Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Wed, 03/01/2017 - 12:43am
Cover to Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

In traditional biographies of the Washingtons, the subject of slavery rarely comes up, or, if it does, it is given a paragraph or perhaps a chapter to explain the “peculiar institution” as it related to the first First Family. There is nothing like a personal story—a slave’s personal and true story—to get a deeper perspective. In Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge, that is exactly what we have.

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 12:42am
Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads by Andrea Sutcliffe

The Shenandoah Valley is convenient to our region and offers a lot in the way of recreation and history, but it’s rare that travelers can find material on lesser-known towns and roadways. Andrea Sutcliffe’s Touring Shenandoah Valley Backroads is a good companion for people who enjoy a ramble away from the homogenized offerings of the well-traveled Interstate.  

The book is split into 13 regional tours. They cover a lot of ground between them, from Front Royal to Fincastle. You’ll find “Walks in the Woods” at Massanutten Mountain briefly described, details on Grand Caverns (or Grottoes, as Thomas Jefferson knew it), and directions to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley with its exhibits on regional history and art, and many other sites to investigate along the way.

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 10:07am
If you like The Man in the High Castle

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 the book matches here.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

“They know a million tricks, those novelists.” ― Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

The first season of Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s book of the same title and is now continuing into its second season. The series does an astonishingly good job of immersing viewers in an alternate history where the Axis powers won World War II, and America has been divided between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan for years.

The players include spies and rebels, conflicted commanders, and ordinary people caught up in frequently lethal events. Even with all that is going on, things are not what they seem.

If you enjoy richly imagined worlds of might-have-been, battlefield conflicts that lead to difficult choices on the home front, or dangerous worlds where the truth lies beneath everyday appearances, try these books by other novelists who know a million tricks.


Babel-17Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney
In a war-riven world, why will saving humanity require . . . a poet? At twenty-six, Rydra Wong is the most popular poet in the five settled galaxies. Almost telepathically perceptive, she has written poems that capture the mood of mankind after two decades of savage war. Since the invasion, Earth has endured famine, plague, and cannibalism, but its greatest catastrophe will be Babel-17. Sabotage threatens to undermine the war effort, and the military calls in Rydra. Random attacks lay waste to warships, weapons factories, and munitions dumps, and all are tied together by strings of sound, broadcast over the radio before and after each accident. In that gibberish Rydra recognizes a coherent message, with all of the beauty, persuasive power, and order that only language possesses. To save humanity, she will master this strange tongue. But the more she learns, the more she is tempted to join the other side . . . (publisher’s description)
 


The Big Time
The Big Time
(Change Wars #1) by Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) may be best known as a fantasy writer, but he published widely and successfully in the horror and science fiction fields. One of his major SF creations is the Change War, a series of stories and short novels about rival time-traveling forces locked in a bitter, ages-long struggle for control of the human universe where battles alter history and then change it again until there’s no certainty about what might once have happened. The most notable work of the series is the Hugo Award-winning novel The Big Time, in which doctors, entertainers, and wounded soldiers find themselves treacherously trapped with an activated atomic bomb inside the Place, a room existing outside of space-time. (publisher’s description)


Thu, 02/23/2017 - 12:40am
Cover to Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn

Lola loves to go to the library with her mommy every Tuesday. She is ready long before the library opens at 9 o'clock with her library card and backpack of books to return.

Lola at the Library, by Anna McQuinn, shows how much a library can mean to a young child, with storytimes, a special kids' section, and so many books to check out.

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 12:39am
Cover to The Gift of Caring: Saving Our Parents from the Perils of Modern Medicine

In the days before modern hospitals, there were fewer options for the sick and elderly. Today, there are medical miracles, yes, but hospitals are often understaffed, and a family member is usually the best advocate an elderly patient can have. But what do you need to know to take on that role effectively?

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 12:38am
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

"All around her was rich, vibrant color; she was the only colorless thing."

School trivia nights are usually filled with laughter and brainy fun. Most trivia nights involve fundraisers for the good of the community. But in Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, Pirriwee Public School's annual trivia event begins with death.

Flashback to six months before: in a quaint, seaside Australian town, three women—newcomer Jane, outspoken Madeline, and troubled Celeste—have become friends through their school-aged children. The women realize that they are struggling with a multitude of troubles on the home front: Jane is still trying to get used to single motherhood with her feisty kindergartner, Ziggy; Madeline is trying to balance her daughters—the elder, a defiant teenager—along with her difficult ex-husband and his New Age wife; and Celeste, although beautiful and wealthy, has a toxic and violent marriage.

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