Now that winter is feeling a little more, well, wintry, it’s a good time to hunker down inside with a book. If you’re looking for something new to read, the Library of Michigan has a few suggestions. Its 2020 Michigan Notable Books list was announced on Sunday.
To make it onto the list, a book has to be about Michigan, set in the state, or written by a Michigan author. But what about the “notable” part? For Tim Gleisner, manager of special collections at the Library of Michigan, part of what makes a book notable is its relevance to this particular moment in time. It also, Gleisner said, has to stand out to him as a reader.
“It’s hard to really put your arms around it, but basically just you know, when you read it, you know it,” he said.
For librarian Jessica Trotter, who works at the Capital Area District Libraries, it’s important that books speak to the specific experience of living in Michigan.
“There’s things that just hit me because they are so identifiable to me as Michigan,” explained Trotter, “and just also have a great story or, you know, a great premise.”
Gleisner and Trotter both serve on the committee that chooses which titles make the Michigan Notable Books list each year. Stateside discussed a few of their favorite titles from this year, and what readers get out of books with local connections.
You can find all of the 2020 Michigan Notable Books, and check out some of Stateside's interviews with authors featured on this year's list, below.
- It’s been more than six years since the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, but the impact on the city and its people persists. Jodie Adams Kirshner’s book Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises explores the causes and effects of Detroit's bankruptcy by showing its impact on seven people. Kirshner is a research professor at New York University, where she specializes in bankruptcy law. We talked to her about what new insight she hopes her book can add to the conversation about Detroit’s bankruptcy.
- Many people never notice the silent stone faces keeping vigil over the city of Detroit. But one new book exposes them, studies them, presents them, and explains them. The book is Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City. We talk to author Jeff Morrison about documenting the silent statues watching over the Motor City.
- Bridgett Davis is an author, screenwriter, and professor of creative writing at Baruch College of the City University of New York. She’s also the daughter of Fannie Davis, a famous “numbers runner” for the underground lottery business in Detroit. Her memoir is titled The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers. Davis joined Stateside to talk about the economic opportunity offered to African-Americans by the illegal enterprise of running numbers, what her mother’s job entailed, and how she kept a “strict moral compass” when dealing with her customers.
A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father by David Maraniss
All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner
Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography by James H. McCommons
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Come See About Me, Marvin by Brian G. Gilmore
Deadly Aim: The Civil War Story of Michigan's Anishinaabe Sharpshooters by Sally M. Walker
Detroit’s Birwood Wall: Hatred & Healing in the West Eight Mile Community by Gerald Van Dusen
The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down by Abigail Pesta
Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables by Abra Berens
Shades: Detroit Love Stories by Esperanza Cintrón
Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes by Pamela Cameron/illustrated by Renée Graef
Teacher/Pizza Guy by Jeff Kass
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels
Where Today Meets Tomorrow: Eero Saarinen and the General Motors Technical Center by Susan Skarsgard
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.