March is National Reading Month so it’s an excellent time to highlight works from local authors that have earned the distinction of a 2023 Michigan Notable Book. Every year the Library of Michigan selects up to twenty of the most notable books. Each is either about, or set in, Michigan, or written by a Michigan author. Selections include a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction. This year’s crop of honorees includes eight by Michigan residents. Here is a description of each of these worthy inclusions.
As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book by Anne-Marie Oomen
Follow Anne-Marie Oomen’s journey to finally knowing her mother as well as the heartbreaking loss of her mother’s immense capacities. This book explores how humor and compassion grow belatedly between a mother and daughter who don’t much like each other, as well as the stress and family decisions brought about by a parent with dementia. As Long as I Know You is a personal map to find a mother who may have been there all along—only to lose her again in the time of COVID.
Chevy in the Hole: A Novel by Kelsey Ronan
Shortly after overdosing, August “Gus” Molloy packs it in and returns home to his family in Flint. This latest slip and recommitment to sobriety doesn’t feel too terribly different from the others, until Gus meets Monae, an urban farmer trying to coax a tenuous rebirth from the city’s damaged land. Through her eyes, he sees what might be possible in a city everyone else seems to have forgotten or, worse, given up on. But as they begin dreaming up an oasis together, even the most essential resources can’t be taken for granted.
Guardians of Michigan: Architectural Sculpture of the Pleasant Peninsulas by Jeff Morrison
Guardians of Michigan profiles the extraordinary architectural sculpture found in both the pleasant peninsulas of the Great Lakes state. Author Jeff Morrison spent years exploring Michigan’s largest cities and smallest towns, using telephoto photography to capture the sculptural details hidden from the naked eye, and researching the beautiful historic architecture that he encountered.
Hadha Baladuna: Arab American Narratives of Boundary and Belonging edited by Ghassan Zeineddine, Nabeel Abraham, and Sally Howell
Hadha Baladuna (translated: “this is our country”) is the first work of creative nonfiction in the field of Arab American literature that focuses entirely on the Arab diaspora in Metro Detroit, an area with the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States. Narratives move from a young Lebanese man in the early 1920s peddling his wares along country roads to an aspiring Iraqi-Lebanese poet who finds inspiration in the music of Tupac Shakur. The anthology pivots to the experiences of growing up Arab American in Detroit and Dearborn; facing identity struggles in an unaccepting community; exploring political activism dating back to the 1960s; and Dearborn’s shifting demographic landscape.
I’ll Be There: My Life with the Four Tops by Duke Fakir
Spanning over decades, this is the remarkable, heartfelt memoir from Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, the last surviving member of The Four Tops. Amidst a backdrop of Detroit, I’ll Be There features revealing anecdotes from the group’s formation, their early days as backup singers for the likes of Jackie Wilson, and their years working with Berry Gordy at the legendary Motown Records.
It’s Hard Being You: A Primer on Being Happy Anyway by Sharon Emery
Sharon Emery struggled with the losses and limits she faced but couldn’t change – no matter how hard she tried. And she did try: with her incurable severe stutter that made her career in communications a regular battle; with the death of her daughter, Jessica; and with the too-early deaths of her own younger siblings. This memoir is a guide for her children on their own life journeys, which stresses the amazing resilience of human beings.
Magic Season: A Son’s Story by Wade Rouse
Before his success in public relations, his loving marriage and his storied writing career, Wade Rouse was simply Ted Rouse’s son. A queer kid in a conservative Ozarks community, Wade struggled at a young age to garner his father’s approval and find his voice. For his part, Ted was a hard-lined engineer who offered little emotional support or encouragement. But Wade and Ted had one thing in common: an undying love of the St. Louis Cardinals. For decades, baseball offered Wade and his father a shared vocabulary—a way to stay in touch, to connect and to express their emotions. But when his father’s health takes a turn for the worst, Wade returns to southwest Missouri to share one final season with his father.
Satisfaction Guaranteed: How Zingerman’s Built a Corner Deli into a Global Food Community by Micheline Maynard
In this roadmap for manifesting joy and purpose in business, a noted national journalist looks at the inception, growth, future and unique management style of Zingerman’s—a beloved $70 million Michigan-based specialty food store with global reach.
Other books by non-Michigan residents selected this year include Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik; Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm; Ferne: A Detroit Story; Love Radio; The Peacekeeper; Scarlet in Blue; Shapes, Lines and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey; The Star That Always Stays; The Turtle of Michigan; Uphill: A Memoir; We Kept Our Towns Going: The Gossard Girls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and What the Fireflies Knew.
The 2023 Michigan Notable Books and authors will be honored at the annual Night for Notables reception on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at the Library of Michigan. Two-time Michigan Notable Book recipient Karen Dionne will be the keynote speaker. Tickets are $50 each, and may be purchased through the Library of Michigan Foundation.
For more information or questions about the Michigan Notable Book program, contact the Library of Michigan at 517-335-1477, visit www.Michigan.gov/NotableBooks, or email Librarian@Michigan.gov.
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