Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
06/14/2012 - 2:31am
Forget-Me-Nots

When I was in school, we often had to memorize and recite a poem to the class. Some of these poems have stuck with me even as an adult, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I can remember one. Memorizing poetry is like a game - you challenge yourself to master the poet’s words and rhythm. Once you do, you are likely to remember it for a long time. One of my kids memorized this short poem from the collection and recited it at dinner the other night when we were having peas:

I eat my peas with honey

I eat my peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife.
-Anonymous

Yes, we all tried our peas with honey after this...and they do taste funny.

Mary Ann Hoberman, Children’s Poet Laureate from 2008-2010, chose 123 poems to make up Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart because they are “memorable,” which she points out, has two meanings: “easy to remember” and “worth remembering.” Some are short, like the pea poem above, and some are longer challenges, like Edward Lear’s The Jumblies. There are poems about beasts, families, food, nature, and more. There are poems from famous writers (Roald Dahl), favorite poets (Shel Silverstein), and some I had never heard of. Emberley’s pictures are lively and colorful and make the entire book a pleasure to browse.

06/13/2012 - 2:31am
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafón completely understands what it means to be seduced by a book--to get lost in a plot and feel overwhelmed by perfectly-formed words and phrases. Perhaps that is what allows him to describe--and replicate--that experience in his own novel, The Shadow of the Wind.

The Shadow of the Wind opens in Barcelona in 1945. Daniel Sempere’s father is about to introduce him to a mysterious and labyrinthine place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In the Cemetery, the young boy is taught some very important things about the lives of books: “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

06/12/2012 - 6:31am
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

No one can see women of a certain age. We--I am of a certain age--are nothing but the ghosts of our former selves. We have a contentious relationship with mirrors just like Snow White’s stepmother. We fight aging with Botox, HRT, calcium, and even anti-depressants. Clover Hobart in Calling Invisible Women has contemplated figurative invisibility, but one fall day she becomes literally invisible.

After thinking she has had a breakdown or a stroke, Clover becomes proactive and explores the possibilities of invisibility. This novel has laugh-out-loud moments, is well-plotted, has great characters, and has thoughtful ideas about women and aging.

06/11/2012 - 6:22am
Mangaman by Barry Lyga

In the world of manga, Ryoko Kiyama is an ideal character. His eyes turn into pulsating hearts when he sees the object of his affection, sadness creates literal storm clouds overhead, and he is an expert at combating giant lizards and robots without getting injured. After accidentally falling through an “interdimensional cross-rip,” however, Ryoko’s ordinary behavior suddenly becomes freakish and bizarre. Ryoko has accidentally fallen into Western comics, a place populated by American teenagers who struggle to understand and tolerate such a strange visitor.

06/08/2012 - 2:31am
Zero History by William Gibson

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.

Zero History by William Gibson: "Former rock singer Hollis Henry and ex-addict Milgrim, an accomplished linguist, are at the front line of a sinister proprietor's attempts to get a slice of the military budget. When a Department of Defense contract for combat-wear turns out to be the gateway drug for arms dealers, they gradually realize their employer has some very dangerous competitors--including Garreth, a ruthless ex-military officer with lots of friends. Set largely in London after our post-Crash times."

If you enjoyed this book's depiction of a plausible near future and integration of philosophy into the narrative, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Blood Music by Greg Bear
Experimenting with biochips, Vergil Ulam creates instead a microscopic intelligence that mutates. Vergil injects himself with the disease culture to smuggle it out of the country. That is how the end of the world begins. (worldcat.org)
 


 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley's tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a "utopian" future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.  (amazon.com)

 

06/07/2012 - 11:43am
Found (The Missing: Book 1)

In Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Found, Jonah Skidmore feels like an ordinary thirteen-year-old boy. His family consists of a slightly annoying but smart younger sister named Katherine and a mom and dad who love him unconditionally. Jonah is adopted and has known this fact for a while but it’s never been a big deal for him because his parents have always been open about it to him. Life definitely feels normal for Jonah. That is, until the mysterious letter arrives--the letter that contains just six words: YOU ARE ONE OF THE MISSING. The letter does not contain a signature or a return address. Who sent it? Where did it come from? What does it mean?