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books

The New Press, 2017

There are accepted historical “facts” which do not hold up to closer scrutiny. One of those is that slavery was something that happened in the South, not the North. That is simply wrong.

A new book examines examples of Northern slavery, focusing on the early days of Detroit.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Tuesday marked the release of NPR's Book Concierge List, an annual book guide produced by NPR critics, reporters, and member stations.

To accompany that list, Michigan Radio has compiled a list of our book reviews from 2017. 

Check it out below!

St. Martin's Press, 2017

It began with unbearable pain — an alarming development for a woman seven months pregnant.

And before too long, Dr. Rana Awdish was losing her grip on life.

While Awdish did not die, she did endure a long, tough recovery from the medical crisis that cost her the life of her unborn child.

And, as a physician who cared for patients in the intensive care unit, she learned profound lessons about how doctors and nurses practice medicine.

HarperCollins, 2017

A music lover can likely pinpoint the moment a song or a lyric crashes its way into your young consciousness. And then things are never the same.

For writer Daniel Wolff, that moment happened in 1965, when he first heard Bob Dylan.

Courtesy of the Howe Family

Imagine being a little kid, driving home late at night with your dad.

You drop off to sleep, more or less, but you're awake enough to feel your dad scoop you up, carry you into the house, and gently tuck you into bed.

Now imagine that dad is NHL legend Gordie Howe, and he's tucking you in just a short time after he thrilled thousands of Detroit Red Wings fans cheering for Mr. Hockey at Olympia Stadium.

NSA

We're about to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest maritime disasters: the Halifax Explosion, when two ships collided in Halifax Harbour.

The resulting explosion was the biggest man-made blast prior to the atomic bomb. Some 2,000 people were killed, and many thousands more were injured.

Yet, this cataclysmic event is largely forgotten — at least on the U.S. side of our border with Canada.

Melville House, 2017

There is a new book out from Detroit native and journalist Lynda Schuster, Dirty Wars and Polished Silver: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix. The book, by the former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent, details her days on the job, in war zones and in far-off corners.

Schuster joined us on Stateside to discuss growing up in Detroit and finding herself in her adventurous career.

A view across the devastated neighborhood of Richmond in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The steamship Imo, one of the ships in the collision that triggered the explosion, can be seen aground on the far side of the harbor.
wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan hockey team started its season last week. But the program started 94 years ago. It was a surprising byproduct of the worst man-made explosion to that point, and of a young man who changed his mind about Americans.

St. Lawrence Seaway
Kunal Mukherjee / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Even among those who live in the Great Lakes State, there is a lot of confusion about the health of the Great Lakes.

Some believe that because the lakes are clearer than ever, they’re more healthy, when in fact that clarity is due to invasive species killing off the bottom of the food chain.

Author Doug Stanton
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The last American troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973.

America's direct intervention in the Vietnam War was at an end, after many bloody years, and 58,220 American lives lost.

Afterward, the nation, and those Vietnam veterans, had a tough time processing and talking about this war that did not end with victory.

Flatiron Books, 2017

Librarian Annie Spence knows what it’s like to love a book so much she has to write it a love letter. She also knows what it’s like for a break-up letter to be in order.

Her letters to books fill the pages of her own new book Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks.

Author Oummu Kabba and her father Brima Kabba
Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

It’s never too early to begin following your passion.

That’s true for ten-year-old Oummu Kabba of Kentwood, one of Michigan’s youngest published authors. Schuler Books of Grand Rapids has published four of her books already.

Aaron Foley is the city of Detroit's chief storyteller – and yes, that is a position in city government. He's also the author of How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass

His latest work gathers neighborhood stories from writers who live or have lived all around the city. It's titled The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook, and Foley is the editor.

COURTESY OF THE SHADY LADIES LITERARY SOCIETY / Facebook

An engrossing book, delicious food, and sparkling conversation. Put all that together in Detroit and you've got the Shady Ladies Literary Society.

Group founder and Detroit-based writer Amy Haimerl, author of Detroit Hustle, and Ashley Shelby, whose novel South Pole Station will be featured at the society's upcoming meeting, joined Stateside on Wednesday.

Da Capo Press, 2017

He was a welcome presence on ESPN and ABC for decades. During his 30 years at ESPN, John Saunders lived every sports fan’s dream job.

But even as this one-time Western Michigan University hockey player rose to become one of the country’s most popular sportscasters, he secretly battled depression – and endured personal traumas that are hard to believe.

David Daley's book "Ratf**ked"
Liveright, 2017


If they know what it is, most people despise gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative or congressional districts largely based on partisan advantage. It’s hated, unless it's your party that's benefiting.

Last year, Stateside talked with David Daley, a former editor-in-chief of Salon and the author of Ratf**ked:Why Your Vote Doesn't Count, a book that deals with this very issue. Stateside​ host Lester Graham caught up with him to discuss the second edition's new epilogue on the 2016 election.

Herb Boyd, author of "Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination." Boyd came to Detroit with his mother in the 1940s. He now teachers at The City College of New York and lives in Harlem, NY
Lester Graham

There are many histories of Detroit. The latest is a comprehensive look at the contributions, accomplishments and long-suffering of the African Americans who have called Detroit home.

The book is Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination by Herb Boyd, son of Detroit and an instructor at The City College of New York currently teaching African American history. Boyd now lives in Harlem.

"The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus" by Anan Ameri
Courtesy of Anan Ameri

Anan Ameri has made her mark here in Michigan.  She is the founder of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, and she is the founder of the Palestine Aid Society of America.

Now, Ameri is making a new mark as an author. Her new memoir is titled, The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus and she joined Stateside to talk about her upbringing. 

smussyolay / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Grocery store shelves, restaurant menus and cookbooks are a lot different in 2017 than they were 30 or 40 years ago.

Americans tend to pay a lot more attention to the food we eat and how it's prepared. We know more about fine wines. Many of us seek out organic fruits and vegetables, and are willing to try exotic foods our parents and grandparents couldn't even imagine.

But, at the same time, we've seen the income inequality gap widen. How has "good food" become conflated with high status?

bbodjack / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It’s a classic Hollywood plotline: A powerful corporation wants to develop a large tract of pristine land. Local citizens band together, persuade politicians, raise money, and save the land. Everyone goes home from the theater with a smile on their face.

Except, in the case of the Arcadia Dunes, Hollywood had nothing to do with it. The story is real, and it happened here in Michigan.

Jay Grabiec

There are a lot of labels that fit Roxane Gay very well. She’s a writer. Her book "Bad Feminist" made her a bestseller. She’s also a professor, a daughter of Haitian immigrants and a former resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Nancy Paulsen Books / David Frye

An auto accident leaves a little girl with a shattered leg. She spends the next year bedridden in a body cast, wondering if she'll ever be back in school again, back playing hopscotch with her friends.

At the same time, she and her family are trying to build new lives. They are Cuban Jews who fled Castro's Cuba for a new life in New York City.

Book cover: "The Intersection: What Detroit has gained, and lost, 50 years after the uprisings of 1967."
Courtesy of Lester Graham

 

This year marks 50 years since the 1967 uprising in Detroit. A new book reflects on what's happened since those hot, angry four days in July. 

the cover of X: A Novel
Candlewick Press

"One title. One state. And thousands engaged in literary discussion."

That's the motto of the Great Michigan Read.
Every other year, the Michigan Humanities Council announces its choice for the Great Michigan Read. The goal is to give people across the state a chance to connect by reading and talking about the same book. 

This year, the 2017 Great Michigan Read is X : A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon.

Flickr user emdot / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Great Gatsby, an American classic, was published on this day in 1925.

The book sells half a million copies each year, totaling over 25 million copies sold since it was published. It’s been made into a movie five times. But author F. Scott Fitzgerald went to his grave thinking it was a flop.

Rich Evenhouse / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

How do we talk about Detroit?

In the 80's and 90's, the focus was on crime and urban decay. Detroit was the "Murder City." Today, the narrative is one of possibility and resurgence.

But both of those depictions were largely imposed by outsiders, and were, at best, incomplete.

picture of book cover and Jack Cheng side by side
Courtesy of Jack Cheng

His name is Alex Petroski. He’s eleven years old. His best friend is the stray dog he adopted and named after his hero, astronomer Carl Sagan.

Together, they set out on a road trip to attend SHARF – that’s the (fictional) Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival. Along the way, Alex adds recordings to an iPod that he hopes will one day find the ears of extraterrestrials.

Alex is the central character in a newly-released young adult novel, See You in the Cosmos. Its author, Jack Cheng, immigrated to Michigan at age 5 and today lives in Detroit.

If you have fished, or wanted to fish, or thought about fishing, or just stepped out of doors with some expectancy, Body of Water is the book for you.

Though Montana is his home now, Michigan poets know Chris Dombrowski from his elegant poetry collection, Earth Again, published by Wayne State University Press. Michigan anglers know Dombrowski as a stellar fly fishing guide. 

Omar Saif Ghobash was six years old when his father was murdered in the United Arab Emirates in 1977. His father had been part of a leadership group in the country’s early days.

Ghobash’s father was an Arab. His mother is Russian. Today Ghobash is the Emirates’ ambassador to Russia.

His new book, Letters to a Young Muslim, is written to his young sons. The book examines the complexities of his ancestry, his Muslim faith, the violence associated with some factions of Islam, and the challenges facing Muslims coming of age today.

I was recently tempted to bludgeon one of my students into recognizing that interesting things had happened, even before he was born, back in the ancient early 1990s, say.

We were discussing the origins of the World Wide Web, the invention that actually made wide-ranging use of cyberspace possible. Having considered this, he said prior to that, I must have actually had to find things in books.

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