Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue Day Born on a Blue Day: Inside The Extraordinary Mind Of An Autistic Savant :A Memoir, by Daniel Tammet.

Born On A Blue Day is a journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today -- guided by the owner himself. Daniel Tammet is virtually unique among people who have severe autistic disorders in that he is capable of living a fully independent life and able to explain what is happening inside his head.

He sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. He has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him the most unimaginable mental powers, much like those portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man.

Fascinating and inspiring, Born on a Blue Day explores what it' s like to be special and gives us an insight into what makes us all human -- our minds.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

A Man Without Words

Man Without Words A Man Without Words, by Susan Schaller.

For more than a quarter of a century, Ildefonso, a Mexican Indian, lived in total isolation, set apart from the rest of the world. He wasn't a political prisoner or a social recluse, he was simply born deaf and had never been taught even the most basic language.

Susan Schaller, then a twenty-four-year-old graduate student, encountered him in a class for the deaf where she had been sent as an interpreter and where he sat isolated, since he knew no sign language. She found him obviously intelligent and sharply observant but unable to communicate, and she felt compelled to bring him to a comprehension of words.

A Man without Words vividly conveys the challenge, the frustrations, and the exhilaration of opening the mind of a congenitally deaf person to the concept of language.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language

Lost in Translation Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language, by Eve Hoffman.

A classically American chronicle of upward mobility and assimilation, Lost In Translation is also an incisive meditation on coming to terms with one’s own uniqueness, on learning how deeply culture affects the mind and body, and finally, on what it means to accomplish a translation of one’s self.

When her parents brought her from the war-ravaged, faded elegance of her native Cracow in 1959 to settle in well-manicured, suburban Vancouver, Eva Hoffman was thirteen years old. Entering into adolescence, she endured the painful pull of nostalgia and struggled to express herself in a strange, unyielding new language.

Her spiritual and intellectual odyssey continued in college and led her ultimately to New York’s literary world, yet still she felt caught between two languages, two cultures. But, her perspective also made her a keen observer of an America in the flux of change.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

Three Finalists for 2011

A selection committee of community leaders, librarians, students and educators in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area met in late-October to choose one of three books as the focus for this year on the subject of 'What Makes Life Worth Living.'

The three book finalists are available in alternative formats for those who are unable to read or use printed materials due to a physical disability (blindness, macular degeneration, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, dyslexia, etc.). Please contact the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled at 1-734-327-4224.

Click on the titles below for more information about the books and authors, and to add your comments.

The three books under consideration are:

Life is so good
George Dawson and Richard Glaubman, Life Is So Good. New York: Random House, 2000.

undertaking
Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal Trade. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.

yowonders
Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. New York: Viking, 2001.

Sponsors: 2011

Blue Ribbon Committee
Laurel Champion, Executive Vice-President, AnnArbor.com
Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Michigan
John Hieftje, Mayor, Ann Arbor
Dr. Susan Martin, President, Eastern Michigan University
Jill Morey, Director, Ypsilanti District Library
Josie Barnes Parker, Director, Ann Arbor District Library
Paul Schreiber, Mayor, Ypsilanti
Dr. Larry Whitworth, President, Washtenaw Community College

Steering Committee
Donna DeButts, Community Relations Coordinator, Ypsilanti District Library
Tim Grimes, Community Relations and Marketing Manager, Ann Arbor District Library
Lori Kunkel-Coryell, Assistant Director, Ypsilanti District Library
Ira Lax, Outreach Assistant, Ann Arbor District Library
Evans Young, Assistant Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan

Screening Committee
Lori Kunkel-Coryell, Assistant Director, Ypsilanti District Library, Co-Chair
Ira Lax, Outreach Assistant, Ann Arbor District Library, Co-Chair
Maureen Angyan, Teacher, Ypsilanti Public Schools,
Molly Mahoney, Tanner Philosophy Librarian, Department Of Philosophy, University of Michigan
Sara Memmott, Librarian, Eastern Michigan University
Judy Nagle, author
Nicola Rooney, Owner, Nicola’s Books
Evans Young, Assistant Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan

Selection Committee
Sara Memmott, Librarian, Eastern Michigan University, Chair
Jill Baker, Ypsilanti
Susan Brown, Librarian, Ypsilanti District Library
Sara Duvall, Teacher, Ann Arbor
Britnee Johnson, Student, Ann Arbor
Billie Ocheberg, Ann Arbor
Kendra Shih, Ann Arbor
Emma Swanson, Student, Ypsilanti
Tahira Naeem, Library Technician, Ann Arbor District Library

Outreach Committee
Donna DeButts, Community Relations Coordinator, Ypsilanti District Library
Sharon Gambin, Borders
Amy Goodman, Executive Director, Washtenaw Literacy
Tim Grimes, Community Relations and Marketing Manager, Ann Arbor District Library
Ira Lax, Outreach Assistant, Ann Arbor District Library
Vanessa Mayesky, Coordinator, Literacy Coalition Of Washtenaw County
Sara McCaffery, Borders
Molly Mahoney, Tanner Philosophy Librarian, Department Of Philosophy, University of Michigan
Jean Nelson, Liaison, Washtenaw Community College
Kate Pittsley, Business Librarian, Eastern Michigan University
Shannon Riffe, Community Relations Assistant, Ann Arbor District Library
Nicola Rooney, Owner, Nicola’s Books
Gayle Townsend, Community Relations Manager, Barnes and Noble Bookstores
Evans Young, Assistant Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan

Events: 2011

ANN ARBOR/YPSILANTI READS AUTHOR EVENT

Acclaimed author Richard Glaubman will make a special appearance as part of Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. He is a co-author of the book, 'Life Is So Good,' which has been chosen as the focus of the 2011 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program.

On Saturday, January 22, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in Towsley Auditorium of the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College (4800 Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor), he will discuss this book and his friendship with George Dawson, the remarkable 103 year old African-American man who is the co-author and subject of the book (Dawson died in 2001). A booksigning will follow and books will be on sale at this event, courtesy of Borders. For information, call 327-4555

This appearance is a key event for the 2011 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program, which this year focuses on the theme of 'What Makes Life Worth Living?'

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OTHER EVENTS

Friday, January 7, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Joan M. Broggi Discusses Her Book 'Bursting with Joy - Discovering Universal Truths Through Our Special Son'

Joan Broggi demonstrates how FAMILY makes life worth living. Her son, Alex, has epilepsy and has experienced numerous grand mal seizures throughout his 19 years. But his innate wisdom has taught his family, friends, and educators invaluable life lessons. The impact Alex has had on other people's lives has been remarkable. Joan realized the breadth of Alex's impact when she experienced the love and joy bestowed upon him at his high school graduation. This outpouring of affection led Joan to put pen to paper and write ‘Bursting with Joy - Discovering Universal Truths Through Our Special Son.’ A book signing will occur at this event and books will be on sale.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Saturday, January 8, 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Concert: The Paul Keller Trio Presents A Toast To The Nat King Cole Trio

The acclaimed Paul Keller Trio, will demonstrate how MUSIC makes life worth living in this special concert tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio. Sparkling with creativity and good humor, The Nat King Cole Trio’s improvisations were charming and memorable. Above all, The Nat King Cole trio placed a premium on delighting their listeners in an entertaining and joyful fashion. This concert, and The Paul Keller Trio's new CD - WE LIKE TO RIFF, is an expression of admiration and affection for this awesome threesome that brought so much happiness to so many.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Saturday, January 15, 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Book Discussion: ‘Life Is So Good’

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ann Arbor District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ann Arbor District Library, the Ypsilanti District Library, and area bookstores.
Ann Arbor District Library - Traverwood Branch: Program Room
3333 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
For more information, call 327-4200

Monday, January 17, 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Author Paula Young Shelton Discusses Her Book ‘Child Of The Civil Rights Movement’

This special event for youth in grades K – 5 is held in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well as Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2011. Paula Young Shelton, daughter of civil rights activist Andrew Young, will discuss her acclaimed book for children, ‘Child Of The Civil Rights Movement,’ which brings a child’s unique perspective to an inspirational chapter in America’s history. This event includes a book signing and books will be for sale.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-8301

Sunday, January 23, 2:00 - 3:30 pm
Dance Through Life - Nia Dance Playshop For Adults And Teens (Grade 9 And Up)

Teresa Myers of Ann Arbor’s Sole to Soul, invites people of all skill levels to celebrate the joy of movement and learn how DANCE makes life worth living in this introduction to Nia. Nia is a form of improvisational dance which focuses on the body’s natural movements.
Ann Arbor District Library - Traverwood Branch: Program Room
3333 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
For more information, call 327-4200

Wednesday, January 26, 2:00 - 3:30 pm
No Mountain Too High: Roger Chard Discusses Achievements And Challenges

Roger Chard, a local lawyer and well-known musician, who is also blind, will discuss how SELF-DETERMINATION makes life worth living. Roger’s presentation will mix vocation and avocation and demonstrate how he strove for self confidence and esteem, and also strove to become an emissary for tolerance and persistence, aiming for self deportment and worth. This event will also address the impact of changing technology and will draw upon Roger’s observations and experiences as a champion high school and college debater, fifty years of being a musician, forty years of practicing law, and twenty years as a down hill skier.
Ann Arbor District Library - Malletts Creek Branch
3090 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
For more information, call 327-4200

CANCELLED: Sunday, January 30, 2:00 - 3:00 pm
An Afternoon Of Vaudeville With The Happiness Boys

Due to circumstances beyong our control, this event has been cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Thursday, February 3, 10:30 am
Thursday Morning Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

Saturday, February 5, 10:30am - 12:30 pm
Purple Rose Theatre Presents A Concert Reading of 'Exposure', A New Play By Annie Martin

Experience how THEATRE makes life worth living– and be part of Purple Rose history when the company presents a special concert reading of ‘Exposure’, a new play by Annie Martin that the Theater is considering for a future fully staged production. View the reading, featuring a full cast of Purple Rose performers, then stay and offer your opinions on this new work!
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 - 08:30 pm
UM's Randall Pinder Discusses What Adult Learners Expect From And Understand About Literacy

This year’s book chosen for Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads 2011 is Life Is So Good – the autobiography of George Dawson, a man who learned to read at age 98. But, unlike George, approximately half of all adult participants across the U.S. will leave literacy programs before officially completing the requirements. Randall Pinder, a fifth-year PhD student in UM’s Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE), explores the understandings and expectations of literacy held by learners and sponsors in adult literacy programs and discusses how these expectations may affect participation and persistence within literacy programs.This event is co-sponsored by the Literacy Coalition of Washtenaw County.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Thursday, February 10, 7:00 - 08:30 pm
Health And Wellness Lecture With Pete Thomas, NBC's "The Biggest Loser" Season 2 Winner

Learn how GOOD HEALTH can make your life worth living when Pete Thomas, motivational speaker, teacher, weight-loss coach and consultant returns to the Library to share his experiences and demonstrate how we all can achieve good health through fitness and weight control. In 2005, Pete Thomas lost an astounding 185 pounds in nine months on NBC’s hit reality TV show The Biggest Loser, resulting in his winning the $100,000 prize. This event is co-sponsored by the Taubman Health Science Libraries and The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR).
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Friday, February 11, 6:30 - 08:30 pm
Film & Discussion: Race To Nowhere

Many would agree that EDUCATION makes life worth living. But, what is the status of today’s education methods in the U.S.? How much should we push our children? Is too much parental involvement detrimental? The acclaimed 2009 documentary ‘Race To Nowhere,’ (PG-13) - making its Ann Arbor debut at this special screening - is a call to families, educators, experts and policy makers to examine current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become the healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens in the 21st century. A community discussion will follow the screening.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Tuesday, February 15, 7:00 - 08:30 pm
Panel Discussion: Literacy Learners Share Their Stories

The 2011 Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads 2011 book Life Is So Good is the story of George Dawson, a man who learned to read at age 98. Dawson’s story of becoming literate at a late age is truly inspirational. What has been the experience locally – of Washtenaw County’s learners? What are the learning stories of local residents – and what are their successes? Be inspired as a panel of local literacy learners share their experiences. Discover how you can engage in learning that makes life worth living as a learner or volunteer. This event is co-sponsored by the Literacy Coalition of Washtenaw County.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Thursday, February 17, 6:30 - 08:30 pm
Film & Discussion: Fresh

Discover how FOOD makes life worth living when the Library hosts a special screening and discussion of the acclaimed documentary ‘Fresh.’ 'Fresh' (not rated) celebrates the farmers, thinkers, and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision of our food and our planet's future. The film features Will Allen, a former pro-basketball player who is now one of the most influential leaders of the urban farming movement; Joel Salatin, a world-famous sustainable farmer; and David Ball, a supermarket owner who partners with local farmers. This event is cosponsored by the UM Michigan Community Scholars program. They will lead a discussion after the film.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Saturday, February 19,10:00 -10:45 am
Youth Concert: Joe Reilly Performs Environmental Songs

In this special concert for young audiences, singer/songwriter Joe Reilly shows that NATURE makes life worth living as he performs fun, interactive environmental songs about ecology, the Huron River and caring for all living creatures.
Ann Arbor District Library - Pittsfield Branch
2359 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI
For information, call 327-8301

Monday, February 21, 7:00 pm
Racial Justice Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join ICPJ’s Racial Justice Book Group for a discussion of Life is So Good, this year's selection for Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. For additional context, participants may also with to read, "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch," by Richard Wright. Sponsored by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. All welcome.
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church
1679 Broadway Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Childcare available if requested prior to noon on Friday, February 18
For information, call the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice at 734-663-1870 or email info@icpj.net or visit their website at www.icpj.net

Tuesday, February 22, 7 pm
African American Authors Book Discussion Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

Tuesday, February 22, 7:00 - 08:30 pm
Film & Discussion: There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: A Documentary of the Negro Baseball Leagues

Take a trip back through time, and learn why SPORTS makes life worth living – as we celebrate the Read as well as Black History month with a special screening and discussion of the 1989 documentary ‘There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life In The Negro Baseball Leagues.’ Winner of national and international awards and narrated by James Earl Jones, this documentary features interviews with baseball Hall of Famers, Satchel Paige, James 'Cool Papa' Bell, Buck Leonard, Judy Johnson, Monte Irvin and Ray Dandridge. Praised by the national press, this compelling film chronicles the rich history of the Negro Baseball Leagues that flourished before Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues in 1947. The post-film discussion will be led by the film’s director, Craig Davidson.
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Thursday, February 24, 2:00 - 03:00 pm
Doug Scheer - The Laugh Factory

Laughter expert Doug Sheer presents a show for youth that is guaranteed to tickle the funny bone – with wacky jokes, off-the-wall games, insane contests and even a few magical surprises!
Ann Arbor District Library - Pittsfield Branch
2359 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI

Thursday, February 24, 7:00 – 8:00pm
Doug Scheer - The Laugh Factory

Laughter expert Doug Sheer presents a show for youth that is guaranteed to tickle the funny bone – with wacky jokes, off-the-wall games, insane contests and even a few magical surprises!
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For information, call 327-4555

Monday, March 14, 7 pm
Monday Evening Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

Book Discussions: 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Book Discussion: ‘Life Is So Good’

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ann Arbor District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ann Arbor District Library, the Ypsilanti District Library, and area bookstores.
Ann Arbor District Library - Traverwood Branch: Program Room
3333 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
For more information, call 327-4200

Thursday, February 3, 10:30 am
Thursday Morning Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

Monday, February 21, 7:00 pm
Racial Justice Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join ICPJ’s Racial Justice Book Group for a discussion of Life is So Good, this year's selection for Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. For additional context, participants may also with to read, "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch," by Richard Wright. Sponsored by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. All welcome.
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church
1679 Broadway Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Childcare available if requested prior to noon on Friday, February 18
For information, call the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice at 734-663-1870 or email info@icpj.net or visit their website at www.icpj.net

Tuesday, February 22, 7 pm
African American Authors Book Discussion Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

Monday, March 14, 7 pm
Monday Evening Book Group - Discussion of 'Life Is So Good'

Join us for an open discussion of the book that is the focus of this year’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads – ‘Life Is So Good’ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. This discussion, led by Ypsilanti District Library staff, will examine this award-winning book which is the true story of a man who learned to read at the age of 98. Copies of the book are available at the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library and area bookstores
Ypsilanti District Library - Whittaker Road
5577 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI
For information, call 482-4110 ext. 1376

About the Reads

In 2011, the program will encourage readers of all ages to explore the theme of What Makes Life Worth Living.

Life is so good
George Dawson and Richard Glaubman, Life Is So Good. New York: Random House, 2000.

Click here for information about the three finalists.

Click here for our Facebook page.

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.

History
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
The theme that informs the selection of potential reads titles often follows the broad topic chosen for the University of Michigan’s LS&A School for its annual “theme semester.” 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. However, this year the Steering Committee opted for a general theme of “Michigan.”

Book Selection
Books chosen for the Reads should meet the following criteria:

Readability:
- 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 available in audio format.

Appropriateness:
- The book should explore and develop an understanding of the theme of the Read.
- Its treatment of issues should encourage readers to discuss the subjects further with others, at home, work, reading clubs and community events.
- Ideally, the exploration of these concerns should lead to constructive dialogues across the many boundaries that presently separate members of our community from each other, whether by race, gender, age, residence, occupation, or other affiliation.

Process:
Selecting the final book for the Reads is a two-pronged process. During the summer the Book Screening Committee made up of individuals selected as representative of various civic constituencies read approximately thirty titles of fiction and non-fiction that reflect the year’s theme. In the fall, the Book Selection Committee reviews the three titles suggested by the Screening Committee and makes a final recommendation of the Reads book for the coming year.

The titles selected for the 2011 Reads will be announced in September 2010. Please watch this site for more information.

Selected Bibliography

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti 2011 Theme: What makes life worth living?
It did not seem like a challenging theme, in fact, it seemed easy! However, the screening committee discovered, that in fact, to pick three books on this topic was very challenging. There were the usual guidelines that had to be considered (see book selection); and all ‘self-help’ and ‘spiritual’ type books were immediately dismissed to avoid any idea of proselytism. Each one of us holds a special view on ‘what makes life worth living’ – love, relationships, family, survival, good books, good food, and even, death.
Below is a list of the books (excluding the three suggested to the selection committee) that were read, or suggested, to consider for the 2011 Reads.
Reviews and/or summaries have been taken from a variety of sources, (Amazon, Ann Arbor District Library catalog, Barnes and Noble, NYT, Publishers Weekly, and San Francisco Chronicle).

Adventure
Freedom

Art
The Immigrant Story

Daily Living
Inspirational

Death
Memoir

Fiction
Short Stories/Novella

Food
Survival

Virtues and Morals: Exuberance, Kindness, Happiness, Humor

Adventure
Davidson, Robyn. Tracks. Harper Perennial, 1989. ISBN: 06797582429
  Robyn Davidson walks 1,700 miles across the Australian desert accompanied by four camels.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia. Viking, 2006. ISBN: 0143118420
  Gilbert’s travels and adventures to three different countries after a bitter divorce.

Rodriguez, Deborah and Ohlson, Kristin. The Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil. Random House, 2007. ISBN: 1400065593
  Rodriguez's account tells the story of one Michigan woman's quest to help women in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban the best way she knows how: by opening a beauty school.

Thayer, Helen. Walking the Gobi: A 1,600 -mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair. Mountaineer Books, 2007. ISBN: 159485064
  Thayer (age 64 at the time) and her husband, (age 73) trek across the desert and tell the story of the people, the history and the flora and fauna of the Gobi.

Vollers, Maryanne and Nielsen, Jerri. Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole. Hyperion Books, 2007. ISBN: 0786866845
  The story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen’s year at the pole where she was the lone doctor for 41 research scientists and their support group. Ice Bound is not only the story of how Dr. Nielsen discovers her tumor and medical crisis, but it also is the story of the how the “Polies” live together, the conditions, and the beauty of the South Pole during the winter.
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Art
Hirsch, Edward. The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration. Harcourt, 2002. ISBN: 0151005389
  What is the ineffable force that drives artists, writers, and musicians to create? Poet and critic Edward Hirsch (How to Read a Poem) looks for answers in this book, an erudite exploration of the creative process.
Kimmelman, Michael. The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa. Penguin Press, 2001. ISBN: 1594200556.
  As chief art critic for the New York Times, Kimmelman has developed a relaxed and welcoming approach to explicating art that makes this aptly unpredictable consideration of the role accidents and serendipity play in the making of art as pleasurable as it is enlightening. Kimmelman is interested in "how art transforms lives," and in how a life lived artistically can itself be seen as a masterpiece, and the examples he cites open up many new vistas of thought.
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Daily Living
Krouse Rosenthal, Amy. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Three Rivers Press, 2005. ISBN: 978-1400080465
  Rosenthal likes lists: of low points in her life, codes that people memorize, sounds that seem loud though they're actually quiet.
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Death
Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. Vintage, 2007. ISBN: 978-1400078431
  A memoir of Didion’s grief over the loss of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne.
Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Bantam Books, 1981. ISBN: 0553210351
  The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?
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Fiction
Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. One Amazing Thing. Hyperion, 2010. ISBN: 9781401340995
  A group of nine diverse people are trapped in the basement of an Indian consulate in an unidentified American city after an earthquake.
Gamble, Terry. Good Family: A Novel. Harper Perennial, 2006. ISBN: 0060737956
  Family relationships.
Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. Algonquin Books of Chapel, 2006. ISBN: 9781565125605
  If you ever wanted to join the circus, here is your chance.
Hantover, Jeffrey. The Jewel Trader of Pegu. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. ISBN: 9780061252716
  Jewish jewel trader Abraham, a widower at 28, leaves Venice in 1598 for Pegu, a Burmese kingdom halfway around the world, where he is to settle and acquire high-quality gems for the family business. ... He evokes the lush setting and gives clear voice to Abraham's doubts, fears and passions.
Li, Yiyun. The Vagrants. Random House Publishing, 2009. ISBN: 9780812973341
  Yiyun Li weaves together the lives of unforgettable characters that are forced to make moral choices, and choices for survival, in China in the late 1970s. 

Messer, Susan. Grand River and Joy. University of Michigan Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780472116997
  Grand River and Joy, named after a landmark intersection in Detroit. This is a story about the intersections between races, classes and religions exploding in the long, hot summers of Detroit in the 1960s.

Shaffer, Mary Ann. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Random House Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9780440337973
  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society no ordinary book club. Rather, it was formed as a ruse and became a way for people to get together without raising the suspicions of Guernsey's Nazi occupiers. Written in the form of letters (a lost art), this novel by an aunt-and-niece team has loads of charm, especially as long as Juliet is still in London corresponding with the society members.
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. Penguin Group, 2009. ISBN: 9780399155345
  Set in Stockett's native Jackson, MS, in the early 1960s, this first novel adopts the complicated theme of blacks and whites living in a segregated South.
Tyler, Anne. Noah’s Compass. Random House Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 9780345516596
  A story about a schoolteacher who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

Zaslow, Jeffrey. The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship. Gotham, 2009. ISBN: 978-1592404452
  This is the story of eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa and who built an extraordinary friendship.
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Food
Bourdain, Anthony. A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal. HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 9780060012786
  Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?" Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.

Bullock-Prado, Gesine. My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting over, One Cake at a Time. Broadway. Crown Publishing Group, 2010. ISBN: 978-0767932738
  Bullock-Prado’s (sister of actress Sandra Bullock) memoir follows one day in a busy baker's life, from waking at three a.m. to prepare the batter (croissants, scones, sticky buns) and bake before opening shop at seven; through the hectic lunch (focaccia); and the three p.m. tea time.

Powell, Julie. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. ISBN: 978-0316042512
  Before the movie, there was a book! Powell became an Internet celebrity with her 2004 blog chronicling her yearlong odyssey of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Ziegelman, Jane. 97 Orchard Street: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. Smithsonian Institution, 2010. ISBN: 9780061288500
  Jane Ziegelman explores the culinary life that was the heart and soul of New York's Lower East Side around the turn of the twentieth century—a city within a city, where Germans, Irish, Italians, and Eastern European Jews attempted to forge a new life.
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Freedom
Purdy, Jedediah. A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom. Vintage, 2005. ISBN: 978-1400095841
  Purdy, who teaches law at Duke, surveys the ways in which the ideals of individual liberty, dignity and fulfillment have made and remade America. He offers both a searching critique of America's ideology of freedom and an affirmation of the millions of small declarations of independence from hierarchy, constraint, and fear it has inspired.
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The Immigrant Story
Cleave, Chris. Little Bee: A Novel. Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN: 978-1416589648
  A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers—one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.

Kidder, Tracy. Strength in What Remains. Random House, 2010. ISBN: 9780812977615
  This book is global in outlook, addressing issues of immigration, world poverty, and violence -- again, by zeroing in on one man, a charismatic, sympathetic Burundian medical school student who survived Tutsi-Hutu massacres in his native Burundi and genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. ISBN: 9780618485222
  Indian newlyweds Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli emigrate to Cambridge, Mass. in 1968.

Mengestu, Dinaw. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. Riverhead Books, 2007. ISBN: 9781594482854
  This novel is set over eight months in a gentrifying Washington, D.C., neighborhood in the 1970s. The story is told through Sepha Stephanos who fled Ethiopia during the revolution for a new start in the United States.

Scibona, Salvatore. The End. Graywolf Press, 2008. ISBN: 9781555974985
  It is August 15, 1953, the day of a street carnival in the Italian enclave of Elephant Park, Ohio, when Rocco LaGrassa receives an excruciating piece of news: his son has died in a POW camp in Korea. Against the background of immigration, broken loyalties, and racial hostility, the story presents everything Rocco sees through the eyes of various characters in the crowd.
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Inspirational
Cushman, Kathleen. Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery. Wiley, Johns & Sons, Inc. 2010. ISBN: 978-470-64603-8
  Through the voices of students themselves, Fires in the Mind brings a game-changing question to teachers of adolescents: What does it take to get really good at something?
Grandin, Temple. Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life in Autism. Vintage, 1996. ISBN: 978-0679772897
 Grandin is a high-functioning autistic, who presents linked articles on her life and her work as an animal scientist.

Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. Harper Perennial, 2010. ISBN: 978-0061730337
     This book will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those on an entire continent.

Kidder, Tracy. Strength in What Remains. Random House, 2009. ISBN: 9781400066216
  An inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances. Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life and eventually becomes a doctor.

Kristof, Nicholas D. and WuDunn, Sheryl. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. ISBN: 9780307267146
  Two Pulitzer Prize winners issue a call to arms against our era's most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world. They show that a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad and that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women's potential.

Mortenson, Greg. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Viking, 2009. ISBN: :9780670021154
  In this dramatic first-person narrative, Greg Mortenson ongoing efforts to establish schools for girls in Afghanistan.

Petit, Philippe. Man on Wire. Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9781602393325
  The basis for the motion picture with the same title.: "By evoking his youthful passion for the World Trade Center, Petit brings the towers' awesomeness back to life."

Raji Codell, Esmé. Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year. Algonquin Books, c1999. ISBN: 1565122259
  Esmé's miracle is that she didn't lose faith in herself or her fifth-grade students during her first year of teaching in Chicago, battling all the ills of urban poverty and a principal who was soul mate to Dilbert's boss.
Trost, Margaret. On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman’s Story of Hope and Possibility in Haiti. Koa Books, 2008. ISBN: 9780977333899
  Following her husband s untimely death, Margaret Trost visited Haiti to heal her broken heart through service. Struggling to make sense of the extreme poverty he partners with a local community and together they develop a program that now serves thousands of meals a week to those in need.
Weiner, Jonathan. His Brother’s Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine. HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN: 006001007
  The story is told through the lives of two amazing brothers: Stephen Heywood, a carpenter, who discovers he has A.L.S., and Jamie Heywood, an engineer who quits his lucrative job to start a foundation where he obsessively works with cutting-edge scientists in a race to find a cure.
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Memoir
Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. Penguin Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780143117469.
  A philosopher/mechanic's wise (and sometimes funny) look at the challenges and pleasures of working with one's hands.

Lennertz, Carl. Cursed by a Happy Childhood: Tales of Growing Up, Then and Now. Crown Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN: 9781616797966
  Cursed by a Happy Childhood is a warm, funny, bighearted collection of one dad’s reminiscences about the kinds of lessons we all learn—sometimes the hard way, often without even realizing it—on the road to becoming a grown-up.
Firlik, Katrina. Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: a brain surgeon exposes life on the inside. Random House Publishing, 2007. ISBN: 9780812973402
  Katrina Firlik’s life as a neurosurgeon.
Gilmour, David. The Film Club: A Memoir. Twelve, 2008. ISBN: 9780446199292     
   David Gilmour is a Canadian novelist who finally allows his tenth grade son to drop out of high school on the condition that together they watch three films a week.
Perry, Michael. Truck: A Love Story. HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN: 9780061460951.
  "All I wanted to do was fix my old pickup truck," says Michael Perry. "That, and plant my garden. Then I met this woman. . . ."
Raday, Sophia. Love in Condition Yellow: A memoir of an Unlikely Marriage. Beacon, 2010. ISBN: 9780807073308
  This story is about a marriage between a feminist social activist and an Oakland, CA police officer and soldier.
Waitzkin, Fred. Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess. Penguin Group, 1993. ISBN: 9780140230383
  The chronicle of Fred Waitzkin and his son Josh, from the moment six-year-old Josh first sits down at a chessboard until he wins the national championship.
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Short Stories/Novella
Channer, Colin. The Girl with the Golden Shoes. Akashic Books, 2009. ISBN: 9781615571789
  A coming-of-age novella by Jamaica's best-selling writer.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Unaccustomed Earth: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9781615554911
  In this set of eight stories the gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children—and that separates the children from India.

Packer, ZZ. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Penguin Group, 2004. ISBN: 9781573223782
  Z.Z. Packer's first collection of short stories is rich with unexpected turns, indelible images, and penetrating insight that belies someone so young. Her stories plunge us into the worlds of people living on the edge and to the flashpoints that make or break them, that shape their worldviews forever.
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Survival
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2008. ISBN: 9780374531263
 Beah tells his story of being a boy solider in Sierra Leone, his time in a UNICEF and NGO sponsored rehabilitation center, and Beah's eventual move to the United States as a college student at Oberlin College.
Rumberg, Hester. Ten Degrees of Reckoning: A true story of Survival. Penguin Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780425232101
  A remarkable true story of one woman's courage. In 1993, Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children set out to sail around the world. Three years into their incredible journey, a nearby freighter altered its course by a mere ten degrees-and everything changed...
Wiesel, Elie. Night. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, (revised edition). ISBN: 9780374500016
  Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.
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Virtues and Morals: Exuberance, Kindness, Happiness, Humor
Bennett, Alan. The Uncommon Reader: A Novella. Picador, 2008. ISBN: 978-0312427641
  Popular British writer Bennett (Untold Stories; Tony-winning play The History Boys) sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader.

Boorstein, Sylvia (Ph.D.). Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing a Joyful Life. Ballantine Books, 2008. ISBN: 978-0345481320
  The whole idea of this book, she writes, is that restoring a caring connection... and maintaining it when it is present, is happiness.

Phillips, Adam and Taylor, Barbara. On Kindness. Picador, 2010. ISBN: 978-0312429744
  To live the successful modern life, we are enjoined to become less kind and more selfish. That is this small but profound volume’s animating premise. It looks at attitudes toward kindness from a historical perspective, from the Stoics to Christian thought; to Hobbes, Hume, Adam Smith, and Rousseau; to Freud; and to the current day.

Redfield Jamison, Kay. Exuberance: The Passion for Life. A.A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN: 037540144
  If exuberance is "the passion for life," then Jamison's enthusiasm and sense of wonder about the subject proves as fine an example as any examined in her newest work. Having in mind the simply put idea that "those who are exuberant act."

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Crown Publishing Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780307589385
  A thorny and provocative book about cancer, racism, scientific ethics and crippling poverty…. 

Weiner, Eric. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. Twelve, 2009. ISBN: 978-0446698894.
  Weiner traveled to countries like Iceland, Bhutan, Qatar, Holland, Switzerland, Thailand and India to try to figure out why residents tell positive psychology researchers that they're actually quite happy. In the end, he realized happiness isn't about economics or geography. Maybe it's not even personal as much as relational.
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mcm:2010

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