Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Book Discussion: A Tale For The Time Being

Thursday January 22, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 9 and up.

AADL staff will lead a discussion of A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, the book selected for Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2015.

A brilliant, unforgettable novel, "A Tale For the Time Being" is an inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home. Published in 2014, the novel won the Medici Book Club Prize, the L.A. Times Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel begins with Nao, a sixteen-year-old in Tokyo who has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century.

A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet another character, Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami.

As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Copies of the book are available at the Ann Arbor District Library, the Ypsilanti District Library and area bookstores. For more information on Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads, visit the Reads website at

How to Participate: 2011

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2011 is a community-wide event! How may you participate?

Hold A Discussion Group In Your Community

Organize an event or discussion related to the read.
Events may be open to the public or restricted. Examples include:
• Book clubs wishing to use the book at a private meeting or discussion
• College or high school instructors assigning the book to their class
• Local workplaces hosting discussion groups for their employees
• Coffee shops inviting customers to connect over coffee on a particular night
• Film societies presenting a film related to the topic

Learn How To Moderate a Discussion Group
All of the information that you need to moderate your own discussion group can be found on our Resources page.

Tell Us About Your Event

If you have an event related to the Read, and would like to have it listed on this site, please contact Tim Grimes, Ann Arbor District Library Community Relations and Marketing at (734-327-4265). Please tell us the title of the event, date, time, location, sponsoring organization and contact information. Also, let us know if registration is required or if the event is on a drop-in basis.

Keep Checking this Website for Updates!
The site will change often as events are added. Please check for changes.

Youth Reading List - Curated by Ypsilanti District Library

What makes life worth living?

Grades K-5

The Dangerous Book for Boys
by Conn Iggulden, 2007, 0061243582
The overall premise of this nostalgic book is that action and adventure are fun and worth the risks.

The Daring Book for Girls
by Andrea Buchanon, 2007, 0061472573
See above – it’s all ok for girls to be adventurous too.

Is There Really a Human Race
by Jamie Lee Curtis, 2006, 0060753463
While thinking about life as a race, a child wonders whether it is most important to finish first or to have fun along the way.

Complete Adventures of Curious George
by Margret and H. A. Rey
I’m a sucker for Curious George – nobody is more fantastically curious or adventurous or intrepid than this little monkey.

And the behind the scenes story of the Reys’ escape, The Journey That Saved Curious George : the true wartime escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
by Louise Borden
An extraordinary story about escaping death.

Anne of Green Gables
by L. M. Montgomery, 1908
Anne is an orphan, sent to help out a lonely middle-aged brother and sister on a farm on Prince Edward Island. Anne has a feisty spirit and exuberance for life that captivates everyone around her.

by Jerry Spinelli, 2002, 0060540745
Even though his classmates consider him strange and a loser, Daniel Zinkoff’s optimism and exuberance and the support of his loving family do not allow him to feel that way about himself.

Thank You Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco, 1998, 0399237321
An autobiographical account of a teacher that goes the extra mile in helping her overcome her dyslexia when others make her feel dumb.

Goin’ Someplace Special
by Patricia McKissack, 2001, 1416927352
In segregated 1950s Nashville, a brave African American girl braves indignities and obstacles to get to one of the few integrated places in town, the public library.

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop
by Margaree King Mitchell, 1993, 0689819137
At age 79, after a lifetime of obstacles, Uncle Jed finally fulfills his lifetime dream of owning his own barbershop.

Grades 6-12

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank, 1953
We all know this story

Zlata’s Diary: a child’s life in Sarajevo
by Zlata Filipović, 1994,
Similar to Anne Frank’s diary only in Sarajevo. A privileged 11 year old, only concerned with Madonna and MTV has to get used to bombing, snipers, shortages of food, gas, water and electricity.

Farewell to Manzanar
by Jeanne Wakutsuki Houston, 1986, 0618216200
Yet another Anne Frank-like autobiography. The author was 7 years old when her family was forced to leave their home and their fishing business in Long Beach, CA and move to a Japanese Internment camp called Manzanar in the California desert.

by Jerry Spinelli, 2000, 0679886370
Spinelli shows what it means to be a human being on a planet that is rich with wonders. "She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl."

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak, 2006, 0375842209
This is a mesmerizing, moving story of a young German girl in World War II Germany who steals books and survives amidst a dreadful existence. The story is narrated by Death, himself, who is funny, self deprecating and unsentimental.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
by Sherman Alexie, 2007, 0316013684
A semi-autobiographical account of a budding cartoonist who transfers from the reservation school to a rich, white school. Amidst daily struggles of reservation life, Arnold Spirit is determined to improve himself and overcome poverty.

A Long Way Down
by Nick Hornby, 2005, 1573223026
This is a book written for adults but I know several teens who have read this book through word of mouth. 4 people independently meet on New Year’s Eve at an infamous suicidal destination to commit suicide and unlikely bonding occurs.

Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff, 1993, 0805022287
A triumphant, hopeful story about a bright, loving 14 year old who wants very badly to go to college. To earn money she babysits for a 17 year old with 2 children who live in squalor. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons outside the classroom.

Youth Reading List - Curated by Ann Arbor District Library

What Makes Life Worth Living?

John Denver's Sunshine on my Shoulders
Adapted & illustrated by Christopher Canyon
Dawn Publications, c2003 9781584690481
Picture book adaptation of a John Denver song which celebrates the simple things in life such as sunshine, being in nature, and loving relationships.

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
by Edwidge Danticat Orchard Books c2010 9780545278492
Junior is seven, and he is trapped under his house for eight days. We know from the first page that he is rescued, as we see him surrounded by news crews with huge cameras. But then we find out what he has played in his mind during his time in the rubble. Here are all the normal things Haitian children do, like marbles, kite-flying, hide and seek, visiting Papa at his business, singing in the choir at the church, soccer. Here is a beautiful Haitian family, welcoming back their rescued son. There is grief in this story, but it is understated. The main message is that Haiti is a place worth rebuilding, a place of hope.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox; illustrated by Julie Vivas
Kane Miller c1989 (1985) 9780916291266
A small boy tries to discover the meaning of "memory" so he can restore that of an elderly friend.

Mama, Do you Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Chronicle Books c1991 9780877017592
In this universal story, a child tests the limits of independence and comfortingly learns that a parent's love is unconditional and everlasting.

The Thanksgiving Bowl
by Virginia Kroll; illustrated by Philomena O'Neill
Pelican Pub. Co. c2007 9781589803657
Each member of a family writes an anonymous "I'm thankful for" note and places it in the Thanksgiving bowl. When the bowl is accidentally left outside, various creatures find and put the bowl to good use.

Guess how Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney; illustrated by Anita Jeram
Candlewick Press c2008 (1995) 9780763641757
During a bedtime game, every time Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates how much he loves his father, Big Nutbrown Hare gently shows him that the love is returned even more.

Thank you World
by Alice B. McGinty; illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Dial Books for Young Readers c2007 9780803727052
Eight children from eight different countries express their thanks for many special things including the sun that colors the sky, breezes that lift kites, clouds that paint cotton pictures and send rain, and sparkling stars that "shine like Mommy's eyes."

Inside All
by Margaret H. Mason; illustrated by Holly Welch
Dawn Publications c2008 9781584691112
Takes the reader on a nesting doll-like journey, from the edges of the universe into the heart of a child at bedtime, showing how we each have our place inside the universe and the universe has a place inside each of us.

The Bee Tree
by Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books, c1993 9780399219658
When Mary Ellen complains to Grampa that she's tired of reading her book, he proposes they hunt for a bee tree. After an adventurous chase, Grampa spoons a drop of honey onto Mary Ellen's book, saying "There's such sweetness inside books too . . . adventure, knowledge, wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You must pursue them…"

Let's go Home: the Wonderful Things about a House
by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Simon & Schuster c2002 9780689823268
Describes the individual rooms in a house, moving from porch to attic, stopping by the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms in between. In a quiet, warm mood, the narrative delineates the gestures and activities of a multigenerational household. “No matter the kind of house, it is the living inside that makes it wonderful.”

City Dog, Country Frog
by Mo Willems; illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Hyperion Books for Children c2010 9781423103004
Two seemingly incompatible animals--a free-range frog and a curious urban dog--discover the endless possibilities that unfold when we share the best of ourselves with each other.

Biblioburro: a True Story from Colombia
by Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books c2010 9781416997788
After amassing piles of books, Luis, a voracious reader, dreams up a way to share his collection with “faraway villages.” He starts with two burros—one for himself, one for books—and heads off. Both understated and full of life, this satisfying story is a vibrant reminder of the pleasures of books and the difference one individual can make.

The Story Blanket
by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz; illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Peachtree, c2008 9781561454662
With no wool to be found in the village, Babba Zarrah, the storyteller, starts unraveling her story blanket bit by bit, to secretly supply the needs of the community, and when the villagers realize what is happening they return the favor.

Reviews of The Living Great Lakes

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, by Jerry Dennis, c. 2003

Publishers Weekly
In his newest book, Dennis (From a Wooden Canoe) offers an engrossing description of being a crew member on the schooner Malabar on a six-week trip through the waters of Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Capt. Hajo Knuttel and other crew members such as Tim, the ship's creative cook, spring to life in this modern adventure tale. Dennis weaves anecdotes from his childhood, such as a family-fishing trip on Lake Michigan, together with informed commentary on the natural history of the lakes and the people who live there as well as evocative descriptions of the enchanting view of the forests along Lake Superior from the schooner. His narrative is a continual reminder of the dangers inherent in navigating the waters of these magnificent lakes as he details their current condition; he explains that in the 1970s, Lake Erie's waters were saved from an ecological disaster by a public outcry, yet other waters are still in danger from commercial dumping. But all does not go smoothly for the Malabar; Dennis's narrative takes on an air of adventure when, toward the end of the trip, the Malabar and its crew encounter a terrifying storm.

Dennis surveys the Inland Seas through the viewpoint of his lake-faring rambles in three different vessels: schooner, racing yacht, and voyageur canoe. As he passes the numerous spectacular sights the Great Lakes afford sailors, Dennis recalls their associated history in a vibrant blend of personal observation and geological, historical, and environmental anecdote. The main focus here is a schooner trip in 2000 from Grand Traverse Bay to Maine (via the Erie Canal). As the Malabar negotiates the treacherous Straits of Mackinac, Dennis not only covers the French missions, British forts, and innumerable shipwrecks in this storied area but also recollects his experience in the annual Chicago-to-Mackinac yacht race. Working in a separate, French fur-trapper style canoeing adventure on Lake Superior, Dennis touches on all five lakes in this compendium, endowing his chronicle with a breadth that makes it a fine introduction to the lakes' ecology.

Reader reviews on Amazon

Two Finalists for 2010

Update 11/2/09: The Living Great Lakes is the selection for the 2010 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads.

A selection committee of community leaders, librarians, students and educators in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area will meet in mid-October to choose one of two books as the focus for this year on the subject of Michigan. Which book should be chosen? We appreciate your comments and opinions.

The two book finalists are available in alternative formats for those who are unable to read or use printed materials due to a physical disability (blindness, macular degeneration, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, dyslexia, etc.). Please contact the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled at 1-734-327-4224.

Click on the titles below for more information about the books and authors, and to add your comments.

The two books under consideration are:

Kevin Boyle, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age. New York: H. Holt, 2004.

LivingGreat Lakes
Jerry Dennis, The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2003.

Reviews of Seeing in the Dark

Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers Are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe, by Timothy Ferris, c2002

Washington Post
Entrancing and beautifully written, this latest work by Ferris, the writer laureate of astronomy, will be treasured by generations of stargazers to come

Publisher’s Weekly
Amateur astronomers are the heroes of this latest opus from one of the country's best-known and most prolific science writers. Ferris has a special place in his heart for these nonprofessionals who gaze into space out of wonderment and end up making discoveries about comets, the moon and the planets that change our understanding of the galaxy. Ferris recounts how he, as a boy growing up in working-class Florida, was first captivated by the spectacle of the night sky. He then looks at the growing field of amateur astronomy, where new technologies have allowed neophytes to see as much of the cosmos as professionals. The book introduces readers to memorable characters like Barbara Wilson, a one-time Texas housewife who turned to astronomy after her children were grown and has since helped found the George Observatory in Houston (where a number of new asteroids have been discovered) and developed a reputation as one of the most skilled amateur observers. Ferris also takes stock of what we know today about the cosmos and writes excitedly about the discoveries yet to come. With a glossary of terms and a guide for examining the sky, this book should turn many novices on to astronomy and captivate those already fascinated by the heavens.

Library Journal
Science writer and stargazer Ferris elaborates on his 1998 New Yorker essay about the renaissance of amateur astronomy, describing how advances in telescope design, electronics, and telecommunications have made it possible for amateur observers to discover new celestial objects. Improved technology and the sheer numbers of participants have also empowered amateurs to conduct round-the-clock or long-term research projects that complement the work of professional astronomers. Yet these same advances also render human eyes, hands, and sometimes even minds increasingly irrelevant to the practice of both amateur and professional astronomy. Perhaps as a counterpoint to this dismaying trend, Ferris frequently interrupts his narrative to introduce readers to individual amateur astronomers, from the well known…to the more obscure or even surprising…Appendixes provide useful tips and seasonal star maps (Northern Hemisphere only) for the beginning observer, facts and figures about various celestial bodies, and recommendations for further reading. Lyrical and engrossing, this book is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.

Scientific American
If you've never heard of Stephen James O'Meara or Don Parker, then you've missed some of the most fascinating adventures in 20th-century astronomy. O'Meara was the first person to measure the length of a day on Uranus and to see radial "spokes" in Saturn's rings. (Most astronomers dismissed that discovery as illusionary, until Voyager got close enough to photograph them.) What's more remarkable, in an age of computer-enhanced CCD [Change-Coupled Device] images, O'Meara made these observations visually, using only a small telescope and his own eyes. Parker went in a different direction. After improving the technique of CCD-based astrophotography, he amassed what might be the world's most extensive and scientifically valuable digital archive of planetary portraits. Despite their passion for astronomy, both hold more down-to-earth day jobs. They are not alone. Today, equipped with low-cost telescopes and high-tech imaging systems, a small army of dedicated amateur sky watchers struggles every night to advance our understanding of the cosmos. While that's no secret, tales from the trenches are seldom told, so these passionate citizen scientists and their extraordinary achievements have remained undeservedly obscure. Happily, amateur astronomy is about to receive a whole new type of exposure.

Seeing in the Dark, Timothy Ferris's latest sojourn into matters astronomical, presents a delightful look back down the telescopes of some of the world's most accomplished citizen astronomers. Ferris knows this community well. A lifelong amateur astronomer, he has an intimate connection to his subject. He isn't bashful about sharing his own experiences. In one passage, Ferris regresses to 1959, when he was a young man, strapped inside the cockpit of a "raw, street-legal racer" while it screeched headlong down the Florida interstate. A self-described "white boy" in the segregated South, Ferris was haunted by his forbidden love of authentic African-American blues. But the radio stations that played it were hundreds of miles away. So he took to the road near midnight, when the ionosphere firmed up and reflected those prized AM waves from their faraway source to his car radio. As he describes how he mentally connected the stars with those distant radio signals, he makes it clear why some people wonder incessantly about life on other planets. It's a refreshing perspective because it presents the situation as astronomers often see it: one cosmos in which the great questions of existence are inextricably intertwined with the mundane. It's what turns thousands of otherwise ordinary folks into night owls who tirelessly prowl the skies for new insights into ancient mysteries. Ferris profiles some of the stars of amateur astronomy, such as comet hunter extraordinaire David Levy... But he also meanders about the community's charming backroads, where you never know whom you are going to meet. The introductions include a roly-poly Houston housewife and master observer who casually chases alligators away from her observatory with a rake, and a sculptor who converted the caldera of an extinct volcano into an enduring work of modern astronomical art. We even get to meet Brian May of the rock group Queen. It turns out that the fellow who wrote "We Will Rock You" also did postgraduate work in infrared astronomy and still observes as an amateur.

To provide context for the profiles, Ferris has also written an excellent introduction to basic astronomy. Actually, it may be a bit too good. Anyone who wishes to plumb the depths of planetary astronomy, or to contemplate catastrophic cosmic collisions, can buy bushels of best-selling books on those subjects. But here, where the main course is the community itself, astronomy should be treated like a rich dessert. The chef needs to present enough to complement the meal, but too much richness can detract from the experience. In an era when publishers impose strict page limits on their authors, more science means less of the stuff that makes Seeing in the Dark such a joy to read. Also, the book eats up 30 pages with astronomical tables and viewing tips, apparently so the publisher can position it as an observer's guide. This must be the work of an overzealous marketing department. Ferris surely knows this small space can't present enough information to be of much use and that many excellent observing guides can already be found in bookstores and on the Internet. My advice to Simon & Schuster would have been to keep the "Further Reading" section and let Ferris substitute the rest with another profile or two. Then this great book would be near perfect. In the end, Seeing in the Dark teaches an important lesson for any nonprofessional interested in science. Amateurs may not have access to all the toys the professionals do. But they always seem to enjoy their research tremendously--and many make discoveries, some of them of immense value to our understanding of the universe.

A veteran author of general-interest works on astronomy, Ferris here spotlights the renaissance in amateurs' contributions to the science. The big-telescope era of Mounts Wilson and Palomar demoted most amateurs to hobbyist status, but the proliferation of charge-coupled devices has vastly increased the power of build-your-own and off-the-shelf telescopes. Combined with "bench strength" and native fascination with the sights of the night, the amateurs are again discovering objects the professionals miss; unpaid insomniacs detect most novae and comets. Surveying these enthusiasts, among whom he counts himself, Ferris relays his "transforming experience" of observing Mars as a Florida teenager in the 1950s. He also interviews 15 other amateurs about their fascination with celestial objects. The most popular planets with amateurs are Saturn or Jupiter; Britain's prolific astronomy popularizer Patrick Moore was held in thrall by the moon. A word tour of planets and constellations closes out Ferris' companionable testimonial cum guide, which has the power to convert a casual browser into an active observer.

NY Times Sunday Book Review
This is a beautiful book....Seeing in the Dark is even more delightful and successful because Ferris has so artfully pinned its organization to the human experiences of observers past and present..

The New York Times
Editor's Choice: One of the year's best books
Unquestionably sublime, the universe is also beautiful, from ruddy Mars and jade Uranus to majestic blue-white Rigel (named in Arabic, like most of the Milky Way's high-magnitude stars, by Muslim astronomers) to the colossal Sombrero, Whirlpool, colliding Seashell and exploding M87 galaxies. Every month the Hubble Space Telescope releases breathtaking new pictures; but all over Earth, Timothy Ferris writes in Seeing in the Dark, there are thousands of less expensive telescopes trained on sights just as lovely. Amateurs, too, can make long colorful exposures with charge-coupled devices (CCD's, the astronomical equivalent of the omnicompetent microchip). Comets can be spotted with binoculars. The Perseid meteor showers this month could be enjoyed with the naked eye…we stare at the universe often, with or without precision optics, in our endless search for meaning. If Ferris is right, more of us are doing that now than ever before. His book is not just a handbook of the universe but a record of people of all sorts who have looked long and hard at it, and of what the experience has been like for them. To be impressed with the universe and curious about it may be, according to some scientists, our species' only purpose in being here, especially if we are indeed alone in it. Others disagree…For Ferris, the more characters there are in the universe, human or not, who can be impressed with it, the better it is for us, and maybe for the universe as well. He provides many means to that end, including a guide to the night sky, tips for the novice stargazer and a brief history of the popularization of science, from Pierre Bayle to James Jeans and Steven Weinberg. But his two big themes are the structure of the observable universe and profiles of the observers.

Ferris has a chapter for each kind of object, from the Sun to quasars, with what you never find in an astronomy book -- the story of human perceptions of these objects, the resulting conceptions of them and, in some cases, encounters with them. He devotes two chapters to the planetesimals, the second one for those with high ''Torino numbers,'' the ones that might crash into Earth, a category that should interest everybody.

As the book moves out into space from planet to star to galaxy, it stops for fascinating chats with the stargazers who specialize in seeing them. You meet all kinds of people here who are regrettably never profiled in People magazine… Ferris's own biography is slipped in, a sentence here, a paragraph there, as an interviewer's reflections. It is a charming memoir about growing up in Key Biscayne, Fla., in the 50's, by an indifferent student who caught the science bug that was so contagious in those years of sputnik and satellites, and became a professional journalist and a lifetime amateur of blues music and astronomy. In backyard observatories and at ''star parties,'' where you bring your own, often home-built, telescope, Ferris has seen eclipses, colliding galaxies, double-star systems and a storm on the surface of the Sun big enough to slap an orbiting satellite into the Indian Ocean and black out Montreal. For him a highlight of the 60's was being able to report the exact times of a transit of Mercury across the disk of the sun. In a stray sentence on Page 196 he measures out his life in something grander than coffee spoons -- four successive observations of the rare Jupiter-Saturn conjunction.

Universe-watching, like golf and aging, promotes humility. Ferris is a retired professor, but of journalism, not astronomy, and his tone is that of the amateurs he celebrates and interviews. That adolescent enthusiasm, well tended since sputnik, reinforces his formidable literary gifts -- for metaphor, for narrative and everything between. This is a beautiful book.

In a generation of writing scientists like Steven Pinker and Stephen Jay Gould, and superb science journalists like James Gleick, David Quammen, George Johnson and Laurie Garrett, Ferris is among the very best. Specializing in astronomy and astrophysics, he has written eight previous books, collaborated on another and edited two. His 1997 book, The Whole Shebang, was an attempt to take it all in; but Seeing in the Dark, on the same subject, is even more delightful and successful because Ferris has so artfully pinned its organization to the human experiences of observers, past and present, instead of to the problems and subdivisions of the astronomical discipline. You learn just as much reliable information about the heavenly bodies and their stunning peculiarities, but you also learn who saw which of them and when. Having brought so many memorably passionate seekers into the book, Ferris can use his other principle of organization to highlight how dwarfed they are -- and how dwarfed they know they are -- by what they are seeking.

New York Times Review of PBS Film
Timothy Ferris, the author, academic and filmmaker, has been called the greatest science writer of his generation, praise he has won for explaining the phenomena of the cosmos with unusual clarity and style. Some commentators have described his prose as poetic, and his latest documentary, “Seeing in the Dark,” tonight on PBS, shows us why.
Here is Mr. Ferris, who serves as writer, producer and narrator, describing the possible contents of Saturn’s spokes: dust particles “that pick up an electrostatic charge from lightning in Saturn’s upper atmosphere, leaping up off the icy rings, like scraps of tissue paper levitating toward a comb.”

Mr. Ferris brings to his similes a Dickinsonian ambition that offers no aural reward, but his paean to amateur astronomy is no less compelling for all of his linguistic intrusion.

“Seeing in the Dark,” based on his book of the same title, is part memoir and part reportage. The documentary pays homage not only to a fascination with stargazing that began in Mr. Ferris’s boyhood, but also to a group of nonprofessional observers, who, because of advances in digital imaging and the development of remotely operated telescopes, have turned into invaluable freelancers for astrophysicists like Debra Fischer of California.

Exactly what our civilization will need trained specialists to do in the future appears to be an issue that gets murkier and murkier. As Dr. Fischer explains here, there are too few astronomers in the world to meet the demands of research, and impassioned amateurs who can now track the movements of exo-planets around stars with the aid of computerized photography are beginning to make significant contributions to our understanding of the solar system.

Mr. Ferris regards these developments with unmitigated awe. He positions himself as a kind of Charles Osgood, walking us through a subculture for which he has tremendous affection. In the process, what he captures most evocatively is the basic human urge to carve for oneself a greater piece of the world than mundane circumstance typically provides.

Visiting a group of makers of hobby telescopes, he finds a man who has made an imposing, exquisite-looking device, using cedar chips left over from a canoe project. What moves Mr. Ferris in “Seeing in the Dark” — what moves us — isn’t the cold, clammy intellectualism of scientific inquiry, but the aesthetics, the beauty and glory of it all.

Reading List Grades K - 8

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2010 Youth Reading List


Grades K - 5

Appleford, Annie
M is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet Book

Barker, Charles Ferguson
Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan's Rocks and Fossils

de Angeli, Marguerite
Copper-Toed Boots

van Frankenhuyzen, Robbyn Smith
Kelly of Hazel Ridge

Polacco, Patricia
Mrs. Mack

Rand, Jonathan
Michigan Chillers: Great Lakes Ghost Ship
(and other Michigan Chillers)

Wargin, Kathy-Jo
The Legend of Sleeping Bear

Wargin, Kathy-Jo
Look & See Michigan with Me

Whelan, Gloria
Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five-Mile Poem

Whelan, Gloria
Next Spring An Oriole

Grades 6 - 8

Bellairs, John
The House with a Clock in its Walls

Blos, Joan
Brothers of the Heart

Curtis, Christopher Paul
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

Frost, Helen
Crossing Stones

Giff, Patricia Reilly
Willow Run

Jones, Patrick

Schatzer, Jeffery L.
Fires in the Wilderness

Slote, Alfred
Finding Buck McHenry

Swanson, Julie A.
Going for the Record

Trottier, Maxine
Sister to the Wolf

AADL Productions Podcast: Timothy Ferris

Timothy Ferris, Author of "Seeing in the Dark"Timothy Ferris, Author of "Seeing in the Dark"

When he was recently in town giving his talk at Washtenaw Community College, AA/Ypsi Reads author Timothy Ferris was kind enough to stop by the Downtown Library for an interview. The author of Seeing in the Dark gave us some insight into his writing process and his love of the night sky. We also got a chance to talk about his documentaries and his work on the Voyager Golden Record that is taking music from around the world out of our solar system and across the universe.

Just click on the player below to listen, or take a stroll over to the AA/Ypsi Reads site to learn more about this year's author.

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