Steve Hamilton Author Talk on Thursday

Michigan author Steve Hamilton will be giving a talk on his latest novel Misery Bay on Thursday, June 9th, at Aunt Agatha's Book Shop.

Misery Bay is set in Paradise, Michigan, and is a part of the Alex McKnight mystery series.

This year Hamilton won the Edgar Award for Best Novel and the Alex Award for The Lock Artist, also set in a Michigan town.

The talk will take place at 7pm, and admission is free. Aunt Agatha's is located at 213 South Fourth Avenue, about a block away from the Downtown branch.

Park & Read Passes Have Arrived!

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Now's your chance to get a free one-day pass into any Michigan State Park or recreation area with a Park & Read Pass from AADL this summer! How does it work?

  • A limited number of passes are available at each AADL branch. Passes are available on a first come, first serve basis and can not be reserved. Only one pass may be checked out to a single library card holder at one time. Each pass is good for the free entrance and parking of one car (bring the whole family if they'll fit!) at a State Park or recreation area.
  • When checking out a pass, you'll be given a printed admission card and brochure by the Circulation desk. This admission card is your pass and is turned in at the park on arrival. You don't have to return anything to the library! Passes must be used within seven days of checkout, and can only be used once.
  • For a list of parks and areas you can visit, click here!
  • Park & Read Passes are available this year until October 1st, 2011. Get your pass today and enjoy summer in Michigan at the park!

    Made in Detroit

    There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the much-photographed Detroit “ruins.” The abandoned, empty, decaying buildings, collecting dust, getting transformed into “beauty” for the camera. Amid the talk has been also controversy. Some feel that these “beautiful” photographs of the “ugly” shed a bad light on Detroit, as photographers travel from afar to walk among the ruins. Whether you’re a fan of this type of photography or not, there are two newer books that feature some spectacular architecture of the city’s past. It’s a timeline of the old infrastructure, the bones of Detroit. Abandoned factories, schools and libraries that were closed.

    Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins highlights twelve historic landmarks and tells the stories behind them: The Vanity Ballroom, Cass Technical High School, Michigan Central Station, to name a few. What’s nice about this book is that it features photos of then and now, so you can see how the buildings have changed over time as you read about it.

    Detroit Disassembled is 96% photographs, which makes for a nice coffee table book to let your eyes wander through. The large images contain sharpness, texture and depth amidst the apocalyptic landscapes.

    The Thunderdrome: Unearthing a Gem in Detroit

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    Let's time travel. It's 1969 and we're in Dorais Park, Detroit, near E. Eight Mile and Mound Road. Construction has just been completed on a brand new velodrome -- a cycling venue consisting of a steeply banked, concrete oval loop, 250 meters long -- in anticipation of the U.S. National Track Championships held there later that year. This Championship and the many that follow are bright spots in a declining neighborhood. For the next 20 years, the city maintains this bastion of bike racing against urban devastation, marked here by the closure of the Chrysler assembly plant across the street.

    Eventually, the Dorais Park Velodrome is abandoned by the city and handed over to the elements. Illegal car races are sometimes held here, accelerating the cracking of the concrete that was only designed to sustain bicycles, while bushes, grasses, and trees split apart the fissures. Two decades of neglect take their toll.

    Welcome to 2010. A group of renegade urban landscapers, known as The Mower Gang, take their lawn care equipment to Dorais Park, unearth the velodrome, and begin rehabbing the battered beauty. It's renamed The Thunderdrome, an homage to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max film series from the '80s, and a race is staged for two-wheeled vehicles that October.

    As race organizer Ben Wojdyla writes, "the Thunderdrome wouldn't be limited to just bicycles. We wanted higher speeds and more excitement. We wanted loony subcultures, weirdos, a scene, a spectacle—something people could get excited about. So in addition to traditional fixed-gear road bicycles, geared bikes and mountain bikes, we also invited racers on mopeds, scooters and pit bikes". The Fall race is a success, drawing hundreds of spectators and racers and spawning the demand for a Spring race, which will take place this Saturday, April 30, at noon. Detroit reinvention and DIY spirit charge headlong into the future of the city.

    The latest issue of Bicycling Magazine, with holdings at all AADL locations, has an article on the Thunderdrome, as does the October 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics. Check out the Thunderdrome's website for more details on the race.velorace3velorace3

    Still Young After All These Years

    Neil Young takes the stage at Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday, May 4, as part of his eleven city solo tour, Twisted Road. Playing acoustic and electric guitars, pump organ, piano, and (of course) harmonica, the folk-rock legend is likely to play a mix of his greatest hits, like "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)", "Tell Me Why", and "Cinnamon Girl" along with a strong helping of songs from his 2010 Grammy award winning release, Le Noise, produced by Daniel Lanois. Young won Best Rock Song for "Angry World", his second ever Grammy in a career spanning more than four decades.

    Later this year, Neil Young will rejoin Stephen Stills and other members of short-lived '60s band, Buffalo Springfield, for a reunion tour that will make stops in California before headlining the multi-day music and arts festival, Bonnaroo, in Tennessee. Looks like it's going to be a great year for Neil Young fans.

    The AADL music collection includes dozens of albums that span Young's impressive career. If you're new to his music, this writer recommends starting with Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Harvest, and On the Beach.

    April 16 - 19 is National Park Week

    The U.S. National Park Service is celebrating National Park Week from April 16 - 19, which means free entry into 394 National Parks this week. There are six National Park locations in Michigan, though the most famous are the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes in Empire, MI, and the stunning Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula.

    The NPS will host numerous events at the parks throughout the week, such as Junior Ranger Day and an Empire Bluffs Sunset Hike. If you can't make it away this week but want more information on these fantastic natural resources in Michigan, check out Michigan State and National Parks by Tom Powers or the nearly 200 National Parks guidebooks from the AADL.

    101 Things You Didn’t Know About Ann Arbor…

    …But Are About to Find Out Why is a new book by Martin Woodhouse. The author presents “fascinating tangents and tidbits in purposely random sequence” about the fair city of Ann Arbor. He ups the “quirk quotient” and treats readers to some interesting stories and facts about A2 and some of its story-worthy inhabitants.

    Perhaps you’ve read Wicked Washtenaw County, Strange Tales of The Grisly and Unexplained, and are looking for more facts about the area. This book is right up your alley. Also recommended for some local trivia is another new book, Ghostly Tales of Michigan, which shares ghostly tales of some of Michigan’s more ghostly places.

    Check Out a Museum Adventure Pass!

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    Looking for some indoor fun this winter? Come to any of our branches and check out a Museum Adventure Pass! There are over 30 museums you can visit, and the passes admit 2 or 4 depending on where you're headed. Why not take a look around the corner at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History? Exhibits include displays on prehistoric life with the most extensive dinosaur exhibits in the state of Michigan, Michigan wildlife, anthropology, geology, and a Planetarium. Have fun, learn, and stay warm all at the same time!

    Winter Interpretive Nature Programs at Hudson Mills Metropark

    Ah winter, the target of our arrows, the gum under our shoe, the stain we can't scrub out, the thorn in our wooly socks, how you do take fearsome ire from we who live through your months. But wait! It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Just getting outside can turn a furrowed brow into a cheesy smile, and there's plenty for the whole family to do out there as long as you dress warmly enough.

    Every Saturday during the month of February, Hudson Mills Metropark will continue to host Winter Interpretive Nature Programs for all ages. Each weekend is a different theme, including the sonorous Bird Hike, the intriguing Better to Eat You With, and the adventurous On the Trail of the Whitetail. Preregistration is required -- phone: 800-477-3191-- and programs cost $3 per person.

    March weekends at Hudson Mills will feature the programs, Journey to the Sugar Bush, a guided tour to the sugar bush where you'll learn how maple syrup has been made over the years. Some lucky guests might even get to tap a tree. There is a pancake and sausage breakfast afterward for an additional fee, and preregistration is required.

    The AADL also has a range of books on sugaring and making maple syrup.

    Grisly Local History: Wicked Washtenaw County

    For those of you who enjoy history with a morbid twist, the AADL now offers Wicked Washtenaw County: Strange Tales of the Grisly and Unexplained. This new collection of short stories from local Ypsilanti historian James Thomas Mann offers up true tales of murder, mystery, grave robbing, scandal, etc. culled from old newspapers of our area. Mann's book is a short, quick read garnished with photos and drawings of the people and places involved. It gives a glimpse into Washtenaw's darker history, like the unsolved 1913 murder of a Chelsea woman who was strangled and found buried under a pile of cornhusks in her barn.

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