The Republic of Imagination

The republic of imagination : America in three booksBy Nafisi, Azar

Azar Nafisi currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University, and had taught American Literature in her native Iran before deciding to leave to become an American citizen. Challenged to examine a diminished interest in the role great literary works play in the modern world, Nafisi closely examines three classic American books (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Babbit by Sinclair Lewis, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers) as well as the oeuvre of James Baldwin for clues as to those qualities which comprise the American character. She interweaves her analyses of these books with her personal story and those of several close friends who also extracted themselves from the oppressive totalitarian regime in Iran, using her unique viewpoint as an outsider to understand her new home and its people through its books. Nafisi's other books include Reading Lolita in Tehran and Things I've Been Silent About, which are available in several formats at YDL. More information about this author can be found on her website:

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Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag

Another incredible book that the Ypsilanti District Library has as part of its Graphic Medicine collection is Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by A.K. Summers.

Delicious Foods : A Novel

Delicious foods : a novelBy Hannaham, James

Hannaham’s book is the engrossing story of a Southern family’s disintegration after the death of husband and father, Nat Hardison. It is narrated by Eddie, the couple’s son, as well as an unusual inanimate character named Scotty, and Eddie’s mother, Darlene, absent both emotionally and physically during much of his childhood, unable to cope with the intense emotional burden, local injustice, and overwhelming grief she experiences when Nat is murdered. Eleven year-old Eddie spends a lot of time with his widowed Aunt Bethella, but at one point he decides to try to find his absent mother. Boldly navigating the seedy underbelly of the streets, Eddie’s path leads him to the horrible prison-like agricultural farming enterprise called Delicious Foods, from which he barely escapes with his life. A bold, harrowing story told with amazing love and respect for its characters.

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When I Was the Greatest

When I was the greatestBy Reynolds, Jason

Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent (2015). When I Was the Greatest is a slice-of-life story told by Ali, a 15 year old African American kid living in Brooklyn, NY. Ali has a strong sense of self and is highly aware that the people in his life have influenced who he is. Ali’s mother is a hard-working woman. She works every day, all day, except Sunday to provide for Ali and his younger sister. The three don’t have much, but they have each other, and that includes a lot of love and respect. Ali’s father isn’t completely in the picture, but we learn, as the story progresses, how much he’s willing to give up for his son. Malloy, a legless Vietnam Vet who lives down the block, coaches Ali in boxing and in life. Ali also has a couple of buddies who do not have some of the luxuries Ali has, such as dependable family, and all the basic necessities in life. However, Ali is there for his friends. During the course of the story we see how far Ali is willing to stick his neck out for his friends and the consequences that can bring, both good and bad.
Readers will enjoy a vivid description of daily life on a Brooklyn block, the shenanigans teens get into, and the power of family and friendship. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy Walter Dean Myers and Jacqueline Woodson.

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Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's history of the futureBy King, A. S. (Amy Sarig), 1970-

Here is another thought provoking and original novel by the wonderful A.S. King. Glory O’Brien is a recent high school graduate, talented photographer, and loyal daughter. She also carries the weight of her mother’s suicide on her shoulders, and fears that she will ultimately end up like her. Glory makes no plans for the future, and prepares to spend her summer in her mother's old dark room, and hanging out with her best friend Ellie, who lives in the "hippie freak commune" across the street. After drinking the ashes of a bat (yes, the ashes of a bat) the girls are able to see a person’s past and future when looking at them. Glory's visions show her a future filled with chaos, the loss of women's rights, and a second civil war. She records her visions and tries to figure out to prevent them from happening, if they are indeed true. Meanwhile, Glory also starts to question and talk about her mother with her dad. It is through these interactions that discoveries are made, healing finally begins, and Glory's eyes open to realities she never knew.
An imaginative and emotional novel, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future confirms that anything is possible, even when you believe that nothing is.

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Dead Connection

Dead connectionBy Burke, Alafair

This is the first book in the Ellie Hatcher series which, to date, includes five titles. New York City rookie detective Ellie Hatcher has been asked to work on a homicide case involving the murder of two women who were both using FirstDate, an online dating website. The company’s founder refuses to divulge the names of anonymous male dates, however, and someone is blocking the detectives’ request for a subpoena. Hatcher and her maverick partner Flann McIlroy link the victims to a murdered Russian woman who served as an FBI informant, but the facts in the three cases just don’t seem to add up. A retired cop, the Russian mafia, and more dead bodies all contribute to the plot. Ellie Hatcher is a very likeable protagonist, with an interesting backstory and an evolving personal life. I listened to the second book in the series first, Angel’s Tip, and I’m now listening to the third, 212. I can enthusiastically recommend all of them to mystery fans. Christopher Lane ably narrates.

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Descent : a novelBy Johnston, Tim, 1962-

Grant and Angela Courtland attempt to salvage their rocky marriage with a late-summer family vacation in the Rockies before sending their daughter, Caitlin, off to college on an athletic scholarship. The group also includes Caitlin's restless younger brother, Sean. Tragedy strikes early in this thriller: Caitlin goes out for a routine training run one morning with Sean biking along for company; an unconscious Sean ends up in the hospital and Caitlin has mysteriously disappeared. Writing in a keenly observed, almost stuccato style, author Johnston builds tension on every page as he changes perspectives among the characters, taking the reader deep into the psyches and motivations of each family member as they attempt to deal with this unexpected and shocking situation. An absorbing story and a real page-turner!

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The Equalizer

The equalizerBy Washington, Denzel

Fan favorite Denzel Washington teams up with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, in this absorbing thriller. Washington plays the lead character, Robert McCall, who possesses special combat talents which enable him to level the playing field and get justice for the powerless with extraordinary speed and physical prowess. He had "retired"from this occupation due to a personal tragedy, trying to live a quiet, peaceful life working a regular day job. When he meets a young woman (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) in the grips of a Russian mafia sex ring, his wrath and need for vengeance are re-ignited. Helping her is no easy matter, as the mafia is deeply entrenched in multiple money-making channels, making for fast-paced explosive action and well written suspense. Rated R (lots of violence). One of the extra DVD features attempts to build awareness of the organization Children of the Night, which helps to rescue children from prostitution (

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My near-death adventures

My near-death adventures (99% true!)By DeCamp, Alison.

Stanley, an almost 12-year-old is the funniest and most unreliable (and I say this in the nicest way) narrator of a children's book I have read in a very long time. This book is chock-full of history, lumberjacks, hijinks, newspaper clippings from the 19th century, mean grannies (99.9% mean) AND mean cousins, yoopers, and fake letters that Stan wrote to himself from his long-lost dad who he thought was dead.
This is truly an original book weaving history, adventure, and laugh-out-loud funny into one excellent read. So if you have a child that needs to read a historical fiction book, hand them this one and then read it yourself. And the coup-de-gras is that it takes place in Michigan. 99% fabulous!

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One Summer: America 1927

One summer: [sound recording] America, 1927By Bryson, Bill

In his most recent book, Bill Bryson covers an amazing amount of history from just one year: 1927. Even more amazing is the fact that most of it took place within just a few months. Any other author may have been overwhelmed with all the information, but Bryson effortlessly transitions from one topic to the next. These topics include the arrival of talking movies and the invention of television; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the Yankees; Prohibition and the rise of Al Capone; sensational criminal trials; politics and economics; and much more. I especially liked how Bryson covers well known topics, such as Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic Ocean, yet also includes interesting supporting information that may not be as well known (the personalities of other pilots of the time and what sort of things were packed on the planes for the flights, for example). I think this makes the book appealing to both casual listeners and those with a more serious interest in history. Bryson narrates the audiobook himself, which is a real treat. I always enjoy hearing an author read his own work, especially with a narrator as skilled as Bryson. Overall, this book is very enjoyable and you will learn a lot from it. And don’t be scared off by its size…it draws you in and you won’t want to stop listening!

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Fox's Garden

Fox's gardenBy Princesse Camcam, 1982-

This wordless picture book emotes such captivating, lyrical thoughts. A red fox, traveling wearily through the muted wintry forest, stops to rest in a village. House after house, person after person, kicks her away and shouts at her. She finds refuge in a greenhouse, next to a house where a little boy lives. He brings her a basket of food, only to find a surprise awaiting him in the greenhouse. The fox rewards the boy's kindness with a gift of beauty. Camcam creates this lovely book with paper-cut illustrations that are back-lit and then photographed. The result is breathtaking images that convey the hush of snow falling gently and the love two creatures of this world can show to each other.

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The Whites

The Whites : a novelBy Brandt, Harry, 1949-

Crime fiction of the highest order from master Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt. The action revolves around Sgt. Billy Graves, who back in the day was a member of a tight-knit group of urban crime-fighters known as the Wild Geese. Each member of the old crew has a criminal in his past who got away; the Wild Geese still get together regularly over dinner to talk about their Whites (as in the great white whale in Moby Dick), who are still burning on the cops' radars all these years later. When one of the Whites is found dead, Billy suspects it may be a opportunistic revenge killing. Graves has multiple worries: his night watch leaves him perpetually tired, his wife Carmen is loosing it, obsessing over some old deeply-held secret, his father lives with them and has dementia. Now someone seems to be targeting his family. A tightly woven plot weaves together the stories of these cops and their blemished pasts as well as someone named Milton Ramos, a troubled loner with an old grudge. It's an edge-of-your seat cat-and- mouse that will keep you guessing until the very end. Richard Price excels at depicting police squad culture, telling a great story.

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Cat Out of Hell

Cat out of hellBy Truss, Lynne

Author Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation) brings us an alarming, hilarious book ripe for re-reading (you won’t believe what you are reading the first time around!) The narrator is Alec Charlesworth, a Cambridge periodicals librarian, who has just lost his dear wife, Mary. He receives some strange computer files from a colleague with whom Mary was working on a project. Alec and his dog (Watson) become amateur detectives, trying to unravel the curious goings-on of a talking cat named Roger, his cat-mentor The Captain, and their nefarious Cat Master, who seem to be the cause of a string of deaths among Roger’s human friends. I can say no more… will not be disappointed with this slender volume and its mystery of the Überkatzens’ nine lives.

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The Garage is Too Cold, Let's Go into the Living Room and Warm Up

Every April, Ypsilanti experiences the Totally Awesome Festival, an annual celebration of local music, arts, fashion, and pancakes. This festival has been an important part of springtime in Ypsilanti for a decade, but did you know that ten years ago, there was a Totally Awesome House? This house in Ann Arbor hosted many local and travelling bands at their weekly Totally Awesome Supper Club, where people were encouraged to bring food, potluck style, and listen to incredible new sounds.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Etta and Otto and Russell and James : a novelBy Hooper, Emma.

Lasse Hallström, who brought us the foodie movie Chocolat, directs this gorgeously filmed light romantic comedy, The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring veteran British actress Helen Mirren as the proprietress of a country haute cuisine French restaurant, and Om Puri as the head of the Indian family who opens his Maison Mumbai directly across the road from her. Papa moved his family from India to France on the strength of his son's outstanding culinary skills after a disaster befalls their popular restaurant. A friendly rivalry escalates to a dangerous level as intercultural bias and competition between the chefs heats up. Some predictable romances develop over the course of the story, but their gently developed charm adds to the viewer's enjoyment. You will probably get really hungry while watching this film, which is based on the 2010 novel by Richard C. Morais, and is rated PG.

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Award Winners & Bestsellers

Nobel Prize
2014 Prize in Literature
Patrick Modiano

National Book Award

2014 Prize for Fiction
by Phil Klay

2014 Prize for Nonfiction
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
by Evan Osnos

Newbery Medal
2015 award
The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

Caldecott Medal
2015 award
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

y Dan Santat

Printz Award

2015 award
I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson

New York Times Fiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
The Girl on the Train
, by Paula Hawkins
The Longest Ride
, by Nicholas Sparks
Hot Pursuit
, by Stuart Woods
The Stranger
, by Harlan Coben
All the Light We Cannot See
, by Anthony Doerr

New York Times Nonfiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
The Residence, by Kate Andersen Brower
Dead Wake
, by Erik LarsoN
Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies, by David Fisher
The Boys in the Boat
, by Daniel James Brown
American Sniper
, by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice


More Award Winners & Bestsellers

Following is a list of award-winning and bestselling materials from a variety of sources. Links will take you to an external page that will open in a new window. If YDL does not have an item you are interested in, please submit a Materials Suggestion to us.

Academy Awards

American Booksellers Association National Indie Bestsellers

Billboard Top 100 songs

Caldecott Medal

Coretta Scott King Award

New York Times Bestsellers

Newbery Medal

Printz Award