Failure IS An Option

Gary Shteyngart will be at the Downtown Library on Tuesday, October 21 at 7 pm talking about his wildly funny book Little Failure.

Tweet to @aadl your "little failure" using the hashtag #LittleFailure for your chance to win a Failure Is An Option t-shirt.

Winners will be chosen at random and must be present at the event to win.

Little FailureLittle Failure

My Life in Middlemarch

All avid readers have at least one book that has had a profound impact on their life. For Rebecca Mead that book is Middlemarch. She explores this connection between individual and text in My Life in Middlemarch, a fabulous mixture of biography, memoir, and literary criticism. Mead demonstrates how a novel can speak to an individual on multiple levels and engage with readers. This is not a typical memoir which is author-centric. Instead the focus is more on George Eliot’s biography and how it relates to her work (Middlemarch in particular).

There is a lovely quote near the middle of the book which captures Mead’s view of literature and the overall tone of My Life in Middlemarch, “A book may not tell us exactly how to live our own lives, but our own lives can teach us how to read a book.”

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.

Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond’s memoir of how she met, fell in love with, and married her rancher husband is hilarious, romantic, and charming. Titled The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story and published back in 2011, the entirely true story definitely made me want to find my own cowboy out there somewhere! Ree was born in urban Oklahoma and went to college at USC, where she fell in love with the city life. After a few years in Los Angeles, she moves back home temporarily before she plans to move to Chicago. When she meets “Marlboro Man” one night in a smoky hometown bar and he begins to woo her, Ree’s plans change somewhat and before she knows it she finds herself the wife of a down-home Oklahoma rancher, living over an hour from the nearest grocery store and surrounded by cattle rather than skyscrapers. Ree’s stories of her new country life are completely heartwarming.

After publishing this lovely memoir, Ree was inspired to write more and has produced several fantastic cookbooks complete with delicious, easy recipes interspersed with more stories of family life at the ranch. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: recipes from an accidental country girl, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: food from my frontier, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: a year of holidays, are all beautifully photographed, adorably written, and extremely handy to have in any kitchen!

Most recently, Ree has branched out into writing children’s books about Charlie the ranch basset hound, who is based off of the basset hound that she and her family own in real life. There’s Charlie the Ranch Dog, Charlie the Ranch Dog: where’s the bacon?, Charlie and the New Baby, and Charlie and the Christmas Kitty, as well as several other picture books about the lazy, mischievous dog.

For more information about Ree, and for additional recipes, stories, and photos, check out her awesome blog The Pioneer Woman.

It's National Aviation Week!

Happy National Aviation Week, all! Today is the start of an entire week dedicated to celebrating aviation. National Aviation Day, which is also Orville Wright's birthday, will be on August 19th, but if you can't wait until then to start learning about aviation, we've got you covered! Here are some great choices:

For kids:
A is for Airplane: An Aviation Alphabet: Little ones can work on their alphabet using all aviation-themed words!
The Wright Brothers: How they Invented the Airplane is a Newberry Honor book that follows the Wright brothers and will teach young ones about how they got started.
The Wright Brothers for Kids: How they Invented the Airplane: 21 Activities Exploring the Science and History of Flight: For kids that want to take a more hands-on approach to learning about flight, this book offers up a variety of fun aviation-themed activities.
Night flight : Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic: This beautiful book's exciting details and daring illustrations will leave kids wanting to learn all they can about Amelia Earhart. If they're begging for more, direct them to the fabulous Amelia Lost :The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart!

For adults:
Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies is a new book that traces the first people to fly in planes as they fought to control publicity and show off their own inventions and bravery.
Feel like watching something? Enjoy the 2004 Oscar-winner The Aviator, or delve into Amelia Earhart's story (among other!) with Unsolved Mysteries: Strange Legends.

Finally, no aviation list could be complete without the classic movie Airplane! or How to Build a Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnet Motors, and 25 other Amazing DIY Science Projects, a book that will teach you how to build your own unstoppable paper airplane!

An Author and his Therapy Dog

Author Luis Montalvan is scheduled to sign books at Barnes and Noble, 3235 Washtenaw Ave in Ann Arbor, on Aug. 16 at 11:30 am. He will be joined by Tuesday, his therapy dog, and he will discuss his books including Until Tuesday : a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him and Tuesday tucks me in : the loyal bond between a soldier and his service dog. Man and dog have been featured by the Late Show with David Letterman, NPR and National Geographic. Montalvan will answer questions and demonstrate Tuesday's Animal Assisted Therapy techniques.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Those interested in personal memoirs and stories will love Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. Six honest teens from diverse backgrounds share their inspirational and often heartbreaking experiences in trying to find and identify who they really are. Each teen describes how they first realized they were a different gender and their transitional experiences since then. With a format based on taped interviews, readers will feel as though they are having a conversation with each teen in person. In addition to providing a great introduction to readers first exploring what it means to be transgender or intersex, "Beyond Magenta" would function well in teen book clubs or group discussions on identity. An extensive glossary and resource guide are located in the back of the book for extra clarification and further research.

Susan Kuklin is well-known for her raw and informative nonfiction books, including No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row and Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery. Many of her books, including "Beyond Magenta", feature her own engaging photography. To learn more about Susan Kuklin, visit her website.

Readalikes for upcoming AADL speaker Daniel Jones' Modern Love column!

Daniel Jones, editor of the weekly New York Times column Modern Love, will be speaking at the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library this Sunday at 3:00. The Modern Love column is adored by readers worldwide, and can be found online here. Jones has also written and edited several books, the latest of which is Love Illuminated: exploring life’s most mystifying subject (with the help of 50,000 strangers) and was published this year. Using thousands of the stories that he has been sent over the past decade, Jones extracts the ten aspects of love as he sees them from these tales of joy and woe, explaining these aspects in the book. At his talk on Sunday, Jones will discuss Love Illuminated and his column and will answer questions, and there will be the opportunity for attendees to purchase his books. You can read more about the event here.

If you are a fan of Jones’ column and his work, as I am, you may want to check out some of the essay and story collections on love that we have here at AADL as many of them read similarly to the column. I enjoyed This I Believe: on love, part of the popular “this I believe” series. There’s also Handbook for the Heart: original writings on love and Heart of the City: nine stories on love and serendipity on the streets of New York. If you enjoy poetry, the collection You Drive Me Crazy: love poems for real life is fun and applicable to all as is 77 Love Sonnets by Garrison Keillor.

You can also read more about Love Illuminated and the Modern Love column in this interview with Jones.

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life

In 2007, James Bowen was a recovering heroin addict enrolled in a methadone program, lived in sheltered housing, and busked on the streets of London for rent, utilities, and his daily bread. He had been in and out of homelessness for years, estranged from his father and geographically distant from his mother in Australia. He did what he could do to get by without falling back into the traps of his past, one day at a time.

And then one spring evening he met an orange tom cat outside of his apartment. Assuming he belonged to someone else, Bowen left him alone. But then the friendly cat was back again. And again. And eventually Bowen took him in, brought him to the vet to clean up a wounded leg, and gave him a safe place in which to recover. But even when Bowen tried to find the cat's family (no luck) or put him back on the street (the cat wouldn't have that nonsense), he relented and decided to keep Bob - named for a character in the TV show Twin Peaks - on a permanent basis.

What really surprised Bowen, and what he and Bob became best known for (featured around the world in YouTube videos) was when Bob decided to accompany Bowen on his busking rounds!

If you want to read more about this delightful duo, and learn about Bowen and Bob's close calls with police, dogs, and drunks, but also their encounters with old friends, gift-giving strangers, helpful store workers, and Bowen's monumental step toward clean living, check out A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. It's a quick and fun read that is sure to warm your heart.

Love cat stories? Don't miss these other great reads!
Homer's Odyssey
Kitty Cornered
The Cat Who Came for Christmas

New Self-Help Book: 10% Happier

Self-help stories, in my opinion, can be very inspiring. So how can I resist this new book: 10 % Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-help That Actually Works -- a True Story, by Dan Harris. From the AADL catalog book description: "After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists . . . " Currently there are 46 holds on one copy. Make that 47 -- I just placed mine.

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