Teen Stuff: Being and Nothingness

In his 1943 essay, Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre claims, "It is evident that non-being always appears within the limits of a human expectation." Sartre's awareness of the ability of death and/or absence to create meaning in life continues to resonate with authors and readers sixty years later. What has brought the authors below to reexamine this theme of loss and recovery? The sudden destruction of the WTC towers perhaps, or the disappearance of a viable American job market, or maybe something darker still.

Take Gregory Galloway's 2005 fiction, As Simple As Snow, a teen/adult crossover novel about a homogenized high school boy whose life suddenly becomes meaningful when his quirky, spontaneous girlfriend disappears the day before Valentine's Day. Or Carol Plum-Ucci's 2001 Printz Honor Book, The Body of Christopher Creed, where the titular character's mysterious absence casts a menacing shadow over a small town, eventually exposing the dark secrets of the people closest to him. And in John Green's 2006 Printz Award Winner, Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter's new life at Culver Creek boarding school is everything he could have hoped for in the "great perhaps" he was seeking, until tragedy gives his life new focus. Check out all of these novels from the AADL today.

September's Books to Film

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Written by 2003 Nobel Prize laureate J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace was awarded the Man Booker Prize (1999). In stunning prose, it tells the story of Professor David Lurie's extended stay at his daughter's smallholding and the incident of unimaginable terror and violence that forces father and daughter to confront their strained relationship —and the equally complicated racial complexities of the new South Africa.

Starring John Malkovich, the film is shot in the ruggedly beautiful landscape outside of Cape Town, South Africa. See the New York Times review. Limited release September 18, nationally October 2nd.

The Informant, starring Matt Damon, is adapted from Kurt Eichenwald's 2000 bestseller, the "true story" about Mark Whitacre, a rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990s, who blew the whistle on the company's price fixing tactics and became the highest-ranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in US history.

Coco avant Chanel (Coco before Chanel) is based on Edmonde Charles-Roux's biography of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, who begins her life as a headstrong orphan, and through an extraordinary journey, becomes the legendary couturier. In French - with Audrey Tautou playing the title role. Sumptuous cinematography and a sensational soundtrack.

60 Years of Honoring Great American Books

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For the first time in its history, the National Book Award for Fiction is open to public vote. To participate, cast your vote for your favorite National Book Award recipient from 1950 to 2008.

Why fiction? You might wonder. Well, for one thing, 74 of the 77 fiction winners are in-print and available, the highest percentage of any category. Here is a complete list of the winners.

3rd Annual Manga Drawing Contest Winners Announced!

2009 Manga Contest2009 Manga Contest

The judging is done and the winners have been announced! Judging was conducted by Jerzy Drozd and Shannon "Roku-Chan" Townsend. With over 80 entries in four age categories the judges had a tough time this year! The top three finishers in each category received gift certificates to Wizzywig and medals. All of the artwork will be on display through August in the Downtown Youth Department and can also be found online in our image gallery!

Click Read More to see the list of the winners!

Orion Book Award Winner: Trespass by Amy Irvine

The 2009 Orion Book Awards have been announced. Orion is one of the best magazines you will find, whose byline – nature/culture/place – reveals its focus. The editorial board reads like a who’s who of contemporary luminaries in the environmental movement, such as: Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, Edward O. Wilson, Barry Lopez, Jane Goodall. Orion manages to be artistic, literary, probing and provocative, with cutting-edge articles on the politics, ethics and practice of environmentalism, farming and forestry and featuring the work of artists, poets, and storytellers. It inspires personal commitment to change the world, one short shower, cloth bag, bike ride and community garden at a time.

Every year the editors acknowledge books that, “deepen our connection to the natural world, present new ideas about our relationship with nature and achieve excellence in writing”. The winner of the award this year is Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land by Amy Irvine. The finalists are: The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustave Speth, Inventing Niagara by Ginger Strand and Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams. The Reader’s Choice Award went to Man Killed by Pheasant by John Price.

2008 Mitten Award Announced

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost has been chosen winner of the 2008 Mitten Award.

The Mitten Award is sponsored by the Michigan Library Association. It is an award for the best children's book published in a calendar year and is selected by a committee of youth services librarians from all over Michigan.

Diamond Willow is the story of a young girl living in Alaska. It is an adventure tale, it is a family tale. The story is told in diamond-shaped verse with small bolded lines within each verse that help the reader understand the girl's feelings and thoughts. It is a beautifully told tale.

Four honor books were chosen as well.

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman.

Try these titles for some good summer reading!

Affinity

Margaret Prior, an upper class woman in Victorian London, begins visiting the women of Millbank prison after a failed suicide attempt. She finds herself drawn to Selina Dawes, a spiritual medium sent to prison after the death of a woman during a séance. Margaret begins to believe Selina’s claims of occult power after a series of mysterious gifts appear. As the women’s relationship grows deeper, Margaret starts to develop a plan to free Selina from Millbank.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #163

This "wickedly brilliant" cozy by Canadian journalist Alan Bradley won the 2007 Debut Dagger Award of the Crimewriter's Association.

Set in a quaint English village, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie* features one of the most engaging amateur sleuths since Harriet the Spy.

11 year-old Flavia de Luce, a walking encyclopedia of the practical use of poison, is thrilled to find a corpse in the cucumber patch of the family's crumbling manor. A missing piece of custard pie, a dead snipe bearing a priceless "gift" on the door step, a retired librarian with a menacing secret and a shell-shocked WWII soldier are among her suspects but the bumbling police arrest her father for the crime. It is all up to Flavia to save the day.

Pure delight. Sequel likely, and most eagerly anticipated.

* = starred reviews

Ann Arbor Book Festival Is Upon Us!

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This year marks the 6th annual Ann Arbor Book Festival. Events have been going on throughout May, with the big street fest happening this weekend! The festival’s mission is “to promote reading, heighten awareness of literacy challenges, and showcase the rich culture of the written word in Michigan and beyond.” There are oodles of events happening all over town with an emphasis on books and reading. The events include book release parties, author readings, panels, fundraisers, live music, a spelling bee, and more! Be sure to check the full schedule for May 15- 17 to see what suits your fancy.

Saturday at the festival also marks the announcement of the winners of AADL’s “It’s All Write!” Short Story Contest.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #159

This delightful debut by Canadian author Elizabeth J. Duncan won the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition and the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant.

In The Cold Light of Mourning*, Penny Brannigan, a Canadian expat, has made the Village of Llanelen home for decades, having been seduced but the breathtaking view of this part of the Welsh countryside as a young backpacker. Now manicurist and owner of the Happy Hands Nail Care shop, she has become an integral fabric of the community. When a young bride goes missing after her nail appointment on her wedding day, Penny gets involved.

Her budding romance with the local police inspector, colorful village personalities, quiet domestic routines and the idyllic setting will engage readers longing for a new voice in contemporary cozies. Cold will please fans of fellow Canadian Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, and brings to mind Joan Hess's Maggody series as well as the Kate Austen novels by Jonnie Jacobs, and the Ruby Crane series, set in western Michigan by Jo Dereske.

* = Starred Review

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