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

Literati, Bookbound, Nicola's and Aunt Agatha's are the must-visit stops

By Matt Giles - Associate Producer

A tower of used books (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

ANN ARBOR - It's hot. Can we all agree that we could benefit from *slightly* cooler weather? We've now officially entered July, which can be the hottest of the summer months in Ann Arbor. With that in mind, it's important to remember that summer reading is a joyous experience no matter what the weather outside might look like. If it's too hot, or raining, cozy up in the air conditioning or on the beach at a lake. If the temperature is just right, read outside at one of Ann Arbor's many lovely parks. 

If your summer reading list is still in flux, we decided to help out by spotlighting five different book events at several of Ann Arbor's independent bookstores that might either help you decide what to read next, or simply interest you because of the authors themselves. Whatever your reading preferences, we think we have you covered and hope that you stay cool while reading as much as you can. 

Wednesday, July 11

What: "The Water Will Come" with author Jeff Goodell

When: Reception 6:30 p.m.; Program 7 p.m.

Where: Bookbound Bookstore

Making his first visit to Ann Arbor, author Jeff Goodell will be at Bookbound Bookstore for a reading and signing of his new book, "The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World." The book asks the question, "What if Atlantis wasn't a myth?" Goodell employs fact, science and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world, providing the definitive account of the coming water. 

Important item to note about this event: It is presented by and in support of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, which champions local and national collaboration to advance environmental justice and sustainable redevelopment. The organization also fosters clean, healthy and safe communities through innovative policy, education and workforce initiatives. Proceeds from the sale of Goodell's book will benefit the organization’s ongoing climate work, and additional donations are appreciated. Light refreshments will be served.

Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of five books, including "How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate," which won the 2011 Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit. Goodell's previous books include "Sunnyvale," a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future."

What: "Thrift Store Coats" with author Brooks Rexroat

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

Where: Literati Bookstore

Sharing his latest collection of stories in "Thrift Store Coats," author Brooks Rexroat will be at Literati for a reading and signing of this book that "transports readers to the postindustrial Midwest and explores the lives of those living on its quiet edge," according to Literati. Interwoven with themes of love, lineage, poverty and survival, the characters in these stories grapple with the idea of identity -- not only of where they fit into the world, but of how their origins impact their place in the future.

Literati also notes that while Rexroat's prose possesses the power to break the hearts of readers, he establishes himself as a voice to be heard by masterfully repairing what has been broken -- with unflinching honesty, and with a stunning sense of empathy.

Rexroat was raised near Cincinnati, Ohio at the intersection of the Rust Belt and Appalachia: the crossing point of mountain and farm field, boarded mine and shuttered factory, the water that splits north from south. The importance of place has always surrounded him, and it deeply inhabits his characters. Now based at Brescia University in Western Kentucky, Rexroat spent the 2016-2017 academic year as a Fulbright U.S. Teaching and Research Scholar at Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University in Siberia, Russia. His stories and essays have appeared in more than 30 journals and magazines on three continents.

Thursday, July 12

What: Literary Fiction Author Panel with Michael Ferro, Kelly Fordon and Laura Hulthen Thomas

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

Where: Nicola's Books

If you're interested in the work that local authors are producing, you don't want to miss this spotlight of Michigan fiction writers hosted by Nicola's Books. Detroit author Michael Ferro is celebrating the release of his debut novel "Title 13," named a "Most Anticipated Small Press Book of 2018" by literary blog Big Other. Kelly Fordon is a former writer-in-residence at InsideOut LIterary arts in Detroit, whose collection of interconnected stories, "Garden for the Blind," was named a Michigan Notable book. Joining them will be University of Michigan creative writing professor Laura Hulthen Thomas, speaking about her acclaimed short story collection "States of Motion."

A timely investigation into the heart of a despotic faction within the government, "Title 13" deftly blends satirical comedy aimed at the hot-button issues of modern culture with the gut-wrenching reality of an intensely personal descent into addiction.

Ferro's fiction and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. He won the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award for Fiction, received an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train for their New Writers Award and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born and bred in Detroit, Ferro has lived, worked and written throughout the Midwest; he currently resides in rural Ann Arbor. "Title 13" is his first novel.

"Garden for the Blind" visits suburban and working-class homes, hidden sanctuaries and dangerous neighborhoods, illustrating the connections between settings and relationships (whether close or distant) and the strange motivations that keep us moving forward. All readers of fiction will enjoy the nimble unfolding of Fordon's narrative in this collection.

Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, "On the Street Where We Live," which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest, and "Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt," which was published by Kattywompus Press in 2013. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Queens University of Charlotte and worked for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.

Newton's Laws of Motion describe the relationship between a body and its response to the forces acting upon it. For the men and women in "States of Motion," imbalance is a way of life. Set in Michigan small towns both real and fictional, the stories in Hulthen Thomas's collection take place against a backdrop of economic turmoil and the domestic cost of the war on terror. As familiar places, privilege, and faith disappear, what remains leaves these broken characters wondering what hope is left for them. These stories follow blue collars and white, cops and immigrants, and mothers and sons as they defend a world that is quickly vanishing.

Hulthen Thomas’s work has appeared in The Cimarron Review, Nimrod International Journal, Epiphany and Witness. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College. She currently heads the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan’s Residential College, where she teaches fiction and creative nonfiction.

Sunday, July 15

What: "The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder" launch party with author Dianne Freeman

When: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop

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. This launch party will be one of the store's final events, so what we're saying is you should definitely make a point of attending. 

Author Dianne Freeman will be at Aunt Agatha's to discuss her debut novel, "The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder." The book is an exciting historical mystery debut set in Victorian England, where a wealthy young widow encounters the pleasures -- and scandalous pitfalls -- of a London social season. 

Freeman has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. Her mom introduced her to the works of Edith Wharton and Agatha Christie when she was quite young and she read them over and over. Thus, her love of mysteries and the late Victorian era. After she retired from her job in corporate finance, Freeman's first thought was to write again, after having tinkered with writing most of her adult life. Despite a few false starts, it all came back, and before she knew it, she was in the middle of her first mystery novel. 

Tuesday, July 17

What: "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts" with renowned pastry chef and author Stella Parks

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

Where: Literati Bookstore

That's right. We're concluding our recommendation of local book events to attend in the most delicious way possible: dessert. From One-Bowl Devil’s Food Layer Cake to a flawless cherry pie that’s crisp even on the very bottom, "BraveTart" is a celebration of classic American desserts. Whether down-home delights like blueberry muffins and Glossy Fudge Brownies or supermarket mainstays such as Vanilla Wafers and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, your favorites are all here. 

Parks will be at Literati to discuss "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts," desserts and all around delicious eats. Consider our appetite whetted.

Parks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She was named one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs by Food & Wine. When not at home in Lexington, Kentucky, Stella can be found at the Serious Eats test kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.

Check out more Ann Arbor events on the A4 Community Calendar 

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