What You Should Read based on your Go-To Karaoke Song

That annoying DJ who tries to harmonize with everyone is about to ask the bar to “give it up” for you.  You know your song. You’ve choreographed your leg kicks. But the big question, my little China doll, my island in the stream, my gypsy tramp and/or thief: what are you going to read when the lights go down?


1. Bob Seger catalog: Tom Drury catalog

Here in Michigan “Night Moves” is our “Born in the USA”. When I was very pregnant with my son, I fantasized about showing up at a strange bar with an empty suitcase for a prop and doing a wistful rendition of “Against the Wind”. Never happened, but I (and you!) can live out my Seger fantasies of rough youths, struttin’ women and Boomer regrets with the laidback and lyrical books of Tom Drury. Drury has three books, written over the span of 20 years, that explore the lives of characters growing up in and passing through Grouse County, Iowa. Like Seger, Drury’s prose are conversational and about the “everyman”. James Kidd of The Independent said that Drury’s first book The End of Vandalism “doesn’t so much thrust as insinuate its greatness upon you”. Lose your awkward teenage blues in this writer.

2. Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers, featuring Dolly Parton: The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian


If you’ve got somebody who will make a fool of themselves singing this song with you, than you have a true partner. Such is the duo in Zadoorian’s The Leisure Seeker. John has progressive dementia. His wife Ella has too many physical ailments to count. So they escape their kids and hospital visits in an RV set for Disneyland and “ride it together”. And they rely on each other, uh whoaaaa, from one lover to another, oh whoaaa.

3. I’ll Be There For You by Bon Jovi: Endless Love by Scott Spencer


“When you breathe, I want to be the air for you”. Sounds creepy-intense. If that’s your thing, read Scott Spencer’s Endless Love, the 1979 classic of young love. Young love so deep that when David is forbidden to continue seeing Jade, he thinks maaaybe he’ll win her back by starting a safe fire to her home and rescuing her family. It goes awry. “Baby you know my hands are dirty. But I wanted to be your valentine.”

4. Stay by Lisa Loeb: First Bad Man by  Miranda July and An Education by Lynn Barber


I sang this song until I was breathless while riding my bike through my neighborhood in junior high, wishing my eyesight were poor enough for cat-eye glasses. It’s a perfect serenade for a naive young woman in her first relationship and, wouldn’t you know it, people write books about that sort of thing too. I would tell you to read An Education by Lynn Barber and First Bad Man, Miranda July’s new novel, but you only hear what you want to.

5. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by The Shirelles: Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

What a sweet song. Please sing this with lots of swaying. Then read the triple-biography Girls Like Us. Carole King wrote the song, which makes this pairing particularly apt; but the book also captures a lot of the hope and romance that “Will You…” expresses. All three women experience a lot of love (it was the sixties) and loss. Especially Carly and James Taylor. Sigh.

6. Mama Tried by Merle Haggard: The Kept by James Scott

OMG, this book was made for this song.  I can’t even. The mama in James Scott‘s The Kept sure did try. First she did a series of unforgiveable things. But oh how she tried after that. Caleb is “the one and only rebel child” because all his other siblings and his father were brutally murdered. He and mama take off in the frozen wilderness to track down the killers and “mama seemed to know what lay in store”. Read. It.

7. Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain and Tennille: Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom

captain collage

You’ve got to believe that love will save the day if you’re singing this song. That and a hearty helping of cheeseball are the only ways you’re going to pull it off.  Look in your heart and find this memoir of love at long last, Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom. Patience is an editor at Harlequin and reads fictional romance all the day long. But can love like that exist in the real world? Can it?

8. Damn, I Wish I Was your Lover by Sophie B. Hawkins: Rainbow Rowell


Sophie B. Hawkins of the “As I Lay Me Down” song that for some reason always conjures up memories of watching Party of Five also sang “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” some years prior! Shucks!  Anyway, that feisty, fun, smart sort of yearning feeling you get when you hear “Damn…” can also be found in the fiction of Rainbow Rowell, particularly Fangirl, Attachments, and Eleanor & Park. But if you didn’t think you could feel the same passion as you could in 1992 because you’re old and married now, for goodness sakes read Landline. It’s the best. She’s the best. Damn, I wish I was her best friend.

9. Beginnings by Chicago: Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield


“I wish I could sing it to you, oh no”. I hesitate to put this song in the ballads category, because there was some serious dancing going on when my friend Joel, also a librarian, sang this at karaoke. Librarians can turn it up. If you love this tune and the thrills and chills of new love, read Turn Around Bright Eyes. If you hadn’t already guessed, this book is about karaoke, but it’s also about new beginnings.

On the Dance Floor

1. Gypsies Tramps and Thieves by Cher- American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare, The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott


And every night all the men would come around…

If you haven’t actually karaoke’d to Cher, you’ve dreamed of it. Oh, to be an alto. Not only do I think American Rose is a great book match for a guy or gal who can belt “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves”, I think Cher herself would dig this book. The true story of the famed vaudeville stripteaser Gypsy, that is more crazy-scandalous then a commercial for Dr. Phil. Illicit affairs, rampant swindling, murder, false teeth, sequins and yes, gypsies, tramps and thieves. It’s all there for you.

2. Bowie: The Wicked and the Divine series by Kieron Gillon and Jamie McKelvie


The question isn’t whether or not you should sing Bowie, it’s what Bowie song to sing. Suffragette City? Young Americans? Modern Love? Probably you should just fill up the queue with all of them. No one else really felt like singing tonight, right? And while you’re waiting for your name to be called again, start reading the graphic novel series The Wicked and the Divine. Every 90 years, 12 gods appear on earth in fantastic outfits and are revered as pop stars for two years, until they die. I’m pretty sure this is the closest you’re going to get to experiencing what David Bowie was dreaming/hallucinating in the seventies.

3. Kiss Me Deadly by Lita Ford: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

No TV. No money. Late for her job. Lita wanted a little more thrill out of life. If you can’t get it from dancing to her tune, get it from the queen of romantic suspense, Ms. Nora Roberts. One of her latest is called Whiskey Beach, so if reading the word “whiskey” doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth a little the morning after karaoke, give it a try!

4. Pencil Thin Mustache by Jimmy Buffett: Carl Hiaasen

Buffett and Hiassen are a tropical match made in heaven. “Oh I wish I had a pencil thin mustache, then I could solve mysteries too.” As luck would have it, you can because Hiaasen’s forte is Florida-based mysteries! Try Bad Monkey or Skinny Dip. See? Those even sound like titles to Buffett songs!

5. Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy by Big & Rich: Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan


Sounds like you’re having a hard time expressing your desire to relate to the fairer sex. Let’s start with The Feminine Mystique and move on from there.

6. Tight Pants Body Rolls by Leslie Hall: Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture by Frank Owen


You just came to dance and you don’t care who knows it. High kicks. Body Rolls. While you’re re-hydrating and resting your shins, you might be interested in Clubland, Frank Owen’s six year exploration of late 90s Manhattan discos. Actually, there’s no “might” about it, you will definitely be into this no-rules, no-limits exposé.

7. Prince: Amor & Psycho by Carolyn Cooke

Prince is a storyteller that pushes the envelope. He doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects, even if they make some uncomfortable. And I know for a fact they make people uncomfortable because when I was a young child and my sisters were teenagers, they helped me memorize the words to all the inappropriate Prince songs and man does it make people uncomfortable to hear a seven-year-old sing “Delirious”. Carolyn Cooke’s offbeat collection of stories, Amor & Psycho give off a similar vibe. Kirkus Reviews called the collection “erotic, whimsical, and profound”. So put on your raspberry beret, drive your little red Corvette over to the library and pick up this book.

8. Queen: Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones 


There are so many hits to choose from here and you’ll do none of them justice because Freddie Mercury has the best voice of all time. But it’s fun to try. And just like there’s no match for Freddie’s voice, I couldn’t find a book that embodied Queen as well as this rock bio of the band’s frontman. Author Jones traveled around the world to talk to Mercury’s closest friends and family and the result is an intimate story about one man and his love of music.


PBF | May

Party Banter Friday: 

In Which A Librarian Provides You With An Interesting Fact to Make You More Popular During Weekend Socializing

I love to get my street cred in the Sight & Sound department. I usually accomplish this by waving around the hip new/rare old album that my husband asked if I would pick up for him and then waiting until staff gets distracted by another patron and sneaking off to get Trisha Yearwood’s Greatest Hits for myself.

So when my husband asked me if I wanted to watch a documentary about a pioneer of Nigerian synth-funk,  I sensed an opportunity to look cool in front of S&S once again. Actually, I haughtily replied, “No, leave me alone. I’m reading my book.” But once I heard those beats and peered up from my book to see the cowboy-hat clad William Onyeabor, I knew that the false respect I’d been gaining from my co-workers downstairs was going to hit an all-time high. And if you’re going to a party this weekend, you can gain false respect too!:

Admired by some of the biggest names in American and British pop, but a mystery man since the 1980s, when he became an evangelical Christian and began refusing to discuss his music, the story of William Onyeabor is the perfect subject for party banter. Also, this should have been the first thing I wrote, the music is sweeeeet.

Watch Fantastic Man to learn more about Onyeabor (it’s about half an hour long), then stop by and get the album, Who Is William Onyeabor?  We have an excellent international music section, so you’ll probably have an armload by the time you check out. Just don’t tell the Sight & Sound guys you caught me jammin’ to “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” or I’ll stop giving you party facts.

Photo credit: Our featured image for PBF is a picture from our digital history collection. You can view the original image and browse our collection here.

Called Out For Excessive Window Shopping

Hey Tiger Fans,

We’re lookin’ pretty good this year, eh? Ehhhhh? And I’ve got a new superstition that will help us ensure those Tigers keep go gettin’ em. Instead of growing our beards out or not changing our socks (these things tend to scare the patrons), let’s all consume as much baseball pop culture as we can and our collective Field of Dreams vibes will float up into those Pure Michigan skies and hover right over Comerica Park. If you read/watch/listen to it, they will win. Sorry, am I getting too The Secret-y?

The late great Ernie Harwell used to say that a player was “called out for excessive window shopping” after a strikeout. But window shopping at the library is a good thing. Like a good FREE thing.

So if you love the Tigers, browse through our baseball collection. They’re all homers! To make this list, I channeled my inner Lynn Wells, the librarian with the heart of bitter from Major League:


“Agh, I got some readin’ to do.”: BOOKS 



” What about losers? What about failures? What about the ordinary @$*! outcasts of this world – who happen to comprise ninety percent of the human race! Don’t they have dreams, Agni?”                                                   – Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel


“Why do we remember the Boys of Summer? We remember because we were young when they were, of course.”- Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer

“In case you haven’t noticed and, judging by the attendance, you haven’t…”: MOVIES:


Pitcher’s Got A Big Butt: Baseball’s Underdogs

I Believe in the Church of Baseball: Baseball and Redheaded Women

  • Field of Dreams: Kevin Costner stars as a baseball guy with a sassy red-headed love interest named Annie who loves reading. “Is this heaven?” “It’s Iowa.” Gah, this is a good movie.
  • Bull Durham: Kevin Costner stars as a baseball guy with a sassy red-headed love interest named…Annie…who loves reading. And off-shoulder tops! But actually totally different.
  • A League of Their Own: Hey Geena Davis. Where’d you go, girl? I’ll always be a wannabe Rockford Peach.
  • Fever Pitch:  Drew’s cute. Jimmy’s cute. And the Red Sox actually won when they were filming this movie. That’s the real game at the end there. #specialfeaturesnerd
  • Trouble with the Curve: I think at this point we’ve established at this point that baseball guys can only love redheaded women. This is a great flick if you want to trick your husband into watching an emo flick by saying, “I got a baseball movie at the library!”

With or Without an Asterick: History Lessons

  • Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns: If you’ve got 18.5 hours to kill, check out all 9 innings of this Emmy-award winning documentary.
  • Pride of the Yankees: The story of Lou Gehrig as portrayed by dreamboat Gar Cooper.
  • Eight Men Out: Charlie Sheen, John Cusak and the guy from The Cutting Edge tell the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal.
  • 42: A bio film that shows the career of Jackie Robinson as he struck that color barrier out.
  • The Rookie: Based on a true story and every minor league baseball player’s favorite movie.
  • Moneyball: What’s sexier than a good-lookin’ catcher? Statistics.

“Wild thing, you make my heart sing.”: SONGS


There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with the radio coming through the screen window and a baseball game tuned in–but there are a few songs that come close. Like Centerfield by John  Fogerty or Joe DiMaggio Done It Again by Billy Bragg and Wilco (lyrics by Woodie Guthrie). Miggy and Verlander are both walking up to Eminem this year. Click here to see walk up songs for the whole team.

That’s all for now Tigers fans. I’m looooong gone.

This post is dedicated to my dad who loves baseball the most and always helped me cheer for Sweet Bou Whitaker (I had trouble with my L’s).

The featured picture is from the Detroit Free Press and found on historicdetroit.org.