Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 5, 2014

George Weeks: Northern focus among Notable Books


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Northern subjects and authors are prominent in the Library of Michigan’s just-released annual 20 Notable Books selections for 2014 celebrating Michigan people, places and events.

Although the list is heavy on Detroit and other downstate industrial, cultural and other books, it has a strong northern and Great Lakes flavor on historical and current matters, as well as fiction. Among them:

n November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913, by Michael Schumacher (University of Minnesota Press). It’s a timely book considering all of the recent recounts of the 100th anniversary of the event.

n Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763, by Keith R. Widder (Michigan State University Press). It’s a guide to an important time in Michigan, U.S. and Canadian history.

n The Great Lake Sturgeon, edited by Nancy Auer and Dave Dempsey (Michigan State University Press). Blending history, biology, folklore environmental science and policy, it’s about a remarkable fish whose ancestry goes back millions of years.

n The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula Works, edited by Ron Riekki (Wayne State University Press). In 49 poems and 20 stories, readers will discover new and established authors.

n Something That Feels Like Truth, by Donald Lystra (Northern Illinois University Press). A page-turning journey through the cities and countryside of the Great Lakes heartland.

n Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Farm, by Mardi Jo Link (Alfred A. Knopf). A memoir by a Traverse City and former Notable author about survial and self-discovery about struggling to raise three sons as a single mother fighting to hang on to her century-old farmhouse.

n The River Swimmer, by Jim Harrison (Grove Press). A collection of novellas by longtime former northern Michigan (and previous Notable) author, who makes Michigan’s environment central to each tale. Other 2014 Michigan Notable Books:

n The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych…Birth Marks…Tuesdays with Todd and Brad Reed (includes northern photos)…Bluffton: My Summers with Buster…The Colored Car…Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide…Detroit: An American Autopsy…I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford…Tear-Down: Memoir of a Vanishing City (Flint)… Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life (cookbook)…Taken Alive: The Sight’s Rock and Roll Tour Diary…In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods…Poetry in — Michigan — in Poetry.

In his Jan. 3 announcement of the books, State Superintendent of Education Mike Flanagan (the Library of Michigan is in his department) said: “Michigan is rich in talented writers, history and resources.

Our Notable Books for 2014 express the wonderful variety of character, tone and flavors that are purely Michigan.

“This year’s Notable Books appeal to people of all ages and will continue to build a Culture of Reading here in Michigan.”

State Librarian Nancy Robertson said the program, which features books published the previous calendar year, “helps to show what is ‘great’ about the Great Lakes State.”

Notable Books is a statewide program that began in 1991 as part of the Michigan Week observance. The selection committee includes representatives of libraries, booksellers, the Archives of Michigan, Michigan Center for the Book, Michigan Center for the Book, Michigan Humanities Council, the State Historical Preservation Office and the media.

(Full disclosure: I am on the selection committee.)

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.