Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Wed, 03/07/2018 - 3:51pm
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle

"We have a gift, and we have a cake, and today we're going to drive all the way to the big city to see my new baby cousin on his zero-year birthday!"

So begins Margarita Engle's joyful picture book, All the Way to Havana. The narrator, a young boy who lives in Cuba, and his family are preparing to go see his new cousin in Havana. They take "Cara Cara," their 1954 blue Chevy that is supposed to purr like a kitten. But Cara Cara is so tired, she just chatters away like a baby chicken: "Pío, pío, pío, pío, pffft." The narrator's father fixes Cara Cara with each clunk clunk, something he does often to the old vintage vehicle.

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:29am
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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. You can browse other book matches here.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia—Warren an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. (catalog summary)

If you enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere, check out these other domestic fiction title read-a-likes.

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:28am
Valensteins (A Love Story) by Ethan Long

Something strange is in the air . . . and it could just be love.

The members of the Fright Club are planning a frightful scare. It will be a good one—like always. But Fran K. Stein has something (or someone) else on his mind. He's busy making something, and of course, the others want to know what it is.

Pink paper . . . scissors . . . glue . . . in the shape of . . . something. "Are you making a mask? With fangs?" Vladimir asks.

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 12:27am
Cover to The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

In The End of Our Story, by Meg Haston, we meet Wilson and Bridget, a young pair who seem meant to be together.  

Bridge and Wil have always been together. First, they grew up together. They became inseparable friends soon after and then, even more so, as a couple. Until Bridge broke Wil’s heart, that is. Then, suddenly, the pair that always was just isn’t anymore.

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 12:23am
Cover to Deep Work

The beginning of a new year is a great time to work on your productivity. While there are many resources—books, articles, TED talks, etc.—it is often hard to determine which ones are helpful. Will a new morning routine help you do more work? Or, perhaps it’s your Sunday rituals that need to change. Maybe you should lock your cell phone in a drawer for hours a day or purchase an app that blocks the Internet. Are you planning your time well, or should you focus more on your energy?

The promise of being more productive often lures me into reading yet another book or article. Until I read Deep Work, by Cal Newport, however, all of the ideas seemed to be more add-on systems than a way to rework how I think and do things.  

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:17am
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Actor Arthur Leander has experienced a number of peaks and valleys in his lengthy Hollywood career. As he prepares to take the stage as King Lear in what will be his final performance, he’s hardly at the top of his game. Hard living and a separation from his only son have taken their toll, and Arthur succumbs to a heart attack as the audience watches. Kirsten, a young child also in the production, is traumatized by Arthur’s death and will remember this day far into the future.