Drawing from the African American Cultural Humanities (AC) curriculum, Educator Victoria Shields leads a workshop for music and art lovers with discussion of the 2018 Washtenaw Read, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. Shields examines the social and historical contexts presented in Homegoing using music — including a focus on how West Africa influenced American music — as well as visual art from the Detroit Institute of Art collection.
Reading with Patrick: the 2019 Washtenaw Read
The 2019 Washtenaw Read is the non-fiction memoir Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, A Student, and Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo. This title was chosen from between the two finalists by a panel of distinguished judges from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti.
In the final months of 2018, copies of Reading with Patrick will be plentifully available at the library, and you will find a display with books at each of our five locations. Pick up a copy, give it a read, and join us for a full slate of events in the new year, including an author event with Michelle Kuo. (Check back for details about upcoming events as we add them.)
About Reading with Patrick
Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.
Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle’s exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school.
Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick’s education—even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a “good” life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.
The Washtenaw Read is an annual county-wide reading program that takes place in Washtenaw Country throughout January and February each year. To learn more about the Read, and previous titles selected for the Read, to to wread.org.
After much deliberation, the book for the 2018 Washtenaw Reads program has been selected. A panel of community members from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline and Ypsilanti voted on the winner from two finalist titles. Without further ado, this year's title is...
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half sisters, born into different villages in 18th century Ghana, and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. The book has won many awards, including the PEN/ Hemingway Award, the NBCC’s John Leonard Award, New York Times Notable Book, Washington Post Notable Book and was named one of the best books of 2016 by NPR, Time, Oprah.com, Harper’s Bazaar, San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Esquire, Elle, Paste, Entertainment Weekly, the Skimm, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and BuzzFeed. One of the highlights of Washtenaw Reads each year is a visit from the author. Yaa Gyasi will appear in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, February 6 at 7:00 pm at Rackham Auditorium in a program entitled "Homegoing: A Conversation with Yaa Gyasi" - The 2018 Institute for the Humanities Jill S. Harris Memorial Lecture." The event includes a book signing and copies of the book will be for sale. Washtenaw Reads is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Copies of Homegoing can be found at AADL and in libraries and bookstores throughout Washtenaw County. Keep an eye on the Washtenaw Reads website, wread.org, for more information on upcoming events, as well as reading and discussion resources.
The two finalist titles for the 2018 edition of Washtenaw Reads have been selected!
The Screening Committee met through the summer to read and discuss some of the top fiction and non-fiction titles of the last few years and to narrow down to two titles for the final selection committee to read. Without further ado, the nominees are:
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016)
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half sisters from different tribal villages in Ghana and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Thank You for Your Service, by David FInkel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)
In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel follows a group of soldiers as they return home from the front lines in Baghdad and struggle to reintegrate—both into their family lives and into American society at large. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done.
Both books are available at the library. You can leave your feedback about the two finalist titles on the Washtenaw Reads Finalist Page, and keep checking the WR site for the announcement of the selected read later this fall!
The Washtenaw Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Participating libraries include Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti.
|Thank You for Your Service, by David Finkel
No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous “surge,” a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed them all forever.
In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel follows many of those same men as they return home and struggle to reintegrate—both into their family lives and into American society at large. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done. Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?
Full list of Awards: USA Today Best Books of the Year, Christian Science Monitor Best Books of the Year, Chicago Tribune Best Books of the Year, Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday Book Recommendations, The Economist Magazine Books of the Year, The Telegraph (UK) Best Books of the Year, New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, NPR Best Book of the Year, Barnes and Noble Best New Books of the Year, Apple iBooks Best of the Year, The Globe Books 100, Washington Post Best Books of the Year, Chapters Indigo Best of the Year, Carla Furstenberg Cohen Literary Prize, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, Helen Bernstein Book Award - Nominee, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, Amazon.com Best Books of the Year, Boston Globe Best Books of the Year, Seattle Times Best Books of the Year, Audie Award Finalist
What did you think of this book? Tell us!
|Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (New York:Alfred A. Knopf, 2016)
Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Winner of the PEN/ Hemingway Award, Winner of the NBCC’s John Leonard Award, New York Times Notable Book, Washington Post Notable Book
What did you think of this book? Tell us!
$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America is this year’s Washtenaw Reads book selection. Researched and written by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the book details the lives of six different families who barely survive on less than $2.00 a day in various parts of the country. Eye-opening and alarming, the book also explains the laws behind the reasons that some people are forced to live on so little. The authors will speak at Rackham Auditorium on Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00p.m. The event includes time for questions and book signing.
The AADL is also hosting several more intimate discussions of the book. The first of these takes place on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Downtown Library multipurpose room. The second will occur on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Westgate Branch in the Westside Room. All are welcome to attend these guided discussions, with no registration required. Participants may want to bring a copy of the book—available at all AADL locations—to reference during the discussion.
For more events surrounding this year’s Washtenaw Reads selection, follow the link here.
Looking for resources about $2.00 a Day, including interviews with the authors and related reading? Visit the link here.
The votes are in, and a decision has been made! The official title for the 2017 Washtenaw Reads is $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer.
$2.00 a Day explores the deep poverty of families surviving on $2.00 or less per person per day—about 1.5 million households in America, including about 3 million children. Edin and Shaefer try to understand how and where these families live, and what happened to make them so desperately poor. You can learn more about the title on the Washtenaw Reads website.
Washtenaw Reads is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. A panel of community members from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti chose this book from two finalist titles.
The Read will take place in January and February 2017, and will include book discussions and related events. Both authors will appear at the Washtenaw Reads author event, to be scheduled for February 2017 in Ann Arbor.
|$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer
Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna, in Chicago, have gone for days with nothing to eat other than spoiled milk.
After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin, whose deep examination of her subjects’ lives has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones), teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor. The two made a surprising discovery: the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children.
But the fuller story remained to be told. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? In search of answers, Edin and Shaefer traveled across the country to speak with families living in this extreme poverty. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. Not just a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.
What did you think of this book? Tell us!
|Orhan's Inheritance, by Aline Ohanesian
When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But his grandfather has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, Seda, an aging woman in a retirement home in Los Angeles.
Over time, Orhan begins to unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards–a story that, if it’s told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which Orhan’s family is built and could unravel Orhan’s own future.
What did you think of this book? Tell us!