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2018 Michigan Notable Books

The 2018 Michigan Notable Books (in alphabetical order):

Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century by Hendrik Meijer, University of Chicago Press Books

Arthur H. Vandenberg was appointed and later elected to the United States Senate in 1928, where he was an opponent of the New Deal and an isolationist who resisted efforts to aid European allies at the onset of World War II.  After Pearl Harbor, Vandenberg soon recognized the need for unity and worked closely with Democratic administrations to build the strong bipartisan consensus that established the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and NATO. 

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones, SOHO Press 

The son of an African-American police officer and a Mexican-American painter, August Snow is most at home in Detroit’s Mexicantown neighborhood.  He has plans to return and help revitalize the place where he grew up.  Yet when an acquaintance is found dead, his plans shifted to find the killer. 

Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-determination by Herb Boyd, Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers

Black Detroit looks at the evolving culture, politics, economics, and spiritual life of Detroit – a blend of memoir, love letter, history, and clear-eyed reportage that explores the city’s past, present, and future and its significance to the African-American legacy and the nation’s fabric. It brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist; Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records; Coleman Young, the city’s first black mayor; diva songstress Aretha Franklin; Malcolm X; and Ralph Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Brewed in Michigan: The New Golden Age of Brewing in the Great Beer State by William Rapai, Wayne State University Press, Painted Turtle

Craft brewing now contributes more than $1.8 billion annually to the state’s economy and is proving to be an economic catalyst, helping to revive cities and invigorate neighborhoods.  William Rapai highlights the forces behind the leading craft breweries in Michigan.  Taprooms associated with these breweries have become a conduit for conversation – places for people to gather and discuss current events, raise money for charities, and search for ways to improve their communities.

The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits  by Tiya Miles, The New Press

Most Americans believe that slavery was an institution of the South, and that Northern states and territories provided stops on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves on their way to Canada. In this paradigm-shifting book, Tiya Miles reveals that slavery was a deep-rooted element in Detroit.  Miles has pieced together the experience of the unfree—both native and African American—in colonial Detroit, a place at the center of national and international conflict. 

Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

The Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior—hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is Dan Egan’s portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.

Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture by Michael G. Smith, Wayne State University Press

In the early 1900s, Detroit was leading the nation in architectural innovation and designer Wirt Rowland was at the forefront of this advancement. Rowland devised a wholly new or "modern" design for buildings with new design methodologies and many improved technologies and materials that subsequently became commonplace.  His work may be seen throughout Michigan and the U.S.

Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies edited by Joel Stone, Wayne State University Press, Painted Turtle Book

In the summer of 1967, Detroit experienced one of the worst racially-charged civil disturbances in United States history.  Law enforcement was overwhelmed, and it wasn’t until battle-tested federal troops arrived that the city returned to some semblance of normalcy.  Detroit 1967 starts at the beginning with colonial slavery along the Detroit River and culminates with an examination of the state of race relations today and suggestions for the future. 

The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot by Jack Driscoll, Wayne State University Press

The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot is comprised of 10 stories, mostly set in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, a landscape as gorgeous as it is severe. If at times the situations in these stories appear hopeless, the characters nonetheless, and even against seemingly impossible odds, dare to hope. These fictional individuals are so compassionately rendered that they can hardly help but be, in the hands of this writer, not only redeemed but made universal. Lovers of contemporary storytelling will revel in Driscoll’s skill and insight on display in this unique collection.

Grown-up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913 by Daniel Wolff, HarperCollins Publishers

Grown-up Anger is a dual biography of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, that is also a murder mystery and a history of labor relations, socialism, business and greed in 20th Century America.  Wolff found Woody Guthrie’s 1913 Massacre, a song telling the story of the Calumet Christmas party in 1913 that ended in tragedy.  Following the trail from Dylan to Guthrie to an event that claimed the lives of 74 men, women, and children of working class origins, Wolff found himself tracing the history of an anger that has been passed down for decades and expressed in music. 

Harborless by Cindy Hunter Morgan, Wayne State University Press 

Harborless is a collection of poems informed by Great Lakes shipwrecks.  Part history and part reinvention, most of the poems are titled after the name of a ship, the year of the wreck, and the lake in which the ship met disaster. The book’s time frame spans from wrecks that precede the Civil War to those involving modern ore carriers. 

The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel, Pantheon Books ?

John Harvey Kellogg was a physician, a best-selling author, lecturer, and health-magazine publisher; and founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.  His youngest brother, Will, was the founder of the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which revolutionized the mass production of food and what we eat for breakfast.  In The Kelloggs, Howard Markel tells the sweeping saga of these two men, whose lifelong competition and enmity toward one another changed America’s notion of health and wellness from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries.

Marlena: A Novel by Julie Buntin, Henry Holt and Company

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena.  The two girls turn their small town into a rough-riding playground and within the year, Marlena is dead.  Decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne, G.P. Putman’s Sons

When the notorious child abductor, “The Marsh King,” escapes from prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Helena Pelletier is sure she can use the skills she learned as a child to find him.  No one is The Marsh King’s equal when it comes to navigating the marshland – except  Helena herself, his daughter.  As their cat and quarry game unfolds, she must use all her wilderness skills to thwart his plan and survive it.

Rowing Inland by Jim Daniels, Wayne State University Press 

Rowing Inland, Jim Daniels’s 15th book of poetry takes the reader back to the Metro Detroit of his youth and then accelerates toward the future. With humor and empathy, the author looks at his own family’s challenges and those of the surrounding community where the legacy handed down from generation to generation is one of survival. The economic hits that this community must endure create both an uncertainty about its future and a determined tenacity.

Sailing into History: Great Lakes Bulk Carriers of the Twentieth Century and the Crews Who Sailed Them by Frank Boles, Michigan State University Press

Sailing into History describes the fascinating history of a century of achievements and setbacks, unimagined change mixed with surprising stability.  The Great Lakes create a vast transportation network that supports a massive shipping industry. In this volume, seamanship, cargo, competition, cooperation, technology, engineering, business, unions, government decisions, and international agreements all come together to create a story of unrivaled interest about the Great Lakes ships and the crews that sailed them in the 20th Century.  

Saving Arcadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes by Heather Shumaker, Wayne State University Press/Painted Turtle

Saving Arcadia is a suspenseful and intimate land conservation adventure story set in the Great Lakes heartland. The story spans more than 40 years, following the fate of a magnificent sand dune on Lake Michigan and the people who care about it. It is these people who fought to reclaim the land that had been in their family for generations. It explores ideas about nature and community, and anyone from scholars of ecology and conservation biology to readers of naturalist writing can gain from Arcadia’s story.

We’re Going to Be Friends by Jack White and Elinor Blake, Illustrator, Third Man Books

We’re Going to Be Friends is an adaptation of the White Stripes’ song from the album  White Blood Cells.  A story of friendship, it follows the adventures of the song’s protagonist, Suzy Lee as she goes to school with her books and pens, looks for bugs, shows and tells, and finds a friend.  A children’s book, it evokes the best elements of childhood.  

The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age by Sridhar Pappu, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Year of the Pitcher is the story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series contests ever, with the Detroit Tigers coming back from a 3–1 deficit to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Seven of the World Series. Two remarkable pitchers would dominate the game. One was black, the other white. Bob Gibson, with the Cardinals, embodied an entire generation's hope for integration. Denny McLain, his adversary, was a crass self-promoter with the Tigers. For one season, the nation watched as these two men and their teams swept their respective league championships to meet in the World Series.

Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo, Chronicle Books

Since 1992, Michigan's renowned artisanal bakery, Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, has fed a fan base across the United States and beyond with their chewy-sweet brownies and gingersnaps, famous sour cream coffee cake, and fragrant loaves of Jewish rye, challah, and sourdough. Now the Zingerman's bakers share 65 meticulously tested, carefully detailed recipes.  Behind-the-scenes stories of the business enrich this collection of best-of-kind, delicious recipes.


Updated 01/18/2018