Memorial Day weekend has just passed. We hope yours was a safe one. This year was especially poignant as we marked 75 years since the end of World War II and also the devastating effects of COVID-19, which has already taken nearly 100,000 American lives since March. At this special time of year, Ohioana would like to pay tribute to three gifted Ohio authors who have passed away in recent months.
As Ohioana observes Memorial Day, we’d like to pay tribute to three gifted Ohio authors who have passed away in recent months.
It was a huge shock for Ohioana when we learned of Karen Harper’s passing on April 13, just a week after her 75th birthday. Less than two months before, Karen had been the guest of the Ohioana Book Club, which read her novel, American Duchess, as their winter selection. They loved the book –and her. We knew then that Karen was battling cancer, but she told us she planned to be at the 2020 Ohioana Book Festival, which we had to reschedule to August 29. Little did we know that book club would be her final public appearance.
Born in Toledo, Karen lived most of her adult life in Columbus, teaching English in high school and college until she turned to a full-time writing career in the 1980s. She became the prolific and award-winning author of more than sixty novels, many of them New York Times and USA Today best-sellers. But Karen was more than that. She was warm, caring, and generous to her author colleagues and her legion of fans, who loved her books and who she loved meeting at events like the Ohioana Book Festival, Books by the Banks, and the Buckeye Book Fair.
Karen was also a great friend of Ohioana. She dedicated two of her Cold Creek Trilogy books to the library. She was a long-time member, and in last year’s spring Ohioana Quarterly, was the guest contributor to our “Why I Support Ohioana” column, in which she wrote:
“I support the Ohioana Library partly because Ohioana supports me, and I don’t mean only because I am a longtime published author. I am also a proud Ohioan and an avid reader. For anyone who cares about Ohio, books, knowledge, and the arts in general, Ohioana is worth supporting.”
The Queen’s Secret, Karen’s latest historical novel—a genre in which she was a master—was released posthumously this month. We are saddened that we’ll never see Karen again, but she will never be forgotten
Born in the small village of Kilbourne and a resident of Columbus since 1957, Janet Hickman, who died late in April at the age of 79, was an author, educator, and mentor. As her obituary stated, “Her life’s work was teaching others and learning herself how to use children’s literature to enrich the lives and learning of children and young adults.” Janet was the author of seven
books for young adults. Zoar Blue, a historical novel about two Ohio teens living in the Pacifist community of Zoar during the Civil War, won the 1979 Ohioana Florence Roberts Head Award. In 1995, her novel about growing up in a small town in Ohio, Jericho, won the Ohioana Book Award in juvenile literature and was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book.
Her long teaching career included more than twenty-five years at The Ohio State University, where she spearheaded the foundation of a children’s literature chair in honor of her mentor, Charlotte Huck. For many years, Janet organized a children’s literature conference in Columbus, bringing together educators and authors.
Janet was also a long-time friend and supporter of the Ohioana Library. She particularly loved following the new authors and books for young readers. Her contributions to that field will be long remembered.
Science fiction writer Mike Resnick was born in Chicago in 1942. He moved to Cincinnati in 1976, and made the city his home for the rest of his life. In a remarkable career that spanned nearly sixty years, Mike Resnick wrote more than seventy novels, 250 short stories, two screenplays, and edited more than forty anthologies. He holds the record for the most Hugo Awards—thirty-seven, including five wins; plus the Nebula Award and awards from seven foreign countries.
Mike was a featured author at the 2015 Ohioana Book Festival, our first to be held in downtown Columbus. When he died this past January at the age of 77, he had just completed the second novel in his new Dreamscape Trilogy, The Mistress of Illusions, which was published in April.
His legacy will live on as one of the most successful and influential writers in the science fiction genre of the past fifty years.
Last week saw the release of the final episode in Hulu’s 8-part Little Fires Everywhere miniseries, based on the 2018 Ohioana Award winning novel by Celeste Ng. As big fans of Ng and all things Ohio literature related, the staff at Ohioana were very excited for the show. Ng’s novel, originally released in 2017, takes place in the late 1990s and is set in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Shaker Heights. Upon release, the book became an instant bestseller and was featured on many “best of 2017” end-of-year booklists. The miniseries has now garnered praise and popularity, as illustrated by the concurrent rise of the novel to the become the #1 title on the New York Times fiction best seller list from the weeks of April 12-April 25. Upon watching Hulu’s adaption, it’s not hard to see what people are loving about it – from new viewers to established fans of Ng’s novel.
One of Little Fires Everywhere’s first fans was actor Reese Witherspoon, known for her extensive filmography in movies such as Legally Blond and Gone Girl, and more recently for her starring role in the television adaptation of Big Little Lies. Witherspoon is also an avid reader and hosts a book club online – picking a book each month for fans to read along with her. Little Fires Everywhere was Witherspoon’s pick for September 2017 and on her website she gave it a rave review, saying: “This story of two families in Ohio moved me to tears. Celeste Ng writes with stunning accuracy about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love and the danger of perfection – and the fire that destroys it all. To say I love this book is an understatement!”
Witherspoon discovered Little Fires Everywhere and began plans for a limited series adaptation before the book’s official publication. It was only a few short months after picking the book for her book club that it was announced on March 2, 2018 that the miniseries was officially in production, with Witherspoon starring. Witherspoon, co-star Kerry Washington, Lauren Neustadter, and Pilar Stone were announced as executive producers of the show, with Liz Tegelaar as writer and showrunner. Celeste Ng was also brought on as a producer and consultant for the show. Joshua Jackson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jade Pettyjohn, Lexi Underwood, Megan Stott, Gavin Lewis and Jordan Elsass were then cast to also star in the series.
The miniseries consists of 8 episodes and makes good use of every minute of that time, giving careful attention to each detail of the story and building a narrative that is emotionally investing and tense. Fans of the book will be happy to find that the miniseries is quite true to the plot and pacing of the novel, with a few key differences. For those who are not familiar with the premise: the story begins when Mia (Washington), an artist and single mother, and her daughter Pearl (Underwood) move to Shaker Heights, Ohio. They rent an apartment from a well-to-do family called the Richardsons – Elena (Witherspoon) and Bill (Jackson) with children Lexie (Pettyjohn), Trip (Elsass), Moody (Lewis), and Izzy (Stott) – who live in the wealthiest part of Shaker Heights. Eventually the members of each family become inextricably tangled in the lives of each other and that of Bebe Chow (Huang Lu), a poor immigrant mother who is trying to win back custody of her daughter who is being adopted by a family friend of Elena’s. The story explores topics of inequality, motherhood, sexuality, immigration, friendship and family relationships.
Little Fires Everywhere presents a familiar setting – and not just to those of us who are intimately acquainted with Shaker Heights and Ohio. The setting of 1990s suburban Ohio might be enjoyably recognizable to those of us Ohioana who watch it (though the series was actually filmed in California) but the scenarios that take place and the superb acting that bring the characters and story to life are what really give the series its shine. One of the most notable aspects of Ng’s novel was the ensemble-cast style form of storytelling – each character was given sufficient time in the limelight, their story examined and empathized with, their flaws brought into realistic and sometimes uncomfortable clarity.
The miniseries captures this feeling of character study excellently. Witherspoon and Washington are particularly captivating in their leading roles, often acting as opposing forces against each other. Witherspoon as Elena Richardson is fantastic as the upper-class mother of four, shiny and perfect – until she is forced to confront the things she doesn’t want to think about. Kerry Washington plays the creative, headstrong and fiercely loving Mia Warren convincingly – and shows the darker aspects of the character just as authentically.
As mentioned, a few differences do exist in the book versus the miniseries, a choice that can often risk alienating fans of the source material. However, the changes in Little Fires Everywhere truly seem to enhance the themes of the story and were done with Ng’s input and consultation. The first big change is that Mia and Pearl Warren are black, whereas in the book their race was never specified. Ng, who is Asian American, had initially wanted to write Mia and Pearl as people of color, but didn’t feel it was her place to tell that story (Atlantic). Though issues of race are explored in the novel, adding in this detail about the Warrens adds a new aspect that further complicates the relationship between the Warren and Richardson families.
The second change that fans of the novel will notice is that the ending of the miniseries diverges significantly. An interesting aspect of this change is that it seems to better set up the series for a continuation of the story. Though the novel has no sequel, and at this time there are no official plans for a second season, the miniseries has gained significant enthusiasm and popularity that indicates that viewers would like to see more. Regardless, the Little Fires Everywhere miniseries proves itself as a beautiful adaptation of Ng’s work that both acts as a companion to the novel and stands alone very well.
Have you watched Little Fires Everywhere? If you’ve read the book, how do you think the miniseries compares? Would you like to see the story continue in a second season? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please share with us in the comments of this blog post or write to us on our social media platforms.
Thank you for joining us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and here on the blog today as we took a look back at some of our favorite memories from past Ohioana Book Festivals. We hope you’ve enjoyed it – we certainly did!
Below is a collection of links to everything we have shared today. We’re looking forward to seeing you on August 29th for the 2020 Ohioana Book Festival!
Our debut festival in 2007 was built around ten authors and a single book. Within two years, the number of authors and books had grown to almost 50! Here’s a fun look at the early days of the festival, when it was still being held at the State Library of Ohio, in a 2009 segment taped for WOSU Public Media‘s popular series, ArtZine. #FestivalFlashbackhttps://vimeo.com/10598448
Children’s authors and illustrators have always been popular at the Ohioana Book Festival. Cartoonist Steve Harpster has appeared a number of times at the festival, and will again this August. Steve does a daily 2 p.m. feature called “Draw with Me” on his own Facebook page, Harptoons Publishing – check it out! Here is Steve at his first Ohioana festival, talking with Doug Dangler. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqKOpGH8n7c
Thirteen years of the Ohioana Book Festival wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our funders: Presenting Sponsor Ohio Humanities, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ohio Arts Council, the Reinberger Foundation, Honda of America Marysville, OH, the Tom E. Dailey Foundation Inc., State Library of Ohio, Ariel Corporation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers. Thanks also to our festival host Columbus Metropolitan Library, media sponsors The Columbus Dispatch and CD102.5, and our official bookseller, The Book Loft of German Village. Our thanks to all of them for hanging in there with us through this unprecedented crisis!
It’s spring! Along with the season comes fresh flowers, warm sunshine and, historically, the Ohioana Book Festival. Right now in Ohio, we are following a stay at home order to keep our communities safe. As such, the Ohioana Book Festival, which was originally scheduled for April 25th, has been postponed until Saturday, August 29th. That doesn’t mean the fun has to be put entirely on hold, though! We thought today was the perfect opportunity for us to share some of our favorite memories from past Ohioana Book Festivals – we’re calling it a Festival Flashback!
We also figured there was no better time to share the templates for a few crafts from Ohioana Book Festival’s past. Spending time at home is a great chance to get creative and use things you can find around your household to make these fun, literature themed creations. These crafts were all featured at Ohioana Book Festival’s in past years – each one incorporates themes from books by Ohioana Book Festival authors from that year.
As we’re working from the kitchen, doing schoolwork from the couch, and in general doing our part to stay inside and keep ourselves and others safe, we can still stay busy and have fun. Reading is a favorite pastime of Ohioana’s, of course, and so are these crafts! We hope you enjoy.
Images and tutorials for the crafts are below. If you or your family tries out any of these creations, we’d love to see what you’ve made! Share your pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter @Ohioana.
When the American Library Association picked “Find Your Place at the Library” as its theme for this year’s April 16-25 celebration of National Library Week, little did anyone know at the time that we’d be in the middle of an unprecedented world health crisis that would force most libraries to close temporarily. The Ohioana Library being one of them.
Libraries may not have their physical spaces open to the public, so that we can help keep everyone safe and healthy. But they are continuing to creatively serve their communities by providing virtual services and digital content online. If anything, this crisis has shown that libraries are more vitally needed – and more appreciated – than ever before.
And so recently the ALA decided to flip its original text to create a second theme for National Library Week 2020: “Find the Library at Your Place.”
Since 1958, National Library Week has been set aside to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic, and special – participate.
The Ohioana Library is a special library – of course EVERY library is special! But we are special in the sense that we have a very specific purpose and focus: to collect, preserve, and celebrate Ohio literature and other creative endeavors.
To fulfill our mission, Ohioana works with just about every kind of other type of library there is, especially on our largest program, the Ohioana Book Festival. Librarians from the Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA) help put together our teen programming at the event. Several OELMA members help arrange visits to their schools by festival authors. A number of public library systems throughout Ohio partner with us on the festival, including Cleveland, Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Toledo and Lucas County, and right here in Central Ohio the libraries of Bexley, Pickerington, and Upper Arlington. And of course the festival itself takes place at Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library.
These, and libraries throughout the state, sponsor their own programs and events that make literature come alive. The days when a library was only a place where your borrowed a book or other physical item are long gone. Today’s library is a vibrant part of the community it serves. Today’s libraries offer everything from helping adults learn computer skills to teens getting homework help to story time for toddlers and book clubs for senior citizens.
The adaptability of the modern library has never been more evident than in the COVID-19 crisis. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, ZOOM – all are tools that libraries like Ohioana are using. Just this past weekend, Ohioana held its first-ever virtual book club. It was a great success, and we have had many people already asking when we’ll be doing one again!
National Library Week 2020 wraps up this Saturday. But there’s still plenty of time to join in the celebration, and many ways to celebrate. Just check out these ideas on the American Library Association’s website: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek
For poetry lovers, April is very special – it’s National Poetry Month. It was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poets and poetry in the United States.
While National Poetry Month is usually celebrated with activities, programs, and events around the country, many of these have had to be called off or postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Poetry is always an important part of the Ohioana Book Festival. The 2020 festival, initially planned for April, is now rescheduled for August 29, at the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library. A number of poets will take part both in the main event and in outreach activities leading up to it.
Ohio is, and has been, the home of many outstanding poets, and the Ohioana Library has been collecting, preserving, and celebrating their works since we were founded in 1929. Kenneth Patchen became the first poet to receive an Ohioana Book Award, when his collection Cloth of the Tempest was honored in 1944. At first given periodically, the poetry book award has been presented annually since 1989.
Among the noted poets who have been honored with Ohioana Awards are James Wright, Mary Oliver, Michael J. Rosen, David Citino, Thylias Moss, David Baker, Kathy Fagan, George Bilgere, Martha Collins, Jacqueline Woodson, and J. Patrick Lewis. Rita Dove holds the record for the most Ohioana Book Awards in poetry with four.
Many Ohio poets have achieved national acclaim. Dove became the first African American to become the U.S. Poet Laureate. She has also won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Mary Oliver won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. In 2007, the New York Times said that Oliver was “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Woodson won a National Book Award, and both she and J. Patrick Lewis have served as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate.
Among the notable young Ohio poets who have garnered national attention in recent years are Maggie Smith, Kazim Ali, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Hanif Abdurraqib, Ruth Awad, Scott Woods, Rachel Wiley, and Marcus Jackson. In 2016, the Ohio General Assembly created the post of Ohio Poet Laureate. Governor Kasich appointed Amit Majmudar as the first poet to hold that post, followed two years later by Dave Lucas, who won the 2012 Ohioana Poetry Book Award. Ohio’s third Poet Laureate is to be named this year by Governor Mike DeWine.
No Ohio poet is more celebrated than Dayton’s Paul Laurence Dunbar. Although he only lived to the age of 33, Dunbar’s poems influenced generations of African American poets, including Cleveland’s Langston Hughes. Dunbar’s line “I know why the caged bird sings” became famous as the title of author Maya Angelou’s autobiography. In 1936, the Ohio General Assembly made Dunbar’s home in Dayton the first state memorial dedicated to an African American. Several early editions of Dunbar’s books are among the treasures of Ohioana’s s collection. You can learn more about Dunbar from our Winter 2018 Ohioana Quarterly: www.ohioana.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/OQ-Winter-2018-lr.pdf
While most of the public events that normally mark National Poetry Month have unfortunately been cancelled this year, the Academy of American Poets has come up with some great ideas on how we can all celebrate the magic and wonder of poetry right in our own homes during this challenging time. Be sure to check them out here: https://poets.org/national-poetry-month
So while the weather at this particular moment isn’t very spring-y, we thought we’d close this ode to National Poetry Month with Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Spring Song”, looking forward to a happier, healthier time for all:
A blue–bell springs upon the ledge, A lark sits singing in the hedge; Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air, And life is brimming everywhere. What lark and breeze and bluebird sing, Is Spring, Spring, Spring! No more the air is sharp and cold; The planter wends across the wold, And, glad, beneath the shining sky We wander forth, my love and I. And ever in our hearts doth ring This song of Spring, Spring! For life is life and love is love, ‘Twixt maid and man or dove and dove. Life may be short, life may be long, But love will come, and to its song Shall this refrain for ever cling Of Spring, Spring, Spring!
We have some exciting things planned for the next few weeks, as we all continue to shelter at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Look out for social media posts, including pictures and video from previous book festivals, as well as some exciting new content, including our brand-new virtual book club!
We are excited to partner with our friend, Olivia Matthews, to present this fun community read of her book Alibis & Angels, the latest book in her Sister Lou mystery series.
Giving up murder for Lent won’t be easy . . .
With the Lenten season fast approaching, Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle looks forward to a final day of indulgence before giving up her favorite sweets. But one Briar Coast resident won’t get the chance to repent. Opal Lorrie, the mayor’s director of finance, was just found in the parking lot of the Board of Ed–with a broken neck.
The sheriff’s deputies are calling the apparent slip-and-fall a freak accident. But Opal was driving her boss’s car and wearing her boss’s red wool coat. Mayor Heather Stanley has been receiving threatening letters and is clearly the real target. Offering her sanctuary could put the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus at risk, but how can Sister Lou turn her back on a neighbor in need? Aided by her loyal sleuthing partners—her well-connected nephew Chris and reporter Shari Henson—Sister Lou must confront the mayor’s myriad detractors during this critical election year. And as the first day of April nears, it’s up to her to unmask an unrepentant killer who has everyone fooled. (via Amazon.com)
What do you need to do to participate? Well that’s simple – read Alibis & Angels, and follow Ohioana on Facebook and Twitter! We’ll be putting up news and information in the coming days, as well as plenty of reminders. Then, on Saturday April 18 at 2:00pm EST, log on to Facebook for an exciting Facebook Live video discussion with Ohioana’s librarian, Courtney, and Olivia. Olivia will also be answering YOUR questions! One lucky participant will also win a $5 Amazon e-gift card!
Need a copy of the book? There are several e-book resources:
If you have a library card, you can check out all of the Sister Lou Mysteries with no waiting list on Hoopla Digital!
You can also read it for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, here.
(The first two Sister Lou Mysteries can also be found at the Ohio Digital Library, though there may be a wait list.)
If you would prefer a print copy of the book, we encourage you to order online from your local independent bookstore. Many of them are still shipping books despite being closed, including The Book Loft of German Village and Prologue Bookshop.
March is Women’s History
Month. Ohio has been home to many extraordinary women, in many different
fields. One of them was Cincinnati’s Doris Day. Born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in
1922, she was a talented singer who began appearing on local radio while still
in her teens. She sang with several big bands – changing her name to “Day”
along the way – and got her big break when she signed with Les Brown and His
Band of Renown. On March 29, 1945 – 75 years ago today – their recording of
“Sentimental Journey,” with Day as the vocalist, was released. It soon reached
the Number One spot on the charts, and became the favorite of service men and
women returning from World War II.
The song also helped launch
Day on a solo singing career, and she was soon a top attraction on radio and
recordings. In 1948, Day made her screen debut in Romance on the High Seas. Over the next twenty years, Day would
make 39 films, including classics such as Calamity
Jane (her favorite role), the musical biopic Love Me or Leave Me, and the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which she
introduced what later became her television theme song, the Oscar® winning “Que
Day appeared opposite many of
the top leading men of the day – James Cagney, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart,
and Cary Grant. But her most celebrated screen partner was actor Rock Hudson.
They made three comedies together, the first of which, 1959’s Pillow Talk, brought her a Best Actress Oscar
® nomination. At the height of her career, Doris Day was ranked by Hollywood
exhibitors as the Number One box-office star in the world four times, a record
equaled by only one other female film star – child actress Shirley Temple.
In 1968, Day made the switch from films to television, starring in her own eponymous series for five years. After that, Day retired from entertainment to devote her life to her greatest passion – animal welfare. A lover of cats and dogs, she founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League to care for and protect the rights of animals. She even made a brief return to television in the early 1980s with Doris Day and Friends, a show about animals.
Because of her sunny
disposition and wholesome personality, Doris Day was often called “The Girl
Next Door.” But her 1975 memoir, Doris
Day: Her Own Story, revealed a life that was not all sunshine: her parents
divorcing when she was young, a childhood accident that crushed her right leg
and ended her early dreams of becoming a dancer, an abusive first marriage, and
a later marriage to a man who squandered her considerable fortune and left her
deeply in debt (something she never knew until after his death).
Day received many honors over her long career. And in 1994, the Ohioana Library honored Day with its Pegasus Award in recognition of her lifetime achievement. By that time, Day no longer traveled from her home in Carmel, California. She sent a beautiful letter and signed photo, which today are among the treasures in the Ohioana Collection. The letter displays all of Day’s warmth and charm, and recounts her favorite childhood memory of Cincinnati – riding the roller coaster at Coney Island!
When Doris Day died last May at the age of 97, it was the passing of a true Hollywood legend. She was a phenomenal success in every field of show business she entered – recordings, films, radio, and television. And her philanthropy and devotion to animal welfare was as renowned as her entertainment career.
We hope you enjoyed taking this “Sentimental Journey” celebrating a remarkable woman.
You can hear Doris Day
perform that song with Les Brown at this link:
The Ohioana Library administration is closely tracking news from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health regarding COVID-19, or coronavirus. We encourage our patrons and staff to follow CDC guidelines regarding handwashing and other prevention measures, and to avoid coming to the library if you are feeling ill. At this time, the Ohioana Book Festival is scheduled to go on as planned on April 25th. However, we are continuously monitoring additional changes in operation as this rapidly changing public health situation continues, and will post any updates concerning the Ohioana Book Festival, library operation and other events to our website and social media. To stay updated on our library’s hours of operation during this time, please visit our website and social media.
now journeyed through eight decades in our 90 Years . . . 90 Books
retrospective, in which we’re looking back at titles by 90 Ohio authors since
Ohioana’s founding in 1929.
far, we shared 70 books, representing authors from every part of the state,
books of every literary genre, and books for readers of every age. In this
final installment, we highlight 20 books, all of them produced during this
decade which is about to end. Some of these authors have long been popular,
others made their debuts in the past ten years. Several of these books have
been made, or are being made, into works for film or television.
happy so many of you have enjoyed these weekly installments. It certainly has
been fun for the staff to put the series together. In fact, you may not have
heard the end of this as yet! Keep a look out on our social media . . . and
thanks for reading!
Girl of Fire and Thorn,
Rae Carson – 2011
Carson pursued numerous careers and called many places home before moving to
Columbus, Ohio, where she published her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and
Thorns. The story follows Elisa, a princess overshadowed by her elder
sister who must rise to greatness in this fantasy trilogy. The Girl of Fire
and Thorns won the Ohioana Book Award in juvenile literature and was a
finalist for the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Debut Award,
launching Carson into a New York Times and USA Today bestselling
career. Her recent novels include titles in the popular Star Wars
franchise. Carson now lives in Arizona.
Paris Wife, Paula
McLain – 2011
in California and a long-time resident of Cleveland, Paula McLain is the author
of three New York Times best-selling
historical novels. The second of these, The
Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage,
won the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in fiction, and was a 2013-14 Choose to Read
Ohio title. McLain holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan; has
been a resident of Yadoo and the MacDowell Colony; and was the recipient of fellowships
from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was
awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize in 2011, the year The Paris Wife was published.
of the Republic,
Candice Millard – 2011
Candice Millard and she’ll tell you her love of books began in the little library
in her hometown of Lexington, Ohio. With degrees from Baker and Baylor
Universities, Millard pursued a successful career writing and editing for National Geographic magazine before
turning to biography. The result: three New
York Times best-sellers chronicling difficult chapters in the lives of
three notable men: Theodore Roosevelt, James A. Garfield, and Winston
Churchill. Millard’s book on Garfield’s assassination, Destiny of the Republic, won her a number of honors, including an
Ohioana Book Award and the coveted Edgar Award, and was adapted into a
documentary for PBS’ American Experience.
Millard lives with her family in Kansas.
Player One, Ernest
Cline – 2011
Ready Player One Ernest Cline envisions the year 2045, where people escape
their dystopian society by living in a virtual reality world called OASIS and
where Columbus, Ohio is a futuristic mega-metropolis. The main character,
teenaged Wade Watts, must use his knowledge of 1980s popular culture to decode
a series of puzzles left by the OASIS’ creator in order to try to realize a
better future. Cline grew up in Ashland, Ohio, from which he drew inspiration
for many of the significant locations in the novel. Cline published a second
novel, Armada, in 2015 and in 2018 Ready Player One was adapted
into a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Cline now lives in Austin, Texas.
Year of the Book,
Andrea Cheng – 2012
Cheng was the daughter of Hungarian immigrant parents and grew up in
Cincinnati, Ohio in an extended family with three generation living under one
roof. Cheng studied Chinese at Cornell University, earning an MS in
linguistics. While there she met and married her husband, James Cheng, like her
the child of immigrants (from China). It was after their three children were
born that she was inspired to start writing. The result: more than 25 books,
including picture books, young adult, and nonfiction. The Year of the Book,
the first in a popular series, follows Anna Wang, a young Chinese American girl
living in Cincinnati. Based on a combination of Andrea and her two real-life
daughters, the book was a 2017-18 Choose to Read Ohio. Andrea Cheng passed away
World We Found,
Thirty Umrigar – 2012
Born in Mombai, India, and a
graduate of the University of Bombay, Thrity Umrigar came to the United States
in 1983 to pursue her graduate studies. Holding an MBA from The Ohio State
University and a Ph.D. from Kent State University, Umrigar has been a
successful journalist and teacher as well as a best-selling author. Her novels
include The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and The Story Hour, which was a 2017-18 Choose to Read
Ohio title. Umrigar won the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for her novel, The
World We Found. In 2017, Umrigar wrote her first picture book for children,
When I Carried You in My Belly. Also a Cleveland Arts Prize recipient, Umrigar is
the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.
Ward, Kazim Ali –
Queer, Muslim, American, poet and prose writer
Kazim Ali has always navigated complex intersections and interstices, just to
make a life. Born in the United Kingdom to
Muslim parents of Indian descent, he received a BA and MA from the University
of Albany-SUNY, and an MFA from New York University. Ali’s poetry collections
include Bright Felon, a 2010 Ohioana
Award finalist; Sky Ward, which won
him the 2013 Ohioana Poetry Book Award; and his newest collection, Inquisition. He is the founding editor
of Nightboat Press. Ali, who taught for many years at Oberlin College, is now
Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California in
Charlton-Trujillo – 2013
school is often a confusing, tumultuous and difficult time. This is
particularly true for Fat Angie, the titular character of e. E. Charlton
Trujillo’s 2013 YA novel, who often feels isolated, struggles with her
sexuality and identity, and is desperately trying to hold onto hope for a
sister who was captured in Iraq. Charlton-Trujillo, a native of Texas who has
lived in Ohio for much of her adult life, captures these themes with tenderness
and sensitivity. Fat Angie was a
recipient of the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award and was a
Lambda Literary Finalist and a Choose to Read Ohio book.
a Drop to Drink,
Mindy McGinnis – 2013
the Edgar Award for A Madness So Discreet, Mindy McGinnis is a novelist
who lives in Ohio. McGinnis’ debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, tells the
story of Lynn, a teenager living in a dystopian world where water is worth more
than gold. This popular book led to a companion novel, In a Handful of Dust,
and has been optioned by Fickle Fish Films. McGinnis has gone on to publish
nine young adult novels that span multiple genres including postapocalyptic,
historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy. Whether they are set
in the past, the present, or a disturbing and not-too-distant future,
McGinnis’s books offer an unflinching look at humanity
and the world around us.
Boys, Brad Ricca –
Shuster and Joel Siegel were two teenagers in Cleveland when in 1938 they
created the first and most famous of all superheroes – Superman. Seventy-five
years later, another Clevelander, Brad Ricca, told their remarkable story in
his Ohioana Award-winning book, Super
Boys. Ricca, who is also the recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize, earned
his Ph.D. from Case Western, where he teaches. His second book, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, was a finalist for
both the Ohioana Award and the Edgar Award.
the Light We Cannot See,
Anthony Doerr – 2014
Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See
follows two teenagers during World War II, one a blind girl in Nazi-occupied
France, the other a German orphan boy pressed into service by the Nazi army. An
international best-seller, the novel’s elegant prose and masterful storytelling
earned Doerr the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in
fiction, and the Ohioana Book Award, one of four he has won since 2003. Ohioana
has long been an advocate of Doerr, who is a native of Cleveland. He won the
2000 Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant for emerging writers, the first prize
in his amazing career. The author of five books, Doerr and his family live in
Idaho, where he was the state’s Writer-in-Residence from 2007 to 2010.
Man, Dav Pilkey –
was born in Cleveland, Ohio. In elementary school, he was diagnosed with ADHD
and dyslexia, and was frequently sent to sit out in the hall for his disruptive
behavior. He filled the time doodling and creating silly stories that were
frowned upon by his teachers. Fortunately, he ignored all the scolding and
pursued his love of cartooning into adulthood, creating multiple New York Times
bestselling series for children. His beloved series include The Dumb Bunnies,
Ricky Ricotta, Dragon, and Captain Underpants, the latter of
which came to the big screen as a DreamWorks movie in 2017. Dog Man is
Pilkey’s most recent graphic novel series, following the antics of a half-dog,
half-human hero through eight adventurous books—and counting!
Jacqueline Woodson – 2014
she was born in Columbus, Jacqueline Woodson was raised in South Carolina and
New York, and always felt halfway home in each place. Brown Girl Dreaming
tells the story of her childhood in verse and shares what it was like to grow
up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of
Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. It also
reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, creating the
first sparks of the writer she was to become. Its many accolades include the
National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the NAACP Image Award, a
Newbery Honor, and the inaugural Ohioana Book Award for Middle Grade and Young
Adult Literature. Woodson is the author of more than 35 books for both children
and adults. The 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,
Woodson lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Showdown, Wil Haygood – 2015
Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article
“A Butler Well Served by This Election,” served as the basis for Lee Daniels’
acclaimed film, The Butler. A 30-year
career as a journalist at the Post and
also the Boston Globe, where he was a
Pulitzer Prize finalist, led Haygood to an equally successful career as a
biographer. In Show Down, he tells
the remarkable the story behind President Lyndon Johnson’s historic appointment
of Thurgood Marshall as the first black Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.
It won Haygood the second of his three Ohioana Awards – he also won for 1998’s The Haygoods of Columbus and 2018’s Tigerland, which was a finalist for the
Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Haygood lives in Washington DC.
Tree, Loren Long –
began his career illustrating greeting cards, theater posters, and magazines
before finding his true passion: children’s books. His award-winning books have
encompassed titles he both authored and illustrated—including his popular Otis
series about a loveable tractor—as well as stories written by American icons
like Walt Whitman and Barack Obama. Little Tree tells the story of a
young tree who holds tight to his leaves and is a heartfelt ode to the
challenges of growing up and letting go. It won the Ohioana Award in juvenile
literature and was the inaugural Floyd’s Pick, an annual award presented by the
State Library of Ohio and Ohioana. Long lives in Cincinnati where he finds
inspiration in nature just outside his studio window.
Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell – 2015
Doria Russell is a celebrated American writer who lives near Cleveland. She
drew on her interests both in the Wild West and the Homeric epics when writing Epitaph,
a follow up to Doc that
continues the story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The result is a sweeping
a historical fiction novel that is mystical, epic, intimate and masterfully
told. Mary is the winner of numerous awards and accolades, including the 2016
Ohioana Fiction and Readers’ Choice Awards for Epitaph, the Arthur C. Clarke Prize and the American Library
Association Best Novel in Historical Fiction for Doc.
Dothead, Amit Majmudar – 2016
2016, Amit Majmudar received the honor of being named by Governor John Kasich
as Ohio’s first Poet Laureate. The son of Indian immigrants and raised in
Cleveland, Majmudar is a doctor as well as a writer, and diagnostic nuclear
radiologist in Columbus. His poems have appeared in numerous publications as
well as in three books. Dothead,
published the year he became Poet Laureate, is described as “an exploration of
selfhood, both intense and exhilarating.” Majmudar has also published a
translation in verse of the Bhagavad Vita, and two novels, one of which, The Abundance, was a Choose to Read Ohio
title in 2013-14. Majmudar, who lives in Westerville, was succeeded in 2018 as
Ohio Poet Laureate by Ohioana Award winner Dave Lucas.
Brinkley – 2016
Called “America’s new past master” by the Chicago Tribune and CNN’s official
Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley is the author of nearly 40 books. His
subjects have included Walter Cronkite, Henry Ford, Hunter S. Thompson, and
Jack Kerouac. Many of his books have dealt with 20th century
American Presidents, including the Ohioana Award-winning, Rightful Heritage, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s towering
contributions to conservation. Brinkley was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew
up in Perrysburg, Ohio, where both his parents were teachers. He received his
BA from The Ohio State University, and his MA and Ph.D. from Georgetown. Brinkley
lives with his family in Austin, Texas, where he is a Professor of History and
holds the Katherine
Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities at Rice University.
Celeste Ng – 2017
When Shaker Heights was established as a suburb of Cleveland in 1912 it was one of the first planned communities of its kind in the country. In Little Fires Everywhere, as she did in her acclaimed debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng uses Shaker Heights as the setting of the novel, exploring the interesting cultural and class phenomenon that has risen from the concept of such a community with a large and diverse cast of characters. Ng herself lived in Shaker Heights during her middle and high school years, and draws upon her intimate knowledge of the community for the story. Little Fires Everywhere is the recipient of the 2018 Ohioana Award in Fiction and is being adapted into a Hulu miniseries, set to be released in 2020. She is also a Pushcart Prize-winning author of short fiction appearing in One Story, TriQuarterly and Subtropics. A Massachusetts Book Award winner, Ng lives in Cambridge.
Go Ahead in the Rain,
Hanif Abdurraqib – 2019
Poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib is a Columbus native. Columbus has always featured in his works, whether it is a mention of I-270 or an aside about parking tickets in Bexley, where he attended Capital University. His latest book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest is not only an homage to the seminal rap group, but also a meditation on growing up in the late 1990s and entering adulthood. His books, always deeply personal, are both a reflection and a critique of our admiration of artists whose works touch our lives, and the “relationships” we form with the artists and media we love. His second poetry collection, A Fortune for Your Disaster, was published in September 2019.