Whether or not this is your first Valentine’s anniversary, gifting a book is a perfect way to highlight someone’s interests. For all ages, literary presents are more personal than flowers or candy, and can provide conversation fodder for days. This February, celebrate loved ones through their non-fiction interests.
Ann Arbor has a rich artistic history and many local greats have made their mark across the state. The Michigan connection to a tumultuous love story for the ages, “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit,” by Mark Rosenthal tells of the time the pair of artists spent in Detroit. While Rivera painted his Detroit Institute of Arts mural, commissioned by Edsel Ford, the couple lived and worked in the city from April of 1932 through March of 1933. Their time in the city would have influence their work for years to come, and is explored through images of the murals and Kahlo’s paintings. Though this book was originally written by the Detroit Institute of Arts adjunct curator of contemporary art to accompany the 2015 exhibition of their work, it stands on its own. “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit” was included on the Michigan Notable Book List 2016.
Riveting tales such as these can inspire even the hardest to please. Young readers, though they may read many books in school, will find that the truly interesting books have a lasting impact outside of it. Before Wonder Woman makes her solo film debut later this year, inspire Michigan children with the feats of real wonder women in “Great Girls in Michigan History,” by Patricia Majher. Recommended for ages eight and up, this non-fiction youth read examines the lives and legacies of twenty notable women and their Michigan-related accomplishments. The highlighted figures span multiple fields including writers, singers, athletes, and political figures; all successful in some way by age twenty. Both the young and the young at heart will be inspired by the accomplishments of those who have come before them.
A final suggestion: While we may be a few months from the return of college football action, a sporty Valentine may appreciate a look at the foundational moments of a well-known program. For the University of Michigan football fan, “Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football” by John U Bacon offers a detailed journey through the world of university sports and how the game has evolved over time. In the age of Harbaugh, a look back into the dark days of the program may feel unwelcome, but ultimately transforms into a story of triumph and resilience even non-sports fans will feel compelled to cite in future conversation.
Ultimately, any book can make a perfect gift, and some off-screen time can be the most relaxing and thoughtful gift off all. For lovers of art, sport, and young readers, these books may ignite a new interest, or fan the flames of a life-long passion. Though novels are popular, the right non-fiction piece can catch the eye of even the least literary Valentine. These titles and many, many more are also available through the many branches of the Ann Arbor District Library, or through other local libraries.