History: Primary Sources

National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature at last night's awards ceremony. In the book the author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South. The other finalists in this category were:

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles

See the full 2014 National Book Award list of winners in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (And AADL's list of the titles in the catalog for quick hold placing!)

Surviving Hitler: A love story

Directed by John Keith Wasson, Surviving Hitler: A love story is an inspiring account of war, resistance, and survival in Nazi Germany. Jutta is a teenager in a country that is on the threshold of war when she discovers that she is Jewish. Struck by this discovery, and faced with the atrocities of war, she joins the German resistance and meets a wounded soldier named Helmuth. The two quickly form a romantic attachment and join the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler. Though there are tragic elements to the story (inevitable when it is set in Nazi Germany), there is a happy ending.

This film is a combination of interviews with Jutta and original 8mm footage shot by Helmuth. According to GQ magazine, these “home movies, which miraculously survived the war in Helmuth’s mother’s apartment, are reason enough to watch Surviving Hitler, providing a rare and intimate glimpse of relatively ordinary life carrying on in Berlin despite the encroaching horror.” (read the whole review here)

Surviving Hitler premiered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and has won 3 awards including the Full Frame Inspiration Award, Ojai Festival Theme Award, and the Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film.

British culinary history comes to life in Historic Heston

I was fascinated when I picked up the amazing new cookbook Historic Heston, by Heston Blumenthal. The book is a James Beard Award Winner for Cookbook of the Year 2014 and that prize was certainly well-deserved. In this fascinating tome, Blumenthal takes readers and chefs on a journey through the culinary history of Britain, from the middle ages all the way to modern day. “Alighting upon the most iconic and intriguing dishes, such as Meat Fruit, Powdered Duck, Tipsy Cake and Mock Turtle Soup, he delves into the story behind each one, before using them as inspiration for his own modern recipes,” reads the cover. I was particularly wonder-struck by the photography in the cookbook by Romas Foord: the image of a beautiful orange on one page is revealed to be constructed completely out of marzipan on the next. Later in the book, a close-up of meat stew is detailed enough to expose the individual spices in the broth. Seeing the ancient dishes as they would have been created in midieval times is a treat and Blumenthal’s adaptations to make them modern are completely usable. Historic Heston is truly a must-peruse for those interested in cooking, photography or British history.

Images of America: Downtown Ann Arbor

Wednesday December 17, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Author Patti Smith will share stories and a slideshow of images from her new book, Images of America: Downtown Ann Arbor, which was released in early November. The book looks at the remarkable people and businesses who have helped build our town. Its images show a town with mud streets, wooden sidewalks, liveries, tanneries and telegraph offices. It also features businesspeople, merchants, and citizens who lived and worked in our downtown. Described as a "love letter to a beloved city", Images of America: Downtown Ann Arbor provides a look at the past and the people who helped to make Ann Arbor what it is today.

Author Patti Smith wanted to move to Ann Arbor since she was five years old, and is very grateful to live near downtown. She teaches special education and has recently finished writing a YA book. In addition to local history, Patti enjoys storytelling, social media, boxing, writing, and brewing beer. She lives in the Kerrytown area with her fiance, Ken, and their two cats.

Books will be available for sale and signing.

Four Perfect Pebbles: A Talk with Holocaust Survivor and Author Marion Blumenthal Lazan

Thursday February 12, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event is intended for adults, teens and youth (grade 4 and up)

Author Marion Blumenthal Lazan will share her message of understanding and tolerance through recounting her experience as a young girl interned by the Nazis during WWII. Born in Germany, Lazan and her family were attempting to escape through Holland when the country fell to the Nazis. Her family spent more than six years imprisoned in various refugee and labor camps, including Bergen-Belsen. Shortly after their release, her father died of typhus contracted while in the camp. Three years later, at age 13, Lazan emigrated to the United States with her mother and sister, ready to start a new life in Illinois.

Lazan is the author of Four Perfect Pebbles, a memoir for young people about her family's struggle to survive the horrors of the Nazis. Copies of her book will be available for sale and signing.

New Fiction by Anita Diamant: The Boston Girl

Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent, Day After Night and The Last Days of Dogtown, has written a new novel to be published in 2015. Titled The Boston Girl, the book tells the story of Addie, a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century. Addie’s parents are suspicious of the changing world around them and want nothing more than to keep her and her two sisters close to home until they can marry suitably and begin families of their own. Addie’s curiosity and intelligence draw her outward, however, and she dreams of going to college and marrying for love, not convenience. As she ventures out into the world of short skirts, movie theaters, dancing, and opportunity, she experiences more than she would have ever dreamed possible. The premise of this lovely book is the question, “What made you the woman you are today?” asked of eighty-five-year-old Addie by her young granddaughter, which leads Addie to share her remarkable memories and experiences. “The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America,” reads the book jacket, “and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.”

Diamant’s books are notable for their focus on women in often-forgotten places and times in history. The Red Tent tells the story of the Biblical figure Dinah, a woman who’s life is only hinted at in the book of Genesis as the daughter of Jacob. Day After Night is a fascinating portrait of four female World War II concentration camp survivors who have escaped to Israel but are still trying to determine where they will fit in. Check these books and Diamant’s other works out at the AADL!

New LGBTQ Books

Want to learn more about history, issues, and personal stories relating to the LGBTQ community? You’re in luck, because AADL just got in a bundle of new (and new to us) books on these topics!

For amazing vintage photographs of LGBTQ folks, check out the beautiful new book The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride. Each photograph, which range in date from 1900 to 1960, tells a beautiful and intriguing story. Taken as a whole, these lovely portraits illuminate a part of history that is frequently glossed over. If the photographs make you wish you knew more about early American gay couples, take a look at Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, which details the lives of two women who built a life together in the early 1800s.

If you’re interested in a primer on LGBTQ issues and facts, you will want to check out both "You Can Tell Just By Looking": And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People and Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue. For a more indepth look at these topics, try Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion and Gender Outlaws : The Next Generation.

The titles above are just a sample of the books we’ve gotten in! For a complete list, look here: New LGBTQ Books

Pioneer Girl: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Autobiography!

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series has been beloved by readers for over eighty years. As many of us know, Wilder based the books on her true experiences growing up in the Midwest in the later half of the 19th century. It was her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who eventually convinced Wilder to write down her memories and helped her edit them into the books that were published between 1932 and 1943. Today, the series has been expanded to include fictional books telling the stories of several generations of Wilder women, from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother Martha through Rose herself.

Although Wilder has said that many of the stories told in the Little House on the Prairie books actually happened, not all are completely rooted in fact. If you’re looking for a completely true account of Wilder’s amazing life, her soon-to-be-published annotated autobiography, Pioneer Girl, is the book for you. Wilder and her daughter had attempted to get this autobiography published in the 1930s, but the rougher aspects of her stories prevented publishers from accepting the book. It is true that many of the charming stories that readers are familiar with from the Little House series are present in Pioneer Girl, but Wilder also describes the less-than-pleasant aspects of growing up in the still-developing Midwest. Overall, Pioneer Girl is a moving and fascinating story and a must-read for Little House fans.

You can find out more about the Little House books, including which order to read them in on the Little House website.

Texts from Jane Eyre

In the hilarious new book Texts from Jane Eyre, and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Chracters, readers get to see goofy, imagined text conversations involving characters from many well-known books. This fun book is a quick read, and definitely offers some hearty chuckles by placing centuries-old characters in the modern day. I was especially pleased by how well the author, Mallory Ortberg, takes the often-humorous neuroses of these characters and accurately imagines how they would come through via text message. Even the writing style of the book that each character appears in is maintained in the texts. Ortberg initially wrote some “text” series for the website The Toast and you can see those—and get a preview of the book!—here.

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