Best Book of the Decade?

It’s been the decade of “content…” Extra extra content! Streaming/digital content! Access to eBooks and downloadable audiobooks for your devices has increased considerably. It’s very likely that lots of us have seen our reading queues swelling up over the last 5-10 years. We’d like to hear from YOU. When you look back at your Goodreads reviews, or if you just go with the most vivid memory that springs to your mind–which book would YOU choose as the Best of the Decade?


I’ve got a few of my own recommendations below.

2010’s A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan revolutionized narrative structure.

2013’s Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie portrayed the immigrant experience by way of a love story that also served as social commentary.

2016’s The Animators by Kayla Mae Whitaker used one medium (literature) to describe another hyper-stylized medium, while also bringing to life to vibrant characters and their one-of-a-kind friendship.

2018’s Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman was one-part pursuit, one-part Wester, one-part Sleeping Beauty, and altogether thrilling and surreal.

2018’s There, There was compassionate and funny and tragic and eye-opening, all at once, providing interlinked narratives of modern-day Native Americans.

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Ferndale Library’s New Podcast “A Little Too Quiet” Launches January 3

Looking for a new podcast to listen to?

Bird Box Author Josh Malerman Featured in Debut Episode January 3

The Ferndale Library will debut a new podcast on all major podcast apps this winter. “A Little Too Quiet” is a new and exciting way for the library staff to engage with patrons. The enlightening (as well as entertaining) content, produced in-house, might otherwise be formatted for an on-site program or event, but will instead be delivered in audio form. The library also hopes to use the podcast to connect to the grander book-loving community worldwide, kicking off with a premiere episode that features Bird Box author Josh Malerman on Jan. 3.

Click here to listen to the trailer. 

a little too quiet

The podcast’s name, “A Little Too Quiet,” is a nod to the fact that libraries everywhere have evolved beyond the longstanding perception that they are silent institutions meant only for peaceful reading where librarians sternly shush anyone speaking above hushed tones. That’s just not the case anymore, and the new podcast aims to demonstrate the ways in which the Ferndale Library and libraries everywhere have evolved into 21st-century community centers where, yes, occasional loudness is more than accepted. 

Episodes will showcase unique library resources, promote library programs and events, and feature discussions on literary news, the special experience of book clubs, the ongoing outreach efforts of Youth Services Librarians, and the history of the library. This coming year, 2020, marks the 90th anniversary of the Ferndale Library. There will be content that unveils the history of the building, while also engaging patrons to share their favorite memories and experiences about the Ferndale Library. There will also be lots of local author interviews, starting with Malerman in the premiere episode, as well as conversations with Michael Zadoorian, Kathe Koja, and more. 



“A Little Too Quiet” also serves as a way for patrons to stay engaged with their library during the snowier months when travel is more challenging. Now, library patrons can hear from their library while they’re at home, at the gym, or on the go, just by putting in some earbuds. Along with being hosted at the library’s main website, “A Little Too Quiet” will also be available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.  


Subscribe now by searching for “A Little Too Quiet” on your favorite podcast app, or visit:


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A New Look at Thanksgiving: Non-fiction books for young readers

“1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving” by Catherine O’Neill Grace

Created in partnership by National Geographic and the Plimoth (Plymouth) Plantation Museum, a living history museum in Massachusetts,  this is the only non-fiction book that I would recommend for children or families looking for facts about the first Thanksgiving. In the vast majority of books about the first Thanksgiving, the story is almost always told from the European perspective and generally puts a rosy lens on the whole affair.  No, the Pilgrims didn’t have buckles on their hats. No, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags weren’t friends (a more accurate label would be political allies). And no, they didn’t even eat Turkey (mmm, eel). If you’re looking for a balanced, no baloney, fact-based book about Thanksgiving for kids, this is just about your only option.  For a more in-depth look at the journey of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, check out Mayflower 1620 by the same partnership.  For the adults out there, I highly recommend Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick and the documentary The Pilgrims by Ric Burns.


“Squanto’s Journey” by Joseph Bruchac

Tasquantum, or as the Europeans called him, Squanto, is an important player in the Thanksgiving story.  Already fluent in English, Tisquantum was the Patuxet Indian who taught the Pilgrims how to grow and hunt their own food.  Squanto’s Journey, by Native author Joseph Bruchac, is a beautifully illustrated, narrative picture book biography that tells the incredible story of his kidnapping by European explorers, how he was sold into slavery in Spain, how he taught himself English and escaped to England from Spain, and how he managed his way on to an English ship headed back to his homeland.  This book is as much a biography of Tisquantum as it is a book about Thanksgiving, but much time is spent on the harvest feast of 1621 and his benevolent relationship with the Pilgrims. A useful endnote from the author lays out the facts of Squanto’s journey and the First Thanksgiving.


“The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr

This isn’t a Thanksgiving book, but it is a book that will help kids learn to be thankful for the things they have, and that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?.  We can be thankful for our feet (for running), for music (so we can dance), and even for our underwear (because they are fun to wear on our head).  Parr writes in simple, thoughtful sentences, and the thick bold lines and high contrast illustrations are perfect for showing to the youngest of children.  

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Kenny Karpov’s New Book ‘Despite It All We Never Learn’ + Exhibition at M Contemporary

Kenny Karpov will be the featured exhibiting artist at M Contemporary Art Gallery, right across the street from the Ferndale Library, starting November 22 -thru – December 15. This is his first solo exhibition, but Karpov is not an artist. Even if it is an exhibition in a gallery, with 21 works of photography, Karpov is not an artist, just as he’s not your typical photographer. At least he doesn’t talk like one; doesn’t live like one, and doesn’t, frankly, think like one.

Kenny Karpov - Despite It All We Never Learn

Kenny Karpov – Despite It All We Never Learn

Until recently, Karpov was spending much of the last five years living out of a suitcase, working as a documentary photographer for a string of nonprofit organizations working in humanitarian aid. The Detroit-native had quite a resume leading up to what became a daunting, and often emotionally draining expedition at sea, with contributions to local outlets like WDET, but also the New York Times.

But Karpov will be the first to tell you that he’s a storyteller first, a documentary photographer second, and is often shies away from the category of photojournalist. Strike that, Karpov will tell you he’s a human first, and a storyteller second, and so on. Karpov captured hundreds of images to help document the migrant crisis during these five years. But he also wouldn’t allow his assigned work detail to outweigh his compassion. He often opted to put his camera down and instead extended his hands and arms to help steady those in the water, spotting for rescuers, and aiding in the coordination of rescue efforts. 

Karpov permitted us to share some of the featured photographs here. He ended up taking 17 excursions over to the area of water between Morocco and Egypt. The idea for capturing all of this into a book came later. It was overwhelming to communicate the full magnitude of this experience, and the emotional roller-coaster of being a firsthand witness to a migration crisis. Karpov had been collecting audio interviews during his itinerant residency as a documentary photographer. He would transcribe testimonies of individual experiences, keeping them as a sort of archive as he hopped from ship to ship.


The Ferndale Library is currently circulating the recently published assemblage of accounts, Despite It All We Never Learn.  Karpov realized that his interviews during the first two years were limited in scope, asking people “who they are” and “where they want to be going.” But through the proceeding three years, he began asking more questions, so that he could shape the narrative almost as though he were a novelist, but still remain in the role of interviewer. 

Karpov remembers conversing with a friend toward the end of his five-year run. When she heard that he was heading back for his 15th mission, she couldn’t believe it. He remembers telling her: “I feel at home here. This is a story that I want to keep telling. And so far, it hasn’t changed. It’s my duty to come back here and tell these stories. I don’t see anyone else here trying to tell these stories.”


Karpov identifies as a storyteller, but he made sure that the words captured in his book were not his own. He worked to ask deeper questions of his subjects to reveal a broader picture of their experiences. In our recent conversation, Karpov admitted to frustration with the sensationalism of wire service photographers working for major news outlets. With this book, and with the photographs featured at M Contemporary, Karpov wanted to illuminate a more comprehensive montage of stories. The brief news reports and headlines could never activate our empathy chambers. Karpov’s stories and photographs, meanwhile, can bring an audience to a one-on-one engagement with an individual, a human caught up in this ongoing migrant crisis.

Kenny Karpov solo exhibition of work at M Contemporary Art, entitled Despite It All We Never Learn, will be on view from November 22 – December 14, 2019


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Guide to Publishing and Marketing Your Book with Sylvia Hubbard – Nov 16

The road traveled by independent authors can be rather steep in the 21st century, and the thousands taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November will soon discover that there’s a lot more work to be done after you’ve finished your final page. Detroit author and founder of Motown Writers, Sylvia Hubbard, has published over 40 suspense romance books. Hubbard is coming to the Ferndale Library on Sat., Nov 16, to lead a workshop detailing the roadmap toward successful independent publishing. 

Sylvia Hubbard - Twitter


Hubbard is an award-winning author, blogger, and an empowerment coach for those looking to get their writing published (or made available as E-Books). She’s also the founder of the Michigan Literary Network and CEO of HubBooks Literary Services. One of the many subjects she’s covered in books, blogs, and at speaking engagements, is internet marketing for writers. 


When Hubbard visits the Ferndale Library, she’ll show aspiring writers and publishers how to navigate the new independent publishing paths available to them. Along with her presentation on how to best market a book in the 21st century, there will be resource sheets for participants to take home. 

National Novel Writing Month, is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript within 30 days. At this mid-point of the month, Hubbard will provide valuable insights as to what to do next, once those novels are completed. 

Registration is required, which can be done by phone (248-546-2504), or online

Click here for more information.

Follow Sylvia Hubbard’s blog, here.

Read an interview with Hubbard, here, with Smashwords.

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Pato Y Pato Perform at Ferndale Library – Dec 6

If you’re looking for the best spot to start your evening of live music in the Metro Detroit area, then make the Ferndale Library your “First Stop” on December 6 for Pato Y Pato. 

Pato Y Pato is the moniker of a duo of analog synthesizer musicians and electronic music composers who create spacious arrangements that are designed to soundtrack any part of one’s day. Mark Maynard and John Duffy are the dueling synth wizards who are Ferndale Library’s featured performers at next month’s First Stop Friday event. The ongoing monthly series of free concerts showcases local artists and is sponsored by the Friends of the Ferndale Library. 

Pato Y Pato at UFO Factory

Mark Maynard (left) and John Duffy (right) are Pato Y Pato

Maynard and Duffy have performed in several bands before, but have always written music in the rock or Americana genre, often with guitars, bass, and drums. On December 6, they’ll be using an array of dazzling equipment that manipulates electronic voltages and oscillates frequencies to create a cosmic-sounding symphony of melodies and sequenced rhythms. 

Over the last few years, Maynard and Duffy’s musical collaboration could be aptly defined as a bit of a laboratory experiment. Duffy was mainly a guitarist, while Maynard was primarily a drummer. A bit of a whimsical epiphany hit them both at the same time, calling them to start exploring an entirely different genre, one that would combine the experimental ambient pop of Silver Apples, with the motorik-rhythms of Kraftwerk, and just a bit of the sublime, movie-soundtrack space-outs of Tangerine Dream. The idea was to have these expansive tracks affect the mood of the listener, predominantly into a state of calm, or contemplation, or focus. 

The First Stop Friday is entering its 10th year, consistently bringing local musicians into the library space to perform a free concert for the community. The library’s regular hours on Friday has it closing at 6 pm, but on December 6, the doors reopen at 7:30 pm, with music beginning promptly at 8 pm. Pato Y Pato recently released their debut album, Staples. More info at 

Read more about Pato Y Pato online at Synthtopia and WDET

Tell your friends that you’re going by clicking here for the #facebook event.

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Eye Catching Picture Books for Kids Featuring Mixed Medium Illustrations

Youth Librarian, Ms. Elissa offers recommemdations for parents wondering what their child should read next. Here are some eye-catching picture books for kids.

pub by harper collins (2)

A particular pleasure of ordering new titles for the library’s picture book collection is getting to see all of the variety in their illustrations. From watercolors to mixed media collages to digital illustrations, books catch the eye. It can be as much of a joy to look at a book as to read it. Here are a few that I find beautiful.

The next time you are in the library or at the bookstore, take a moment to savor children’s book  illustrations. I also invite you to take what we call a picture walk through the book. Turn the pages and examine the pictures and try to put the plot together based on the images. Not only is it entertaining to look closely at the illustrations, it’s also a great way to build early literacy.

“How to Read a Book” by Kwame Alexander / Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (pictured above^)
Vibrant colors abound–highlighter orange and hot pink–complemented by mellow blues and browns. Alexander’s work invites the reader to consider the entire process behind reading a book, from finding the best place to sit to opening the book by “peel[ing] its gentle skin like you would a clementine.” The pages of this book include fold outs and smaller pages within the larger frame, which make its reading that much more fun. Alexander’s message is that there is never an end to reading–there’s always more to be read and more magic to be found in books. And Sweet’s collaging of book pages, colors, and patterns make each page pop.

pub by Candlewick“A Child of Books” by Oliver Jeffers / Illustrated by Sam Winston
This is yet another masterpiece of the written and visual word. Winston’s work is done in watercolor, pencil and digital collage. The actual words and letters of well-known works of literature make up the pictures in this book. From waves of the ocean to pathways to mountain peaks, caves, clouds and monsters, this book shows the reader where words can take you if you lend them your imagination.


pub by Salaam Reads“Leila in Saffron” by Rukhsanna Guidroz / Illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova
“Leila” has one of my favorite color schemes of all. Burn oranges, peaches, pinks, golden yellows and muted aquas stand out against the creatively used white space of this book. The pictures show Laila’s family, including her Naani, as they make music and create a sense of community around their dinner table close to the floor. They make music together, enjoy Laila’s cooking, and then Naani leads Laila upstairs to find a scarf from her old trunk. Laila examines herself in the mirror and smiles widely at her reflection. The art here completely evokes the celebration Laila feels in her family coming together and the joy they experience in each other’s company.

For more information, and to find these titles, visit and click “search catalog.”

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