Five book events to attend in August at Ann Arbor's independent bookstores

Crazy Wisdom, Nicola's top the month along with a fond farewell to Aunt Agatha's

The front window display of Literati Bookstore. (Credit: Vasenka Photography Flickr)

ANN ARBOR – Where has summer gone? It feels like we didn't even get to transition into spring from winter, and here we are entering August. Time most certainly moves too fast. That does not mean, however, that your book-reading goals should be called into question. Quite the contrary, in fact. There are so many great reads released weekly at our various bookstores that I would not blame you if, like me, every one book you finish that "earns" you 10 more to purchase or checkout from the Ann Arbor District Library. 

As with every month, there are many different book events depending on your preferences. We've whittled it down to five once again, and have tried to give as many bookstores as we can a chance to shine while also focusing on different types and genres of literature. A bit of sad news: Back in April, Meredith wrote about how, sadly, Aunt Agatha's is closing its doors for good in August. For years, the shop at 213 South Fourth Avenue has been selling new and used mysteries, from whodunits to British and Noir, but will be no more come September. We've included their farewell event to close out this list, but encourage you to check out their full list of August events to soak up as much time in the bookstore as you can. 

Here. We. Go!

Thursday, Aug. 9

What: Story Night at Crazy Wisdom

When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Crazy Wisdom Bookstore

Once upon a time, before the Internet, television or even written history, there were stories not just for children but for everyone who could laugh, smile, weep and leap out of their seats. The Ann Arbor Storytellers' Guild continues this community tradition and celebrates its revival in our highly tech-connected world. Listen to old tales and new during an evening of adult stories. Guild members perform for the first hour, with an open mic for the second hour. So if you have a five-minute personal story or folk tale, Crazy Wisdom will try to fit you in

The Ann Arbor Storytellers Guild is a group of people who enjoy telling, and listening to, stories of all kinds. Their members range from those who occasionally tell stories as a fascinating pastime in their otherwise busy lives to professional storytellers who make their living doing something they love. Their meetings are always lively and fun, and they offer many opportunities to hone the craft of storytelling, and to perform in front of an audience. They'd love to have YOU join them no matter what level of experience you have, even if you simply want to come out and hear some great stories.

Thursday, Aug. 16

What: Michigan Mystery Author Trio

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nicola's Books

Nicola's Bookstore invites you to a late-summer mystery event, filled with great beach reads for your last summer gasp. Pamela Gossiaux’s most recent book is "Trusting the Cat Burglar," book two in the Russo Romantic Mysteries series. Darci Hannah is celebrating the recent release of the cozy mystery "Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies," the first book in the A Very Cherry Mystery series. Rounding out the panel is Greg Jolley, whose most recent title is the second book in the Wiki Danser series, "Malice in a Very Small Town."

Pamela Gossiaux is a humorist, inspirational speaker and the author of the books "Good Enough"; "Why Is There a Lemon in My Fruit Salad?"; "How to Stay Sweet When Life Turns Sour"; and "A Kid at Heart: Becoming a Child of Our Heavenly Father," as well as the inspirational Russo Romantic Mystery series which begins with "Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar." Gossiaux has been writing and working with writers for several decades. She has a dual BA degree from the University of Michigan in Creative Writing and English Language and Literature, and over 20 years of journalism writing experience.

Darci Hannah lives in a small town in Michigan with her husband, three sons, lovable springer spaniel, Finley and golden retriever pup, Ripley. She is the author of "Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies" (Midnight Ink, 2018) and two previous works of historical fiction, "The Exile of Sara Stevenson" (Ballantine Books, 2010, 2nd edition by Piffle & Bombast 2016) and the "Angel of Blythe Hall" (Ballantine Books, 2011). When she’s not traipsing through the woods with Ripley and Finn, engaged in a rollicking adventure with her family or working at the historic Howell Carnegie District Library, she’s either baking, drinking coffee or hard at work on her next novel. In fact, it’s a safe bet to assume she’s doing all three at the same time.

Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco. He is the author of fourteen novels and a collection of short stories about the fictional Danser family. He lives in the very small town of Whitmore Lake, Michigan.

Friday, Aug. 17

What: Alice Bolin "Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession"

When: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Literati Bookstore

Alice Bolin mostly writes longish-form critical essays about literature, music and pop culture. Some special areas of interest are murder, country music, makeup, social media, poetry and twentieth century women writers. Literati is thrilled to welcome Bolin in support of her first collection of essays, "Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession." 

"Dead Girls" is a collection of essays interrogating the outsize place of murdered women in American stories. So many television dramas begin with the body of a dead girl, and eager fans devour piles of true crime books, podcasts, and television shows. This collection is also about how this obsession is related to other constants of American culture, especially the women who escape the Dead Girl’s fate, surviving long enough to become icons. Essays contemplate "Twin Peaks," Britney Spears, the cemeteries of Los Angeles, teenage werewolves, Toni Morrison and Joan Didion, all set against a back drop of the wilderness and cities of the American West. "Dead Girls" is part cultural criticism and part memoir, as Bolin attempts to understand how she has been both the target and the accomplice of a culture that prefers dead women to living ones.

Monday, Aug. 20

What: Laura Bernstein-Machlay "Travelers"

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Literati Bookstore

We're always happy to push stories about Detroit, which is why we're quite excited to attend Laura Bernstein-Machlay's reading of her latest collection of essays, "Travelers," at Literati Bookstore. Bernstein-Machlay was born in Detroit and after stints in Ann Arbor, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, not to mention several months-long odysseys abroad, she returned to her hometown where she currently lives with her husband and daughter. She is an award-winning author of poetry and creative nonfiction, whose poems and essays have appeared in numerous national and international magazines and literary journals. 

"Travelers" is Bernstein-Machlay's debut collection of essays, and maps the author's journey as she makes sense of her recovering city, the generations that preceded her, and her own definition of wife, mother and home. These intimate, humorous and heartfelt essays offer an honest, and discerning look at the moments which both challenge and redeem us; the shaping of our lineage; and the profound necessity of hope. Deftly observed and thoughtfully crafted, Bernstein-Machlay's lyrical prose brings to life Detroit's survivor spirit and the indefatigable nature of family. This collection discovers the inherent grace and defining necessity of place, heritage and the search for our own footing within the vast world we inhabit. "Travelers" examines the intersection of the connections we form and those we inherit and how, with distance and trust, and a little luck, we might find more than just our way home.

Sunday, Aug. 26

What: A farewell to Aunt Agatha’s afternoon with William Kent Krueger, Lori Rader-Day and Sarah Zettel 

When: 2 p.m.

Where: Ann Arbor District Library

I know this is a book-focused article, but this quote from one of my favorite television shows, "Doctor Who," feels apt for the occasion of a beloved bookstore like Aunt Agatha's closing: "Things end. That's all. Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's always happy," the actor Peter Capaldi said in "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."

Yes, it's very sad to see a staple of downtown Ann Arbor closing its doors for good, but we're happy to have several events to attend at Aunt Agatha's throughout August, including this one. The farewell event with William Kent Krueger, Lori Rader-Day and Sarah Zettel will include Kent talking about his new Cork O’Connor book, "Desolation Mountain," Rader-Day discussing her new book set in Michigan, "Under a Dark Sky" and Zettel launching her new thriller "The Other Daughter." This event will take place at the downtown library.

Check out more Ann Arbor events on the A4 Community Calendar 

What should All About Ann Arbor write about? Take our user survey and help set our direction.