I've been able to get back to reading for pleasure and getting to a lot of the books I've been keeping on a running list of things I've wanted to read over the last couple of years!
A good number of them have some sort of Midwest tie, many of them are music-related, many of them have some sort of regional history tie, and others are just books that I've wanted to read just because!
Some are books I have in my own collection, and a good number of them come to me via the Inter Library Loan program through my local library.
Here's a look at what I've enjoyed reading lately.
The curious life and legend of Who drummer Keith Moon comes alive in this book, which concentrates mainly on his musicianship and status as a legendary and pioneering drummer. Still, I did find at least one reference to a story that has a Michigan connection!
Keith apparently had his massive 21st birthday party at the hotel where the Who was staying after a concert in 1967--a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan where the drummer allegedly drove a Lincoln Continental car into the pool!
The story, repeated as fact by Moon himself over later years, is still hotly contested to this day, even by those who were allegedly at the party! The truth seems to be that the car did not take a dunk that evening, but one attendee at the party was Barry Whitman (drummer for one of the supporting acts on the tour, Herman's Hermits) says police were called to the hotel after a massive food fight that caused some serious damage. In everyone's rush to get out that night, Moon tripped over the pavement outside, smashed his two front teeth and had to have emergency dental surgery in Flint that night.
Susan Whittig Albert grew up in downstate Illinois. She earned her PhD in English at the University of Illinois, but she lives and works in Texas where she continues to publish books under her own name and other pseudonyms.
This is one of her books in the series about China Bayles, a fictional lawyer-turned-herb-shop- owner who stumbles upon mysteries and solves the case by each the end of each book.
If you're up for something fast and fun that includes a bit of herbal lore and a few recipes, check this series out.
This book is the 26th in this series. Albert has several other series that focus on different eras in history or are works of historical fiction about women.
Who better to talk to moms about the challenges of raising their talented prodigy and knowing when and how to encourage that talent to flourish than a mom who successfully watched and nurtured her own son's rise to rock stardom? Here Virginia Grohl, the rockin' mom of David Grohl who saw her son rise to fame as the drummer for Nirvana during the 1990s and successfully go on to become the front man for another commercially successful alternative band, the Foo Fighters.
Grohl, born in Warren, Ohio, is one of rock's most well-known and well-regarded, musician, guitarist, drummer, songwriter, record producer and film director.
His mom Virginia was a school teacher and raised her son as a single mom in Virginia. Dave Grohl began working as a musician in the Washington D.C. area and joined Nirvana in 1990.
He became more and more active in writing music for Nirvana until lead singer Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide death in 1994.
Grohl, after casting around for a bit and wondering what to do next, went on to establish the Foo Fighters as he shopped the initial album of his work and eventually built a band around the demo where he played most all of the instruments and wrote the songs himself.
The book is a fun read featuring interviews with mom's like Verna Griffin (Dr. Dre's mom), Marianne Stipe (Michael Stipe from REM's mom), Hester Diamond (Mike D from the Beastie Boy's mom) and Janis Winehouse (Amy Winehouse's mom).
Imagine Barack and Michele Obama deciding to embark on a road trip across the country at the conclusion of his second term as President, driving their own car and un-accompanied by a Secret Service detail!
Unimaginable in this day and time certainly, and it was something that even proved difficult for the out-going President Harry Truman to so in the less celebrity-obsessed time of 1953 as he and his wife Bess embarked on just such a trip at the end of his second term as President.
The Trumans wanted to travel incognito as they left their hometown of Independence, Missouri to Washington, D.C. and New York City and back.
The couple wasn't able to entirely evade attention from the press, local officials and the curious public, but they were, at times, to travel on their own and see a good bit of the Midwestern states like Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as they mostly stayed at small motels, stayed with friends and ate at family diners, while greeting people along the way who shouted "Hi, Harry" when they spotted the duo on the road.
The author sought to re-create this road trip by using the same route and stopping at many of the places the Trumans stopped during their original adventure, capturing a slice of life that is long-gone and something no retiring chief executive before or since has ever thought about doing or would be able to do in these days of heightened security concerns and a celebrity-obsessed public.
The 1964 World's Fair in New York City was set against a backdrop of a world experiencing racial unrest, the country's discomfort with a rapidly growing immigrant population, a rapidly changing music scene, increasingly violent crime, the escalating war scene in Vietnam, a definitely divisive political scene, and other cultural changes. In other words, it really sounds like not much has changed in the country over the past 40-plus years.
The Midwest played, at best, a bit part in the fair as pavilions represented states like Wisconsin with cheese displays, a realistic-looking and -sounding audio-animatronics Lincoln held some fair goers in its thrall at the Illinois display and the big automotive companies vied for attention for their newest vehicles and innovations at their respective pavilions.
Long-seen as a financial failure and not really advancing it's stated "peace through understanding" mission, the bill still offers a fascinating look at this not-so-transformative event and the world as the 1960s got underway.
Anyone have any other suggestions that you feel I might like checking out?