Brothers, Sisters, Life and Death

Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner is an artfully constructed memoir that calls attention to an astounding number of life issues, including sibling issues. What drew me to the book was that my older brother gave it to me, but what kept me reading was the author’s sharp reporting and frankness. A chorus of favorable reviews is here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #112

Malaysian Preeta Samarasan scores high marks with critics for her debut Evening is the Whole Day*.

This impressive novel is based on an earlier version that won the 2005-6 Avery and Jule Hopwood Awards while Preeta Samarasan (check out her website) was a graduate student at The University of Michigan.

On the outskirts of Ipoh (Malaysia), The Rajasekharans, a wealthy Indian family, suffers a series of personal and familial tragedies that begin with the death of the matriach, Paati, and the disgraceful dismissal of a young servant girl. Most affected by all of the uproar is 6 year-old Aasha, who is harboring a secret that could further devastate not only her family, but the entire community.

Samarasan "scores impressively with the creation of an intimate, gossipy omniscient narrative voice that's the perfect vehicle for her slowly unfloding, intricately layered story".

For fans of Kiran Desai and Arundhati Roy.

Insight into Amish Culture

Although it is an older release, Randy-Michael Testa's After the Fire: Destruction of the Lancaster County Amish (1992) is an interesting read which provides insight into the lifestyles of the Amish. The book can be easily paired with the movie Witness (1985), yet another older release showcasing Harrison Ford. Both pieces are good for illustrating a picture of Amish living; however, Testa's book is the product of his thesis work and can be somewhat statistical at times. The book was written while Testa lived within the Lancaster community, among one of the Amish families, and it is helpful to read the book's foreward. For more information on one of the major issues discussed in the book, feel free to also check out this website, but read the book first!

Forgiveness May Be Good For You

Do you think that you are a forgiving person? Take a quiz to find out.

What's so great about forgiveness? Turns out, the act of forgiveness may benefit you and the people around you. The Power of Forgiveness is an incredible film that takes a look at forgiveness from the perspectives of academic research, faith, and the victim. Check it out.

Pedal Power

Hey Commuter Challenge enthusiasts! Check out the book Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life. DePaul University Professor J. Harry Wray takes a look at how the simple act of riding a bike may impact perceptions of the world. Professor Wray says, "Because the world is experienced in a different way on a bike than it is in a car, the rider inevitably thinks of that world differently than does the driver." (page 18). The author had the idea for the "Biking and Politics" class in which he and his students ride 35 miles through the South and West side of Chicago.

Affordable Housing in Ann Arbor


The Housing and Human Services Advisory Board will hold a Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 13, 6 - 8:30 p.m. to discuss recommendations on the replacement of the 100-affordable housing units at the former YMCA. The meeting will be held at the Washtenaw County Building, 200 N. Main, Lower Level Conference Room. Following a 15-minute presentation, the public is invited to comment. CTN will replay the meeting throughout the week.

Poet Marvin Bell on Politics and Aging

Marvin Bell is now retired from teaching poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, but this wordsmith isn't slowing down. His nineteenth book, Mars Being Red, is a gutsy meditation on politics and aging. In "I Didn't Sleep," we read "I thought maybe I could sleep after the war / or catch a nap after the next election." And from "Assisted Living Quarters," Bell observes "All / the mothers have seventy-year-old babies." These are difficult themes for poems without coming across preachy or trite. Bell succeeds with measured doses of humor and grace, surprise and anger, and a fearless spirit.

Help support the Women's Center

This Friday, May 2, The Women's Center of Southeastern Michigan will be hosting their seventh annual fundraising event, "Opening Doors," an auction and dinner at the Morris Lawrence Building of Washtenaw Community College. The Women's Center is an agency devoted to helping women acheive personal and economic self-sufficiency through personal and financial counseling, job coaching and support groups. They charge minimal fees so that any woman can take advantage of their services. For more information on the event or their services, call 973-6779.

We have a great collection of books at the library on women's issues that may also be helpful to women going through some life transitions.

27 Million Slaves - Horror Stories

Investigative journalist Benjamin Skinner deserves an award for researching, for four years, and writing this new book A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery. The book puts human faces on “human trafficking” around the world. Salon has a good review and author interview, in which Skinner credits the 1999 book Disposable People for helping inspire his work.

A Literary Dealbreaker?


Today an interesting topic came up in a discussion on NPR: do a person's reading preferences determine whether or not they are dateable? Would it be a "deal-breaker" to enter a date's home and find a Clive Cussler* novel on his-or-her coffee table? Would whether or not you pursue a relationship with a person depend on their Amazon wish list? What do you think matters more, what a person reads, or how much they actually reflect on what they read? If the latter appeals to you more, the library offers several books with information on critical reading, and feel free to offer your thoughts on this topic in the comment thread for this post!

*Note: If you have a Clive Cussler novel on your coffee table, my apologies.

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