Here's a look at what I've enjoyed reading lately.
Motown: The Sound of Young America
This oversized book is the "official visual history of Motown"...following the story from its humble beginnings as a vision of Berry Gordy, who, with the help of an $800 loan from his family members, built a company that defined the music of Detroit during the 1960s and helped propel so many Detroiters to become icons in music, leaders in movements for civil rights and helped empower musicians in the world around them.
The book is definitely worth checking out for those stories, as well as a wealth of images I had never seen before in other publications.
The end of Motown came pretty much as I remembered it happening with a move from Detroit to the West Coast. The company sought to rise beyond their Motor City roots, but it really lost its soul and much more in my humble opinion.
The book is still worth seeking out for a fun couple of days to relieve the sights and sounds that justly made Motown truly live up to its name as the soundtrack of the lives of young Americans, especially during the 1960s. It's especially fun for those who vividly remember hearing these tunes so many times coming out over the radio and television airwaves as younger people.
At the Edge of the Orchard
This novel starts out in the Black Swamp of Ohio, a muddy and disease-ridden patch of country in northwestern Ohio where people struggled to settle during America's not-always-so-great Westward Expansion. The Goodenough family find themselves mired in the black muck and unable to advance by building a beautiful apple orchard before becoming fractured and broken. Inner demons pull parents James and Sadie down, and their children succumb to swamp fever of one sort or another.
This novel, then, becomes mostly the story of their son Robert as he finds his way through tragedy and travels around the country before a sister finds him after a couple of decades...and he finally finds himself and a family among the redwoods and Sequoias in California.
You wouldn't think that a story about the Ohio frontier and trees might surprise me, but Tracy Chevalier's story took some surprising twists and turns as she made her way through the tale.
Chevalier also wrote several other historical fiction books that include Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Last Runaway (an historical novel about Quakers and the Underground Railroad in 19th century Ohio featured at Midwest Guest several years ago).
If you are familiar with Royal Oak, Michigan, you also might spot the reference to Charles II and The Royal Oak mentioned in passing about a third of the way through this book! Yes, I know my apocryphal history!