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2006 Michigan Notable Books

The 2006 Michigan Notable Books list is the Library of Michigan's annual selection of up to 20 recommended books reflecting Michigan's rich cultural heritage, featuring high-quality titles with wide public appeal that are either written by a Michigan resident or about a Michigan-related topic.

Committee members were Nancy Robertson (Chair), Kim Laird, Randy Riley and Kris Rzepczynski, all of the Library of Michigan; Dean Anderson, Michigan Historical Center; M. Christine Byron, Michigan Center for the Book; Jennifer Dean, Northland Library Cooperative; Cheryl Lyons, Capital Area District Library; Michael Rodriguez, Michigan Library Association; Denise Taylor, Schuler Books; Susan Thoms, Grand Rapids Press; Ray Walsh, Curious Books, East Lansing; and George Weeks, Detroit News.

The 2006 Michigan Notable Books (listed alphabetically by title) are:

Beast of Never, Cat of God: The Search for the Eastern Puma by Bob Butz. Lyons Press.

Are there really cougars roaming the Michigan wilderness? Complete with local folklore, scientific analysis, political maneuvering and bureaucratic struggles, the author tirelessly searches for the elusive truth that has confounded biologists, wildlife experts and nature enthusiasts alike.

Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink by David Margolick. Alfred A. Knopf.

Set against the politically charged 1930s and the rise of Nazi Germany, this book explores the two historic boxing matches between Detroiter Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. Louis' crushing victory in the 1938 rematch, only after his stunning defeat in 1936, shattered the myth of Aryan racial supremacy, reverberated throughout the world and provided an impetus for the nascent U.S. civil rights movement.

Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans by Thomas Lynch. W.W. Norton & Company.

While rediscovering his Irish roots in County Clare, the Milford-area writer takes us on a journey of personal discovery, glimpses into ancestral tales and traditions, and offers poignant commentary on our world, and its people, places, and institutions. Lynch is the 2001 Michigan Author Award winner.

The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars and the Legacy by Charles K. Hyde. Wayne State University Press.

The critical importance of John and Horace Dodge, from their childhood in Niles to their company's merger with the Chrysler Corporation in 1928, is illustrated in this well-researched automotive history. After first working in the early 1900s as parts manufacturers and suppliers for Olds Motor Works and Ford Motor Company, the two brothers later became enormously successful with the introduction of their own nameplate in 1914.

Grit, Noise & Revolution: The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll by David A. Carson. University of Michigan Press.

The essence of the Detroit rock and roll sound is captured in this front-row seat look into the Motor City's rock scene. Influenced both by the soulful sounds of Motown and the blues of John Lee Hooker, the city's rock bands in the 1960s and 1970s reflected the city's image: tough, gritty, and industrial. Memorable characters abound, including the MC5, Mitch Ryder, Iggy Pop, Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and John Sinclair.

Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher. Alfred A. Knopf.

Harriet Susan Clotkin aims to become a criminal and be reunited with her incarcerated mother. But Harry Sue's heart keeps moving her in a different direction, and with the help of her new friends and teachers, she learns to embrace the world around her. Set in the fictional Michigan community of Marshfield, this bittersweet young adult tale is full of eccentric characters and witty dialogue.

How Like an Angel: A Novel by Jack Driscoll. University of Michigan Press.

In this engaging novel set in northern Michigan, Archibald Angel returns to the rustic cabin of his difficult youth. There, Angel reexamines his past, ponders the future, and looks to understand and nurture the fragile relationship with his son, or risk failing him as Angel was by his own father.

The Lake, the River & the Other Lake: A Novel by Steve Amick. Pantheon Books.

Local residents, summer tourists, and down-staters all intertwine in this entertaining novel set in the fictional Michigan resort community of Weneshkeen. Memorable plotlines include Roger Drinkwater's crusade against jet-skiers, Mark Starkey's adventurous teen romance with the local beauty, and Reverend Eugene Reecher's growing obsession with his young computer tutor.

Legends of Light: A Michigan Lighthouse Portfolio photographs by Ed Wargin. Ann Arbor Media Group.

Michigan's Great Lakes maritime heritage is vividly reflected in this spectacular photographic collection of selected lighthouses and their beautiful landscapes. Striking examples include lighthouses at Au Sable Point, Grand Haven, Granite Island and Point Iroquois.

Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir by Paul Clemens. Doubleday.

In this fascinating glimpse into growing up white in the predominantly black city of Detroit, the author wrestles with the question of racism, his own personal struggles and triumphs, and offers insightful and entertaining commentary on social and racial prejudices, his car enthusiast father and the polarizing Coleman Young.

Michigan Agricultural College: The Evolution of a Land-grant Philosophy, 1855-1925 by Keith R. Widder. Michigan State University Press.

Long before it became Michigan State University, a number of progressive-thinking men forged a vision of education that would transform higher learning in Michigan and the United States. This vision struggled at first, but eventually became the embodiment of what a "land-grant" institution of higher education came to mean - education "for the people." Through meticulous research and vivid archival photographs, this book shows how this mission was played out at every turn, within the first seventy years of the founding of what was then the Michigan Agricultural College.

Michigan Shadow Towns: A Study of Vanishing and Vibrant Villages by Gene Scott. Gene Scott.

Historic small-town Michigan is illuminated in this important study of 128 Michigan towns across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. These historical narratives capture the unique stories of the towns' founding, early growth and development, economic decline and ongoing struggles for survival. Many of these small towns are now mere shadows of their former selves, while others have rebounded to become thriving, vibrant communities.

Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher. Bloomsbury.

Still one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Great Lakes, the Edmund Fitzgerald and its 29-man crew perished in Lake Superior during a November storm in 1975. The tragic story of the ship and crew are recounted here, as well as the search and rescue efforts, the official investigation and the controversial struggle over the recent recovery of the ship's bell.

Please Don't Come Back From the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos. Harcourt.

In this gritty and engaging novel set in the fictional community of Maple Rock, an ethnic enclave in southwest Detroit, the town's men have mysteriously vanished, or "gone to the moon." Michael Smolij, the narrator, is left with his unemployed mother, a younger and embattled brother, and a town full of young males his age and in the same predicament. The realness and sociological complications of these characters, as well as their difficulties of loneliness, responsibility, depression and heartbreak, are all masterfully detailed.

Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin, the Black Church and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore. Little, Brown and Company.

This compelling book follows the life and career of Reverend C.L. Franklin, from his dire beginnings in the Mississippi Delta to his fame as radio personality and leader of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. C.L. Franklin was a vortex for the intellectual, spiritual and cultural life of black America during the rise of the civil rights movement, the rise of the black church and the rise of black music as a "crossover" musical expression.

Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams by Thomas J. Noer. University of Michigan Press.

With a stunning 1948 upset that reflected his unrivalled campaigning skills, G. Mennen Williams became Michigan's 41st Governor, only the second Democrat to win since the Civil War. This book charts the highs and lows of the Governor's life and distinguished political career, including the construction of the Mackinac Bridge, leading the state to financial bankruptcy, 1960 presidential aspirations, his unabashed liberalism, his time as the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and the origins of both his nickname and trademark bow tie.

The Summer He Didn't Die by Jim Harrison. Atlantic Monthly Press.

This novella collection marks the triumphant return of the character Brown Dog, now with two children left in his guardianship by their imprisoned mother. Particularly attached to the youngest child, Brown Dog is consistently beleaguered by the encroachment of civilization. Another novella is told from the persona that attempts to reconcile the need for the simplicity of the North and the civilized professional life of a writer. The answer to this complexity lies in one of two places-the geography of the North and the solitude of the woods.

Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan's Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker. Wayne State University Press.

In this charming book for young readers, aspiring scientists can have fun learning about the rocks below the Michigan surface, including the mountains underneath Lake Huron, the salt beds under Detroit, and the oldest rocks in Michigan, located near Escanaba, Ishpeming and Marquette.

Vintage Views of the Charlevoix-Petoskey Region by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson. Petoskey Publishing/University of Michigan Press.

Take a trip back in time with this colorful history of tourism and vacationing in the Charlevoix and Emmet County region. Complete with hundreds of postcards and photographs, historic promotional brochures, and newspaper accounts, the picturesque grandeur of the Charlevoix-Petoskey region is vividly retold.

Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey by Robert Sabuda. Little Grove.

Sure to enthrall young readers and adults alike, the magic and majesty of a Michigan winter is brilliantly captured in this artistic pop-up book based on the author's Michigan youth.


Updated 07/01/2010