James Shapiro's book on Shakespeare wins the Samuel Johnson Prize

James Shapiro, a Professor of English at Columbia University, was named the winner yesterday of the 2005 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction. His acclaimed book, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, studies the pivotal year in Shakespeare's life when he was 35 and not only wrote As You Like It and Henry V, but also finished the first draft of Hamlet.

Shapiro, who also wrote Shakespeare and the Jews in 1996, was awarded the $55,000 purse in this most prestigious UK nonfiction prize.

Good News

It's nice to hear something positive in the news. Nearly four months after refusing potentially life-extending treatment for his failing kidneys, Art Buchwald is alive against all expectations.

On the Diane Rehm show June 8, 2006 Diane visited with Mr Buchwald at the hospice where he’s been staying before he leaves to write a book on Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

Art Buchwald, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist has been ranked among America's finest humor writers for decades. The library has a number of his works available including his latest Beating around the Bush

How It All Started

On June 14, 1951, Univac 1 was unveiled in Philadelphia. Designed for the Bureau of the Census, this was the first commercial electronic computer although it had been preceded by ENIAC, both systems developed by John Mauchy and others at the University of Pennsylvania. Massive in size and short on memory compared to our gigabyte world, UNIVAC, as it was soon called, represented a tidal shift in technology whose repercussions have affected every aspect of life as we know it.

Two current and entertaining books on the history of computers are What the Dormouse Said-:How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff and Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age by Mike Hally.

Colm Toibin wins the 2006 International Impac Dublin Literary Award

Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin, Irish author extraordinaire, won the world's largest literary purse yesterday for his novel, The Master, which came close to winning the 2004 Man Booker Prize.

Toibin, 51, the first Irish author to win The International Impac Dublin Literary Award, is in great company. Previous winners are Edward P. Jones (2005), Tahar Ben Jelloun (2004), Orhan Pamuk (2003), and Michel Houellebecq (2002).

The IIDLA, worth 100,000 Euros ($125,767), receives nominations from 180 libraries from 43 countries.

UM's Donald Hall is named Poet Laureate

Donald Hall

Donald Hall, former professor of English at The University of Michigan from 1957-1975, will become the nation's 14th poet laureate.

James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will bestow the appointment on Prof. Hall, who succeeds Ted Kooser.

Hall, 77, as well known for his clean spare poetry and prose as for his passionate outspoken defense of government arts grants, now lives in New Hampshire.

Are you ready for some football?

We're not talking pigskin folks. That's right, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany is well underway. Not quite sure about the rules of the game? Ever wonder why soccer is such a popular sport around the world? Maybe these titles can offer insight:
The Simplest Game: The Intelligent Fan's Guide to the World of Soccer
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Soccer
The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer
Soccer Fundamentals

If you'd rather get in the spirit of the game and find out about last year's world champions, check out this biography of Brazilian soccer by Geoffrey Douglas, The Game of Their Lives.

So, who are you rooting for?

Beach Reads 2006 (#1)


They are delightfully fresh voices in fiction, for the most part still under the media radar. That also means no long waiting lists. Enjoy.

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson. A deep cover CIA agent in the al-Qaeda camp is sent home to unleash the most devastating post-9/11 terrorist attack. A heart-pounding debut thriller by a former New York Times reporter.

Last Bite by Nancy Barr. A debut culinary romance by veteran cookbook author and Julia Child’s executive chef. Delicious and dishy, and rumored to be slightly autobiographical.

London is the Best City in America by Laura Dave. Emmy accompanies her very confused brother, Josh on a pre-wedding road trip and comes to see herself clearly for the first time. An absorbing debut novel not to be missed.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. An impulsive taxi ride with a stranger in 1950s London indelibly changes Penelope Wallace's life. British Chick Lit. with substance.

Sun Storm by Asa Larsson. Winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award. Attorney Rebecka Martinsson is drawn into a murder case and a dark, nostalgic trip home. An atmospheric and chilling procedural.

Triangle by Katharine Weber. The truth behind the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 and the secrets kept by feisty Esther Gottesfeld, the last remaining survivor. Another gem by the author of The Little Women.

Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder. Dark and an absurdly funny collection of short stories by a fiercely original young writer, populated by odd and unforgettable characters that will steal your heart before you know it. A sure bet.

Looking for Love??

This week is "Meet a Mate" week June 12-18. It is meant to inspire those of us who are looking for love. Get out in this warm weather and meet your future spouse. A good first date would be at this summer's Top of the Park which starts this Friday, June 16th on Ingalls mall. For dating tips the library offers several resources including Dating for Dummies, DSI--Date Scene Investigation: The Diagnostic Manual of Dating Disorders, Dates from Hell: True Stories From The Front or live vicariously through some great beach reads for the summer Boy meets Girl by Cabot, Meg, or Nora Roberts newest trilogy starting with Blue Dahlia followed by Red Lily then Black Rose.

Dogs: Recent Books

This week the Ann Arbor News reported that the city’s first dog park will open this fall at Swift Run Park in southeast Ann Arbor. This may surprise those dogs and owners running free in Burns Park. Soon dogs can run free in at least one city park without being scofflaws.

Some recent good books on dogs:

The Dogs Who Found Me: What I’ve Learned from Pets Who Were Left Behind by Ken Foster
First Friend: a History of Dogs and Humans by Katharine M. Rogers
The Intelligence of Dogs: a Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions by Stanley Coren
It’s a Dog’s World (tales of travels with dogs), edited by Christine Hunsicker
What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner by Emily Yoffe
Woman’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives, edited by Megan McMorris

Elephants and clowns in a tree...what more do you need?

Tree Ring Circus
by Adam Rex

Beautiful, lush ilustrations bring out the imagery of a circus gone haywire. Animals of all types somehow get stuck precariously in a tree. Have fun picking them out from page to page as the scene gets more crazy and impossible. The illustrations really are amazing; each animal, whether tiny or huge, is a wonder to just stare at, let alone play the game of hide and seek with. Very captivating. A fun little picture book for all ages.

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