A Popular Summer Novel

The Lake, the River and the Other Lake, a Michigan novel by Steve Amick, is popular in Ann Arbor this summer. The paperback was #3 last week on the local bestsellers list. Amick’s CD There's always pie is attracting some attention, too. It has an intriguing song list: The song of the townies -- Cheese sandwich -- Wasn't I great? --You're the one -- Still so much -- I feel sorry for you (if you don't live here) -- Dum-dum -- I wanna be with you -- The arithmetic of love -- Part of me -- Big fat berries -- Michigan moonlight. Sounds fun.

Maps to Take With on Your Vacation

Mackinac Map

When I go on vacation I need maps, maps of cities I will be visiting and maps of states I will be driving through.

I borrow the maps from the library’s map files on the Second Floor of the Downtown Library. The library has maps for Michigan cities and regions, for states, for most major cities in the United States, and for foreign countries and cities. The maps circulate for four weeks.

During a recent trip up north I found where I was going with the aid of street maps of Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Traverse City and a regional Michigan map of the Northern Tip of Michigan.

In the past year the map files helped with maps of San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma counties, Chicago, Boston, Greenville (S.C.), Chapel Hill (N.C.), and Ithaca (N.Y.)

The map files are a great resource. Ease the stress of travel with some good maps.

Wild Man LA Writer Charles Bukowski

Today is the birthday of Charles Bukowski, who lived 1920-1994 and published more than fifteen books of fiction and poetry. Abused as a child, Bukowski grew up to be, at least for a while, literally a starving writer, limiting himself to one candy bar a day, while writing up to five short stories a week, according to The Writer's Almanac, where you can find more information. Bukowski's books include Run With the Hunted.

Thievery Has Never Been So Good

I feel like not many people know about this fantasy series by Megan Whelan Turner (see below). Maybe I am wrong; maybe it is not the secret gem I think it is, but, if not, if you're saying to yourself, "hey, dude, never heard of it", then check it out (both literally and figuratively!).

The first book, The Thief, won the newberry honor in 1997 and is a short novel with a clever twist (don't worry, I'm not spoilling anything; I knew there was a twist ahead of time and still couldn't figure it out!). Now, though I know people have heard of this first book, it's the second and third book in the series that I am not so sure people know about (but maybe I am wrong here). The second book,The Queen of Attolia, is where things really take off, in my opinion. The plot becomes much fuller, more complex, and more intense. Instead of one really great twist like in the first book there are several upon several untill your head starts to spin a little. The characters are ones you fall in love with, as is the way with any good book, especially the brash, rude, young thief who is the main character. The Third book The King of Attolia, has just recently come out and continues the storyline.

Maybe I just like the characters a little too much, but to me, these are lesser known, good books.

Countdown to the Man Booker Prize 2006 begins

Countdown to the Man Booker Prize 2006 begins

The longlist for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, one of contemporary fiction's most prestigious international awards, has been announced by the Booker judging panel. The shortlist of six authors will be announced September 14, 2006, and the winner of the £50,000 purse will be named on October 10, 2006.

Some of the authors on the longlist are as follows:

Peter Carey Theft: A Love Story
Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss
Nadine Gordimer Get a Life
Kate Grenville The Secret River
James Lasdun Seven Lies
Mary Lawson The Other Side of the Bridge

For the full list, go to the Man Booker Prize 2006 website.

The Play Ground

Knead some dough? The Play Ground is sure we all need some extra cash, but how about some lovely bread? We all need that too. Every Saturday at 10a.m. you can tour
Zingerman's Bakehouse. It is a chance to view artisanal bread and pastry baking and get a free treat. Kids under age 6 not admitted. Zingerman's Bakehouse, 3711 Plaza Dr. $5 (kids ages 6-12, free). Reservations required. 761-7255.

Risks Assured: Women on the road!

Did you know that:
The number of women-only tour operators has increased 230% in the past decade?
Of all nature, adventure or cultural trips travelers, 75% are women?
The average adventure traveler is not a 28-year old male, but a size-12, 47-year-old female? More women travel statistics

Maybe that’s why the U.S. State Dept. feels the need to put out Tips for Women Traveling Alone and prompted website such as SERIOUS SAFETY TIPS FOR WOMEN to advise solo women travelers of the “power in vocal embarrassment", and to practice screaming before you leave home!

Not that Thelma and Louise would heel any of these - they were in for the thrills, the risks, and the possibilities of the open road, and in turn, have inspired a whole new fiction genre. Here are just a few:

Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish. From Sonoma to Manhattan, 5 women carry Annie Freedman’s ashes inside a pair of red sneakers to the special places in her life and try to unravel the secret she left them.

Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair. Set in contemporary India – 45 and single, an income-tax clerk weighted down by a demanding family, buys a one-way ticket on the all-women sleeping car bound for a resort town.

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas by Barbara Samuel. A snazzy Thunderbird, Route 66, some mother-daughter bonding and a few saucy secrets.

Loop Group by Larry McMurtry. Needing a change of scenery from their complicated lives in Tinsel Town, two women of a certain age take a fun and sex-obsessed road trip through Texas. Hey, let's be careful out there.

Voice of Faith and Science

A new book out this summer by Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is entitled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Enlightening and engaging, this book is the subject of a wonderful current article at Salon. Collins, who joined the U-M faculty in 1984 and still has ties here, talks in the Salon interview about topics including C.S. Lewis and athesism.

Dog Leads Senator around Washington, D.C.

Here's a new picture book your family might enjoy, My Senator and Me: A dog's eye view of Washington D.C., by Sen. Edward Kennedy, illustrated by David Small. The book follows Kennedy and his Portuguese Water Dog, Champion Amigo's Seventh Wave, or "Splash," through an action-packed day in the nation's capital. A New York Times review was less than a rave - it said Splash's voice sounded like a civics lesson - but I liked this book, particularly the illustrations!

Rallying Liberals to Fix Foreign Policy

With election season heating up, we all probably need to be reading more than just newspapers. Here's a new book with a great deal of promise, The Good Fight: Why liberals - and only liberals - can win the War on Terror and make America great again. The author, Peter Beinart, is editor-at-large of The New Republic magazine. When the book came out earlier this summer, it prompted some favorable reviews, including one in the Washington Post. The book is currently available at Pittsfield and Mallets Creek.

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