books

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You’ve no doubt heard that eating red meat is not healthy, or that beef production is a big contributor to greenhouse gases. It’s been suggested often that we’d all be better off if we reduced or eliminated beef from our diet.

A new book challenges much of what we’ve been told about raising cattle, and consuming dairy and beef. Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production was written by Nicolette Hahn Niman,  an environmental lawyer and a vegetarian-turned-cattle-rancher. 


 

One of the books making many of the best books of 2014 lists was set largely in Michigan. But a book about life in Michigan after a pandemic might not be what you want to read when you are sick.

 

I found this book when I was Up North on a rainy weekend with only 100 pages left in the last book on my reading list.

 

Luckily, Petoskey has a real bookstore.

"Can I help you?" asked the guy working at McLean and Eakin.

"I don't know what to read next."

Peggy Wolff

The smell of freshly baked bread can trigger memories of home, especially around the holiday season.

Peggy Wolff is the author of Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food. She’s part of a project called "Little Big Books.” 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Take a book. Leave a book.

This is the simple idea behind the Little Free Library movement.

It was launched in 2009 in Madison, Wisconsin. In just a few short years, the movement spread to the point where today there are thousands and thousands of Little Free Libraries all over the world.

Now the Little Free Library movement is taking root in Detroit.

Lauren Beukes
Wikimedia Commons

Halloween week is a perfect time to find a story that truly sends that proverbial chill down your spine.

"Broken Monsters" by South African author Lauren Beukes tells such a story. It's crime, it's horror, it's a thriller, it's fantasy, and it is set in the streets of Detroit.

Lauren Beukes says she chose to set the story in Detroit, because the city has a lot in common with her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are both troubled with crime, corruption, and segregation – yet there's something much more going on in the cities as well.

Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is the beguiling title of the latest book from writer Kathleen Flinn.

It's billed as "A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family".

The Midwest Flinn writes about is largely the family farm near Flint, in Davison.

The Flinns and good food seemed to go together: where you find one, you'd find the other.

The book is a wonderful, loving story of a Michigan family, and you get recipes, lots of great recipes. Just what one would expect from the author of The Sharper Your KnifeThe Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Flinn says the book title "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" refers to her grandmother who would accidentally burn her toasts in the oven. 

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Keith Taylor joined Stateside today with his picks for our fall reading.

Taylor is a poet and writer who coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan.

Here's the full list of Taylor's recommended fall readings:

1. "Motor City Burning" – a novel by Bill Morris. 

"The book is morally complex, more thought-provoking than spine-tingling," says Taylor.

2. "Bad Feminist" – a collection of essays by Roxanne Gay.

John Pollack says it's important to tell true analogies from false ones.
user: RCB / Flickr

We use analogies every day. Yet we rarely think about them. They're just part of our vocabulary and our speech. 

But for John Pollack, analogies are not something to be ignored.

Pollack is the author of the new book Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connection, Spark Innovation and Sell Our Greatest Ideas. He believes analogies often have big consequences on how we view the world.

For example, Pollack says there are a lot of analogies that ring true that actually turn out not to be true. 

Pollack mentions the case of the "domino theory" President Eisenhower used in 1954.

The analogy convinced Americans that if they didn't intervene in Vietnam, democratic governments across Southeast Asia would topple like dominoes.

While the analogy translated something complex and far away into everyday language, it falsified the situation: When U.S. forces withdrew from Hanoi in defeat, the neighboring countries didn't topple like dominoes.

There are two dirty little secrets about journalism most people don’t realize. One is that we assume that the good is normal. If you work hard, are not flamboyant, take care of your business and don’t kill your family, you may well live happily ignored by the media.

Same goes for your community, if it is solvent and your elected officials aren’t stealing or worse.

While great breakthroughs in science or human achievement do get recognized, news tends to be about system or human failures, which is one of the reasons journalists tend to be unpopular.

We come to show you that the mayor is a crook, the legislature incompetent, your schools are failing to educate "Susie," that your city is bankrupt and the water polluted.

Tiffany Tuttle has been called a combination of Sarah Silverman and Don Rickles – which she takes as a big compliment. The clinical psychologist just self-published a book called "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad."

She told Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris that the book is for people who want to learn more about the internal workings of their minds. Listen to that interview here:

The book is available for $5 or you can download it for free at Tuttle's website, drtifftutts.com.

www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese / www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese

What is the universe made of?

It’s a fundamental question that has been asked numerous times over the years, and Katherine Freese is devoting her scientific career to answering it.

Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. Her book is called “The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter.”

Freese the answer is surprising ,and finding it begins by starting with what we do know.

“Your body, the air, the walls, let’s even throw in the stars and planets. All of that is made of atoms, but all of that only adds up to about 5% of the universe,” Freese said.

Freese said the quest to find the answer dates back to a Swiss astronomer in the 1930s who found something was pulling at the universe, causing it to expand. He called it dark matter.

So what does dark matter mean?

“It means that it does not shine,” Freese said. “It is invisible to our eyes and our ordinary telescopes."

Freese said scientists believe they are close to detecting it, and believe it is made of some new particle – entirely different from neutrons, protons, and everything we have learned in science class.

Freese said her book served two purposes: to talk about the hunt for dark matter, and to talk about her experience as a scientist.

*Listen to the full interview with Katherine Freese above. 

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Cover of The Complete Poetry: Cesar Vallejo
University of California Press

Forty-five years.

That’s how long it took Clayton Eshleman to translate the complete poetry of renowned Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo.

Eshleman is professor emeritus in the English department at Eastern Michigan University. He is a poet and a translator. His decades of work have become a book titled "The Complete Poetry: Cesar Vallejo."

Vallejo was born in the Peruvian Andes more than a century ago and died in 1938 at age 46. Eshleman says the terribly hard life Vallejo led still holds some key lessons today.

“A poet must learn how to become imprisoned in global life as a whole, and in each moment in particular,” says Eshleman.

Reflecting on his own undertaking over the decades, Eshleman says he was surprised that he had the stamina to do this, and he had no idea his "Vallejo journey" would involve a frustrating nine months in Lima, Peru, and a decade of rewording old translations.

“When you take on one of these big projects, you learn things about yourself, and about your commitment to the art, and what poetry can be,” says Eshleman.

*Listen to our conversation with Clayton Eshleman above.

BELT MAGAZINE & RUST BELT CHIC PRESS / beltmag.com

“Detroit is a city of stories. In this way, we are rich. We begin with abundance.”

That’s from the introduction of the book A Detroit Anthology, a collection of essays and poems from Detroiters. Anna Clark is the editor of the book.

Clark said this is a book for people who have some familiarity and connection with the city, and the stories in it come from people who can tell them in the first person.

jimchines.com

This week the science fiction spotlight will shine on Detroit.

The Motor City will host the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17 to July 20.

Jim Hines is a fantasy novelist from Michigan who is also serving as one of the three Masters of Ceremonies for the big convention that’s known as "DetCon1."

“You’ve got a convention center full of authors and fans, and basically just a hotel packed full of geeks,” Hines said when describing DetCon1.

Hines said this is different from ComicCon, who focuses more on the media and anime, where DetCon1 focuses on the literary, novels, stories and authors.

Hines won a Hugo Award in 2012. He said what he loves about science fiction and fantasy the most is the possibility.

“Whether it’s reading or creating the story, those moments when you just have to ask, ‘well what if this?’ And run with an idea that creates that sense of wonder. There’s nothing like it,” Hines said.

Hines is currently working on a series based in Michigan about a librarian from the Upper Peninsula who can pull anything from books that can fit through the pages.

The 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention will be at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. You can get details at their website here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

robertafking.com

His name was Noah. He was born with cerebral palsy. When he was 17, he lost his battle against infections that had ravaged his lungs.

Noah's mother, Roberta King, is from West Michigan. She has shared the story of her son's life in her new memoir He Plays A Harp.

“It’s a joy to me to bring him to people that never knew him. And I think through that I feel a little less of the loss,” King said.

The story starts with the Noah’s conscious decision to die and then walks through his parent’s journey in dealing with the loss.

“A lot of parents experience the birth of their children. And, gratefully, not a lot experience their death,” King said. “I wanted people to know what that was like to walk your child from one place to another.”

*Listen to full show above. 

826 Michigan/Facebook page

    

Most kids in the state are on summer break. And, while the year wrapped up with final tests, and end of year activities, one group of students celebrated the end of their school by becoming published authors.

826 Michigan is a nonprofit organization that supports students in developing their writing skills and helps teachers inspire students to write. This year the students worked with English Language Learner students and teachers at Ypsilanti Community High School.

This book is called Enjoy! – Recipes for Building Community. It includes essays, letters and recipes from the students and from chefs and other members of the local food community.

Joining us today were Liz Sirman, an ELL teacher at Ypsilanti Community High School, Lucy Centeno, one of the student writers from Ypsilanti Community High School, Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of Zingerman’s.

Big news out of Washington, D.C. today: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action. The Court's majority held that Michigan voters were within their rights to amend the state constitution to ban the college admission policies. We dove into the decision on today's show.

Then, we checked in with Michigan Radio's auto-beat reporter Tracy Samilton about big changes that are likely in the leadership at Ford.

And, on this Earth Day, what moths can tell us about the world's changing climate.

Also, we spoke with author Joseph Tirella about his book Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America.

First on the show, it's taken months of bargaining, bickering and posturing, but there have been promising advances in the Detroit bankruptcy journey.

Pieces are starting to fall into place that could complete the so-called "grand bargain" that would protect the DIA collection and soften the blow for Detroit's retirees.

First came word of a tentative deal between the city and its pensioners. A day later, the board that represents police and fire retirees gave unanimous approval to the deal.

Now it's on to the next hurdle: getting state lawmakers to approve Michigan's share of the grand bargain – $350 million.

Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent of Crain's Detroit Business, joined us today.

Twitter

The 1964 World's Fair opened its door to an eager public 50 years ago this day at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in New York City.

And it is no exaggeration to say that cars ruled that World's Fair. Detroit's Big Three worked very hard to grab the world's attention.

We talk about what those messages were and how the Detroit Three weren't just selling cars, they were pushing a lifestyle and a political system.

Joseph Tirella, author of Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Arsenal of Democracy book cover.
http://wsupress.wayne.edu/

There is no question that Detroit and the automobile industry played a major role in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. We’ve often heard southeast Michigan described as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

But not so well known is the struggle it took to turn the auto industry toward war production, particularly as women and African-American workers stepped up to take their places on the assembly lines.

Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University, joined us today. His new book is Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II.

Listen to the full interview above.

When you think "Michigan," you think tourism, right? Or, for some, maybe it's Tim Allen telling you about the state's open roads, fall colors, glistening lakes. Tourism means big business for the mitten. We look at how the changing climate might impact what more than 4.4 million out-of-state visitors will be able to do and enjoy when they come to the Great Lakes State. 

 Then, we spoke with Michigan author Laura Kasischke about her latest novel, Mind of Winter. And Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in, to discuss Mary Barra and the ghost of GM's past. Also, women are underrepresented in the  STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, but there is one University of Michigan student group trying to change that. And, we are one week into spring but still getting snow. Meterologist Jim Maczko spoke with us about when we can expect warmer weather.  First on the show, we are closing in on the deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. 

Erin Knott is the Michigan Director of Enroll America, a non-profit, non-partisan group trying to get people enrolled in health insurance.

Erin joined us today to discuss the upcoming deadline. 

Wikipedia

You wake up on Christmas morning a bit hung over from too much spiked eggnog the night before. You woke up much later than you'd meant to and you try to shake off a lingering nightmare. You've got a houseful of guests to cook for, a moody teenage daughter sulking in her bedroom and there is a snowstorm to end all snowstorms howling outside.

Welcome to the world of Holly Judge. She's a wife, a mother, and a frustrated poet. And she's one of the central characters in the latest novel from Michigan author Laura Kasischke.  It's a psychological thriller called Mind of Winter.

Laura Kasischke joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

"Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance"

The next time you're in downtown Detroit, and you walk by the Cobo Center or the People Mover, or in Ypsilanti and you see Washtenaw Community College, or Providence Hospital in Southfield or many other buildings around Southeast Michigan — stop for a moment and remember this name: Charles Novacek.

He was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, and grew up through his country's occupation by the Nazis and then the Communists. He began training as a resistance fighter as a boy of 11, and continued the fight as he grew up. He endured prison and torture before escaping to a refugee camp and, ultimately, to a new life in Michigan.

Charles Novacek became a noted engineer in Michigan, working on many projects in the state that still stand today. And before he died in 2007, he wrote a memoir entitled "Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance".

The book has now been published by Charles Novacek's wife, Sandra. We talk with Sandra about her husband's journey. 

For more information on the book, visit www.charlesnovacekbooks.com.

Listen to the full interview above.

LinkedIn

(Editor's note: This story was first aired on October 2nd, 2013)

Who among us has not had the experience of plunging into something that sure sounded good on paper, but then the reality turns out to be anything but?

So, when life hands you that proverbial lemon, you could make ‘lemonade.’ Or you could write a book.

That’s what Natalie Burg did.

Michigan writer Natalie Burg had a spectacularly bizarre experience living on a farm in Sweden, working as an au pair for a spectacularly bizarre family. She has turned all of that into a new book called “Swedish Lessons: A Memoir of sects, love and indentured servitude. Sort of.”

She joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

barnesandnoble.com

(Editor's note: This story was first broadcast on September 3rd, 2013) 

The mystery of who killed Daisy Zick has been on the minds of police and residents of Battle Creek since January, 1963.  Though at least three people caught a glimpse of her killer, no one has ever been brought to justice for the crime.  

Writer Blaine Pardoe's latest book is called Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.  He joined Cynthia Canty in the studio to talk about Daisy Zick, her unsolved murder, and the possibility that the killer may still be alive.  

Listen to the story above.

Robert Turney

This is the week we say farewell to autumn and officially welcome winter. (Unofficially, we can all agree, winter has arrived early and seems to have settled right in for the duration.)

And one of the great pleasures of changing seasons here on Stateside is the chance to welcome back poet and writer Keith Taylor. Taylor coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan. But we like to think of him as our Friendly Stateside Reading Guide.

Listen to Keith’s book pics above.

This month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the saddest chapters in Michigan history. It’s called The Italian Hall Disaster, a terrible tragedy that happened on Christmas Eve, 1913, in the Upper Peninsula town of Calumet. Someone yelled "Fire!" in a packed hall and the resulting stampede killed 73--60 of them children.

It happened during the Copper Country Strike, one of the most painful chapters in Michigan's labor history.

The Copper Country Strike of 1913 and the Italian Hall Disaster is the subject of new documentary called “Red Metal,” soon to air on PBS. It is drawn from a book about the disaster called Death’s Door, written by Steve Lehto. He’s a historian with ties to the Copper Country that go back to that bitter time.

Steve Lehto joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Remember "You've Got Mail," The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy?

Writer-director Norah Ephron says she wanted to make a point about little independent bookstores like Meg Ryan's "Shop Around the Corner" being crushed by the big-chain bookstores, Tom Hanks' "Fox Books."

That was 1998, and many small independent bookstores were indeed fighting for their lives in the face of the big-chain stores.

Now, in 2013, the book-selling landscape has changed. Borders books collapsed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble closed many of its stores.

There is Amazon with its talk of using drones to drop your order at your door in a few years. But guess what? Independent bookstores are enjoying something of a renaissance.

Deborah Leonard, director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, and Peter Makin, owners of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: dmealiffe / flickr.com

If you live in Michigan, particularly the Eastern Upper Peninsula and the Southeast Lower Peninsula, chances are high that you’ve crossed the border into Canada. We certainly know that our Canadian neighbors are heading over here in hefty numbers. A check of license plates at Metro Detroit shopping centers makes a strong case.

Our next guest makes a case for taking these two large countries and merging them into one. She believes the two would become much stronger for joining together.

She is currently Editor at Large at the National Post, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and a Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto. Her nine earlier books focused on politics, immigration, economics and finance and white collar crime.

Her newest book is “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.”

Author Diane Francis joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Twitter

Whenever you talk about the key players in Michigan's music scene, one of the names that inevitably comes up is that of Stewart Francke.

Born in Saginaw, he's made his home, raised his family and built his music career in Metro Detroit.

Writer and critic Jim McFarlin calls Stewart Francke "Detroit's workingman's troubadour," a title he's earned and maintained over decades of making his music.

But today we are going to hear about another journey Stewart Francke has been on, a journey into the world of cancer. A journey that began when he was diagnosed with leukemia that forced Stew and his family and circle of friends to join together to wage a ferocious battle.

He's now telling the story of his cancer battle in his e-book from Untreed Reads. The title says it all, "What Don't Kill Me Just Makes Me Strong."

Stewart Francke joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Royal Oak writer Pete Wurdock has just published his fourth book. It's a collection of short stories, all of them set in Northern Michigan.

 The collection is entitled "Bending Water and Stories Nearby" and it's as interesting to hear what it took for Pete to get this stories written as it is to actually read these 14 stories. Pete Wurdock joined us in the studio. *Listen to the audio above. 

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