‘Night for Notables’ to Honor Michigan’s Finest

Michigan’s finest authors will be stepping out Saturday night for a few hors d’oeuvres, some fine Michigan wines, and a swell of well-deserved recognition for their award-winning contributions to the 2011 Michigan Notable Books.

The Library of Michigan’s annual Night for Notables is an event designed to pay tribute to those authors who have written works that offer “high-quality titles with wide public appeal” and “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.”*

The event’s featured speaker this year is none other than Traverse City’s National Writers Series founder Doug Stanton, a New York Times best-selling author. Saturday’s Night for Notables will honor this year’s title contributors and also provide a forum for the authors to sign and discuss copies of their award-winning books.

What are the Michigan Notable Books? Each year, the Library of Michigan selects up to 20 published titles over the last year that celebrate Michigan people, places, or events. Stretching back to 1991, the Michigan Notable Books began as the “Read Michigan” program but switched its name in 2004.

Anywhere between 250 to 400 Michigan-related titles are reviewed each year. Book selections are highly competitive and are reviewed by a board of 10-16 members who come from various literary backgrounds. The program is supported by sponsors and grants handled by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

Night Light Revue has covered several of this year’s Notable authors and their works. If you are interested in a few of NLR’s book reviews or author event coverage, please feel free to click on the links below. If you are interested in reading any of this year’s titles, our undervalued yet oh-so-amazing local libraries carry copies of the Michigan Notable Books both past and present and offer author events throughout the year. For free. For everyone.

Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters!

Heather Sellers – “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know”

Writers Live! Features author Heather Sellers

Heather Sellers Delights at Writers Live! Event

Bryan Gruley – “The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery”

‘Starvation Lake’ is a Trip Worth Taking

Laura Kasischke – “Eden Springs”

Kasischke Shines in Eden Springs

Thomas Lynch – “Apparition & Late Fictions”

Life With Death – One Good Thing Leads to Another

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*As stated on the Michigan Notable Books site.

Heather Sellers Delights at Writers Live! Event

Consider yourself one of the lucky ones if you were fortunate enough to attend Baldwin Public Library’s recent Writers Live! event. Hope College professor Heather Sellers wooed the audience with her intelligence, wit, and sincere charm while promoting her latest book You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness, and Forgiveness.

Sellers suffers from a neurological disorder termed prosopagnosia, or face blindness. The bizarre disorder causes impairment in the recognition of faces, and at its most severe can cause the lack of recognition of close friends, family, spouses or even one’s own children. Such is the case with Sellers.

Face blindness isn’t a vision problem, Sellers explained, but rather one of memory. She likens the disorder to a file cabinet where the brain stores images. When you see someone, your brain snaps a picture and slips it into your files to be called up later. However in Seller’s case, after the image gets snapped, it’s immediately and irretrievably “thrown out the window.”

So what does this really mean? Well, if you meet Sellers face to face, she won’t recognize you – even one second later. If you had a dinner date with her last night? She’ll pass you by the next morning. If you grew up next door to her or happen to be her best friend? Doesn’t matter, she’ll have no idea who you are. Brad Pitt, Barack Obama, the Mona Lisa? All the same to Sellers – the facial images just don’t process.

It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s arms around, but try to imagine the professional and social implications of such a disorder for a woman who works with hundreds of students and ever-changing colleagues year after year. Sounds crazy, right?

Crazy is pretty much how Sellers felt until her disorder was diagnosed just five years ago. As a child Sellers’ parents told her she was emotionally unstable, yet Sellers miraculously compensated by relying on context clues such as a person’s hair, voice, clothing, or particular gait. She trained herself “not to freak out” as she attempted to piece together the facial puzzles that  have dogged her since childhood.

Freaking out is apparently something that Sellers doesn’t do. Composed and collected, Sellers laughingly shared her observation that “professors are given a wide range of normal” – a fact that certainly influenced her decision to enter the academic world. She found she could hide amidst the acceptable eccentricities so inherent to campus life. Currently Sellers is part of the English department at Hope College where she teaches creative writing.

Cover ImageSince her diagnosis, Sellers has “come out” with her face blindness and You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know has been a huge part of that process. Garnering both high praise and national attention, Sellers’ memoir seems to be striking a chord in the hearts of her readers. Where so many years of angst and frustration might lead anyone else to bitterness, Sellers has found a certain peace and renewed faith in humanity, and it was precisely this compassionate, feel-good vibe that permeated the air and made for such an exceptional evening.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

Related Links and Information

-Link here for the live video of Heather Sellers at the Baldwin Public Library’s Writers Live! program.

Oprah’s November Pick

NPR’s Living With Face Blindness: Who Are You, Again?

-Post by Megan Shaffer