Michigan Notable Books for 2019

Michigan Notable Books Logo

Annually the Library of Michigan designates Michigan Notable Books.  Check out the current award winners from the University of Michigan Library.  According to the Library of Michigan (aka the state library) website, "Each year the MNB list features 20 books, published the previous calendar year, which are about or set in Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author. Selections include nonfiction and fiction books that appeal to a variety of audiences and cover various topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents."

The 2019 awardees include:

Abbott Book CoverAbbott written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Sami Kivelä, colored by Jason Wordie, and lettered by Jim Campbell is a graphic novel.  The book's summary in Library Catalog Search provides this overview:  "While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city's elite. In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy. Hugo Award-nominated novelist Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä present one woman's search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst an exploration of the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day."

There are copies of Abbott at both the Art, Architecture, and Engineering Library on North Campus and in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library's Browsing Collection on Central Campus.


Across the Great Lake book cover

Across the Great Lake by Lee Zacharias was published by The University of Wisconsin Press.  From the publisher's website, "In her eighty-fifth year, Fern Halvorsen tells the story of a childhood journey across Lake Michigan and the secret she has kept since that ill-fated voyage.

As his wife lies dying in the brutally cold winter of 1936, Henrik Halvorsen takes his daughter Fern away with him. He captains a great coal-fired vessel, the Manitou, transporting railroad cars across the icy lake. The five-year-old girl revels in the freedom of the ferry, making friends with a stowaway cat and a gentle young deckhand. The sighting of a ghost ship, though, presages danger for all aboard."

You can find Across the Great Lake in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library collection.




Beautiful Music book cover

Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian is set in Detroit in the early 1970s.  High school student Danny is coming of age in a dysfunctional family, in a city still recovering from the summer of 1967.  He turns to rock and roll to bring some meaning to his life, and solace to his soul.  Beautiful Music can be found in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library's Browsing Collection.

Betty Ford book cover

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer by Lisa McCubbin is a new biography of first lady and wife of Michigan grad President Ford. 

As the summary in the catalog record says, this "is the inspiring story of an ordinary Midwestern girl thrust onto the world stage and into the White House under extraordinary circumstances. Setting a precedent as First Lady, Betty Ford refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women, and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo--breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality. "

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer can be found in the basement of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.




Buidling the Modern World book cover

Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit by Michael H. Hodges tells the story of Kahn's innovative designs.  In addition to designing many iconic buildings in Detroit, Albert Kahn was also the architect for numerous important buildings on the U-M campus, including the Hatcher Graduate Library, Hill Auditorium and Angell Hall.  Published by Wayne State University, you can find Building the Modern World in print in the Fine Arts Library and online on Project MUSE.


Elemental book cover

Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction edited by Anne-Marie Oomen published by Wayne State University Press is a collection of pieces from twenty-three of Michigan’s most well-known essayists.

Elemental is in both the Hatcher Graduate Library and Shapiro Undergraduate Library collections.







The Faygo Book cover

Also on order, is The Faygo Book by Joe Grimm which tells the history of Detroit pop brand Faygo.  From the publisher's website:  "The Faygo Book is the social history of a company that has forged a bond with a city and its residents for more than a century. The story of Faygo, Detroit’s beloved soda pop, begins over a hundred years ago with two Russian immigrant brothers who were looking to get out of the baking business. Starting with little more than pots, pails, hoses, and a one-horse wagon, Ben and Perry Feigenson reformulated cake frosting recipes into carbonated beverage recipes and launched their business in the middle of the 1907 global financial meltdown. It was an improbable idea. Through recessions and the Great Depression, wartime politics, the rise and fall of Detroit’s population, and the neverending challenges to the industry, the Feigensons persisted. Out of more than forty bottlers in Detroit’s "pop alley," Faygo remained the last one standing."    Once it arrives, The Faygo Book will be located in the Browsing Collection in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.

Hard Stuff book cover



In addition to mentions in Beautiful Music (outlined earlier in this post), The MC5 gets its own book in Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 & My Life of Impossibilities.  This is the first memoir by Wayne Kramer, legendary guitarist and cofounder of quintessential Detroit proto-punk legends The MC5. (from the publisher's website)

This book can be found in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.





Lake Michigan Mermaid book cover

Anne-Marie Oomen, the editor of Elemental, mentioned earlier, has a second title on this year's list of Michigan Notable Books.  Written by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen, The Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems is beautifully illustrated by Meridith Ridl.   According to the publisher's website, "This is a gripping tale in poems of a young girl’s desperate search for guidance in a world turned upside down by family and economic upheaval. Raised in a ramshackle cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, Lykretia takes refuge in her beloved lake in the face of her grandmother’s illness and her mother’s eager attempts to sell their home following her recent divorce. One day Lykretia spots a creature in the water, something beautiful and inexplicable. Is it the mythical Lake Michigan mermaid, or an embodiment of the stories her grandmother told as dementia ravaged her mind? Thus begins a telepathic conversation between a lost young girl and Phyliadellacia, the mermaid who saves her in more ways than one. "

You can find The Lake Michigan Mermaid in the Hatcher Graduate Library collection or online in Project MUSE.

Manoomin book cover


Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan by Barbara J. Barton

Barton is an endangered species biologist; member of the State of Michigan's wild rice working group, Michigan Water Environment Association, and western Upper Peninsula's wild rice team; and academic affiliate of the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts Biological Station, where she collaborates on the state's wild rice map. She was awarded the 2009 MSU Extension Diversity Award for her work with the Michigan tribes on Manoomin.

From Michigan State University Press's web page, "This is the first book of its kind to bring forward the rich tradition of wild rice in Michigan and its importance to the Anishinaabek people who live there."

Manoomin is available through Project MUSE.



Notes From a Public Typewriter book cover

Straight from local bookstore Literati is Notes From a Public Typewriter edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti.  From the summary in the catalog, "When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word."

Notes From a Public Typewriter is located in the Hatcher Graduate Library collection.

The Page Fence Giants book cover


The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball's Pioneering Champions by Mitch Lutzke tells the story of an all-star black baseball club sponsored by a fence company in Adrian, Michigan in the 1890s.

The Page Fence Giants can be found in the Hatcher Graduate Library.







The Poisoned City book cover

The story of the Flint water crisis is detailed in The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark.  This book has been on course reserve and used in campus book clubs since its release last July.  We have numerous copies in the collection at Art, Architecture and Engineering Library, Hatcher Graduate Library and Shapiro Undergraduate Library, and an e-audio version of the book.


The Russia Five

The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage, by Keith Gave tells the story of how the Detroit Red Wings recruited players from the Soviet Union to turn the team around.  The process, which started in the 1980s, included clandestine meetings, defections, and dramatic efforts to get to Detroit.  Then the Russia Five (Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Igor Larionov) went on to lead the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup victory in 1997.

The Russia Five is in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library Browsing Collection.





Sister Pie

Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski includes 75 recipes from the owner of Detroit's Sister Pie bakery.  If you want to try your hand at baking some of these pies, you can borrow Sister Pie from the Hatcher Graduate Library.

What the Eyes Don't See book cover Like The Poisoned City, mentioned above, What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha deals with the Flint water crisis.

From the book's dust jacket, this tells how pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha "accompanied by an idiosyncratic team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders--proved that Flint's kids were exposed to lead and then fought her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. Paced like a scientific thriller, this book shows how misguided austerity policies, the withdrawal of democratic government, and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk."

You can find copies of What the Eyes Don't See in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and as an ebook.


For lists of past Michigan Notable Books award winners (they go back in one way or another to 1996) check out the Library of Michigan website.