Clone of Garden of Evening Mists

Garden of Evening Mists Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng.

Winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, a new novel of love, war and memory.

Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself.

As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

We Need New Names

We Need New Names, by NoViolet Bulawayo.

A remarkable literary debut and the winner of the 2014 Hemingway Pen Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before soldiers destroyed their homes, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her—from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee—while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

Two Finalists for 2015

A panel of local individuals will read both books and determine which will be chosen for Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2015. This year's judges are:

Area Blogger Mark Maynard
Ann Arbor News Entertainment Reporter Jenn McKee
Musician San Slomovits
Ypsilanti City Council Member Dan Vogt
Ann Arbor City Council Member Chuck Warpehoski

Read along with us and leave a comment under one or both of the title's webpage, and tell us what you think!

The two books under consideration are:

We Need New Names

NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale For the Time Being. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.


Resources for the 2018 Read will be added to this site as information becomes available.

Special Thanks

Washtenaw Reads Committees

Steering Committee

Tim Grimes, Ann Arbor District Library
Barbara Beaton, Milan Public Library
Diane Hockett, Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Debbie Johnson, Saline District Library
Lori Kunkel-Coryell, Chelsea District Library
Ira Lax, Ann Arbor District Library
Paul McCann, Dexter District Library
Zaley Nelson, Northfield Township Area Library
Julianne Smith, Ypsilanti District Library
Valerie Sobczak, Ann Arbor District Library

How to Participate

Washtenaw Reads is a community-wide event! How can you participate?

Hold A Discussion Group In Your Community

Organize an event or discussion related to the read.
Events may be open to the public or restricted. Examples include:
• Book clubs wishing to use the book at a private meeting or discussion
• College or high school instructors assigning the book to their class
• Local workplaces hosting discussion groups for their employees
• Coffee shops inviting customers to connect over coffee on a particular night
• Film societies presenting a film related to the topic

Tell Us About Your Event

If you have an event related to the Read, and would like to have it listed on this site, please contact Valerie Sobczak, Ann Arbor District Library Community Relations and Marketing Library Technician by email at or by phone at 734-327-8331. Please tell us the title of the event, date, time, location, sponsoring organization and contact information. Also, let us know if registration is required or if the event is on a drop-in basis.

Keep Checking this Website for Updates!
The site will change often as events are added. Please check for changes.


2018 Washtenaw Reads events will be added as information becomes available. Keep checking this site for updates!

Hosting your own event? Email the details to to be added to the list. 

About the Reads: 2014

The 2014 Reads theme is A Very Good Read and highlights a work of fiction.

Between Shades of Gray Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray. New York: Philomel Books, 2011.

Check here for information on the two finalists. Thanks to everyone who suggested a title for this year's Read.

Statement of Purpose

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book.


Launched in 2003 by the University of Michigan Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, the Reads project was fashioned after a civic reads program designed by the Seattle Public Library. The book chosen for the inaugural Reads was “Lincoln’s DNA,” by Phillip R. Reilly. The Ann Arbor District Library was a major partner in this effort along with other area organizations.

In subsequent years, the Reads Program has been co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti District Libraries and is supported by interested civic groups, the University of Michigan School of LS&A, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Public Schools, local bookstores, Eastern Michigan University Libraries and Washtenaw Community College.

Reads Theme

Previous themes have included a review of civil rights in the United States in celebration of the anniversary of Brown v Board of Education; “Revolutions in Science,” a discussion of evolution and the scientific method and “We the People...” how we define citizenship; in 2008 the theme was China and America: Bridging Two Worlds; and for 2009, The Universe: Yours to Discover. For 2012, the Steering Committee opted for a general theme of "Language: How We Communicate."The 2014 Reads theme is A Very Good Read and highlights a work of fiction.

Book Selection

Books chosen for the Reads should meet the following criteria:

* The writing should be engaging and thought-provoking.
* The subjects discussed should be accessible to readers throughout the community, high-school age and above.
* The length, price, and availability of the book should be suited to involvement by the general public.
* The book should be by a living author.
* Its treatment of issues should encourage readers to discuss the issues further with others, at home, work, reading clubs, and community events.
* Ideally, the subject should lead to constructive dialogues across our diverse communities.

During the summer the Book Screening Committee made up of individuals selected as representative of various civic constituencies read many titles reflecting the year’s theme. In the fall, a panel of distinguished judges reviewed the two titles suggested by the Screening Committee and made a final recommendation of the Reads book for the coming year.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2014 is scheduled to occur January through February 2014. Please watch this site for more information.

Book Discussions

Hosting your own discussion? Email the information to to be added to the list, and check out our Resources Page for book discussion questions and tips! 


Discussions will be added to this list as information becomes available. 

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