustration that provides a visual for the plot. These illustrations are gorgeous in their detail and their beauty alone is a good reason to check out these books.

Parents who know the original stories will enjoy these books and may also appreciate the opportunity to introduce their little ones to such great works of literature so early.

“Enchanting… a service to literate families everywhere” ~ The Wall Street Journal
“Capture[s] the imagination of young readers” ~ Reading Rainbow

If you like the concept of introducing your young children to classic literature but the Cozy Classics aren't appealing to you, try a BabyLit book. These books teach concepts such as opposites and the weather with the backdrop of stories such as Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights.

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