Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Wed, 09/23/2015 - 7:19am
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

After reading CRRL librarian Joy O’Toole’s great write-up on Agatha Christie, I thought I’d give one of her series a try. I’m not sure why I had been avoiding them. I like British stuff, historical novels, and mysteries. But what I had glimpsed of Inspector Poirot and Miss Marple did not immediately grab me. I decided to try one of her lesser-known series, Partners in Crime, which starts with The Secret Adversary.

Friends since childhood, charming, young, and starving Tommy and Tuppence meet at a London tea shop to catch up, only to discover that they both face the same problem—chronic unemployment! In London after the Great War, there aren’t a lot of jobs to be had, so for the price of an advertisement in the newspaper, they decide to create The Young Adventurers, Ltd., a firm that will take on very nearly anything.

Fri, 09/18/2015 - 2:56am
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.  Available for adults, teens, and kids. See all book matches here

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: "It is difficult for most people even to imagine the world described in this book, let alone live in it as a child: the nights are dark, scary, and filled with strange noises; the people welcome you and despise you at the same time; there is a constant anxious feeling burning in your stomach, which, you later realize, is fear of the unrest surrounding you. The British-born Fuller grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), losing three siblings to disease as her father fought in the Rhodesian civil war and her mother managed the farm. She approaches her childhood with reserve, leaving many stories open to interpretation while also maintaining a remarkable clarity about what really transpired in her homeland, in her own home, and in her head." (Library Journal)

If you enjoyed this title, you may also like these picks:

The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country's long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers's parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. (catalog description)

Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John
In 1978, in the final, bloodiest phase of the Rhodesian civil war, 11-year-old Lauren St John moves with her family to Rainbow's End, a wild, beautiful farm and game reserve set on the banks of a slowflowing river. The house has been the scene of a horrific attack by guerrillas, and when Lauren's family settles there, a chain of events is set in motion that will change her life irrevocably.  (catalog description)


Thu, 09/17/2015 - 2:56am
The Skunk by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

The Skunk shows up on a man's doorstep just as he is leaving for a night at the opera. Careful not to disturb the creature, the man quietly sneaks around his doorstep and begins walking. The skunk follows.

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 2:55am
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

In Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, Jun Do works for the government of “the most glorious nation on earth” as a professional kidnapper. This isn’t a science fiction dystopia, but rather it is a raw, searing novel concerning one man’s life under a regime that crushes its citizens, body and soul.

Jun Do doesn’t know his real name. Like his fellow orphans, his was chosen from a list of North Korean war heroes. There is decency to Jun Do, even as he surmounts a horrific childhood only to realize that he (and everyone else) exists primarily for their usefulness to the state. But Jun Do has ambitions.

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 9:16am
Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

Sebastian and the Balloon is a must-read for young adventurers. Our title character finds little of interest on his street full of identical houses. Gathering everything he could possibly ever need, Sebastian takes to the skies in a patchwork hot air balloon made from his grandmother's afghans and quilts.

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 1:28pm
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! illustrates the alphabet with 26 rad—as in radical—American women who changed the world.

Instead of “A is for Apple” and “B is for Ball,” author Kate Schatz and illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl give us the activist Angela Davis and tennis pro Billie Jean King. From Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers Association, to the transgender writer and youth advocate Kate Bornstein, each short biography celebrates a woman who made a difference. The book highlights diverse individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and shares the stories how they became fighters and dreamers, the leaders and innovators of American history.