The Biography Section

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190118141933223_cover (1)Susan Paley

Susan is an Adult Reference librarian who is the go-to person for our digital collections (OverDrive, Libby, etc.). She also orders for the travel section, audiobooks, and mysteries. She has been learning French for several years and enjoys travelling but especially trips to France. Susan has worked at FADL for 8 years!

What do you love about working at FADL?
Diversity of the community, the patron interactions–working one-on-one with patrons and all sorts of ways, the staff’s ability to work well as a team, being a (section) selector allows me to create a varied collection that reflects the people of Ferndale and what the community is about.

Best or favorite part of your job?
I like working with the public, I think it’s fun to pick out new items for collection. I’m naturally curious so I like to tackle reference questions and it’s different everyday. I like the variety of having a different challenge everyday depending on what people need. It could be a book, it could be finding a resource for someone, could be teaching someone something on the computer or one of our digital services.  

What is most misunderstood aspect of your job?/What do people get wrong about your job?
They think that it’s easy. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of thought, effort, and you have to be comfortable dealing with the public. And we don’t sit around and read all day! We see a lot of material we could read all day, but we have to be present to answer questions and help people on the job.

Favorite collection or thing we circ at FADL?
The Travel section because I’ve improved that from what it was. I also like the YA collection because I used to do it when I first started here.

Best book you’ve ever read?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s beautifully written. It’s about two teenagers during WWII and part of it takes place in France and part in Germany.

What do you love about Ferndale as a community/city?
I like that the staff and our collections are really representative of what the public library can be for a community. Like I said before, I like that’s there’s diversity here–it’s easy to be different here. The LGBT community is vibrant. I like how Ferndale has a sense of social justice, how there’s a consciousness to be eco-friendly and to care about the environment. Ferndale is very accepting, which adds a sense of comfort for people of all backgrounds.

How do you spend your days off?
I like to go to the Y and work out, I study French, I like to read, and I go to the movies.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Take all the information you have, and make the best decision for yourself. Get the most out of every experience possible.

If you were stuck on an island, what would you take with you?
It depends on where the island is. If it’s a tropical island, I’d bring some books, sunscreen, a tent  and my French dictionary. If it’s a freezing cold island, I need a warm coat and a sled dog (but I would probably still have some books and my French dictionary)

If I gave you $100, what would you spend it on?
Dinner and a movie with my family.

Top three bands, musicians, or movies?
Maroon 5
Lady Gaga
Rust and Bone (a French movie available in our collection)

Best book-to-movie adaptation?
Devil Wears Prada – one of the only movies where I think the movie was better than the book!

Chocolate or vanilla?

Beach or woods?

Favorite season?

What don’t we know about you that we should?
My birthday is the same day as Harry Potter’s!

You can find Susan working the Adult Reference desk or in the stacks working with her collections. Stop by and hello or bonjour en Français. Or stop and get a great tutorial on how to use one of our digital services (it’s helpful to bring your device!).


As part of the Biography Section, we invite other staff members to give their kudos to Jeff. Here is what they had to say:

Michelle: Susan is a personable and resourceful librarian. I am always impressed with the in-depth one-on-one reference help she gives. Whether it is helping a patron with Hoopla or Libby on their tablet, proctoring exams, or just chatting in French, Susan adds brightness and care to every interaction she has.

Kerrie: Susan is our resident Apple techie, as well as the go-to person I refer patrons to if they need help with our online services, as she’s very proficient with all of them. I often have patrons coming up to me telling me how great a help she was, too. She’s also always willing to lend a hand whenever anyone needs help.  

Jasmine: Susan is extremely gracious and thorough. Her attention to detail and diversity, led her to mostly build and successfully maintain our YA collection. She built this collection with such care and passion. When the time came for me to inherit the collection, I was excited but keenly aware of the daunting task looming ahead of me to not drop the bar. Yet, she was patient in explaining her collection development process with me, and still remains open to my questions months later. It always warms my heart, when she comes to me to give me a thumbs up on the current collection. Her continued support is very humbling to say the least.

Ed: I can take credit for hiring Susan, and it was one of my better managerial decisions.  She has been a real asset from the beginning. Early on we bounced her back and forth between the Adult Reference and the Youth Service desks, which she handled with aplomb. Periodically we’ve given her a new section to manage.  She always enjoys the new challenge and makes great selections. Susan is well read, and I’m continually impressed by the helpful resources she knows about.

Kathleen: Susan is so polite and kind to the patrons, and at the same time, she is very strong and will stand up for herself if someone steps over the line of what she feels is right!

Jeff: Susan does an excellent job curating two very distinct collections: Mysteries for lovers of suspense and whodunnits, and then the Travel section, where she’s added comprehensive guides to destinations all over the world!

Aby: Susan is a great librarian and always super helpful. Whenever a patron needs help she is always going all out to meet their needs. She also take a personal interest in her coworkers and when I first started here she was welcoming and is always very patient and helpful. She is also a fellow Slytherin and we Slytherins are the best.

Darlene: When I think of Susan, I think of the quote from Shakespeare (which I had to look up and which I didn’t know was actually Shakespeare) “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” When it comes to nonsense from patrons or a difficult task, or when she can just tell I’m stressed out, Susan is always willing to sass someone, take on a difficult project, or simply take on more desk time to give me a break when I need it. She’s little but she’s got a lot of heart and a lot of passion.


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Harry Potter Escape Room

Here are some photos of participants in our Harry Potter Escape Room! They each had 30 minutes to solve the puzzles, and each group is pictured not only with their recorded time, but also some Hogwarts-esque paraphernalia. Thank you to everyone who came to the library to take on our riddles! Remember that we have every book in the Harry Potter series, as well as on audiobook–visit our online catalog if you’d like to request a copy.

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Battle of the Books (for 5th Graders)

All Ferndale Upper Elementary (FUEL) 5th graders are encouraged to participate in our 2nd annual Battle of the Books!

fuel 5th graders _ jan - march 2019 (1)

WHAT:  A 5th grade reading competition of epic proportion! Battle of the Books is a trivia-style reading tournament. All FUEL 5th graders are encouraged to sign up.

HOW:  Find or create a team of 3-4 students, sign up with your teacher, and create awesome costumes! As a team, read the six books listed below between January and March. Books are available to borrow at Ferndale Library.  All FUEL students are eligible for Ferndale Library cards, regardless of residence.

WHEN:  After your team reads all the titles and have become book experts, the final battle will take place in school on March 21st at 2PM

The Books:

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

George by Alex Gino

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin


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Library of Michigan Announces 2019 Michigan Notable Book Awards  

Hockey, music, and mermaids are some of the themes in the list of Michigan Notable Books for 2019, released by the Library of Michigan.

This year’s list of 20 titles are as diverse as the communities throughout the state.

The celebrated books encompass the entire Great Lakes basin from the 1970s Detroit music scene, to wild rice harvesting in Northern Michigan, to the history of Michigan’s own beloved soft drink, Faygo.

“This intriguing collection of books represents a spectrum of Michigan’s people, places and the history that makes our state unique,” Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said about this year’s list. “I’m continuously impressed by the ever-increasing strength and popularity of the Library of Michigan’s Michigan Notable Book list. The abundance of quality writing generates more interest every year among bookstores, writers, libraries, and readers from all walks of life.

“The more we can instill a love of reading in our communities, the greater our efforts to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years,” Alles said.

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Each year, the Michigan Notable Book (MNB) list features 20 books, published during the previous calendar year, which are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or written by a Michigan author. Selections include a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, that appeal to many audiences and explore topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.

Two past selections have found even greater notoriety after being named. The 2015 Michigan Notable Book, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, has been made into a Netflix original movie starring Sandra Bullock. The 2010 Michigan Notable Book,The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, was made into a 2017 film, starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.

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MNB is a statewide program that began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, designed to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places, and things that make Michigan life unique and vibrant.

“The MNB selections clearly demonstrate the rich subject matter Michigan offers to writers,” said State Librarian Randy Riley. “Everyone will find something of interest that speaks to their lives or experiences in our great state.”

This year’s MNB selection committee includes representatives from the Library of Michigan; the Library of Michigan Foundation; Muskegon Area District Library; Capital Area District Library; Clinton-Macomb District Library; Cooley Law School; Lansing City Pulse newspaper; Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office; Wayne State University; Michigan Department of Education; Michigan Center for the Book; and the Michigan Humanities Council.

For more information or questions about the Michigan Notable Book program, contact the Library of Michigan at 517-335-1454, visit, or email

2019 Michigan Notable Books


Abbott by Saladin Ahmed – Boom Studios

While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city’s elite. The hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy. Saladin Ahmed presents one woman’s search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day.


Across the Great Lake by Lee Zacharias – University of Wisconsin Press

85-year-old Fern Halvorsen reflects back upon her five-year-old self traveling with her father on a huge and powerful ship with a tall, handsome pilothouse and big smoking stacks. It’s 1936 and he captains a great coal-fired vessel, the Manitou, transporting railroad cars across Lake Michigan. The girl revels in the freedom of the ferry, making friends with a stowaway cat and a gentle young deckhand. The sighting of a ghost ship, though, presages danger for all aboard.


Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian – Akashic Books

Set in early 1970s Detroit, a divided city still reeling from its violent summer of 1967, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional home life with the harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence. Beautiful Music is a funny and poignant story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.


Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblaze by Lisa McCubbin – Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is the story of a lady thrust onto the world stage. Setting precedents, she refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo—breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality. Her decision to speak out publicly about her own struggle with addiction sparked a national dialogue and helped to revolutionize treatment and inspired the modern concept of recovery.


Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit by Michael H. Hodges – Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press

Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit tells the story of the German-Jewish immigrant who rose from poverty to become one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. Kahn’s work ethic and approach to his craft spurred his influence on both industry and architecture. His willingness to design factories for the Soviets and munition facilities for the U.S government placed the Allied Powers on stronger footing at the outbreak of the Second World War. His proximity to epochal world events makes his life story a tableau of America’s rise to power. Albert Kahn’s designs are reflected in modern buildings today.


Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow – Harper/HarperCollins Publishers

A fresh take on the awkwardness of being a teenager, Drum Roll Please is a story about a girl who finds that music makes her a stronger person. Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. She finds that with playing music, she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Summer band camp brings on big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. While her rock-and-roll future is in question, she finds her path forward.


Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction by Anne-Marie Oomen, Editor – Wayne State University Press

Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction comes to us from 23 of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. The writings approach Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. A celebration of the elements, this collection is both the storm and the shelter. Contributors include: Jerry Dennis, Jessica Mesman, Toi Dericotte, Mardi Jo Link, and Keith Taylor amongst many of Michigan’s finest writers.


Faygo Book by Joe Grimm – Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press

Starting with little more than pots, pails, hoses, and a one-horse wagon, Ben and Perry Feigenson reformulated cake frosting recipes into carbonated beverage recipes and launched their business in the middle of the 1907 global financial meltdown. Out of more than 40 bottlers in Detroit’s “pop alley,” Faygo remains the last one standing. The Faygo Book is the story of a pop, a people, and a place. The Faygo Book is the social history of a company that has forged a bond with a city and its residents for more than a century.


Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 & My Life of Impossibilities by Wayne Kramer – Da Capo Press

The MC5 reflected the late 60s and early 70s: exciting, sexy, violent, chaotic, and out of control. Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities, is a story of the personal struggle of an addict and an artist. From the glory days of Detroit to the junk-sick streets of the East Village, from Key West to Nashville and sunny L.A., in and out of prison and on and off drugs, his is the classic journeyman narrative, but with a twist: he’s here to remind us that revolution is always an option.


Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen – Wayne State University Press

Raised in a ramshackle cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, a girl takes refuge in her beloved lake in the face of her disrupted homelife. One day she spots a creature in the water, something beautiful and inexplicable. Thus, begins a telepathic conversation between a lost young girl and the mermaid who saves her in more ways than one. Accompanied by powerful illustrations, The Lake Michigan Mermaid offers a tender tale of friendship, redemption, and the life-giving power of water.


Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan by Barbara J. Barton – Michigan State University Press

Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan focuses on the history, culture, biology, and economics surrounding the wild rice plant. The story travels through time from the days before European expansion and winds its way forward in and out of the logging and industrialization eras. It weaves between the worlds of the Anishinaabek and Euro-American immigrants. Barton discusses rice beds that once existed in Michigan, why many disappeared, and the efforts to restore and protect the plant.


Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story by Lindsey McDivitt – Sleeping Bear Press

Sara Gwendolen Frostic was born in Sandusky, Michigan in 1906. When she was eight months old, she suffered from an unknown illness that left her with lifelong symptoms similar to cerebral palsy. She went on to attend college, contribute to the war effort in Detroit, and started her own printmaking business. Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story tells the story behind Gwen’s life and art. She dedicated her work and her life to reminding people of the wonder and beauty in nature.

Notes from a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson, Editor and Oliver Uberti, Designer – Grand Central Publishing

In the beginning, there were no editors, agents, or audiences. Book browsers were provided a blank page, an old-fashioned typewriter and the opportunity to express themselves. From such a streamlined foundation sprang the work Notes from A Public Typewriter. Editor and designer have combined their favorite left behind notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.

The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball’s Pioneering Champions by Mitch Lutzke – McFarland & Company, Inc

The Page Fence Giants were an all-star black baseball team based in Adrian, Michigan. From 1895-98, they played teams from local communities, along with games against minor and major league squads and other black baseball nines. In 1896, the Giants won the Black Baseball Championship series. Despite their winning ways, a championship, and a roster that includes one member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this is the first book written about this all-star team.


The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark – Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company

When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. It took 18 months of activism by city residents and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. Anna Clark’s The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town but could also be about any American city.


The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage, by Keith Gave – Gold Star Publishing

When the Detroit Red Wings were rebooting their franchise after more than two decades of relative futility, they knew the best place to find world-class players who could help turn things around were players from the Soviet Union. What ensued was a series of secret meetings to help enable the players to exit their homeland. This is their story from the day Detroit drafted its first two Soviets in 1989 until they raised the Stanley Cup in 1997, then took it to Moscow for a victory lap.


Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski – Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press

With 75 recipes the Sister Pie cookbook pays homage to Motor City ingenuity and all-American spirit. The granddaughter of two Detroit natives created a little corner pie shop in a former beauty salon on the city’s east side where no one leaves empty handed. Those who don’t have money in their pockets can simply cash in a prepaid slice from the “pie it forward” clothesline strung across the window. This unique and fruitful business model is detailed beside tasty recipes.


So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt – Roaring Brook Press

Originally from Ulster County, New York, Sojourner Truth was born into slavery and was sold several times during the course of her life. Yet she possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans.


The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele – HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers

An aspiring journalist, Penelope, teams up with the nerdy boy next door to find her conspiracy theorist father after he goes missing and several other townspeople turn up dead in the woods. Things get weird with townspeople repeating the same phrases verbatim and men in black suits strolling around the main street of a very small northern Michigan town. With help from her parents and friends, she learns that the truth is not always simple.


What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha – One World/Random House

“The eyes don’t see what the mind doesn’t know” is a quote from D. H. Lawrence that guided Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s medical training and inspired her medical practice in Flint. This is a book about how the right doctor was in place to discover the elevated lead levels in the children of Flint. The result is a story of how doctors, along with parents and community leaders, discovered the medical crisis in the city’s most vulnerable citizens. Flint was a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for its children.


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WWII POW Camps in Michigan: A History Presentation on Jan 31

As a Professor of History at U-D Mercy, Dr. Gregory Sumner appreciates that “you’ll never stop finding stories to tell” that occurred during the years of World War II. He’s following up his 2015 book on the “Arsenal of Democracy” with “…a nice little story that’s set in the quiet middle America, unfolding amidst this horrific, near-apocalyptic global war.” Dr. Sumner will be at the Ferndale Library on Thu., Jan. 31 (at 6:30 pm) to discuss his latest book, Michigan POW Camps in WWII.

During World War II, Michigan became a temporary home to 6,000 German and Italian Prisoners of War (POWs). At a time of homefront labor shortages, they picked fruit in Berrien County, harvested sugar beets in the Thumb, cut pulpwood in the Upper Peninsula and maintained parks and other public spaces in Detroit. “We were sending ships across the Atlantic with our soldiers and equipment, and they were coming back nearly empty. So we came up with the idea of shipping our POWs (from Northern Africa, Italy, Western Europe) back to the U.S. because that way they won’t be escaping and then we’ve got places to put them.”

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Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners were allowed to volunteer for work. And “…we had a hellacious labor shortage in the U.S. at that time, especially in Michigan, and especially in the agricultural sector at that time.” These wartime work programs would result in one-third of Michigan’s agricultural labor force being comprised of POWs from 1943-1946. The work programs were not flawless and not all of the prisoners were cooperative, but many of the men established enduring friendships with their captors.

“Most of the POWs were in their late teens or early 20s…they were homesick, but they worked hard and got to know the families on the farms where they worked,” said Sumner. One stipulation under the Geneva Convention was that these POWs weren’t allowed to volunteer for any “war-related” work. That meant you wouldn’t see German or Italian soldiers working on our bombers at Willow Run, but it would mean that they would contribute greatly to the agricultural sector.

During WWII, there were 32 camps scattered all around Michigan, including in the Upper Peninsula. At the Ferndale Library, on Jan 31, Dr. Sumner will anecdotally regale those in attendance of his interviews with current residents of towns like Owosso and Battle Creek, as well as his talks with those who had direct contact with the POWs. Sumner will even share a bit about a big misunderstanding over an “escape,” that led to a federal investigation and claims of treason…, right here in Michigan!

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A Year of Reading (The “52” Challenge)


Some of Stephanie Belcher’s selections from her Year of Reading

Stephanie Belcher’s Year of Reading
At the beginning of 2018 I challenged myself to read 52 books that year. I knew it meant finishing one per week, but I figured that to be adjustable over the course of the year. Some would be faster, some slower. What I didn’t factor in was entire weeks where I never left my office and could barely read my mail let alone a book. By spring I was behind by so many books, there was no catching up. I read 13 in the first half of the year and 21 in the second half, for a total of 34 finished.

Stephanie Belcher is the area coordinator for the Music Industry Studies Dept. at DIME (Detroit Institute of Music Education). She specializes in business management, entrepreneurship and marketing…, but she’s also an avid reader! We saw Belcher sharing her reading list, along with this inspiring essay, on social media earlier this week. We wanted to share it here on our blog. While 52 books is ambitious, 34 is very impressive! As we start this new year, we’d encourage all our patrons to try something similar…, maybe just 12 books in one year? 24? ….35, maybe? Here’s more form Belcher:

The experience was life affirming. Reading is a huge part of my life – my grandparents were constantly reading in front of me, my mom would take us to libraries, Borders, Half Price Books. I love the smell of the pages and the crack of the spine. The door opening to a different world, one that maybe you knew existed, but maybe you didn’t. Many of the books I read this year introduced me to new worlds. In 2018 I visited France during World War II, ancient Greece, San Francisco, London, Colombia, Sweden, Alaska, Australia, and Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.

These books opened my mind to different ways of thinking. Some books painted such a clear picture that I had no choice but to feel every feeling described in the page, even if I had never thought about that situation before. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah literally changed my mindset on war. Before reading it, I had never considered what it would be like to live at home while your town or country was occupied by an enemy of war. I began to realize the complexities of war, of raising a family, maintaining a community, loving people, owning guns, having children. As I got deeper into the book, my world grew. I’ll never be the same. This is the power of a well-written book.


Although I fell short of my initial goal, I’m proud to know I finished a book just about every 10 days. Meanwhile, my 7-year old daughter, inspired by my challenge and slightly competitive, challenged herself to reading 55 books in the year. She crushed it, and we stopped keeping track in August.

Some of these books were on her own, but many of them were with her father and I, at night before bed. Out loud we read a dozen chapter books, including The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Esio Trot by Roland Dahl, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume. We read half a dozen Magic Tree House Books, which are wonderful for teaching kids to explore their surroundings. We fell in love with Nancy Clancy and Clementine, and we revisited classics like The Hundred Dresses and Little Women. My first grader tests at a fourth grade vocabulary, which doesn’t surprise me, thanks to amazing authors like Jane O’Connor and Eleanor Estes. I read to my children so they can explore other worlds, learn new things, and challenge themselves.

Anyway, I love reading, and this challenge taught me a lot:

⭐ In downtime, reach for a book first, before a screen. Set app timers, or move your charger to a different room. Get a book lamp for bed.

⭐ After heavy emotional material, I can’t digest another fiction story right away. I need time to process. I’m exploring new genres like memoirs and comedy books to read while I’m rebounding.

⭐ Being inclined to read business books during busy season at work is natural, due to the conversations in having with clients, but I shouldn’t expect to finish those books. They are reference material, not stories to be completed. Don’t consider this wasted time, but rather, adjust my goal to include pages or chapters read.

⭐ Children’s chapter books count. I didn’t realize this at first, because I thought they weren’t long enough or dense enough. nonsense!! Sometimes my daughter and I read 40 pages a day, out loud, Wonka’s tongue twisters included.

⭐ It’s important to read the reviews and ask friends. Quality over quantity. Goodreads is my friend, take time to update it.

⭐ Borrow from the library as much as possible. Don’t attempt to purchase every book. It took me WAY too long to realize this!

Overall, I give this challenge ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars and I will be doing it again. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me, lent me books, and listened to me cry about the Nightingale.


Everything I read:

Circe by Madeline Miller: incredible. Best book of the year. Riveting and extremely well written. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Wonderful insight into another’s life. Character study. This one stayed with me. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hollow City: slow, drawn out. Was ready for the end. ⭐⭐.5

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: still a lovely read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: powerful story about holding people too close. very well written. Set in my hometown, it’s extremely accurate. Felt like stepping into my high school yearbook ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce: cute idea could have been executed better. ⭐⭐⭐

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: Haunting. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Man Called Ove: cute, endearing. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Tipping Point by Malcolm gladwell: brilliant analysis of consumer behavior. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Year of Yes by shonda rhimes: great stories, could have been shorter. ⭐⭐⭐.5

A Wrinkle in Time: fun, exciting. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Subtle Art: a life changing exploration into our value systems. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Other People’s Houses by Abbi waxman: cute conversation about fidelity, neighborhoods, and gossip. ⭐⭐⭐.5

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: one of the most affecting books I’ve read. Rocked my world. Changed me to my core. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Vacationers: cute, memorable beach read. ⭐⭐⭐.5

The Art of the Idea: philosophical, interesting. Kinda weird, in a good way. ⭐⭐⭐.5

Library of Souls: riveting ending to the trilogy. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

The Immortalists: loved the first half, didn’t love the second half. 2nd half felt rushed. Couldn’t explain why some characters did what they did. Twist at the end left me confused. ⭐⭐⭐.5

Big Little Lies: loved this story. Was deeply moved. Makes me want to protect my tribe. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summer Wives: really liked the story elements, didn’t love the writing. ⭐⭐⭐.5

Crowdfunders Strategy Guide: excellent advice, well written. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fruit of the Drunken Tree: set in Colombia. Very interesting view into how Pablo Escobar affected children and families. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Girl, Wash Your Face: incredibly empowering. Life changing. Powerful read. Be prepared to be changed. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How to Walk Away: nice easy read but not memorable. ⭐⭐⭐

Fudge-a-Mania: still adorable. Was fun reading about vacation in Maine after taking one. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Year of Fog: interesting but lots of extra words. Ending left me unsatisfied. ⭐⭐⭐.5

The Book of Essie: should come with a trigger warning. The last book I’ll read without reading reviews first. Not bad, but intense abuse subject matter. ⭐⭐⭐

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: story holds up. Writing is great, but the vernacular is tough. Read this out loud, struggled. Still amazing though. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer: one of three books I read about raising the dead. Excellent. Must read more like this. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

The Philosophers Flight: cool idea, but can’t remember how it ended. Enjoyed it regardless. ⭐⭐⭐.5

Hit Makers: brilliant, dense with information. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nancy Clancy series: very sweet, great vocabulary. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Clementine: proving that girls can cause trouble too. Very cute. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Esio Trot: I have issues with lying. Lead to some interesting conversations. ⭐⭐.5

The Hundred Dresses: LOVED this book. Powerful reminder of what people are capable of. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Biography Section



Once a month, Youth Services Librarian Ms. Elissa interviews a new staff member so that patrons can get to know us better… Pictured above, FADL Director Jenny Marr


This week we have Jenny Marr, FADL’s Director. As a director, she wears many hats, so not only will you find her in her office, but helping out at the two Reference desks as well as at Circ, or even changing light bulbs! Back from several years in Kansas, she’s happy to be in Michigan again, closer to family and friends.

What do you love about working at FADL?
The staff all have different interests and passions. I feel constantly inspired by the ideas they come up with for programs, social media, and the collections. Part of my job is to make the staff successful at their jobs, and it’s a real joy to work with everyone. I come to work every day knowing that the staff are all working to make the library a better (and more fun) place for the community.

Best or favorite part of your job?
I like long-range planning. Although there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had from checking items off of a to-do list, it’s nothing compared to the feeling of accomplishment from completing a project after months of work. I love taking an idea or a dream and working through the challenges until it becomes a reality.

What is the most misunderstood aspect of your job?/What do people get wrong about your job?
People think I read a lot of books because I work in a library. I wish that were true! I’m in what I call “literary debt” which means I have more books on my “to read” list than I have time to actually read. Working in a library just lets me see more books and makes the list longer.

Favorite collection or thing we circ at FADL?
RB Digital Magazines. I don’t think most people know about this service, but it’s amazing. You can download free magazines onto your phone, tablet or computer and they don’t have to be returned. I love always having a good magazine available when I’m waiting somewhere, and it’s great to not have a stack of magazines piling up.

Best book you’ve ever read?
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It’s the first book where I felt the need to slow down and savor the language. Definitely the best opening line I’ve ever read in a book. It’s also the first time I read a book that didn’t have a happy ending. Both unsettling and thought-provoking. My favorite quote is “A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” It’s a good reminder about the value of helping other people.

What do you love about Ferndale as a community/city?
It’s so vibrant. I love that the library is part of the downtown so there are always people walking around. I love the pride that everyone has for Ferndale. I think residents really take personal responsibility for participating and engaging within the community. It makes me work harder.

How do you spend your days off?
I like to explore. My day to day is usually scheduled and deadline-oriented so it’s a real luxury to just wander without worrying about what time it is. My goal this year is to work through the Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) destinations, available through the library.

Any pets?
Not currently. I had 2 cats, they were named after Red Wings hockey players.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. When I start getting stressed about something I ask myself “what’s the worst that could happen?” Once I make a plan for that, I feel better and can move forward.

If you were stuck on an island, what would you take with you?
A satellite phone.

If I gave you $100, what would you spend it on?
I’d go out to brunch with my family. Having lived out of state for several years before moving back to Michigan, I appreciate time spent with them more than anything else.

Top three bands/movies?

Depeche Mode

Any band Chris Cornell is in

Lindsey Stirling


Gosford Park


Stark Raving Mad

Favorite song to sing at karaoke?
Colorful by The Verve Pipe.

Best book-to-movie adaptation?
First, the book is always better. If I suspend what I know from the novel, I can enjoy watching Dune (David Lynch version) repeatedly. I think they need to make more movies based on Clive Cussler novels.

Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla. You can always add chocolate to it.

Beach or woods?
Beach. The warm sun and the sound of waves are perfect for taking a nap.

Favorite season?
Spring. I’m usually ready for it on January 1st.


Look for Jenny around the library in her various duties and don’t be afraid to say hi!


As part of the Biography Section, we invite other staff members to give their kudos to Jenny…. Here is what they had to say:

Susan: I think Jenny brings a lively energy to work every day.  She’s smart, demonstrates that she truly is invested in the success of the library, the patrons, Ferndale in general and most importantly, us as a staff.  She really knows what we need, what the patrons and the library need and how to go for it and figure out how to make a vision into a successful plan of action (like the back room renovation, and getting our raises secured).  She is kind and thoughtful. She even changed my spot on the staff pick shelf to make it easier for me to reach it, and she always answers questions for me and on the reference desk. We like having her help us there too. She has also spent extra time waiting with me after work.  Overall, having Jenny as the director makes me feel good about coming to work every day and makes me want to do the best I can in my position.

Kerrie: I appreciate that Jenny is always willing to help other departments when we’re short-handed or just need an extra hand. She also worked hard on the building sale and bond refinancing which will save us lots of money for years to come.

Jasmine: I love how organized Jenny is, and that she graciously sends out funny email reminders when timesheets are due. And I also love her sarcastic humor. I sometimes stick my head in her office to hear what funny thing will come out of her mouth next.

Darlene: Jenny’s attention to detail and her ability to see all the moving parts of programs and projects blows my mind. I am more big picture and never think of nearly 1/2 of the things she comes up with. She’s definitely seen me out of potential scraps I would have gotten myself into.


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