Early Warning, sequel to Some Luck, is here!

Early Warning, the second book in Jane Smiley’s trilogy that follows a century in the life of a Midwestern farm family, is now available! The first book in the trilogy, Some Luck, was published in late 2014 and was well-received by critics and readers alike. Beginning in the early 1920s, Some Luck spanned over 30 years, carrying the family into the mid-twentieth century. Early Warning picks up where Some Luck left off, and continues on into the 1980s, following the next generations of the family.

Jane Smiley won the Pulitzer for her book A Thousand Acres, and her talents continue to shine in the Last Hundred Years trilogy. She deftly manages to keep the books going at a quick pace while still detailing intimate moments with various characters, and hitting historically important events in American history. Each chapter covers one year, and it takes awhile to adjust to the necessarily whirlwind pace of the book. With the years slipping past one another at so brisk a speed, Smiley leaves out many events that might be detailed in other books that span less time. But this pace really serves to highlight the events and emotions that Smiley does choose to include, and makes them infinitely more meaningful.

The final installment of the trilogy, The Golden Age, will be published in October 2015. You can read more about the trilogy and Smiley’s thoughts on it in this article.

Michigan Notable Book Author and U-M Professor Sally Howell Discusses Her Book “Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past”

Monday October 5, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

Join us to hear Michigan Notable Books author Sally Howell speak about the history of Islam in Detroit, a city that is home to several of the nation’s oldest, most diverse Muslim communities.

In the early 1900s, there were thousands of Muslims in Detroit. Most came from Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and British India. In 1921, they built the nation’s first mosque in Highland Park. By the 1930s, new Islam-oriented social movements were taking root among African Americans in Detroit. By the 1950s, Albanians, Arabs, African Americans, and South Asians all had mosques and religious associations in the city, and they were confident that Islam could be, and had already become, an American religion. When immigration laws were liberalized in 1965, new immigrants and new African American converts rapidly became the majority of U.S. Muslims. For them, Detroit’s old Muslims and their mosques seemed oddly Americanized, even unorthodox.

Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past explores the rise of Detroit’s earliest Muslim communities. It documents the culture wars and doctrinal debates that ensued as these populations confronted Muslim newcomers who did not understand their manner of worship or the American identities they had created. Looking closely at this historical encounter, it provides a new interpretation of the possibilities and limits of Muslim incorporation in American life and shows how Islam has become American in the past and how the anxieties many new Muslim Americans and non-Muslims feel about the place of Islam in American society today are not inevitable, but are part of a dynamic process of political and religious change that is still unfolding.

Sally Howell is Assistant Professor of History and Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

This event includes a booksigning and books will be for sale.

Nature Anatomy: a book for the eye and the mind

The awesome new book Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman, is a delight for the eyes and the mind. In it, Rothman takes “the curious parts and pieces of the natural world” and diagrams and explains them beautifully. “If you’ve ever wanted to see how mountains are formed or wondered about the life cycle of a mushroom or the different types of feathers on a bird, you’ll delight in exploring Rothman’s diagrams, drawings and dissections,” reads the back cover of the book. I loved how “un-textbook” Rothman’s work is. Her drawings and explanations are simple, well-placed, and alternatingly cute and beautiful. There is enough detail to really learn about a given subject, but not so much that the casual reader would feel bogged down or bored. Truly, Nature Anatomy is a gem for both the least and the most science-minded.

Rothman is also the author of Farm Anatomy, a similarly designed and equally rewarding read.

Library Lists: Nonfiction for Fiction Readers

I used to spend most of my time reading fiction and would often have to force myself to pick up a nonfiction book, even if it was about a subject I'm truly interested in. There’s so much great nonfiction out there though that sometimes I felt like I’m missing out (and indeed I was)! If you’re interested in reading more nonfiction but still crave the sweeping storylines and character development of novels, the books on this list are a great place to start your delve into the nonfiction world.

Devil in the White City combines the story of the planning and execution of the Chicago World’s Fair with that of a serial killer who targeted his victims throughout the duration of the Fair. The two stories complement one another well, making for a gripping story that reads just like a fictional murder mystery—with the added chills of being real!

Wild is Cheryl’s Strayed’s now famous account of her physical and personal journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After a tough childhood and young adulthood, Strayed makes the decision to hike the PCT as a way to heal her mind and her heart, and to challenge her body. Her account of her journey is riveting and brutal, making for a fast-paced, breathtaking read.

The Tipping Point: Malcom Gladwell is known for his popular books on sociology and psychology. This was his first, and revolves around the psychology of the magical moment when a trend becomes a trend. Also try Outliers and David and Goliath, both also by Gladwell.

The Warren Commission Report: a graphic investigation into the Kennedy assassination is a well-researched and wonderfully designed non-fiction graphic novel. It clearly and concisely presents the all-too-often muddled details of the JFK assassination and ensuing investigation and is a great book for both readers who are generally unfamiliar with the event, and for those who know a great deal about it but want to see the subject presented in a unique manner.

Set in the fascinating, beautiful, mysterious Savannah, Georgia, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has a cast of characters that are completely unforgettable. The book begins almost as a travel log, with author John Berendt describing unique details about Savannah and offering interesting historical facts about the city and surrounding area to readers. These chapters are so engrossing, that it’s easy to forget that the book actually becomes a true crime story. When that turning point does occur, it happens subtly and smoothly, and the book slides gracefully from a Southern narrative to a revealing look at a strange and unlikely murder mystery.

In I Wear the Black Hat, cultural critic Chuck Klosterman theorizes about how the modern world understands the concept of villainy. Why are some villains lauded as anti-heroes while others, who have often committed lesser crimes, destined to be hated by the masses until the end of time? Find out in this witty, culturally relevant analysis of mass media.

Since its publication in the late 1990s, The Boys of Summer has been a favorite of sports lovers everywhere. Roger Kahn, the “dean of American sports writers,” shares his stories of growing up down the street from Ebbets Field, and delves deeply into the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers leading up to their 1955 win of the World Series. Kahn then tracks the fascinating stories of the players as they age and move beyond their baseball-playing years. A great read for fans of baseball, history, Americana, or all of the above.

Women in Clothes is a unique, almost artistic piece. Compiled by four friends, the book includes advice and anecdotes from over six hundred women and dwells on not just what we wear but on all the elements of style. As the back cover reads, Women in Clothes is “an exploration into the questions we ask ourselves while getting dressed every day.”

Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s classic recount of his time spent in the wilderness of the American southwest. The book is adventurous, passionate, poetic, and clever. Its ongoing popularity is a testament to its timelessness… and its ability to allow readers to experience a place that, for the most part, no longer exists.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is a scientific odyssey like no other by beloved author Bill Bryson. In this book, he attempts to understand everything—and impart his understanding to readers—from the Big Bang to the rise of civilizations. He takes challenging subjects: geology, physics, astronomy, paleontology… and does his best to make them understandable to people who, like himself, were rendered bored or terrified of science in school.

There are even more great books for the reluctant nonfiction reader on this more extensive list!

A Fine Dessert: a "treat" of a story!

What a charming and special new book! A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall, tells the story of four families in four different centuries who are all making the same delicious dessert. The ingredients for the yummy treat, blackberry fool, remain the same over the years, but the methodology for getting the materials and making the dessert changes with the times.

In the 1700s, a girl and her mother collect blackberries and then whip cream by hand from the milk from their cow. In the 1800s, a slave family in Charleston, South Carolina, picks blackberries from the plantation garden and uses a whisk made by the local blacksmith to whip the cream. In Boston in the early 1900s,a girl and her mother buy blackberries from the market and use pasteurized cream delivered by the milkman that morning. And in modern day San Francisco, a boy and his dad buy blackberries and cream at the grocery store, print a recipe from the Internet and use an electric mixer to whip the cream.

The authors do an amazing job of depicting both the similarities and differences between the families and lifestyles over time. They manage to weave in some bigger topics (slavery, gender roles) in a subtle way and provide great historical portraits of each of the time periods. And, the best news is, the recipe for blackberry fool is included at the end of the book!


2015 Michigan Notable Books Announced

Each year, the Library of Michigan selects a list of titles for recognition as Michigan Notable Books. These have been singled out as exceptional titles published in the previous year that highlight Michigan people, places, and events.

In addition to drawing attention to books with a Great Lakes region focus, "...the list continues to offer something for everyone. The 2015 list represents fiction, short story collections, history, children's picture books, mysteries, poetry and memoirs," says State Librarian Randy Riley. This 2015 list includes a range of diverse offerings, from dystopian fiction bestseller Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel to Derek Jeter's YA novel The Contract, from a history of Detroit's crucial supply role during WWII in A.J. Baime's The Arsenal of Democracy to Josh Greenberg's River of Sand guidebook to fly fishing in the waterways of the Great Lakes region.

Ready to explore the books for yourself? Here's a Michigan Notable Books|list of this year's honored titles in the AADL catalog.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist and Bestselling Author David Maraniss Discusses His New Book "Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story "

Monday October 19, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

In Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story, David Maraniss, who was born in Detroit, captures this great American city at its pinnacle. Detroit in 1963 reflected the spirit of the entire country at the time, and its complicated past and future decline could be traced to this era.

It’s 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city’s leaders are among the most visionary in America. It was the American auto makers’ best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther’s UAW had helped lift the middle class. The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march.

Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of the city's collapse were evident even then. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.

Born in Detroit, David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. Maraniss is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author of Barack Obama: The Story and others, including When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi which was hailed by Sports Illustrated as “maybe the best sports biography ever published.”

For this special evening, David Maraniss will discuss this fascinating new work as well as answer audience questions. The event will include a book signing and books will be for sale courtesy of Bookbound Bookstore.

Polio: A Look Back At America’s Most Successful Public Health Crusade

Sunday April 12, 2015: 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

The U-M Center for the History of Medicine presents the 14th Annual Horace W. Davenport Lecture in the Medical Humanities featuring David Oshinsky, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Medical Humanities, NYU School of Medicine, Professor of History, New York University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio: An American Story.

After a brief introduction by University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, Dr. Oshinsky will reflect on the 60th anniversary of the polio vaccine, approved for widespread public use in April 1955.

David Oshinsky’s book Polio: An American Story won the Pulitzer Prize for History, among other awards, and influenced Bill Gates to make polio eradication the top priority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Other works include A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and Worse Than Slavery, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for distinguished contribution to human rights.

Professor Oshinsky’s reviews and essays appear regularly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other international publications.

Library Lists: Americana

The amazing variation of lifestyles in the United States make for fascinating literary portraits of the people, families and groups living in this country. Compiled here are ten amazing books, both fiction and nonfiction, that explore deeply the culture and beliefs of our nation.

South of Superior: An eye-opening book, set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, that offers subtle explanations for why people make the choices that they do, and why we often find ourselves unable to escape our pasts.

Shotgun Lovesongs: A moving portrait of the relationships between four men who all grew up in the same small Wisconsin town, and of what holds them there and what drives them away.

Rock Springs: In ten stories all set in the American West, author Richard Ford employs carefully sculpted prose to explore the themes of loneliness and hope that permeate the lives of people who live there.

A Thousand Acres: Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is unexpectedly fast-paced and shocking. Set on a family farm in Iowa, the exclusion of the youngest daughter from the will sets off a chain of events that bring long-suppressed truths and emotions to the surface. Also try Smiley’s most recent book, Some Luck, for another fantastic American family drama.

Pulphead: Essays: Author John Jeremiah Sullivan takes readers on a whirlwind tour of America’s cultural landscape, describing unique aspects of popular culture and drawing forgotten and unknown groups and areas into the light.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café: Fannie Flagg’s classic novel takes place simultaneously in the 1980s and 1920s, and has been beloved since its initial publication in 1987. Fried Green Tomatoes is he story of the famous Whistle Stop Café, operational from the 1920s-1960s and the amazing cast of characters that kept it operational, as well as of modern-day woman, Evelyn, who is inspired to change her life after hearing stories about the Whistle Stop Café from a woman living at the nursing home where she visits her mother-in-law weekly. Many of Flagg’s other books are also hilarious and heartwarming portrayals of life in the South.

Winesburg, Ohio has been touted as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. Before Richard Ford, there was Sherwood Anderson, who wrote Winesburg, Ohio in 1919 and, with it, evoked “with lyrical simplicity quiet moments of epiphany in the lives of ordinary men and women.”

The English Major: Jim Harrison tells a unique version of the American road trip story through the eyes of protagonist Cliff, a divorced sixty-something ex-teacher who has just lost his share of the family farm. His adventures take him on a whirlwind tour of America, on a personal mission to rename all the states with names he feels are better suited.

Prodigal Summer: Barbara Kingsolver’s 2000 book is set in rural Appalachia, and delves deeply into three separate storylines that gradually merge together with Kingsolver’s expert grace.

East of Eden: Described as Steinbeck's magnum opus, the sprawling novel follows the destinies of two families in the Salinas Valley in California whose lives mirror the fall of Adam and Eve and rivalry between Cain and Abel. Even those who typically don’t enjoy Steinbeck have a soft spot for East of Eden and its intensely developed characters and faster-paced action.

Want more Americana? Check out this list for tons more books, both classics and lesser-knowns, on traditional and non-traditional American culture.

New Nonfiction for Kids: Why'd They Wear That?

We’ve all seen pictures and paintings of people wearing some pretty crazy clothing and fashions over the course of history. Why have clothes changed so much over time? What caused different accessories and styles to come into fashion… and to fade back out again? If questions like this pique your interest, National Geographic’s Why’d They Wear That? is the book for you! Filled with amazing fashion facts and the reasons behind some of the more obscure style trends we’ve seen over time, this awesome book is also packed with great pictures of clothes and the people that wore them.

Did you know that in the 1700s in France, women’s hoop skirts were so wide that they had to turn sideways to get through doorways? After the storming of the Bastille, these cumbersome skirts quickly went back out of fashion—women couldn’t hope to escape with their lives if they couldn’t even get through a door!

And, before the 1860s, shoes weren’t mass produced with left and right feet: they were all just straight! So, wearing shoes was often very painful. You could only custom order right and left-footed shoes if you were very wealthy. Finally, it 1865, this problem was remedied when appropriately designed shoes were made widely available.

Why’d They Wear That has information like these crazy facts you just read, and so much more. And, for another cool book on fashion and style over time, try The Fashion Book.

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