A book titled 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Ann Arbor, Michigan (But Are About to Find Out) arrived in town so casually it was almost as if author Horace Martin Woodhouse didn’t care whether anyone read it or not. “Someone gave it to us as a gift,” says AADL librarian Lucy Roehrig. Nicola Rooney of Nicola’s Books heard about it from a customer and put in an order–once she tracked down its publisher, the Curiosity Company, which lists no mailing address.
Attempts to reach “Woodhouse” led to Michael Turback of Ithaca, New York. Under his own name, Turback explains, he wrote a similar book about Ithaca. When it sold better than he expected, he persuaded a group of writing friends to turn out volumes on other college towns under the Woodhouse pseudonym. The brief entries in our edition deal, usually lightheartedly, with town and gown trivia–how Ann Arbor got its name, why early president Henry Tappan was fired, the roles U-M grad James Earl Jones played in student productions.
Rooney says copies have not “been flying off the shelf” at her store. But in mid-April, 112 people were lined up to read 101 Things at the library. Since AADL orders an additional copy for every four “holds,” that one donated copy led to thirty-six paid orders–pretty good considering that, as Turback admits, “only one of us has ever been in Ann Arbor.”