The Library of Michigan's annual selection (annotations are from the Library of Michigan list):
Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital by William A. Decker, M.D. (Arbutus Press)-- The Michigan Asylum for the Insane opened in Kalamazoo in 1859 as Michigan's first state institution created solely for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. In this outstanding history, complete with dozens of images and schematic maps, Dr. Decker, a former medical superintendent of the hospital, places emphasis on the treatments themselves, including hydrotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy and psychoanalysis, the various instruments used, and the growth and development of the hospital's campus and buildings.
The English Major by Jim Harrison (Grove Press) --Harrison's 14th book of fiction is a humorous novel exploring a man's journey to self-discovery. After being dumped by his wife, Cliff, a 60-ish former English teacher turned farmer, hits the road in his old Ford Taurus with a plan of renaming all the birds and all the states. Told in a believable first-person voice, the story describes Cliff's attempt to shed his former life, by crossing the boundaries of as many states of the Union as he can reach in a year. The novel revisits many of Harrison's longtime interests: travel, literature, food and man's interaction in the natural world. This is Harrison's sixth time on the Michigan Notable Books list.
The Expeditions: A Novel by Karl Iagnemma (Dial Press)-- This debut novel by suburban Detroit native Karl Iagnemma is set in historic Michigan during the 1840s. Elisha Stone, a 16-year-old runaway, heads to Detroit to get away from trouble at home. He winds up working with a party of naturalists, embarking on a voyage to the Upper Peninsula to both discover treasure and prove theories about the origins of man. Iagnemma skillfully displays the interactions of the unstable research party, richly describes the historical attitudes and conditions of this frontier era, and reveals the interaction between father and son, as Elisha's father comes in search of his prodigal son.