Shelf Life Blog

10/26/2016 - 12:47am
Cover to Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Rowena Caldwell was an intelligent, attractive young woman and a hard worker. Growing up in rural Ohio in the very early 1900s, there wasn’t much opportunity for someone in her circumstances. Born into a poor family with 15 brothers and sisters, she grew up to know farm work, but she also loved to read. At 19, she married 27-year-old, college-educated P.C. Gatewood. It wasn’t very long before the beatings started. And continued.

In 1940, having borne him eleven children and endured near constant torment, she left him. Few outside her community knew the part of her story she left behind her.  But everyone across America came to know “Grandma Gatewood,” the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail—more than 2,000 miles—from Georgia to Maine. By herself.

10/25/2016 - 8:20am
Darkest Journey by Heather Graham

Charlene “Charlie” Moreau will never forget that night she met Ethan Delaney.

In high school, she decided to participate in a grueling hazing event organized by her peers. When she’s tied to a tombstone placed in unhallowed ground, Charlie knows exactly what she's in for: possible ghost sightings.

10/24/2016 - 12:46am
Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton

Theresa, better known as Tree, is just at the age when guys are starting to notice her. She doesn’t have any time for them, though. She’s got to get home after school. With her mom working and living somewhere else and no dad they can remember, it’s up to Tree to look after her brother Dab. Dab might be older in years than Tree, but he’s younger inside. Always been that way.

No, Tree doesn’t have time for the boys and men who call her name on the street—until she sees the finest looking young man ever. He doesn’t call her name. He doesn’t say anything at all. The truth of the matter is, Brother Rush, for that is his name, is a ghost.

10/21/2016 - 10:16am
If you like Creepy Classics

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.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
 "We will each write a story," poet Lord Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron's proposal. The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror -- one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. (catalog summary)

Here are other creeptastic classics you must get your claws on, and read:


The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Howard Philips Lovecraft reinvented the horror genre in the 1920s, discarding ghosts and witches, and instead envisioning mankind as a tiny outpost of dwindling sanity in a chaotic and malevolent universe. S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft's preeminent interpreter, presents a selection of the master's fiction, from the early tales of nightmares and madness such as "The Outsider" to the overpowering cosmic terror of "The Call of Cthulhu." (catalog summary)



Dracula by Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker's classic vampire story has haunted and disturbed the modern imagination for a hundred years. Set in Transylvania, London, and Whitby, it pits the sinister but seductive Count Dracula against a team of Vampire-hunters armed only with typewriters, phonographs, and syringes. Vividly presented in the form of diaries and letters, the narrative blends ancient superstitions with modern technologies, and pulsates with obsessive fears of foreignness and sexuality. (catalog summary)



10/20/2016 - 12:43am
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

"A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson."

10/19/2016 - 12:42am
Blind Sight: A Detective Mallory Novel by Carol O'Connell

Detective Kathy Mallory has another intriguing case on her hands.

In Carol O’Connell’s new novel Blind Sight, a cloistered nun is found dead on the mayor of New York City’s lawn, along with three other unlinked bodies. The pattern is the same for all of the victims except for the nun: loners and shut-ins. The real mystery lies behind why Sister Michael was chosen for a bitter and horrifying end.

10/18/2016 - 12:41am
Cover to The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Before reading The Book That Matters Most and seeing the list its book club picked, think about the book that matters most to you. I asked several friends and the members of my book group. The books they came up with were also Ann Hood’s choices.

At the beginning of the novel, Ava is lonely and angry. Her do-gooder husband has left her for a yarn bomber, for goodness sakes! She makes huge yarn objects to make political and social statements. Her children, Will and Maggie, are living abroad. Her daughter is a lost soul and trying to find herself in Paris.

10/18/2016 - 11:21am
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Orphaned Kit Tyler had found life with her rich grandfather in Barbados to be wonderful. But her grandfather’s death revealed that their life of tropical splendor was nothing more than an illusion. In debt and desperate, the 17-year-old had very few options.

Running away from an arranged marriage to a much older man, she and her many trunks of expensive clothes board the Dolphin on a voyage to Wethersfield, a Puritan village in Connecticut. She goes to meet her Aunt Rachel, her Uncle Matthew and their daughters—the only relatives she has.

While traveling, she catches the eye of John, a kind, poor student on his way to Wethersfield, and Nat, the captain’s son, who teases Kit about her aristocratic upbringing. She truly enjoys being at sea, but even before she steps foot on the New England shore, she is accused of being a witch by yet another passenger heading to Wethersfield.

10/14/2016 - 12:38am
If you like The Shining by Stephen King

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.

The Shining by Stephen King
Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote--and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old. (catalog summary)

If you like Stephen King, read some of his other popular horror novels:


Carrie by Stephen King
Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be a normal and go to her senior prom. But another act--of ferocious cruelty--turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget. (catalog summary)



Cujo By Stephen King
It happens innocently enough, but doesn't it always. A big, friendly dog chases a rabbit into a hidden underground cave--and stirs a sleeping evil crueler than death itself. A terrified four-year-old boy sees his bedroom closet door swing open untouched by human hands, and screams at the unholy red eyes gleaming in the darkness. The little Maine town of Castle Rock is about to be invaded by the most hideous menace ever to savage the flesh and devour the mind. (catalog summary)


10/13/2016 - 8:24am
Stick Dog by Tom Watson

Look, not everyone can be a great artist, okay? The narrator of Stick Dog certainly isn’t, and he’s sick of hearing about it. So he’ll make you a deal. You don’t comment on the art, and in exchange you’ll get story about five rectangular canine friends on a quest for the Holy Grail of picnic foods: hamburgers.

Stick Dog—accompanied by his friends Mutt, Stripes, Poo-Poo, and Karen—is determined to get some of the delicious-smelling hamburgers being grilled in the park away from the picnickers and into empty doggy stomachs.


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