Ages 18+.

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!

WIN-WIN Opportunities with ADA Accomodations

Join the Ann Arbor Area Business Leadership Network (A3BLN), hosted this month by the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, for the unique opportunity to learn from Employers & Employees about ways to improve opportunities for people with disabilities, because we are ALL better together!

The workshop will feature: (1) A Panel of employers and employees from NuStep, Select Ride, and the University of Michigan discussing the benefits of a diversified workforce and the win-win opportunities for both employers and employees. (2) Sessions with legal, human resource, and ADA perspectives and sharing their views regarding hiring persons with disabilities and ADA accommodations in the workplace.

This event is open to ALL business leaders, employers & current or potential employees with disabilities.
May 15, 2015, 10:30 am - 1:30 pm, WCC Morris J. Lawrence Building Auditorium. Email to:

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #526

Lady Montfort's (Clementine Elizabeth Talbot) annual summer ball is the highlight of the season, not just for the household but for the county, and all their London friends. With the millions of details to be seen to, her ladyship relies heavily on her capable and resourceful housekeeper Edith Jackson, a handsome woman in her early thirties. The 1912 ball went off without a hitch. Even the weather was perfect to show off the Montfort's new sunken garden. Tragedy strikes in the early hours of the next morning when the gamekeeper finds a body, hanging in a gibbet that turns out to be that of Teddy Mallory, Lord Montford's dishonorable nephew, just expelled from Christ Church, Oxford.

When it was discovered that a new housemaid and one of their London guests also disappeared during the night, Scotland Yard gets involved. After unwittingly witnessed a violent confrontation between her son Harry, Lord Haversham and Teddy in the early evening, Lady Montfort fears that the official police inquiry is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect. Taking matters into her own hands, the countess enlists the help of Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case.

In Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman "an enchanting debut, author Tessa Arlen (incorporates) exquisite period detail into her well-mannered mystery, offers readers an engaging peek into the lives of upper and lower classes of early 1900s England combined with a little history interspersed." For those who enjoyed English country house mysteries like Gosford Park and Kate Morton's The House at Riverton.

If the elegant estate on the jacket cover brings to mind another establishment depicted in a long-running Masterpiece Theatre TV series, it's intentional. In fact, Tessa Arlen will participate in a panel discussion entitled Downton Malice: British Historical Period Mysteries at the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, Sunday, May 3, 2015.

Historical mystery fans interested specifically in the Edwardian era may wish to check out the author's Redoubtable Edwardians blog, choke-full of fabulous information and readalikes.

2015 "Write On!" 3rd-5th Grade Short Story Contest Winners!

Congratulations to the 2015 “Write On!” 3rd-5th Grade Short Story Contest Winners!

After a record 138 entries, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place stories were chosen from each grade, and the 2015 winners were announced at the Awards Celebration held on April 19th!

Come back soon to read this year’s short story submissions on the library website!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #525 - “At some point you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The one thing is finding the courage to do it.” ~ Suzanne Collins

The Fire Sermon * * * by award-winning poet Francesca Haig has been billed as The Hunger Games meets The Road - a richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy, and is poised to become the next must-read hit.

Four hundred years after a catastrophic nuclear fire destroyed much of Earth and its civilization, genetic mutation dictates that each human is born with a twin. Of each pair, one (an Alpha) is physically perfect, the other (an Omega) is burdened with some form of deformity. While the Alphas are designated as the ruling class, the Omegas are branded and banished to strictly controlled colonies. For all their superiority, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

"Haig's prose is gorgeous and engaging, particularly when she describes the desolate landscape, now peppered with ruins from the Before. Fans of dystopias will appreciate this adventure-filled yet character-focused tale that offers hope and explores (in a refreshingly nuanced way) the moral complexities involved in defeating an oppressive and backward government structure."

A great addition to the recent crop of dystopian novels.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Gardening with Kids

It's Spring! It's National Gardening Month! It's even almost Earth Day! Perfect time for the whole family to start or nurture a garden together! Gardening with kids is a fun, engaging activity that encourages learning and exploration, building quality relationships, and creating something rewarding. Check out these books for ideas about gardening with youngsters, from toddlers on up:

Gardening Lab for Kids: Fun and easy projects - plant seeds, plan your garden, and make things for your garden (tool totes, rain gauges, stepping stones, terrariums, and way way more!). A beautiful layout and page design makes this an extra good choice for inspiration.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Ever heard of a sunflower house? And what's a pizza patch?? A bean tunnel sounds fun! This highly recommended book will help the family create inspiring, kid-friendly garden spaces and special projects! Illustrated with colorful drawings by the author.

Fairy Garden Handbook: Fairy gardens are a big hit with all ages these days. Why not get a wee one to help make one?! Those little imaginations can run wild with these fairy garden projects and tips. Beautiful photos accompany the text.

The Family Kitchen Garden: A practical guide to growing a garden with the whole family. This book is full of the info adults need to make a successful kitchen garden, while also including guidance on choosing plants, tools, and tasks that make sense for kiddos. Perfectly balanced for creating a functional garden that includes the whole family in a meaningful way.

Ready Set Grow!: Each simple, fun, and colorful spread features a different project, plant, or tip for the garden. Very easy to follow along step-by-step.

Grow It, Cook It: Bright photos for each step of growing edible plants, and then cooking with them, will engage youngsters who are ready to try something new. Recipes include cute tomato eggplant towers, mini pumpkin pies, scrumptious chocolate mint mousse, and more.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #524 "There are cities that get by on their good looks, offer climate and scenery, views of mountains or oceans, rockbound or with palm trees; and there are cities like Detroit that have to work for a living..." ~ Elmore Leonard

Called a "powerful, timely debut" The Turner House * * by Angela Flournoy is especially poignant for readers in Southeast Michigan.

Set in Detroit's East Side, it is the story of an American family spanning five decades, from the Second Great Migration in the 1940s to the present, weathering the series of boom-and-bust associated with the auto industry and the history of the city.

Francis and Viola Turner raised all thirteen of their children in the house on Yarrow Street. Now widowed and ailing, Viola is forced to head to the suburbs and move in with Cha-Cha (Charles), her eldest. The house, once a proud symbol of working-class respectability, now stands among abandoned lots and urban plight, and is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children must gather to decide its fate.

Narrating the family saga are Cha-Cha, who feels the full burden of being both father and brother to his 12 siblings; Troy, a former vet and a disillusioned policeman, wants to illegally short sell the house; and Lelah, the youngest daughter whose gambling addiction has cause her her job, her apartment, maybe even her family, finds it necessary to squat in the Yarrow Street house unbeknownst to her siblings.

"The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It's a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home."

"Flournoy's writing is precise and sharp..., the novel draws readers to the Turner family almost magnetically. A talent to watch."

The author, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former librarian, grew up on the west coast but spent time throughout her childhood at her grandparents' home on Detroit's East Side. She will be at the Chelsea District Library on Saturday, April 25th as part of the Midwest Literary Walk. Click here for details and other near-by opportunities to meet the author.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is one of the longest-running television programs in the country, and is certainly one of the most beloved. Featuring live comedy sketches and variety performances as well as popular bands and musical guests every week since it first aired in 1975, SNL celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year. Fans of SNL will absolutely love Saturday Night Live: The Book, published this year in honor of the show’s 40th year. The large, brightly colored book is filled with facts and never before seen, behind-the-scenes photographs from every season of the show. Also included are interviews with Lorne Michaels, cast members, and other contributors to the show, and fun, goofy details about some of the more famous skits.

As a huge SNL fan myself, I even liked the portion of this book that shows photos of every host the show has had, and lists the air date, host and musical guest for all 784 episodes of the show. It was amazing to see the hundreds of various people that have hosted over the years!

The AADL also has lots of great SNL episodes on video, including the Best of Steve Martin, the Best of Will Ferrell and the Best of Amy Poehler collections, and many complete seasons. If you’re interested in reading more about the show, try Live From New York: the complete, uncensored history of Saturday Night Live as told by its stars, writers and guests.

Live from New York it’s Saturday niiiiiiiight!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #523

Publicity-shy UK debut author (we really don't know much about him) Mason Cross sets his electrifying thriller (and the first in a projected series) The Killing Season * * in the heartland of the USA.

2 weeks before his scheduled execution, convicted mass-murderer Caleb Wardell (nicknamed 'The Chicago Sniper') escaped in an ambush, during a late-night transfer on a rural road. It appeared that someone knew exactly where and when, and Wardell was not even the target.

Within hours, the FBI calls in Carter Blake to assist in a task force to find Wardell before the ensuing public hysteria once the news of the escape leaks out. Blake, a man with a specialized talents in finding those who don't want to be found, teams up with Elaine Banner, the Bureau's rising star who is privately juggling life as a newly-single mother. Racing against the clock and Bureau politics, they must track Wardell down as he cuts a swathe across America, apparently killing at random, just for the thrill of it, and always a step ahead of them.

"Cross keeps the pace breakneck, the suspense high, and the body count higher. Wardell is a terrific villain: intelligent, disciplined, resourceful, and utterly twisted. Banner is a single parent stretched between her daughter and her career. Blake is an enigma, but readers can trust that Cross will fill in his backstory in future novels."

For Jack Reacher and John Rain fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Film Screening: "Going Blind"

U of M's Hatcher Graduate Library will be screening the film "Going Blind" on Wednesday, April 15th from 5-7 PM. It's a documentary of personal stories of people coping with vision loss, and bringing awareness to low vision therapy. While you're at the Hatcher Graduate Library, check out the exhibit promoting the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled. If you have any questions about the service, please give us a call at 734-327-4224 or send us an email:

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