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What We're Reading: November 2016

From the author of A. Lincoln, a major new biography of one of America's greatest generals--and most misunderstood presidents In his time, Ulysses S. Grant was routinely grouped with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the "Trinity of Great American Leaders." But the battlefield commander-turned-commander-in-chief fell out of favor in the twentieth century. In American Ulysses, Ronald C. White argues that we need to once more revise our estimates of him in the twenty-first.  Grant was not only a brilliant general but also a passionate defender of equal rights in post-Civil War America. After winning election to the White House in 1868, he used the power of the federal government to battle the Ku Klux Klan. He was the first president to state that the government's policy toward American Indians was immoral, and the first ex-president to embark on a world tour, and he cemented his reputation for courage by racing against death to complete his Personal Memoirs . 

Also available in: e-book

We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages--of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity's most important--and universal--information technology.

"While working at the Newark Star-Ledger, Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall created a popular column debating the merits of then-current television. Eventually they went on to successful careers as critics elsewhere, but the debate raged on and now comes to an epic conclusion in TV (THE BOOK). Alan and Matt have established The Pantheon of top TV shows using a complex, obsessively all-encompassing ranking system by which to order and stack them up against each other. With a mix of lively entries on critically acclaimed and commercially successful classics such as Seinfeld, The Sopranos, Star Trek, The Simpsons and Twin Peaks and illuminating essays on short-lived favorites such as Taxi, Freaks and Geeks, and My So-Called Life, TV (THE BOOK) is sure to spark conversation and debate among readers. TV (THE BOOK) is a must-have for long-time television and film buffs and for young enthusiasts who, fresh off their latest Netflix binge, are looking to expand their knowledge of the medium and wondering what show to start streaming next"--.

Graced by the Huron River with an abundance of parks, Ann Arbor offers residents and visitors entertainment, sports, shopping, dining, and of course, the University of Michigan. Legendary Locals of Ann Arbor celebrates its citizens. Some of those who make up Ann Arbor are creative artists, inspiring educators, dedicated public servants, and determined business owners. With the exception of Lewis the cat, who reigned at Downtown Home and Garden, this book is filled with stories about people who have made and are making Ann Arbor one of the best places to live in the United States. Within its pages lie the stories of who chose maize and blue as the University of Michigan's colors; who was the first Ann Arborite to race in the Indy 500; and who sold Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's, his first pizzeria. Inside are photographs and descriptions of the legendary people of the past and the present, as well as those who are on their way to becoming the legends of the future.

In the early twentieth century, down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company built one of the largest mills in the world and a town to go with it. Aliquippa was a beacon and a melting pot, pulling in thousands of families from Europe and the Jim Crow south. The J&L mill, though dirty and dangerous, offered a chance at a better life. It produced the steel that built American cities and won World War II and even became something of a workers' paradise. But then, in the 1980's, the steel industry cratered. The mill closed. Crime rose and crack hit big. But another industry grew in Aliquippa. The town didn't just make steel; it made elite football players, from Mike Ditka to Ty Law to Darrelle Revis. Pro football was born in Western Pennsylvania, and few places churned out talent like Aliquippa. Despite its troubles--maybe even because of them--Aliquippa became legendary for producing football greatness. A masterpiece of narrative journalism, Playing Through the Whistle tells the remarkable story of Aliquippa and through it, the larger history of American industry, sports, and life. Like football, it will make you marvel, wince, cry, and cheer.

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