Some of our Favorite Things - Staff Picks for 2016

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

In Bud, not Buddy Christopher Paul Curtis manages to address serious topics of race and class division in ways that would engage most any American.  Curtis uses humor and common life experiences to open the door to rational awareness and discussion of topics that most people would prefer to avoid.  At the same time, Bud, not Buddy is a delightful and universal coming-of-age story about a boy who is not only on a trek to find his father but himself.  A fantastic read for any age.

The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

Alex Housman has stolen 14 cars by the time he was sixteen. His alcoholic father wants the best for his son, but all too often seems to fall just short. The book details the special relationship between father and son and offers one of the best “coming of age” stories of all time.

Crooked Tree by Robert C. Wilson​

 Interesting horror story and I like the fact that the author used a lot of last names of Library of Michigan employees.  I believe he must has done his research here.

Eighty Acres: Elegy for a Family Farm by Ronald Jager

Jager’s account of growing up on a farm in Michigan during the 40s is Pure Michigan. His well-crafted and honest book tells the tale of Michigan’s rural history that is fast passing.

Farmer by Jim Harrison

A forty something year old teacher/farmer finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Pressure to find someone to spend his life with and whether or not to stay on the crumbling family farm dominate this insightful novel. Harrison makes the natural world one of the major characters in the story.

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins

A children’s book by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Lynne Rae Perkins, the story introduces a boy (Frank) and a dog (Lucky). A happy well illustrated book about a boy learning with his pet.  One subject learned is mathematical fractions as in what percentage of the bed the Lucky is hogging. 

How to Cook a Wolf by Mary Frances Kennedy

How to Cook a Wolf masquerades as a book of helpful household management tips for living through 1940s wartime.  And while the advice is useful and sound, the book is much more than that.  It is an outstanding, practical manual for how to keep calm and carry on, when things really are bad, and one’s fears are being realized.  It’s smart, ironic, useful and funny all at the same time.  I’ve read it at least twice.  I’m feeling the need to read it again.

Island Series by Gloria Whelan

3 part-series of stories set on early 19th-century Mackinac Island. Good for history-minded middle schoolers.

 Once on This Island

Twelve-year-old Mary and her older brother and sister tend the family farm on Michigan's Mackinac Island while their father is away fighting the British in the War of 1812.

 Farewell to the Island  

In 1816, sixteen-year-old Mary O'Shea accepts her married sister's invitation to visit her in London and experiences much of the world beyond her beloved family farm on Mackinac Island.

 Return to the Island

In 1818 Mary O'Shea must decide whether to remain on Michilimackinac Island and marry her dear Indian friend White Hawk or to accept the proposal of James, an English nobleman, and to go with him to London.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Well written and entertaining science fiction. The main character is a cataloging librarian from the U.P. Y’all can’t beat that.  Author is local to the Lansing area and works for Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The Loon Feather by Iola Fuller

Set on Michilimackinac and Quebec during the height of the fur trade, the Loon Feather is story of an Ojibway girl growing up in both her own culture and that of her French stepfather. I remember reading the book as a teenager and loving every word of the descriptions of the Island as well as wishing I knew more about my own French and Native American heritage.


Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron

A little off beat, I like that.

Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie by Susan J. Bandes

In the midsection of Michigan, the automobile industry, government and Michigan State University were the economic drivers in the region when the United States experienced a boom following World War II.  Well written and approachable, this architectural book allows readers to say, “Hey! I know that building.”

Red Jacket: a Lute Bapcat Mystery by Joseph Heywood 

It paints a picture of the Western UP, early conservation efforts and the power of the mining interests during the first years of the 20th century.

Tracking the Beast by Henry Kisor

While it ends as good as a murder mystery possibly can this is not an overly feel good story, there is murder, obsessions, and mobsters. The strength comes in Kisor’s writing style and his ability to capture the sense of place. The story is set mostly in the far western portion of the Upper Peninsula but as railroads are a major theme most of Michigan and parts of Ontario are featured. Kisor, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, worked as a book review editor for the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-times for 33 years and the skill comes across in his writing.

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

Set in the “middle of beautiful nowhere” that is the Upper Peninsula.


The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

This novel details Frank Boscombe’s losses of a career, a marriage and a son over an Easter weekend. Few books illuminate how special the events of everyday life are quite as brilliantly as Ford. Boscombe finds special ways to avoid life’s regrets without giving up on its mysteries.

This is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You by Theodor Geisel

This a military brochure from WWII warning soldiers about the dangers of mosquitoes and malaria.  It’s a great piece of history from our federal government illustrated by Dr. Seuss.


Trout Madness by Robert Traver

Great collection of fly fishing stories by one of Michigan’s most famous authors. John Voelker is a UP legend and his unique view of how trout fishing makes life better is heartwarming.

Youngest Templar by Michael P. Spradin

This is actually a series of 3 books that are for young adults.  They were interesting and should give a sense of history to the younger crowd.

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