News and Reviews
Thu, 05/17/2018 - 1:28pm by manz
If you live in Ann Arbor, chances are you’ve popped into Literati, the “new” bookstore on the corner of Washington St. and 4th Ave. If you can believe it, they just celebrated their fifth anniversary in town! Each time I visit I marvel at the typewriter and love spotting someone typing a little message.
Literati has had a variety of typewriters over the years, inviting shoppers to sit down and type something. Years later they have accumulated thousands of writings from visitors. Some of them were painted on the exterior of the building, inviting passersby to read and feel something.
Some of these notes have been published in the new book Notes From A Public Typewriter, edited by Michael Gustafson (co-owner) and Oliver Uberti. It’s a delightful little book, perfect for bibliophiles, writers, or that empty spot on your coffee table. Gustafson discusses typewriters in general, and the variety of typewriters they’ve housed, while also sharing many little notes that have been left over the years. It’s a quick read and a pure delight to step into the little thought blurbs left on a typewriter over five years.
Wed, 05/16/2018 - 11:05am by manz
Detroit After Dark: Photographs from the Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts features night photography that catches glimpses into the nightlife and culture of the Motor City from the 1950s to present day. The photographs offers black and white and color imagery of a side of the city that many don't seek out in real life, and it's wonderful to see it captured here in this book.
The book pairs narrative with images interspersed, some comparing and contrasting night in Detroit with night in big cities like New York and Paris. Through glorious photos you can peek at neighborhood fireworks on the Fourth of July, a bus yard, graffiti in progress, and concerts such as Patti Smith, The White Stripes, and Iggy Pop. Detroit After Dark is great for those who love photography or just want to celebrate the magic that is Detroit.
Mon, 05/14/2018 - 2:34pm by manz
This year's Printz Award winner was Nina LaCour's young adult novel We Are Okay. The Printz is awarded annually and honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit. I've enjoyed LaCour's previous teen novels, and this new one did not disappoint.
After tragedy strikes in late summer, Marin abruptly leaves California to attend college in New York. After settling in a bit, a close friend visits begging for answers, and Marin is absorbed in her own depression, denial, grief, and confusion and can't immediately give her friend what she needs. Over the novel, alternating chapters slowly reveal just what happened over the summer and what forced Marin to up and leave. It's a touching story, and you can't help but feel for Marin as she navigates heartache and young adulthood at the same time.
Be sure to also check out the list of this year's Printz Honor books for more solid reads!
Fri, 05/11/2018 - 9:31am by Lucy S
Hélène, the protagonist in Fanny Britt’s Jane, The Fox & Me, is the subject of bathroom graffiti, taunts and rejection from a group of mean girls at her middle school. She escapes from this bullying into the world of books, most specifically Jane Eyre. Hélène learns from Jane, who seems to her to be “clever, slender and wise” that everyone must always have a strategy for any situation. And so, Hélène employs small strategies of her own to cope with the horrors of two weeks at camp with her enemies, strategies to make her look occupied and to assuage her loneliness. Britt does an outstanding job capturing what it feels like to be the center of unwanted attention, that moment “as everyone turns to look at me. The world - even the the air itself - jerks to a stand still.” Even a magical encounter with the titular fox cannot keep Hélène’s self-esteem from continuing to plummet. Finally, it is not Jane, nor the fox, that help Hélène regain this lost self-esteem, but instead, the introduction of a true friend. Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault have created a beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated story of a girl learning her worth.
76 years ago this week in Ann Arbor: A bus of WWII draftees departs from Courthouse Square, May 13, 1942
Thu, 05/10/2018 - 9:56am by amy
"Just before the bus left this morning, taking him to Detroit and induction in the armed services, the last Ann Arbor draftee in the second bus (above) received the most appropriate of all farewells. More than 500 townspeople heard Mayor Leigh J. Young and the University ROTC and marching bands in the send-off program for the men of Selective Service Board No. 1 this morning."
More photos from that day here.
Tue, 05/08/2018 - 2:31pm by Lucy S
Playful words slide up, down, and diagonally across the pages. Comics are peppered throughout. Once again, Kwame Alexander has created a novel in verse, saturated with rhythm. Rebound is a prequel for Alexander’s 2014 book, The Crossover, which won the Newbery Medal. We are introduced to Chuck Bell, the father in The Crossover, as the child Charlie Bell, growing up in the 1980s. Like his sons in later years, Charlie faces a tragedy that changes his life forever. He is unwillingly spending a summer away from home with his paternal grandparents. But it is here that he can start to recover from his loss. Through affectionate love, tough love, friendship, and basketball, Charlie/Chuck slowly finds joy again. From his grandfather, Charlie/Chuck learns that basketball is a fitting metaphor for life, the same rules apply to both, and when you miss a shot you have to learn to rebound. Fans of The Crossover and Booked will not be disappointed in this newest gift from Alexander. Dawud Anyabwile provides the comics that illustrate Charlie’s dreams of basketball heroics.
Tue, 05/08/2018 - 11:52am by mbt
Although today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, each year the first full week of May is celebrated as Teacher Appreciation Week. You and your children may want to celebrate the week by reading one of these books. The stories remind us that there are special people out there making a difference in someone’s life.
Thu, 05/03/2018 - 12:36pm by muffy
When news of his elder sister Keiko’s murder reached him in Tokyo, graduate student Ren Ishida was at a loss. The siblings were close growing up but eleven years ago, Keiko then 22, abruptly abandoned the family for the small town of Akakawa. As the grieving Ren tried to find closure as to why Keiko was viciously stabbed on a dark secluded road, he began to retrace Keiko’s steps, picking up where she left off. He took over her teaching position at a cram school, and the bizarre arrangement of free rent at a wealthy politician's house. Against his better judgement, Ren was drawn to a beautiful and troubled student he nicknamed "Seven Stars". Things got decidedly thorny when he realized she might be connected to his sister’s murder.
Indonesian-born Singaporean writer “Goenawan's debut balances a finely wrought plot with patient, measured portraits of fragile relationships, making for a spare yet inviting novel that grabs hold and doesn't let go.” (Publishers Weekly)
* = starred review
Tue, 05/01/2018 - 12:10pm by manz
Let's forget the Justin Timberlake memes on this May 1, because today is also film director, film producer, screenwriter, and actor Wes Anderson's birthday! His popular films and style have a bit of a cult following, and I'm totally a sucker for them. All of them. I think it's safe to say my favorite is The Royal Tenenbaums. His latest film, Isle of Dogs, is in theaters now with mixed reviews, and is an animation akin to Fantastic Mr. Fox.
But let's go back to Bottle Rocket from 1996 - the film that started it all by introducing us to Dignan, portrayed by Owen Wilson, who often writes with Anderson on these quirky endeavors. There are so many unforgettable characters strewn across Anderson's work that offer such quotable moments. Other films include Rushmore, The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. His films are known for their stylized looks and killer soundtracks - with every detail chosen to be perfect - every smirk, every hat, every wall color, every font, every walk. The films often feature an ensemble of the same faces, including Angelica Houston, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, and a crew of others. Which is your favorite film?
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 8:02pm by muffy
Reviewers are calling Christina Lynch’s The Italian Party a “perceptive”,” delicious and sharply funny” debut; “a spy thriller, comedy of manners, and valentine to Italy, spiked with forbidden sex and political skulduggery.” (Kirkus Reviews)
April, 1956. American newlyweds Michael and Scottie Messina arrived in Siena ostensibly to open a Ford tractor dealership, while Michael was in fact, a CIA operative on a mission to defeat the Communist mayor’s reelection, and to be close to Duncan, his handler and lover. Scottie has her secrets too which were increasingly hard to keep in a small town like Siena. With the election approaching, complications ensued.
When 14 year-old Robertino, Scottie’s Italian language coach went missing, her search for him led her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband, and her country.
The author, a former Milan correspondent for W magazine and Women's Wear Daily, was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After; Encore, Encore; and The Dead Zone . She will be at Literati Bookshop on April 27th, 7pm for a reading and signing.
Wed, 04/25/2018 - 10:02am by Lucy S
The unnamed narrator of Sigrid Nunez’s new novel, The Friend, is in mourning for her best friend. He has left her an unexpected inheritance in the form of his elderly great dane, Apollo, who is also deeply bereft. What follows is a unusual tale of a new friendship, an exploration of grief, and an examination of the writing life. Though the novel looks closely at the pain of loss, it is not without humor, as might be elicited by life with a giant dog and his daily habits. As Nunez’s narrator and the narrator’s late friend are both writers, her book is as much about this as it is a pet tale. By my count, there are at least 58 writers in these 212 pages, novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers, whose mention adds to the depth of thought and the richness of the story. This is not a book of action, but of reflection, the narrator speaking mostly to the friend she has lost and occasionally to the dog she has gained. The Friend is a beautiful, deeply moving novel, Nunez’s 7th, but the first of her’s that I’ve read. I have some catching up to do!
Tue, 04/24/2018 - 3:11pm by manz
Horizon, by Scott Westerfeld, is the first book in a newer chapter book series that upper elementary and middle school readers will enjoy if they're into suspense and characters in survival mode. Here we have a group of kids who survive a plane crash and end up in a deadly jungle with little way out, and threats all around them, including each other. Book two Horizon: Deadzone is written by Jennifer A. Nielsen, and features a new location and new threats to watch out for.
Mon, 04/23/2018 - 12:08pm by oldnews
The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run turns 45 next year and the Ann Arbor Track Club, who among many things helps to sponsor the run, turns 50 this year! You can see all the spectacular moments from start to finish like the winner of the first run. Participants range from the oldest to one of the youngest as well as those in wheelchairs. There are photos of the victors to those just clearly exhausted. See the moms & dads that participated, one carried his kids in the race and others pushed their strollers through it all while still other parents ran with their kids. But the most inspiring photos are those that show support between runners as well from family & friends here and here. So enjoy the walk (or run as the case may be) down memory lane with articles & more photos for the DX-A2 Run. You can also see more of the Ann Arbor Track Club like their relay team from 1966 and others here.
Sat, 04/21/2018 - 9:30am by manz
If you have been waiting patiently for more work by Rainbow Rowell, this might tide you over. Wait, who is this Rainbow person? She writes amazing teen and adult fiction novels. Almost Midnight: 2 Festive Stories have both been in print before, but are here in a cute little gift edition book with amazing illustrations by Simini Blocker. I was thrilled to hold this tiny blue sparkly book in my hands. It contains two short stories: Midnights and Kindred Spirits.
I really enjoy Rowell's writing, especially the dialog, and these stories are in the same vein as her previous works. In Midnight we see Mags and Noel's friendship develop over several New Years Eve parties. And in Kindred Spirits we have a young girl waiting in line outside with strangers to see the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Both stories are short and sweet, and feature characters I'm glad to have met.
The author has other projects up her sleeve, so it'll be a while before we get a new novel. In the meantime, if you haven't read any of Rowell's teen or adult fiction books... check out Eleanor & Park, Landline, and Attachments, then read Fangirl and Carry On.
Fri, 04/20/2018 - 6:35pm by -alex-
The world outside is a toxic ruin, but genetically 'pure' humans have their refuge in the Spire - a huge, enclosed, vertical city that dominates the territory surrounding it. Outside the Spire's protective walls, tribes of post-human 'skews' eke out an existence, caught between the Spire's authoritarianism and the predations of roaming bands of a radical religious sect bent on their destruction. Within the Spire's walls, a detective is tasked with solving a series of grizzly murders and maintaining a fragile peace, while the city lurches toward chaos.
Wed, 04/18/2018 - 5:31pm by samanthar
The Wes Anderson Collection is a series of 3 books showcasing Anderson's iconic films. These books are a must read for any Wes Anderson fan!
The first book in the series, The Wes Anderson Collection, is a retrospective of Anderson's career. Containing an interview running throughout the book, it begins with Anderson's childhood and covers everything from the people he's worked with to his inspirations. The second volume, The Grand Budapest Hotel, focuses on the movie, and includes stories and anecdotes from set, photos of set inspiration, and a variety of essays from film critics to style and costume consultants for the film. The third volume, Bad Dads, is a showcase of fan art from over 400 different artists. The art celebrates characters from Anderson's movies.
Isle of Dogs, Anderson's latest film, is in theaters now. Look for it at the library when it's released on DVD/Blu-ray!
Wed, 04/18/2018 - 5:06pm by Lucy S
Amanda Lipitz’s outstanding documentary STEP is worth making time to watch. It follows the development and progress of a step team at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, and features a close-up look at the lives of several members of this team. Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, and Tayla Solomon all have different reasons for joining the team (or in Blessin’s case founding it) and different hopes and trajectories for their senior year at this charter school that aims to send 100% of its graduates to college. What these three young women share is their dedication, determination, and incredible skill when it comes to step, where they give their all, both mentally and physically. The scenes featuring tense rehearsals and captivating competitions, and the vulnerability that Blessin, Cori, Tayla and others are willing to share with viewers, combine to make a powerful and moving film. STEP was highly awarded. A few of its accolades include a Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary in 2018.
Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:03am by muffy
Drawn largely from her articles for The New Yorker, war reporter Wendell Steavenson’s debut novel Paris Metro was initially intended as a nonfiction book about the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre, until the November attacks happened.
Catherine (Kit) Kittredge, an British-American reporter, traversed the Middle East following 9/11, filing human interest stories from some of the most dangerous geopolitical hot spots. She met Ahmed Solemani, a Westernized Iraqi diplomat in Baghdad. After their wedding, they moved to Paris where Ahmed began working for the UN. A divorce followed, but not before Kit was left to raise Little Ahmed, his son from a previous marriage, alone. In the company of a makeshift family of diplomats, photographers, and artists, these “two mongrel outcasts brought together by fate” became a family of two. When they lost a friend at Charlie Hebdo, and Kit witnessed firsthand terrorists storming the Bataclan Theatre, she began to distrust those closest to her - her husband, and her own son.
“With unflinching realism and complicated, captivating characters, Steavenson tackles the turbulent realities of the war against terror by diving deeply into the history and motivations of the people waging their own personal battles in search of the truth.” (Booklist)
Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:08am by ngop
Ever wanted to know what it would like in a world where everyone has a superpower? Want to know who people are referring to when they say "Green Naruto"? My Hero Academia follows a world where most people develop supernatural abilities known as Quirks. Izuku Midoriya, Deku for short, dreams to be a hero as well. There's just one little problem standing in Deku's way. He's Quirkless, and the chances are slim. Determined, Deku dedicates his time to studying in hopes that he can join a high school for heroes.
Although Deku is definitely not a ninja and nowhere related to the Naruto series, his story is full of adventure and inspiration. I highly recommend watching the series.
Wed, 04/18/2018 - 8:56am by eapearce
**Suggestions for the 2019 Washtenaw Read are now closed. Thank you for your suggestions!**
The Washtenaw Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Participating libraries include Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti.
Each year, a committee of librarians, teachers, bookstore owners, and members of the public gathers to read a variety of suggested titles and select one to be that year's Washtenaw Read. This year's theme is again simply "A Very Good Read," and can be fiction or non-fiction. The Read will take place in January and February 2019 and typically culminates in a visit from the author of the selected book.
Tue, 04/17/2018 - 8:29pm by -alex-
This lush, beautifully rendered graphic novel is guaranteed to keep you glued to the page. Miles Hyman's adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic short story packs an entire small town's worth of tension and detail into 135 slim pages. All is not as it seems in the American heartland, and the reader will encounter more than they bargained for.
Fri, 04/13/2018 - 6:50pm by muffy
The way single, thirtysomething Laura got pregnant in 1981 sets the tone for this original take on the mother-daughter novel. Emma is the product of a one-night stand with a burglar while house-sitting for her parents. Consider herself to be progressive, liberal, (& proud to be unfashionable), Laura nevertheless raised Emma the only way she knew - penthouse apartment, private school, summer at the shores, all with the help of a healthy trust fund and Upper East Side connections. When Emma developed into an independent young woman, it seems more in spite of her mother rather than because of her. “This is a thoughtful novel of trying to find oneself despite an assigned place in the world.” (Publishers Weekly)
Not far away in Waterbury CT, another mother-daughter duo struggles with similar issues under drastically different circumstances. In Brass* * *, debut novelist Xhenet Aliu draws on her own life to tell the story of 2 generations of an immigrant family - the mother-daughter connections; resilience; and dreams that endure despite the odds.
* * *= 3 starred reviews
Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:12pm by mbt
Not everyone loves country music, but it's hard to find anyone who won't listen to an old Johnny Cash tune. After hearing that Johnny Cash: Forever Words, a new CD featuring various artists performing unheard Cash writings was about to be released, I discovered Forever Words: The Unknown Poems a book comprised of Cash's unpublished writing. The forward, written by Johnny's son John, is a heart-warming account of his dad's true self, his brilliance. "All that made up my father is to be found in this book, within these 'forever words'." Then, as often happens, one thing lead to another and I had to listen to Johnny Cash Unchained when I read that Chris Cornell's performance on Johnny Cash Forever Words was one of his last. Johnny had covered Soundgarden's Rusty Cage twenty one years earlier on that album. It's interesting how lives become woven together from a love of music.
Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:13am by Lucy S
Today, April 12, marks the 102nd birthday of beloved author Beverly Cleary. This “living legend” is the creator of many timeless and memorable characters such as Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and my personal favorite, Ramona Quimby. I spent countless hours with Ramona as a child, but it was through reading Cleary’s books to my children that I came to truly appreciate Klickitat Street and all its residents. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby set a wonderful example of how to raise a spirited child. They are some of my most admired literary parents. Cleary herself was a late reader as she was raised in a small Oregon town without a library. Once she mastered reading she spent the rest of her childhood with books and was inspired to create the kind of stories she wanted to read, but couldn’t find. For that I would like to say thank you to Beverly Cleary and Happy Birthday!
Wed, 04/11/2018 - 6:05pm by samanthar
The Beguiled is a Southern Gothic novel set in 1864 Virginia. Three years into the civil war, an all-girls boarding school houses two teachers and five young girls. They find themselves caught in a situation of morality and deception when a wounded Yankee soldier is found in the woods outside their manor. The plot slowly unfolds as each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and more of their motivation is revealed. This novel will draw you in and have you anxiously awaiting to see who is really charming who under the hot Southern sun.
The book was published in 1966, but went out of print. It was recently put into reprint for the release of the 2017 movie remake by Sofia Coppola, starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Colin Farrell. The original movie adaptation from 1971 stars Clint Eastwood.
Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:40pm by ngop
Debuted April 3, 1998, on TV Japan, Cowboy Bebop has become one of the staple anime classics. In fact, Cowboy Bebop was the first ever anime televised on Cartoon Network on September 2, 2001. The anime series follows a group of registered bounty hunters (Cowboys) that chase criminals around the Solar System and reside on a spaceship called Bebop. Throughout the series, you'll watch the team go through fun times, dangerous mishaps, and problems from the past. It's a definite must-watch for all anime fans and those interested in getting into anime.
Wed, 04/11/2018 - 10:05am by ngop
National Titanic Remembrance Day will be on April 15, 2018. The RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank on April 15, 1912. On it's way to New York City from the United Kingdom, the Titanic hit an iceberg. Over 1,500 people died.
A few ways of observing this holiday is by watching Titanic the movie, listening to the wonderful Celine Dion (and other artists) on the Titanic soundtrack, or by reading a book about the tragic event.
Sun, 04/08/2018 - 12:56pm by muffy
Professor Anne Corey, a scholar of 19th century British literature and women writers, is chasing tenure at Fairfax, a liberal arts college. Between a full teaching load, trying to find a publisher for her book, and caring for her father at a nearby nursing home, she is stunned to find that the new president of the college (and her boss) is none other than her ex-fiancé, Adam Martinez whom she broke up with at their Princeton graduation a decade ago. While Adam remains aloof and professional at college functions, Anne is pursued by the charismatic, motorcycle-riding, literary superstar Rick Chasen, the college’s writer-in-residence. Anne begins to wonder if she might get a a second chance at love.
Thu, 04/05/2018 - 5:55pm by ngop
Starting Sunday, April 8th, National Library Week will be celebrated! Since 1958, National Library Week focuses on the promotion of library use and support. Within this week, National Library Workers Day will be celebrated on the 10th and Take Action for Libraries Day on the 12th.
Be sure to check out the events page to see what is happening here at the library. There will be a concert with Paul VornHagen & The American Songbook of Jazz in the multi-purpose room on April 11th. I hope to see you there!
Thu, 04/05/2018 - 2:49pm by mbt
Wednesdays at The Ann Arbor Farmers Market will start up again in May. I always enjoy the weekday version of the outdoor market. Maybe it is because I have such fond memories of taking my kids there when they were young. Wednesday morning market days were full of parents and kids leisurely wandering around, usually ending up at the Zingerman's play area, everyone with a coffee in hand. I'm sure the tradition carries on, fifteen years later.
So, thinking about the Wednesday market opening soon, I started looking at Ann Arbor Fresh: Recipes and Stories from the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market and the Kerrytown Historic District. Flipping through the pages I noticed that it was published in 1998, but I quickly realized that it doesn't matter that the book is twenty years old. The idea behind the book is that recipes that were shared by the growers or by folks involved in the market, utilized ingredients found in the Kerrytown market area, both indoors and out. The opening paragraph of the preface, written by Raquel B. Agranoff, could have easily been written today. As she describes the variety of things available at the market and how "the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market is not simply a twice a week place where we savor, sniff and taste. It is a place to greet friends, to plan a meal, to buy a treat, to meander," I am transported back to those carefree Wednesday mornings, kids in tow, ready for a market adventure.