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Michigan Notable Books 2017

A memoir of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist’s struggle to find her way out of the ruins. Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques, which she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, by 1984 the Stroh Brewing Company had become the largest private beer fortune in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself; while Stroh was coming of age, the Stroh family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million. But behind the beautiful façade lay a crumbling foundation. Detroit’s economy collapsed with the retreat of the automotive industry to the suburbs and abroad and likewise the Stroh family found their wealth and legacy disappearing.

The charm bracelet by Viola Shipman

"Through an heirloom charm bracelet three women will rediscover the importance of family, love, faith, friends, fun and a passion for living as the magic of each charm changes their lives. Lolly, still lives in the family cabin on Lost Land Lake where her mother gave her the charm bracelet that would become Lolly's talisman and connection to family past and Lolly hopes the present, but her daughter, Arden, and granddaughter, Lauren, haven't visited in years and time is running out for Lolly. Arden, couldn't wait to leave her small town life behind for Chicago, but now divorced and burned out at work, she's simply trying to make it from day to day. In the rush of life she's let the years and all the things she once enjoyed slip away. When she receives an unexpected phone call about her mother she must decide if she can face going home. Lauren, a talented young painter buries her passion to study business in the hopes of helping her mother after she discovers that her father left Arden struggling to make ends meet, but Lauren is slowly dying inside and doesn't know how to tell her mother the truth"--.

Nathan Bomey delivers the inside story of the fight to save Detroit against impossible odds. Bomey, who covered the bankruptcy for the Detroit Free Press, provides a gripping account of the tremendous clash between lawyers, judges, bankers, union leaders, politicians, philanthropists, and the people of Detroit themselves. The battle to rescue this iconic city pulled together those who believed in its future―despite their differences. Facing a legacy of broken promises, the city had to seek unprecedented sacrifices from retirees and union leaders, who fought for their pensions and benefits.In a tight, suspenseful narrative, Detroit Resurrected reveals the tricky path to rescuing the city from $18 billion in debt and giving new hope to its citizens.

Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure explores in depth over 30 of the Great Lakes Basin islands accessible by bridge or ferry and introduces more than 50 additional islands.  38 chapters include helpful information about getting to each featured island, what to expect when you get there, the island’s history, and what natural and historical sites and cultural attractions are available to visitors.  Each chapter lists special island events, where to get more island information, and how readers can help support the island. Author Maureen Dunphy made numerous trips to a total of 135 islands that are accessible by ferry or bridge in the Great Lakes Basin. On each trip, Dunphy was accompanied by a different friend or relative who provided her another adventurer’s perspective through which to view the island experience.

Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip Hop and Beyond is the first of its kind to capture the full spectrum of Detroit popular music from the early 1900s to the twenty-first century. Readers will find in this unique and stimulating anthology new essays, and a few classics, by widely known and respected music writers, critics, and recording artists who weigh in on their careers and experiences in the Detroit music scene, from rock to jazz and everything in between. With a foreword by the acclaimed rock writer Dave Marsh and iconic photos by Leni Sinclair, the book features such well-known writers as Greil Marcus, Jaan Uhelszki, Al Young, Susan Whitall, Gary Graff, John Sinclair, and many others.

Know the mother : stories by Desiree Cooper

Author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives. With her lyrical and carefully crafted prose, Cooper's stories provide truths without sermon and invite empathy without sentimentality.

The last good girl by Allison Leotta

A ripped-from-the-headlines novel featuring prosecutor Anna Curtis at the center of a national story involving campus rape and the disappearance of a young woman. Emma, a freshman at a Michigan university, has gone missing. She was last seen leaving a bar near the prestigious and secretive fraternity known on campus as "the rape factory." The main suspect is Dylan Brooks, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. But so far the only clues are pieced-together surveillance footage of Emma leaving the bar that night...and Dylan running down the street after her. When Anna discovers the video diary Emma kept over her first few months at college, it exposes the history she had with Dylan: she had accused him of rape before disappearing. Emma's disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna's investigation hits a wall. Now Anna is looking for something, anything she can use to find Emma alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she's under threat from people who tell her to think hard before she ruins the name of an "innocent young man."

"The first comprehensive, authoritative account of the amazing rise and tragic fall of Preston Tucker, the visionary entrepreneur who, in the wake of World War II, took on the Big Three automakers to create a revolutionary new vehicle: the Tucker '48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up."

Detroit 1936: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, baseball fan Dayton Dean is arrested for murder. Though said to have a childlike intelligence, Dean possesses a vivid memory and a hunger for attention. He gives police a story about a secret Klan-like organization called the Black Legion, responsible for countless murders, floggings, and fire bombings. The Legion has tens of thousands of members in the Midwest, among them politicians and notable citizens—even, possibly, a beloved Detroit athlete. When Dean’s revelations explode, they all seek cover. Award-winning author Tom Stanton’s stunning work of history, crime, and sports, weaves together the terror of the Legion with the magnificent athletic ascension of Detroit. Richly portraying 1930s America, and featuring figures like Louis, the country’s most famous black man; Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg; anti-Semitic Henry Ford; radio priest Father Coughlin; and J. Edgar Hoover, Terror in the City of Champions is a rollicking true tale set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.

Wolf's mouth by John Smolens

In 1944 Italian officer Captain Francesco Verdi is captured by Allied forces in North Africa and shipped to a POW camp in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where the senior POW, the ruthless Kommandant Vogel, demands that all prisoners adhere to his Nazi dictates. His life threatened, Verdi escapes from the camp and meets up with an American woman, Chiara Frangiapani, who helps him elude capture as they flee to the Lower Peninsula. By 1956 they have become Frank and Claire Green, a young married couple building a new life in postwar Detroit. When INS agent James Giannopoulos tracks them down, Frank learns that Vogel is executing men like Frank for their wartime transgressions. As a series of brutal murders rivets Detroit, Frank is caught between American justice and Nazi vengeance. In Wolf 's Mouth, the recollections of Francesco Verdi/Frank Green give voice to the hopes, fears, and hard choices of a survivor as he strives to escape the ghosts of history.

Introduces readers to a near-future world of social media implants, memory manufacturers, dangerously immersive virtual reality games, and alarmingly intuitive robots. Many of these characters live in a utopian future of instant connection and technological gratification that belies an unbridgeable human distance, while others inhabit a post-collapse landscape made primitive by disaster, which they must work to rebuild as we once did millennia ago. In "The Cartographers," the main character works for a company that creates and sells virtual memories, while struggling to maintain a real-world relationship sabotaged by an addiction to his own creations. In "Saying Goodbye to Yang," the robotic brother of an adopted Chinese child malfunctions, and only in his absence does the family realize how real a son he has become.

For much of his life, the closest Bob Tarte got to a nature walk was the stroll from parking lot to picnic table on family outings. But then a chance sighting of a dazzling rose-breasted grosbeak in wife-to-be Linda's backyard prompts a fascination with birds, which he had never cared about before in the least. Soon he is obsessed with spotting more and more of them-the rarer the better-and embarks on a bumpy journey to improve his bumbling birding skills. Along the way, Tarte offers readers a droll look at the pleasures and pitfalls he encounters, introduces a colorful cast of fellow birders from across the country, and travels to some of the premier birding sites in the Midwest, including Point Pelee, Magee Marsh, Tawas Point State Park, and even Muskegon Wastewater System. This funny, heartfelt memoir will appeal to birders of all skill levels as well as to anyone who knows and loves a birder.

There are more than 180 exotic species in the Great Lakes. Some, such as green algae, the Asian tapeworm, and the suckermouth minnow, have had little or no impact so far. But a handful of others--sea lamprey, alewife, round goby, quagga mussel, zebra mussel, Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water flea, and rusty crayfish--have conducted an all-out assault on the Great Lakes and are winning the battle. In Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes, William Rapai focuses on the impact of these invasives.

The Great Lakes State has always been known for its contributions to twentieth-century manufacturing, but it’s only beginning to receive wide attention for its contributions to Modern design and architecture. Brian D. Conway, Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer, and Amy L. Arnold, project manager for Michigan Modern, have curated nearly thirty essays and interviews from a number of prominent architects, academics, architectural historians, journalists, and designers, including historian Alan Hess, designers Mira Nakashima, Ruth Adler Schnee, and Todd Oldham, and architect Gunnar Birkerts, describing Michigan’s contributions to Modern design in architecture, automobiles, furniture and education.

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

As a blizzard bears down, Percy James sets off to find her troubled mother, Carletta. For years, Percy has had to take care of herself and Mama -- a woman who's been unraveling for as long as her daughter can remember. Fearing Carletta is strung out on meth and won't survive the storm, Percy heads for Shelton Potter's cabin, deep in the woods of northern Michigan. But when Percy arrives, there is no sign of Carletta. Searching the house, she finds Shelton and his girlfriend drugged into oblivion -- and a crying baby girl left alone in a freezing room upstairs. From the moment the baby wraps a tiny hand around her finger, Percy knows she must save her -- a split-second decision that commences a dangerous odyssey in which she must battle the elements and evade Shelton and a small band of desperate criminals hell-bent on getting that baby back. As the storm breaks and violence erupts, Percy will be forced to confront the haunting nature of her mother's affliction, and come to find her own fate tied more and more inextricably to that of the baby she is determined to save.

The against-all-odds story of a World War II–era steam locomotive and the determination of two generations of volunteers to keep it running comes alive in Twelve Twenty-Five: The Life and Times of a Steam Locomotive.
 Pere Marquette 1225 was built in 1941 at the peak of steam locomotive development. The narrative traces the 1225’s regular freight service in Michigan, its unlikely salvation from the scrapyard for preservation at Michigan State University, and the subsequent work to bring it back to steam, first by a student club and later by a railroad museum. Milestones along the way include 1225’s retirement in 1951, its donation to MSU in 1957, its return to steam in 1988, a successful career hauling tens of thousands of excursion riders, and its starring role in the 2004 movie The Polar Express. The massive infrastructure that supported American steam locomotives in their heyday disappeared long ago, forcing 1225’s faithful to make their own spare parts, learn ancient railroad skills, and interpret the entire effort for the public. As such, the continuing career of 1225 is a triumph of historic preservation.

How do women – mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces and grandmothers – make sense of judgment to a lifetime behind bars? In Women Doing Life, Lora Bex Lempert presents a typology of the ways that life-sentenced women grow and self-actualize, resist prison definitions, reflect on and “own” their criminal acts, and ultimately create meaningful lives behind prison walls. Looking beyond the explosive headlines that often characterize these women as monsters, Lempert offers rare insight into this vulnerable, little studied population.

Hystopia by David Means

Twenty-two year old Eugene Allen, a Vietnam War veteran, has penned a revisionist history of the period that, channeled through Means, explores the realities of trauma, both national and personal. Consider Allen’s imaginative register: John F. Kennedy has survived multiple attempts on his life and is entering his third term. Meanwhile, as the Vietnam War continues to wage, soldiers returning home face two fates: have their memories of war erased or, if they are too damaged for treatment, be released without monitor. But pain and their toxic strains of PTSD ultimately creates a band of deranged rogues, evading the government and reenacting atrocities on their own people.

The characters at the heart of these stories work with their hands. They strive to escape invisibility. They hunt the ghost of recognition. They are painters, drywall finishers, carpenters, roofers, oil refinery inspectors, and hardscapers, all aching to survive the workday. They are air force firemen, snake salesmen, can pickers, ice-cream truck drivers, and Jamaican tour guides, seething forth from behind the scenes. They are the underemployed laborers, the homeless, the retired, the fired, the children born to break their backs. One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist initiates readers into the secret nightmares and surprising beauty and complexity of a sweat-stained, blue-collar world.

I want to be once by M. L Liebler

Ordered into three sections, I Want To Be Once provides readers with a look into the author's personal life, as well as our collective history as a nation vis-a-vis the American media. The first section, called "American Life," captures the experience of coming of age in working-class 1960s America and helps to paint the picture of Liebler's early political involvement. The poems in the second section, "American War," focus on the author's cultural work in Afghanistan for the U.S. State Department; Liebler successfully captures the sad realities and fleeting stability of everyday life in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Kandahar. In the final section, "American Psalms," the short, satirical poems muse on present-day American society, culture, and the arts. In these poems, Liebler remarks on everything from public education to public radio and more.

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