Michigan Notables 2014

Every year, the Library of Michigan selects up to twenty of the most notable books, either written by a Michigan resident or about Michigan or the Great Lakes. The selected books are honored in the year after their publication or copyright date. Each selected title speaks to our state’s rich cultural, historical, and literary heritage and proves without a doubt that some of the greatest stories are found in the Great Lakes State.

Michigan is rich in good writers and the Library of Michigan is proud to honor and celebrate this wonderful literary heritage each year with the Night for Notables and with the annual grant-funded authors’ tour to libraries throughout the state.

Michigan Notable Books is an annual program with roots stretching back to Michigan Week 1991. In 2004, the name changed from Read Michigan to Michigan Notable Books. In 2002, The Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries took over Read Michigan and Michigan Week. In October 2009, The Library of Michigan went to The Michigan Department of Education, bringing the Michigan Notable Books program with it.

-The Library of Michigan

Here are some of the 2014 winners from our catalog! Take a look at the 2014 page to see more titles.

the-birdThe Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych
Wilson, Doug
The Bird is the first biography of 70s pop icon and Detroit Tigers pitcher, Mark Fidrych. As a rookie he stormed the baseball world by his antics of "talking" to the baseball and along the way became one of the most popular Tigers in history. Fidrych's larger than life personality and killer slider resulted in his selection as the 1976 All Star game starter and landed him as the first athlete ever to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. Wilson details how an arm injury in 1977 limited his career. Fidrych's love of the game and pure joy in playing helped to make the summer of 1976 magical in Detroit.
Our Catalog
blufftonBluffton: My Summers with Buster
Phelan, Matt
Muskegon, Michigan, 1908, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They're summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing.
Our Catalog
bootstrapperBootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Farm
Link, Mardi Jo
Link's memoir about survival and self-discovery documents the summer of 2005 when debt, self-doubt and a recent divorce forced her to refocus on what truly is important in life. Bootstrapper tells the story of her struggles to raise three sons as a single mother and the fight to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan. Her humorous accounts tackle the subjects of butchering a pig, grocery shopping on a budget, Zen divorce, raising chickens, and bargain cooking all in an effort to keep her farm out of foreclosure. Her difficult year is highlighted with the use of humor and optimistic storytelling and demonstrates how her struggles helped to strengthen her family bonds and led to findings necessary in order to save the farm she loved.
Our Catalog
colored-car-bckThe Colored Car
Foster, Alicia Jean
An engaging narrative illustrates the personal impact of segregation and discrimination and reveals powerful glimpses of everyday life in 1930s Detroit. After boarding the first-class train car at Michigan Central Station in Detroit and riding comfortably to Cincinnati, Patsy is shocked when her family is led from their seats to change cars. In the dirty, cramped "colored car," Patsy finds that the life she has known in Detroit is very different from life down south. Patsy must find a way to understand her experience in the colored car and also deal with the more subtle injustices that her family faces in Detroit.
A Southfield Book Club Book
Our Catalog
detroit-bckDetroit: An American Autopsy
LeDuff, Charlie
Veteran writer LeDuff set out to uncover what lead his city into decline. He embedded with a local fire brigade, investigated politicians of all stripes, and interviewed: union bosses, homeless squatters, powerful businessmen, struggling homeowners, and ordinary people holding the city together. LeDuff shares an unbelievable story of a hard town in a rough time filled with some of the strangest and strongest people our country has to offer.
A Southfield Book Club Book
Our Catalog
detroit-rrDetroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide
Darden, Joe T. & Thomas, Richard W.
Unique among books on the subject, Detroit pays special attention to post-1967 social and political developments in the city, and expands upon the much-explored black/white dynamic to address the influx of more recent populations to Detroit: Middle Eastern Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans. Crucially, the book explores the role of place of residence, spatial mobility, and spatial inequality as key factors in determining access to opportunities such as housing, education, employment, and other amenities, both in the suburbs and in the city.
Our Catalog
iitmaI Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford
Snow, Richard
Henry Ford was born the same year as the battle of Gettysburg, died two years after the atomic bombs fell, and his life personified the tremendous technological changes achieved in that span. Growing up as a Michigan farm boy, Ford saw the advantages of internal combustion. He built his first gasoline engine out of scavenged industrial scraps. It was the size of a sewing machine. From there, scene by scene, Richard Snow vividly shows Ford using his innate mechanical abilities, hard work, and radical imagination as he transformed American industry.
Our Catalog
ithutdbthatwIn the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods
Bell, Matt
In this debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world. This novel is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage's success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.
Our Catalog
poetry-in-miPoetry in...Michigan...in Poetry
Olsen, William & Ridl, Jack (editors)
Poems from Michigan's most recognized poets are gathered in this beautiful single volume. The anthology gathers an intriguing range of poets and artists, their visions and voices, exploring the variances in Michigan landscape; shoreline; lives lived in the city, town, and countryside; our uncommon diversity of cultures, points of view, concerns, celebrations, losses, and histories
Our Catalog
the-river-swimmerThe River Swimmer
Harrison, Jim
As one of America's most recognized and critically acclaimed authors, Harrison's new collection of novellas make Michigan's natural environment central to each tale. "The Land of Unlikeness" portrays a failed artist's return to Michigan to visit his ailing mother and the resulting rebirth in his love of painting. "The River Swimmer" ventures into the magical as a northern Michigan farm boy is drawn to swimming as an escape and his encounters with mythical "water babies" in the lakes and streams surrounding his northern Michigan home. The stories demonstrate how two men, young and old, actively confront inconvenient love and the encroachment of suburbia on Michigan's lavish natural environment.
Our Catalog