Press enter after choosing selection
Graphic for events post

Lectures & Panel Discussions

Paperbacks from Hell with Grady Hendrix

Thursday March 29, 2018: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
LIVE 102 S First St.
Adults 21+

Graphic for events post

Lectures & Panel Discussions

Homegoing: A Conversation with Yaa Gyasi | Washtenaw Reads 2018 Author Event

Tuesday February 6, 2018: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington St.
Grade 9 - Adult

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

An unusual debut

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:38pm by Lucy S

In a literary world full of “5 under 35 lists” and authors publishing first novels in their 20s, Leah Weiss is something of an anomaly. Her debut novel, If The Creek Don’t Rise was written after her retirement from a 24 year career as the executive assistant to the headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. In it she introduces us to the harsh and difficult life in a small town in Appalachia in the 1970s. This can be a dangerous place, a world of violence and cruelty, especially for women. Weiss presents this community through a profuse range of voices, voices with their own dialect, particular to these mountain ranges.

The chapters in Weiss’ book, each narrated by a different individual, read like a collection of connected stories, offering a unique and varied glimpse of Baines Creek, a remote haven in an unspecified state. As a newcomer to Baines Creek, teacher Kate Shaw, one of Weiss’ strongest characters, describes it as “barely a crossroad, a dot on a map. It’s remote, embraced by natural beauty, and riddled with hardships,” with “poverty the likes of which I’ve never imagined except in the books of Dickens and Brontë sisters.”

The cast of players in this secluded town represents all facets of personality and morality, and an internal view of even the most vile characters unveils some vulnerability. We are able to see why Prudence Perkins, the reverend’s spiteful, spinster sister, is so mean spirited, and to learn from where intense cruelty is born in the heart of an abusive bully, Roy Tupkin.

If there is a main character in If The Creek Don’t Rise, she is Sadie Blue, the wife of Roy. Her voice provides bookends, she starts the first and last chapters with the same sentence, within which she demonstrates one woman’s path to a better place in a town that so often resists change. Ultimately this is Sadie Blue’s story, provided to us by a chorus of voices from those who know her, but we get to experience so many other memorable folks from Baines Creek along the way.

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

Stinky Swamp Adventures

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:58pm by hazelbakerp

I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas by Kevan Atteberry is an adorably creepy story of a parent monster and their kiddo chasing a wild skink through the swamp at midnight. As they chase the critter deeper into the swamp, the pair encounters ominous odors, treacherous terrain, and a hodgepodge of curiously spooky creatures - from blood sucking ducks to toe-biting stones, and moonstruck raccoons. With each encounter the baby monster asks its guardian if they love them as much as they love the new animal they come across, or if they find them as fun as the trouble they’re getting into. The guardian always responds with affirmations of love, using a new ghoulish term of endearment to reassure the child. While the theme of the book has the sweetness of Guess How Much I Love You, it also brings a fun, spooky twist, delighting the reader with its sense of adventure and wild imagination. A must read for ghosts and ghouls this Halloween!

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

2017 Man Booker Prize Winner is also a worthy listen

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 5:11am by Lucy S

Narrated by George Saunders, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris and various others
7 Hours and 30 Minutes

Lincoln in the Bardo has just been awarded the 2017 Man Booker Prize. George Saunders is the second US author to receive this honor, and his first novel garnered much publicity and praise upon publication. But have you considered listening to the audio version? Even if you aren’t normally drawn to books on CD, this one is more theatrical production than novel. Read by a cast of some 166 people, many famous voices among them, George Saunders’ story brings to mind Our Town, A Christmas Carol, and As I Lay Dying. The cast does a stellar job in delivering a beautifully read, moving, intelligent, and highly entertaining performance.

Two main plot lines run through Lincoln in the Bardo. Both are suffused with sadness, though there is much humor in the narrations of certain characters from beyond the grave. Many of the voices in this book are residents of The Oak Hill Cemetery, where President Lincoln has interred his son, Willie. They reside in a kind of limbo, “the bardo,” with unfinished business on earth, unaware that they are dead. The chapters alternate between the “action” in the bardo, and the story of the what is happening on the night of Willie Lincoln’s death, as told by Hans Vollman (Nick Offerman), Roger Bevins III (David Sedaris), and the Reverend Everly Thomas (George Saunders). Interspersed with their escapades are chapters focused on the raw grief of a father and his newly departed son. This most poignant story of a man struggling to say goodbye, and his son’s difficulty in letting go of the earth, is particularly moving. Listeners get an inside point of view from Abraham Lincoln himself, burdened with his country’s present agony as well as his own personal bereavement, as "narrated by hans vollman in the body of a. lincoln...
He is just one.
And the weight of it is about to kill me.
Have exported this grief. Some three thousand times. So far. To date. A mountain. Of boys. Someone’s boys. Must keep on with it. May not have the heart for it. One thing to pull the lever when blind to the result. But here lies one dear example of what I accomplish by the orders I …
What to do. Call a halt? Toss down the loss-hole those three thousand? Sue for peace? Become great course-reversing fool, king of indecision, laughing-stock for ages, waffling hick, slim Mr. Turnabout?
...What am I doing.
What am I doing here.
Lord, what is this? All of this walking about, trying, smiling, bowing, joking? This sitting-down-at-table, pressing-of-shirts, tying-of-ties, shining-of-shoes, planning-of-trips, singing-of-songs-in-the-bath?
When he is to be left out here?
Is a person to nod, dance, reason, walk, discuss?
As before?...
Was he dear or not?
Then let me be happy no more."

There are stand-out performances by many, most notably, David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore as Jane Ellis, Kirby Heyborne as Willie Lincoln, Bill Hader as Eddie Baron and Megan Mullally as Betsy Baron
See more at: Penguin Random House Audio.

After two full run throughs, I had to return Lincoln in the Bardo for the next listener’s wonderment, but I miss the voices of Hans Vollman, Roger Bevins III, the Reverend Thomas Everly, and 163 others.

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

Grasping for that Grassy Green Cover...

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 4:25pm by LibraryLiz

But then, lo and behold, there was ANOTHER time at the library...with that book you saw on a shelf, with a GREEN cover, that drew you in - but, of course, you had to pass it by in that moment for some unbeknownst reason. Now, if you should find yourself green with envy for that grassy-colored cover, I may have the book for you! I've recently created a list of books that have, or have had, green covers - whether or not their most recent editions have that gorgeous emerald hue, they did at some point! Plus, this list is welcome to all kinds of green covered books...

Whether it be a marshy green of the novel The Marsh King's Daughter, a gawky bright green like The Awkward Age, or perhaps the olive green of Behind the Mask, all green covers are welcome on this compilation list. But this list isn't just for the adults! There's also a wide age range available for the younger reader greedy for the green...

Whether it's from the teen section like Fablehaven, maybe Gary Paulsen's The River, or even Insurgent from Veronica Roth's best-selling Divergent series, this list has a generous collection of green covered pages that you might have left on the shelf. Even the youth may have glazed over a glorious green book resting on it's display, such as The Secret Garden or Evermore Dragon. This list also gives a gateway to the many genres that glisten with glittering green covers at the library...

Maybe you were gleefully grasping through science fiction and found The Best of Ian McDonald or David Hutchinson's Acadie? Could you have gone gallivanting through the Express Shelf and seen My Absolute Darling or found The Essex Serpent? What about the non-fiction readers, who may have glanced through the graceful stacks, gazing at gripping covers glorifying goodly grub for the growing kids or great grammatical rhymes?

This list has ALL THE THINGS (or would like to have) and is growing each day! Please feel free to take a gander, and graciously grumble or gab about other green-covered books you think others may be searching for, so the list gets gargantuan. Just think: someone out there could be looking for a leafy-green book jacket that you've read before - maybe you've got the answer they've been grieving for as they search the grand volumes we have here at AADL. Or perhaps you yourself have getting grumpy in the search, and the book is in this list already!!! Only one way to find out...

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

The Ninth Hour

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 5:48pm by Lucy S

The Ninth Hour, Alice McDermott’s latest novel, radiates a feeling of quietude, stillness, though, in the first pages of this novel, an immense action is unfolding. McDermott fans will find here the usual fluidity of writing as she spans across decades with grace. The Ninth Hour is written with precision, full of small particulars that grapple with big questions. The words unfold calmly, belying the action that they hold. The plot is not full of twists and turns but does have it’s fair share of scandal, especially to the Catholic Church, within whose rules and rituals this novel is framed. There is infidelity here, suicide.

The story begins with a young man taking his own life and in doing so, leaving behind a pregnant widow. When their daughter, Sally, is born, both mother and daughter come to rely heavily on the sisterhood of nuns who helped with mourning, grieving, and pregnancy. The Ninth Hour is mostly Sally’s story, as told by her children, but also, the story of the sisters who raised her. Through details revealed as to who these nuns were before they took their vows, we catch a glimpse of the women beneath the wimples. Despite personality differences and backgrounds, the nuns, as a whole, have a great capacity for dispensing care. McDermott’s quiet strength lies in these intensely observed characters.

As Sally passes through adolescence, she thinks she too will become a nun. Her first test comes on a journey to a convent in Chicago. A train ride reveals to her the most basic of human needs and desires, “a sampling of the ‘others’ she was giving her life to: vulgar, unkempt, ungrateful.”
As she strives to be good, Sally wonders if one person’s penance can guarantee salvation for someone else. This is a question at the root of McDermott’s exploration of family, sin, religion, and the influence of the past. Put aptly by Lily King, in her review in The Washington Post, “There are so many ways to read this beautiful novel: as a Greek tragedy with its narrative chorus and the sins of the fathers; as a Faulknerian tale out to prove once more that the 'past is not even past'; as a gothic tale wrestling with faith, punishment and redemption à la Flannery O’Connor; or as an Irish novel in the tradition of Anne Enright and Colm Tóibín, whose sentences, like hers, burn on the page.”

Graphic for events post

Lectures & Panel Discussions

Emerging Writers Workshop: High-Concept Ideas

Monday February 5, 2018: 7:00pm to 8:45pm
Westgate Branch: West Side Room
Grade 6 - Adult

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

We the Animals

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 8:27pm by Nholtzman

We the Animals is the brilliant debut novel of Justin Torres, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. The novel was the result of approximately six years of writing and editing for Torres. The author described his writing process in an interview with Electric Lit in 2011 as, "Word by word. Sentence by sentence...I revise, obsessively, as I'm moving forward." The result of Torres' painstaking writing process is a beautifully written and artfully structured piece of literature.

Torres' novel is split into nineteen stories that center around three brothers and their parents. The boys' parents work long hours and the children are often left to their own devices. We see the boys play, fight, and question. The brothers think about how they fit into the world. The father in the story, Paps, is Puerto Rican, and Ma, the mother, is white. Paps calls the boys, "mutts...you ain't white and you ain't Puerto Rican."

The boys also question what it means to be a man. We the Animals is a coming of age story, and many of the vignettes discuss boyhood and masculinity. The stories are written using the plural pronoun "we," but the reader follows an unnamed protagonist. The main character intensely questions his masculinity in relation to his sexuality. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2011, Torres explained that he, "paid a lot of attention to voice and the collective identity of young childhood, the ‘we’ of it all. When you're still kind of forming your identity, it's very porous and it blends with that of the people around you."

We the Animals is one of my favorite contemporary novels. There is so much to unpack in this novel, from the format of the book to the concise, toned writing, to the subject matter. It's worth a read, and then maybe a second. Enjoy!

Graphic for events post

Blog Post

Yearning for the Yellow Cover...

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 1:05pm by LibraryLiz

And then, there was ANOTHER time at the library...there was that book you saw on a shelf, with a YELLOW cover, that caught your eye - but, for whatever reason, you had to pass it by. Now, if you should find yourself sour-faced like a lemon for that long lost spark of interest, I may have the book for you! I've recently created a list of books that have, or have had, yellow covers - whether or not their most recent editions have that bright lemon hue, they did at some point! Plus, this list is welcome to all kinds of yellow covered books...

Whether it be a musty yellow of the novel My Italian Bulldozer, a golden yellow like the published script of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, or perhaps the traffic-sign yellow of Chemistry, all yellow covers are welcome on this compilation list. But this list isn't just for the adults! There's also a wide age range available for the younger reader yelping for the yellow...

If it's from the Teen section like Kill All the Happies or maybe Fever Code from the Maze Runner series, this list has many canary-yellow covered pages that you might have left on the shelf for a later date. Even the youth may have left a book resting on it's display, such as Sam and Eva or Daddy Long Legs. This list also provides you with options from every genre in the library...

Maybe you were browsing through historical fiction and found Homegoing or The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks? Could you have been possibly perusing the Express Shelf and seen We Are Never Meeting in Real Life or found How to Raise an Adult on the parent shelf? What about the non-fiction readers, who may have browsed through the stacks seeing covers that advertised oversized animals or a search for peace of mind?

This list has ALL THE THINGS (or would like to have) and is growing each day! Please feel free to take a look, and make comments of other yellow-covered books you think others may be searching for, so the list can continue to grow. Just think: someone out there could be looking for a yellow book jacket that you've read before - maybe you have the answer they've been looking for as they search the numerous volumes we have here at AADL. Or perhaps you yourself have been searching, and the book is in this list already!!! Only one way to find out...