Jan. 4 2012 12:00 AM

Michigan Notable Books encompass a wide range of topics and genres


Make room on your bookshelf or e-reader: The Library of Michigan has named the top 20 Michigan Notable Books of the year, and the list represents established and debut authors, books covering topics and people that may have been lost to time and books that will take you places you’ve never been.

Rhoda Wolff, a member of the selection committee and manager of Schuler Books & Music in Eastwood Towne Center, said that many of the books come from small or academic presses and “otherwise might not get remembered if they weren’t on the list.

“The Michigan Notable list keeps books on topics such as the Ku Klux Klan from falling off the radar. Once the book is on the list, it’s a Michigan book forever.” 

This year´s honorees are:

“Elly Peterson: ´Mother´ of the Moderates,” by Sara Fitzgerald: Michigan native Sara Fitzgerald writes about a different era of the Republican Party in Michigan. This new biography gives full credit to one of the first female political leaders in this country.  

“Everyday Klansfolk: White Protestant Life and the KKK in 1920s Michigan,” by Craig Fox: Shedding light on this unsettling chapter in Michigan’s history, Fox explores the origins of the organization’s strong influence and popularity in the state during the 1920s. 

“Fever: Little Willie John, A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul,” by Susan Whitall: Detroit’s Little Willie John lived for only 30 years, but his dynamic and daring sound left an indelible mark on what we now know as soul music.

“Ghost Writers: Us Haunting Them, Contemporary Michigan Literature,” edited by Keith Taylor and Laura Kasischke:  An anthology of supernatural stories from renowned Michigan authors. 

“Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One,” by Mark Kurlansky: No baseball player has ever had a swing quite like the Detroit Tigers’ Hank Greenberg, but he may be remembered more for a 1934 game with the Yankees that he chose not to play in because it fell on Yom Kippur. 

“Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life,” by Michael Moore: The Oscar-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and vocal social critic tells of growing up outside of Flint. 

In Stitches: A Memoir, by Anthony Youn, M.D.: Dr. Youn’s memoir describes his transformation from a geeky outcast in Greenville to celebrated plastic surgery expert on popular talk shows like “Good Morning America.” 

Jacobson’s, I Miss It So:  The Story Of A Michigan Fashion Institution, by Bruce Allen Kopytek: Michigan’s answer to Macy’s is remembered in stories that date from the beginnings in Reed City until the chain´s bankruptcy and closing.

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art, by J.H. Shapiro and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Shapiro tells the story of the Heidelberg Project and Tyree Guyton, the true story of an artist and his impact on his community. 

Michigan and the Civil War: A Great and Bloody Sacrifice, by Jack Dempsey: Offering a fresh and readable glimpse into Michigan’s role in the preservation of the Union, Dempsey leads us through the major characters, battles and events of the Civil War.

Misery Bay, by Steve Hamilton: In this eighth novel featuring Alex McKnight, the 2006 Michigan Author Award winner takes us on a suspenseful adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Miss Martin Is a Martian, by Colleen Murray Fisher and illustrated by Jared Chapman: Second grader Melvin Eugene Baxter knows his new teacher is from Mars.  Armed with a hockey stick — and with his head protected by a pot — he is determined not to let Miss Martin the Martian take over the planet. 

Motor City Shakedown, by D. E. Johnson: “Shakedown” is a thrilling ride set in 1911 Detroit. Will Anderson looks to find justice for the death of his best friend, while battling the Detroit criminal underworld, a corrupt police department and his own personal demons. 

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, by Matt De La Pena and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: On the eve of World War II, boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a historic bout that many Americans viewed as a symbol of the nation’s battle against Hitler. 

“Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America’s Big Three Automakers — GM, Ford, and Chrysler,” by Bill Vlasic: A fascinating story of the Big Three’s fight for survival in Detroit.  In a tale that reads like a corporate thriller, Vlasic, takes readers into the executive offices, assembly plants and union halls.

“Once Upon a River,” by Bonnie Jo Campbell: The National Book Award finalist and past Michigan Notable Book award author creates an unforgettable heroine in 16-year-old Margo Crane, who takes to a Michigan river in search of her mom.

“Songs of Unreason,” by Jim Harrison:  Harrison’s latest collection of poetry,  proclaims his reverence for rivers, trees, dogs and women. Each poem comes to life on the page with the richness and clarity of Harrison’s voice. 

“South of Superior,” by Ellen Airgood: Airgood’s first novel celebrates taking joy in the little things in life. Chicago transplant Madeline Stone moves to the fictional town of Mac Allaster, Michigan in the hope of finding an escape from her old life. 

“Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to US-31,” by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson: Utilizing hundreds of historic postcards and photographs, Byron and Wilson detail the history of the road that has become US-31, and the Lake Michigan communities it connects. 

“Wire to Wire,” by Scott Sparling: Sparling’s debut is a crime novel with a full cast of colorful characters including the brain-damaged, freight-car-hopping lead figure.