Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
07/06/2011 - 10:34am
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Always keep a book with you in case of an emergency. Last summer I was vacationing in the Outer Banks with my 18-year-old son, Rob, my older son’s fiance, Bec, and a friend of ours, Jen. My friend decided that she wanted to have her nose pierced. She began to look for a tattoo parlor and finally found a place near the beach house. As we drove out into the middle of nowhere, Rob began to think that he needed a tattoo, also. As the mother of two sons, you learn to choose your battles carefully, so I told him that it was his decision. However, inside I was screaming, “NO!! Anything you tattoo now will sag when you get to be my age!!!”

We drove down the island with my son trying to decide what tattoo he would get, and we finally arrived at a tattoo parlor that was in a home! I pulled into the parking lot beside the collection of motorcycles, convinced that now my friend would change her mind when she saw the house. However, to my dread she jumped out of the car with an expression of sheer delight on her face and began to walk quickly into the house with the rest of us racing behind her.

03/08/2011 - 4:31am
The Disappearing Spoon

Chemistry appears to be the coldest, most sterile field of science, breaking down all the values that we as humans hold most dear. When we look close enough, these basic drives of ours, love, money, entertainment, courage, are just the combinations of different elements. Thanks chemistry, for sucking the fun out of the party.

But Sam Kean’s new book, The Disappearing Spoon, manages to take the history of the periodic table of elements, that impenetrable fortress from your high school chemistry class, and relate some of the most amazing, unbelievable, hilarious stories that have ever existed.

Almost episodic in nature, the crux of each story is often how a particular element was discovered, and then how humankind has chosen to put it to use. Sometimes it is for public welfare (copper is used on doorknobs and stair railings because most bacteria that land on it die with in a matter of hours), other times for warfare (high demand for the metals used to construct cell phones have contributed to five million deaths in war-torn central Africa since the mid-90’s).

03/07/2011 - 10:10am
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary.  Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children.  As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal.  In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm.  This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children.  The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!

03/04/2011 - 9:12am
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

 This readalike is in response to a patron'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. You can browse the book matches here.

"A spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known... of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect-a man divided in his soul... of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame... and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother." (Book summary)
 
If you like Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, try these other historical-fiction tales of the medieval world.
 
Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
"Vividly re-creating the pageantry and violence of the 1400s, Cornwell takes readers into the heart of the soldiering class in this intimate retelling of the Battle of Agincourt. With a brisk pace and a brilliant evocation of everyday life, he details the brutality of war and the lives of the men who fought." (Booklist Online)
 


 
"Irving Stone's classic biographical novel in which both the artist and the man are brought to life in full. A masterpiece in its own right, this novel offers a compelling portrait of Michelangelo's dangerous, impassioned loves, and the God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known." (From the publisher)
 
 
 
03/03/2011 - 4:31am

One day Sally the duck is thrilled to get a pair of purple socks in the mail in Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold. They are lovely and so soft, but a bit small. However, there is something special about these socks: they will grow to the "size ordered." Once she airs them out, they fit just right.

Sally wears them all day - dancing, cleaning, and relaxing. After a while she notices something curious - the socks have grown to be too big.

But Sally is resourceful, and the purple socks become a soft purple scarf and cap....and so on. With each page, the socks grow larger and larger, and Sally deftly adapts to their new size and makes them into something totally new.

03/02/2011 - 4:31am
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

If you’re determined to avoid any books guaranteed to trigger tears, then forget The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I, however, am a sucker for an exceptional dog story and accustomed to the accompanying waterworks. From White Fang through Marley and Me to A Dog Year, the unconditional love, loyalty and goodness of (wo)man’s best friend keep me coming back for more.

Denny’s dog Enzo is wiser than most people. In fact, he’s convinced that in his next life he will return as a human. To that end, he has already started perfecting his skills so upon rebirth, he can (figuratively) hit the ground running.
 
Denny meets and marries Eve and they are subsequently blessed with the arrival of baby Zoe. Despite the family extension, Enzo remains cherished by all. But shortly after, Eve is stricken with an illness. Both she (and Enzo) realize something is terribly wrong, yet she refuses to see a doctor.