Great Michigan Read book selection made

The Michigan Humanities Council invites readers across the state to get on the same page.

Through the continuation of its biennial Great Michigan Read program, the council has announced its book selection for 2013-14: “Annie’s Ghosts” written by Washington Post associate editor and Detroit native Steve Luxenberg.

The Great Michigan Read program partners with schools, libraries, museums and other organizations in Michigan for a statewide reading discussion. Each program focuses on a new title written by a Michigan author or one based in Michigan, and is selected by a statewide committee.

This reading initiative aims to connect Michiganians by exploring the state’s history, its present and its future in a single literary title. It is intended for young adults to senior citizens with a broad goal of making literature more accessible and appealing while also encouraging residents to learn more about their state and individual identities.

Alpena County Library is among those that have embraced the concept since it was first introduced in 2007 with the pick, “The Nick Adams Stories” by Ernest Hemingway. Library staff planned a whole line-up of related events around the book that were embraced by local residents.

The library continued its participation by bringing in as guest speakers the authors of the two other previous Great Michigan Read selections. These included “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir” by Bich Minh Nguyen” (2009-10) and “Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle (2011-12).

Library Director Eric Magness-Eubank said the library will again participation in the Great Michigan Read in some fashion, but that the level and type of involvement is yet to be finalized.

“I’m sure we’ll do something with it,” he said. “This newest book has won some state awards. It is supposed to be a good book, which naturally, the Michigan Humanities Council would never consider a book if it wasn’t a good book.”

“Annie’s Ghosts” is part memoir, part detective story and part history. As the author tries to understand his mom’s reasons for hiding her sister’s existence, he takes readers on a journey into his mother’s world of the 1930s and 1940s, where he explores how a poor, immigrant family manages life with a child who has special needs.

“Annie’s Ghosts” also is a story about family secrets, personal journeys, genealogy, mental disability and illness, poverty, and immigration. It is a story of re-framing one’s self-understanding once a family secret is revealed and providing insight into how personal identities are shaped by learning something shockingly new about a family’s history.

Luxenberg’s book was selected among the Best Books of 2009 by The Washington Post and as a Michigan Notable Book for 2010 by the Library of Michigan.

The author has worked for more than 30 years as a newspaper editor and reporter. His journalistic career began at The Baltimore Sun, where he worked for 11 years. He joined The Post in 1985 as deputy editor of the investigative/special projects staff, headed by assistant managing editor Bob Woodward.

In 1991, Luxenberg succeeded Woodward as head of the investigative staff. Post reporters working with Luxenberg have won several major reporting awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes for explanatory journalism. From 1996 to 2006, Steve was the editor of The Post’s Sunday Outlook section, which publishes original reporting and provocative commentary on a broad spectrum of political, historical and cultural issues.

For more information about the Great Michigan Read, contact Carla Ingrando at the Michigan Humanities Council at or 517-372-7770 or Magness-Eubank at Alpena County Library at 356-6188.