Meet Me on Lake Erie, Dearie!: Cleveland's Great Lakes Exposition, 1936-1937
John Vacha (Kent State University Press, $24.95)
Vacha's history of Cleveland's fantastic lakefront fair starts slowly, with trips to art-deco monoliths such as the Porcelain Enamel Building. Once the book hits the Midway, the real fun starts. Vacha ducks into the freak shows, lets the fortunetellers grab his palm and introduces us to spectacular characters: We see Broadway bully Billy Rose woo sexy swimmer Eleanor Holm, glimpse exotic dancer Toto Leverne's "glass dress" and hear Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan yell.
Under Glass: The Girl with a Thousand Christmas Trees
Jen Hirt (The University of Akron Press, $22.95)
Greenhouses are typically places of life, not death. That's why writing professor and Strongsville native Jen Hirt's memoir is particularly poignant. It chronicles the events leading up to the fall of her family's once-great horticultural business, such as her mother's struggle with multiple sclerosis. Just like how plants die and become sustenance for new life, however, Hirt finds renewal in this decline, reflecting on her family's legacy and what promise the future keeps.