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Still need a gift for your favorite book lover? Two Michigan librarians have some suggestions.

Person standing in front of tree with presents under it
Librarians Tim Gleisner and Jessica Trotter joined us with a list of Michigan books that make for great last minute holiday gifts.

In need of some last-minute gift ideas for the book lover in your life?

Never let it be said that your friends at Stateside didn’t try to help you out!

Who better to guide us to some great Michigan books than a couple of Michigan librarians? Tim Gleisner is manager of special collections at the Library of Michigan and Jessica Trotter is with the Capital Area District Library.

Over the past year, Stateside interviewed several of the authors whose books appear on this list. Click the hyperlinked titles to check out our conversations with those authors. 

General Nonfiction

What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

  • Trotter says she enjoyed What the Eyes Don’t See because of its biographical insight into the life of Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and researcher who was key in exposing the Flint Water Crisis, in addition to its inside look into how the crisis itself unfolded.  

The Poison City by Anna Clark

  • Gleisner says that The Poison City offers a comprehensive look at Flint's history "plus the background politics that went into the whole making of the tragedy that is the Flint Water Crisis.”

Historical Fiction

Across the Great Lake by Lee Zacharias

  • Trotter says that this "surprise find" published by the University of Wisconsin Press tells the haunting story of an 85-year-old woman looking back at a major turning point in her childhood.

Adult Fiction

Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian

  • Gleisner says that he “could not put down” Zadoorian’s story. The book is set in late 1960s and early 1970s Detroit, and focuses on a young boy’s family dysfunction. “Just as things are disintegrating in the city, it is with his life as well,” Gleisner said. “Just a very compelling read overall.”

Adult Nonfiction

Notes From a Public Typewriter edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti

  • A piece of what Gleisner calls “community place-making,” this book is a compilation of vignettes typed by shoppers and passers-by on the public typewriter stationed at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor.

Adult Graphic Novel

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed

  • Trotter says that this “gritty, supernatural crime thriller set in 1970s Detroit” features a black woman journalist who is investigating “horrific crimes” that resemble ones that happened in her past. 


The Lake Michigan Mermaid by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen, Illustrated by Meridith Ridl

  • Gleisner didn’t expect to love this collection, but as soon as he picked it up, he was hooked. He describes it as “a tale in poems about this young lady on the shores of Lake Michigan” who’s going through tough times and somewhere along the way, “a mythology is created about a supposed mermaid.”

Children’s Picture Book

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk to Freedom by Gary Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter

  • Trotter says that this picture book about Sojourner Truth goes through “the good and bad of her life from slavery to her freedom with her settling in Battle Creek” and that its illustrations “are absolutely stunning.”

For Middle Schoolers

Drumroll Please by Lisa Jenn-Bigelow

  • Trotter recommends this book for middle grade readers. It's about a 13-year-old percussionist who gets talked into attending Camp Rockaway. “It’s just a kid trying to find herself, find her own voice,” Trotter said. “She tends to be the follower, but she’s a drummer, and she just needs to find her own beat and make her own noise.”

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