Check Out "The Lady in the Van" by the Delightful Alan Bennett

Maggie Smith's latest starring role is decidedly opposite the imperious Dowager Countess she portrays on Downton Abbey. In The Lady in the Van, Smith stars as Mary Shepherd, an elderly and eccentric woman who lives in her van, which she kept parked in playwright Alan Bennett's driveway for 15 years. Bennett, an author and playwright, developed something of a friendship with her, discovering that, like all of us, she had a past and a family, and wasn't entirely what she seemed. Smith was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition this week about her role in the film, and her take on Bennett's relationship with Shepherd.

Bennett, whose play The History Boys was also made into a movie, wrote the story of his interactions with his driveway occupant, Miss Shepherd, which is collected in The Lady in the Van : and other stories. He also adapted the story into a West End play and a BBC 4 radio performance. Both, like the movie, starred Maggie Smith in the title role, because once you've cast the perfect person, why try again?

For anyone new to the wonderful wit of Alan Bennett, my favorite book of his is The Uncommon Reader, in which Queen Elizabeth II enters a bookmobile parked outside of Buckingham Palace out of curiosity, borrows a book to allay the awkwardness of the exchange, and becomes a voracious reader, changing her conception of her people and her role, and the future of the monarchy forever. It's a delight.

Wayne State University Press E-books Are Here!

WSU PressWSU Press

We are extremely pleased to offer e-books from Wayne State University Press.

Library patrons can download these e-books (they are in PDF format) after logging in to our website. Enjoy titles such as Coney Detroit and, find out how Detroit became the coney hotdog capital of the world! Interested in Detroit music history, check out MC5: Sonically Speaking, A Revolution of Rock'n'Roll or Techno Rebels : The Renegades of Electronic Funk Or how about some Michigan history, specifically young women, try Great Girls in Michigan History or the automotive variety, Reuther Brothers : Walter, Roy, and Victor. Or how about a study on a tv show, like Doctor Who, Deadwood, or the Sopranos, to name a few.

There are more titles to choose from so check out the list here and start downloading today!

Bowie Lives On

What can one say about such an influential icon as David Bowie that has not been said already? He was never one to be pigeon holed into one look or one style of music. From the '60s hippie days of Space Oddity with the hit “Major Tom” to the glam rock 70s of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie was forever changing and adding new personas. Following Ziggy were such blockbusters as Aladdin Sane (“Panic In Detroit” was on this one), Diamond Dogs with its soul/funk beats and the break out hit, “Rebel, Rebel”, then Young Americans with the popular song, “Fame”, co-written with John Lennon which became his first number one hit in the U.S.

In the late '70s he changed his persona again into the elegant Thin White Duke with the album Station to Station and another memorable tune, “Golden Years”. Ahead of his time in so many ways, he experimented with electronic, ambient, and world music alongside Brian Eno to create the experimental Berlin Trilogy of albums: Low, Heroes, and Lodger. Artists, like Philip Glass would be highly influenced by his work during this time.

With the '80s came the album Scary Monsters which some consider to be his last great album with hits such as “Ashes to Ashes” and “Fashion”. But then came the hit album, Let’s Dance, with Chic guitarist, Nile Rodgers, producing and the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn on lead guitar. On this one album Bowie had several memorable songs including “China Girl” and “Modern Love”, and once again he led the way but this time in music videos especially for the title track. Next was Tonight with the hit, “Blue Jean” which garnered him a Grammy for best music video. Lesser albums like Never Let Me Down rounded out his '80s releases. He then had a short-lived rock quartet called Tin Machine at the start of the '90s. After they disbanded, he returned to solo work starting with Black Tie, White Noise but none of them quite lived up to the commercial success of previous albums. However his last album, Blackstar was just released, and has earned rave reviews. See music videos for the album here. If you are looking for a best of album check out Best of Bowie which includes the single “Under Pressure”.

Bowie was also a noted actor on stage as the Elephant Man and in some unique movie roles such as a vampire in the Hunger, an alien in the Man Who Fell To Earth, a prisoner of war in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, king of the goblins in Jim Henson’s the Labyrinth, and portraying Andy Warhol in Basquiat. He produced albums as well like those for his good friend Iggy Pop (the Idiot), and was a well-respected post-modernist painter. This of course was a brief overview of his most notable works and to read more thoroughly about him there are plenty of websites and books to fill the gaps.

If you want to remember him on twitter type #bowieliveson or post a comment below. For me, the song "Blue Jean" still gets me dancing. You can watch the video to it here. He definitely has the cheekbones to pull off that makeup!
RIP Bowie

Caldecott and Newbery Youth Book Awards Announced!

Every year librarians, book lovers, publishers and book sellers look forward to the youth and teen book awards announced at the annual American Library Association conference. This year the awards were announced from Boston in a room filled with hundreds of insanely excited librarians - who gasp, groan and scream throughout the entire ceremony. The two oldest awards, and the most widely known are the Newbery and Caldecott awards.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Awarded annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The 2016 Caldecott winner is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick. Finding Winnie is an incredible account of the friendship and love shared between a soldier and the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Blackall beautifully interprets this multi-dimensional family story through her distinctive Chinese ink and watercolor art, capturing intimate and historical details perfect for a child’s eye.

Four books were chosen as Caldecott Honor titles:

Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes. Waiting delivers an intimate story of five figurines, each anticipating the wonder of everyday moments. Using rich brown lines and a soft pastel palette, Henkes invites young readers to slow down and explore a range of emotions in a world on a windowsill.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. In this biography in verse, Ekua Holmes’ illustrations provide children with an intensely visual encounter with Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer. The repetition of colors and motifs within the richly layered collage create complex images that capture Hamer’s power and bravery.

Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson and written by Matt de la Peña. Readers are transported, along with a young boy and his grandmother, on a journey through the city. Robinson’s illustrations, a colorful mix of acrylic paint and collage, feel both vintage and fresh. The diversity, vibrancy, and beauty of the urban setting are celebrated as CJ and Nana share meaningful moments together.

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The 2016 Newbery Medal Winner is Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. CJ’s journey with his Nana is not just a simple bus ride; it is a multi-sensory experience through which he discovers that beautiful music, nature and people surround him. CJ’s questions are familiar, and Nana answers him with gentle wisdom. Right up until their arrival at the last stop on Market Street, Nana guides CJ to become “a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

Three books were chosen as Newbery Honor titles:

The War that Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Bradley’s powerful plot, remarkably drawn characters and sparse language are outstanding components of this novel about courage, community and conviction.

Roller Girl, written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Astrid falls in love with roller derby and learns how to be tougher, stronger and fearless. Jamieson perfectly captures the highs and lows of growing up in this dynamic graphic novel.

Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This original fairytale intertwines with historical fiction to explore music and its power to save, heal and set free.

New from British author Tessa Hadley: The Past

British author Tessa Hadley is known for her ability to poetically describe the messiness and complications of everyday life, especially within familial relationships. In her most recent novel, The Past, Hadley works her magic again, telling the story of four adult siblings who gather at an old family country house for the summer. The ultimate goal of the holiday is to determine whether to keep the vicarage in the family or to sell it, but of course, much happens over the course of the steamy months spent at the decaying home.

The three sisters, Harriet, Fran and Alice, are curious about their brother Roland’s third wife and eager to feel her out as well as to visit with and care for their teenaged niece, Molly. Fran’s children run wild over the course of the summer, spying on Molly and her new love interest and making an unsettling discovery in an abandoned home in the woods. Harriet, the eldest sister, was planning to spend much of the vacation relaxing in solitude, but instead finds herself enthralled with one of the house guests with a passion she has never experienced before. Relations amongst the family members and house guests are all at once loving and turbulent as old wounds are reopened and resentments that had been nearly forgotten are remembered. Hadley artfully delves deeply into the emotions and thoughts of her characters, while also luxuriously describing the natural world around them. BookPage calls The Past “a novel of remarkable skill and scope,” and it's one that readers will not want to miss.

Hadley is also the author of Clever Girl, Married Love and Other Stories, The London Train, and five other works of fiction, all available at the AADL.

Ready, Set, BAKE!


Have you gotten hooked on The Great British Baking Show yet? Whether you are watching on Netflix or catching it on PBS, it's adorable and addictive, and will send you searching for a Victoria sponge recipe that uses American measurements.

Here are some ways AADL can foster your newly-awakened baking obsession:

Bakers looking to stretch their skill sets will find the recipes and instruction they need in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: All-Purpose Baking Cookbook, which covers everything from A (apple pie) to Y (yeast breads), and probably something that starts with Z, too. Along with helpful technique tips, this cookbook provides ingredient and equipment advice helpful to bakers at all levels.

Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from my home to yours is a gem - Greenspan is a true expert and offers recipes ranging from easy to ambitious, but she provides plenty of illustrations and guidance along the way. Her World Peace cookies are not to be missed.

There's also The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book: baking demystified with 450 recipes from America's most trusted food magazine, or Baking Illustrated: a best recipe classic, both produced by the team at Cook's Illustrated, and which are heavily tested and laboriously detailed. As the founder of Cook's Illustrated, Christopher Kimball has cemented his reputation as a provider of precise instruction, and he's built a dedicated fanbase through hosting PBS' America's Test Kitchen and his appearances on public radio's The Splendid Table.

If bread is more your cup of tea than sweet desserts, try Flour Water Salt Yeast: the fundamentals of artisan bread and pizza by Portland, OR-based Ken Forkish. Bakers who are serious about bread will find both excellent recipes and the reasons why they work in this bread-baking bible. For bread-lovers who do have a sweet tooth, Beard on Bread by the inimitable James Beard is a good fit. Like all of Beard's work, it is eminently readable, but the recipes within are a little sweeter and softer than bakers interested in a more artisan-approach may desire.

True disciples of The Great British Baking Show may have to check out Mary Berry & Lucy Young Cook Up a Feast just to satiate their Mary Berry fixation. She's a good-hearted master home baker who provides tried-and-true methods for foolproof recipes, and instructions for getting things done ahead of time so you can properly enjoy an event for which you are baking.

Fiction lovers might enjoy The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn, a story about contestants in a baking competition who learn a thing or two about attempting to leave their real-life struggles behind and aiming for culinary perfection. There's also Simply From Scratch by Alicia Bessette, about a widow who enters a baking contest to shake off her grief, and ends up finding a friend in a motherless neighbor girl who came for the desserts, but finds more benefit in the companionship.

Knead any more proof of AADL's baking resources? No? How about another baking pun? No again? Well, happy baking, friends!

2016 Michigan Notable Books Announced!


The 2016 Michigan Notable Book Award winners have been announced! These are books recognized by the Library of Michigan for "celebrating Michigan people, places, and events."

There are 20 books on the list, covering a wide variety of topics and aimed an an array of different audiences, including children's books, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This list covers the Michigan Notable titles available for borrowing through AADL, but wait, there's more! Back in October, AADL hosted David Maraniss for a discussion of his book, Once in a Great City: a Detroit story, which can be downloaded or viewed directly library's site.

This list will lead you to explorations of niche Michigan industries, celebrations of famous Michiganders, National Book Award-finalist storytelling, and mouth-watering recipes. So, congratulations to our new Notable authors, and next time you seek a pleasant, Michigan-inspired read, look about you.

New Year, New Resolutions, New Books

The new year often brings new year’s resolutions with it. Whatever your specific goals and aspirations may be for 2016, some of the newest non-fiction at the AADL offers tips and tricks for sticking to new habits, channeling creativity and keeping your life clutter-free, resolutions that I know many of us share!:

In Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, explores our habits and presents readers with an analytical and scientific framework for understanding them and, if desired, changing them for good. Rubin offers up dozens of strategies that she herself employs over the course of the book, and tests out on others. The emphasis of the book is on knowing ourselves and our habit tendencies so that we can pursue new habits in ways that truly work for us and build a foundation of good habits that can last a lifetime.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear explores the nature of inspiration. Many readers drew personal inspiration and empowerment from Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and this new book asks readers to embrace natural curiosity and offers tools for facing down fears and insecurities. Gilbert discusses the attitudes and approaches that allowed her to live the creative life she had long dreamed of, and encourages readers in a pleasant and pragmatic manner to do the same to pursue the lives that they also dream of, whether one wants to write a book, address new challenges at work, move to a new city or simply lead each day with a greater sense of mindfulness.

The popularity of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, has swept across the entire world (the book was first written in Japanese and the first English publication was in Great Britain). The simple, slim book presents readers with the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing your space, also known as the KonMari Method. Kondo walks readers through the method step-by-step, which not only offers solutions for organizing, but also for getting rid of possessions one no longer needs and for better storing the possessions that one has. Although some aspects of the KonMari method may seem unusual, particularly to American readers, Kondo explains the rationale for each. For those whose goal in 2016 is to become better organized, this book is a must read.

Browse our catalog for these and other great books to help you stick to your new year’s resolutions this year!

Mix It Up!

You got a new fancy blender for Christmas. Now what? It’s time to mix it up! While there are a plethora of smoothie recipes online and in books, here are a few recent faves that offer simple recipes with a punch and without a lot of fuss.

The Blender Girl Smoothies offers 100 gluten-free, vegan & paleo friendly recipes, which include many solid and delicious recipes as well as quick info on how to go rogue and just DIY up your own concoction. With so many books and online blogs with smoothie recipes it's nice to have a collection of stellar recipes all in one quick spot and it's my go-to book when the blender's out! To contrast those healthy smoothies... 101 Blender Drinks is not super new, but the cocktail recipes included will have you grabbing a bag of ice and longing for summer patio days.

New poetry for the year's end

Even though it’s not as cold as it usually is this time of year in Michigan, the dreary winter months are a wonderful time to curl up with a good book of poetry. Poetry can so quickly transport you to a different time, place, or season and can invoke intense emotions with just a few carefully chosen words. The AADL has recently purchased quite a few new poetry collections. Bring one of these home to curl up in an armchair with!

And His Orchestra is Benjamin Paloff’s second poetry collection, and contains poems that focus on the running conversations we are having with ourselves, and with others in our minds as we go about our days. “In poems that orchestrate imaginal dialogues with absent friends,” reads the book’s description, “And His Orchestra traces the inner experience of attachment, intimacy and separation.”

Insomnia: poems, is a graceful poetry collection by Linda Pastan that focuses on sleep or rather, the lack thereof. Sleepless nights, the moments before falling asleep, the strange tempo of the passage of time in the night…. all these backdrop Pastan’s poetry, creating a luminous end product.

The Ruined Elegance is a multicultural poetic exploration by author Fiona Sze-Lorrain, who offers a complicated vision of humanity. Honest and almost funny at times, her poems are sensitive to the human experience and often deal in memories rather than of-the-moment experiences.

In Elaine Equi’s thirteenth collection of poetry, Sentences and Rain, she focuses on stark, often overlooked beauty and uses plain language to express new ideas and strange, winding images. It is perhaps one of Equi’s own lines that best describes her poems: “Soothing because they put you/someplace impossible to locate.”

Other new poetry collections include Joy Harjo’s Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Lia Purpura’s It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful, Troy Jollimore’s Syllabus of Errors and Maggie Smith’s The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison.

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