Jesus: a Pilgrimage

Friday, September 26, 2014
James Martin, SJ

First off, you need to know that I’m a bit of a Jesuit groupie (if those are two ideas that can actually be combined).   I went to University of Detroit for my undergrad degree, and had some fabulous Jesuit professors.  So, of course, I had to read Jesus: a Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ.  You might recognize his name from NPR, FOX, PBS or Comedy Central – he’s a regular on The Colbert Report.   Right from the start, Martin explains that this book isn’t just for Catholics or Christians or for those with extensive knowledge of the life of Jesus.   He hopes that it is truly a book for all that anyone who reads it will find something that speaks to them.  Martin paints the picture of the Holy Land today, while examining the stories from the Gospel in historical context, and sharing with us, his personal reactions.   Know going into it that this is a big book (400 pages plus) but that you won’t want it to end.  The good news is that Martin has written quite a few books!  Check our catalog!

Holly, Youth Services

Come Cook With Me: An 80-Year Collection of Recipes, Wisdom and Stories From My Own Kitchen

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Dorothy Zehnder
Come Cook With Me: An 80-Year Collection of Recipes, Wisdom and Stories From My

After having eaten at both Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth for many years it was a treat to look at the recipes from the co-founder and kitchen manager of the Bavarian Inn. Dorothy signed the book and made personal notations about which were her favorites as well as comments about her family. I can personally recommend the recipe for Apple-Cherry Pork Chops on page 120.

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Betsy H., Reference

Hidden Girl: : the true story of a modern-day child slave

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Shyima Hall with Lisa Wysocky

The memory of my family was the only thing that kept me going through these tough times, even though I was often filled with hate for my mom and dad (Hall, p.62).

 Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 29, 1989.  The seventh child of a desperately poor family, Shyima’s archetype closes resembles that of the innocent.  Hall knew her family was poor but didn’t care, she didn’t know any different she was surrounded by poverty.  Bonded with her siblings, whom she was responsible for, Shyima felt loved and loved them very deeply in return.  At the age of eight, Shyima was asked to give up her childhood and her family.  At the age of eight, Shyima was sold into slavery to repay a debt her older sister had caused the family.  Shyima moved to Cairo with the wealthy family she was required to serve.  For over eighteen hours a day, seven days a week this little girl was required to meet the needs of each member of the family without question.  For fear of the safety of her family, Shyima obeyed doing the best that she knew how.  At the age of ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California and successfully smuggled Shiyma in with them.

Most people think slavery in the United States was stamped out during the Civil War, but that’s not true.  Legalized slavery is gone, but today as many as 17,500 people who are held in bondage are illegally brought into our country every year (Hall, p.23).

Moving to California continued to foster the mounting resentment Shyima felt for her family.  How could they have sold her to complete strangers to be a slave?  How could her mother have abandoned her?  Isolated from the world, Shyima was filled with desperation and a complete sense of hopelessness.  Was this the life she would be destined to fulfill?  A life without choice.   A life controlled by others. 

I believe that the only way I kept any dignity or sense of self was during the few hours I had to myself in the middle of the night.  That was my time, and I could finally let down my guard and be me (Hall, p.63).

After being in California for two years, an anonymous call rerouted Shyima’s life and brought an end to her servitude.  The journey beyond this call was filled with many challenges and disappointments.  Learning was a struggle; Shyima had never been to school.  Driven to succeed Hall learned English, social skills, and much more to help her to fit into this new world and culture.  Shyima worked hard through all of the obstacles that were tossed her way to truly become free.  Shyima now lives as a US citizen and regularly speaks out about human trafficking.  A topic that is amazingly relevant in our current day and age.

I don’t know why my early life was as hard and unfair as it was, but our experiences – good and bad – shape us into who we become (Hall, p230).

Hidden Girl: the true story of a modern-day child slave grabs ahold of your heartstrings and baffles the mind to know people are still imprisoning others as slaves.  People are imprisoning children as slaves.  This book will be appreciated by readers of any age, speaking in a way that makes the retelling personal, heartbreaking and empowering.

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Emily D., Circulation

My Stroke of Insight

Friday, August 29, 2014
Jill Bolte Taylor
My Stroke of Insight

Because a dear friend had a stroke, I decided to read this book to help understand what she was experiencing.  Stroke is so common, nearly everyone could benefit from reading it.  It is the first person account of a young (37) neuroscientist who has a stroke and loses all of her left brain function.  Because of her expertise, she is able to describe in detail what happened to her and the long road to recovery she travelled.  It was a seven year plus journey, but she did have a complete recovery.  A fascinating and accessible read, I would recommend this to anyone. Check our Catalog

Pat P., Administration

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an epic quest to arm an America at war

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A.J. Baime
The Arsenal of Democracy

In the tense build up to World War II, it becomes increasingly clear to President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisors that America’s ability to fight the type of military machine being built by Hitler’s Germany is seriously inadequate. For the solution he looks to Detroit, the auto industry and its leaders.

This story of Detroit’s effort to create FDR’s Arsenal of Democracy centers mainly on the Ford Motor Company and the shift from building cars to making good on its promise to produce 50,0000 airplanes. The entire process of building the Willow Run factory, learning to build airplanes on an assembly line, and training enough workers in such an urgently short amount of time was really quite  amazing.  But just as interesting to me, was the struggle between Edsel Ford and his aging father Henry Ford. Edsel was the driving force behind Ford Motor Company’s war effort – Henry was reluctant at best. Eventually Edsel would win his father over - but at great cost to their personal relationship and to Edsel’s own physical well-being.

Aside from being a well-documented account of the military build-up during World War II in general, this book is especially interesting for anyone born and raised in southeast Michigan as the people and places are all instantly familiar. My favorite non-fiction read of the year! Check the catalog.

Sue A., Reference

90 Minutes in Heaven

Monday, July 21, 2014
Don Piper
90 Minutes in Heaven


This is the true story of a pastor crushed by a semi in an accident on his way home from a conference.  Ninety minutes after he was declared dead, while a fellow minister prayed for him, he returned to life on earth.  This is his account of what he experienced in heaven as well as his account of his recovery.  I found how he coped with the aftermath to be the most inspirational part of the book.  He comes across as a real person dealing with life changing issues in a real way while not giving up his faith in God.  It is a fast and uplifting read. Check our Catalog

Laura G. YS

Tuesdays with Todd & Brad Reed: A Michigan Tribute

Friday, July 18, 2014
Todd and Brad Reed
Tuesdays with Todd & Brad Reed: A Michigan Tribute

This beautiful book is filled with photographs taken every Tuesday (hence the name) during 2012. A few of the highlights are: the Charlevoix Lighthouse seen between icicles on a beautiful blue sky, sunny day; fly fishing the Pere Marquette River on a snowy January day; close-ups of a snowy owl; Mackinac Island when the lilacs are in bloom; a deer bounding through a blizzard (all feet off the ground!); and the sand dunes in various seasons. For anyone interested in photography a plus is that some of the camera settings are included. In the back of the book are two DVDs: Disc 1 is a slideshow of 1,014 Michigan images and Disc 2 includes movies from their top 20 Tuesdays. It has been designated one of the 2014 Michigan Notable Books. This is an absolutely gorgeous book!

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Betsy H., Reference

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Robert M. Edsel
The Monuments Men

I couldn't wait to see the movie.  A great story, George Clooney, how could it miss?  But it did. The book, on the other hand, is now one of my all time top ten reads!  This story is too big for one book.  I expect more will follow.

Edsel vividly retells a piece of the treasure hunt across Nazi occupied Europe following D-Day.  A handful of resourceful men and one remarkable woman risked all to reclaim, protect and return entire collections, including the world's masterpieces, stolen from wealthy Jewish citizens and public institutions alike.  It's a story about conviction . . . and greed, courage . . . and cowardice, compassion . . and cruelty.  Hundreds of thousands of pieces were found buried deep in mines, locked away in castles and adorning cottage walls.

Trivia: The 1964 film, "The Train", starring Burt Lancaster, is an adaptation of one of the many thrilling stories from this group.

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Donna O., Reference


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Daniel James Brown

I grew up hearing about rowing.  My dad rowed in high school and college.  One of his high school rowing teammates won a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics rowing for the USA (Naval Academy Team).   Among other things I can tell you about rowing is that a practice that doesn't end with throwing up means you weren't working hard enough.

If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, refuting Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in 4 events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the 8-man rowing team from the University of Washington is still a remarkable story. It includes rowing guru British boatmaker George Pocock and an unlikely bunch of rough & tumble young rowers - not the elite young men who usually rowed for eastern schools. 

Brown paints a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world.

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Diane, Admin

Proof of Heaven

Friday, June 20, 2014
Dr. Eben Alexander
Proof of Heaven

The author is a neurosurgeon with impeccable credentials, a medical degree  from Duke and 15 years of experience and research at Harvard-affiliated
hospitals.  As a medical doctor, Alexander  had always dismissed stories of near death experiences (NDE) from his patients as illusions caused from misfirings in their brains due to trauma.  Then his NDE happened during a 7-day coma from E-Coli meningitis and his whole outlook changed.  This short and easily readable story of his NDE was very challenging to write because human language is so much more limiting than the communication
“systems” outside of the time-space universe which he experienced.   Alexander describes something discussed in other works – “consciousness isnot local”  - it does not reside in our brains.  Consciousness is part of a universal communication system that our brains must filter because of our physical limitations. His story describes beautifully the eternal nature of conscousness and the interconnectiveness of everything.  There is a long list of recommended reading at the end that encourages the curious reader to explore further.  Check our Catalog.

Kathleen Zaenger, Administration 


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