College introduces book of the semester.

September 24, 2014

VICTORY TWP. — This fall, West Shore Community College is joining the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read, a project to deepen an understanding of Michigan’s society and history.

The book selected for this project, Steve Luxenberg’s “Annie’s Ghosts, is being read in colleges and communities across Michigan and the author will visit WSCC on Oct. 6 – 7.  Two of his events, onMon., Oct. 6, will be open to the public; a lecture in the college’s Center Stage Theater at 11 a.m., and a book talk at 7:30 p.m., at the Ludington Public Library.

The book is written as a combination memoir and mystery by Luxenberg, a Detroit native and currently an editor at the “Washington Post.”  It features Luxenberg’s discovery, late in life, that his mother was not an only child as she had always claimed, but had a sister who was sent away to a mental hospital.

The book tackles cultural perceptions of mental illness as well as Detroit, American, and European history, and asks readers to consider the power of family secrets in our own lives.

“Readers with interests in mental disability and illness, poverty, immigration, genealogy, history, and the quest for personal identity will all find reading ‘Annie’s Ghosts’ a fascinating adventure,” states Seán Henne, WSCC Professor of English and Education, who chairs the committee organizing Book of the Semester events.

“Steve is a lively and engaging speaker, able to make the most challenging and difficult or topics accessible. We invite the community to participate in the Great Michigan Read by attending our events, reading ‘Annie’s Ghosts,’ and spending the coming months with us in discussion and reflection about the kinds of secrets we keep in our families and across our society.”

“Annie’s Ghosts” was named to “The Washington Post’s” Best Books of 2009 list, and honored as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” It was a mainstay on the Heartland (Midwest) Bestsellers List after the Great Michigan Read began.

The College selects its academic themes to give students rich opportunities to explore a given topic from multiple points of view.  In the past, successful semesters have focused on such themes as water, bioethics, and the National Endowment for the Art’s Big Read project.

More information can be found at the College’s web site, www.westshore.edu, or by contacting Henne at 231-843-5859 or [email protected].

Author biography:

Steve Luxenberg, a Washington Post associate editor, has worked for more than 35 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. Post reporters working with Steve have won two Pulitzer Prizes for explanatory journalism.

Steve’s award-winning nonfiction book, Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret—part detective story, part social history, part memoir—revolves around his mother’s decision to hide the existence of a sister, Annie, who was institutionalized for 31 years in a Michigan asylum.

The Michigan Humanities Council selected the book as “The Great Michigan Read” for 2013-2014; it has been the focus of a year-long series of events and discussions throughout the state.

Annie’s Ghosts was named to The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2009 list, and honored as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” It was a mainstay on the Heartland (Midwest) Bestsellers List after the Great Michigan Read began.

Steve grew up in Detroit, where Annie’s Ghosts primarily takes place. He and his wife, Mary Jo Kirschman, a former school librarian, live in Baltimore. They have two adult children, Josh and Jill.

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