Shelf Life Blog

Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff

Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff

“I’ll be happy when…I win the lottery. Snag my dream job. Lose that last ten pounds.” Does that sound familiar? Marci Shimoff in Happy for No Reason points out the flaws in this type of thinking and presents practical advice for living a life of happiness, regardless of your circumstances.  Shimoff herself thought she had achieved the American Dream as a successful, published author married to a loving husband and living in a beautiful home. But she, too, felt something was missing from her life. Through her research and her interviews of the “Happy 100,” Shimoff discovers that happiness is derived from within and offers the following seven steps to creating your own happiness:

1. Take Ownership of Your Happiness
2. Don’t Believe Everything You Think
3. Let Love Lead
4. Make Your Cells Happy
5. Plug Yourself Into Spirit
6. Live a Life Inspired by Purpose
7. Cultivate Nourishing Relationships

So, why should you read this book now that I’ve given away Shimoff’s seven steps? Because although these steps are the basics of Shimoff’s plan, her explanations and advice are well worth reading, to the point where I wanted to dog-ear the book’s pages (as it was a library book, I did not).  Even the new-age concept of the Law of Attraction had me thinking “what if it is true?” and “what do I have to lose?”

Putting Family First by William Doherty and Barbara Carlson

Putting Family First

Halfway through this spring, during a week of practically living out of our minivan and eating dinners on the run due to a parade of soccer games, drama rehearsals, and tae kwon do practices, I said to myself, “Enough. I want to get off this ride!” I picked up Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World, by William Doherty and Barbara Carlson, and devoured it in the next 2 days. Doherty and Carlson first trace the evolution of the overscheduling of today's kids and then provide concrete steps for reclaiming family time. I found myself nodding along to almost every chapter and came away with some great suggestions for how to streamline our outside commitments and reconnect as a family.

Doherty points out there are positive reasons why kids are busier today - like more opportunities to choose from - but also several that are negative, like more intense sports schedules, fear that children will be left behind if they don’t engage from an early age, and parental guilt due to long work schedules. Whatever the reasons, Doherty stresses that the end result is that “the adult world of hypercompetition and marketplace values has invaded the family.” What to do about it? The first step is to slow down and reconnect over family meals, optimally four times a week or more. The second is to reclaim bedtime as a soothing ritual. And the third step is to look critically at the schedule, cut back on outside obligations, and find time to “hang out as a family.”

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

In Christine Hinwood’s The Returning, the war between the Uplanders and the Downlanders is over. But everyone in the village of Kayforl is still struggling with the after effects. Cam returns home from the fighting maimed and struggles to make a new life for himself. But his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is broken off by her father.

If you like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: "The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life ... and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire ... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives." (Book summary)

If you enjoyed Outlander,  you may enjoy these other historical romances with strong characters or time-traveling novels:

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . . An alluring laird... He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart-until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length-but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve. A prisoner in time... She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side. . . .  (Catalog summary)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
"A fisherman's daughter in 1930s Japan rises to become a famous geisha. After training, Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder, then the school finds her a general for a patron. When he dies, she is reunited with the only man she loved."-catalog summary


 

Crashers by Dana Haynes

Crashers cover

A patron called me this week to say that he loved Crashers, by Dana Haynes, so much that he didn’t even want to stop the audio book to go to sleep at night!  That is an excellent endorsement!  He wanted more books by this author, and we found out that this was the debut novel of Dana Haynes.

It is about an airliner that crashes outside of Portland, Oregon, and a team of experts assembled to investigate the cause of the crash. Some of the members of the team are: Kiki Duvall, a “sonar witch”--a recorder specialist who can hear things that other people cannot; John Roby, a former cop and bomb expert; Walter Mulroney who can build any plane given the right number of bolts; engineer Peter Kim, pilot  and former F.B.I. agent Isaiah Grey; pathologist Tommy Tomzak; and the leader,  Susan Tanaka who is an intergovernmental liason.  They soon discover that this plane crash was no accident--it was a trial run. 

Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On! What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y'all Should Know, too! by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On!

I loved my Southern Mama and my Southern Grandma, so when I found Suck in Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On! I knew that I would love it, too.  It is chock full of wisdom from mothers across the South--plus a running commentary by the author which is hysterical!

There are such wonderful pearls of wisdom as:

"My mom’s advice on raising children:  ‘If it washes off or grows out, it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Don’t worry about it!’”

“Mama said, ‘Just because it fits doesn’t mean you oughta wear it.’”

“My mama told me ladies never answered the door barefoot!”

“My grandmother advised me to marry a man my age or a little younger, ‘because they don’t improve with age.’  I now know what she meant.’”

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Louise Yates

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Louise Yates

Young Fredle grows up repeatedly hearing the rules about how mice behave. Sometimes it seems like life between the walls of the kitchen is nothing but rules. One of the most important rules is that mice don’t change. But that doesn’t dampen Fredle’s curiosity and sense of adventure. Finally, his mother’s predictions come true, and his curious nature and sweet tooth get Fredle in deep trouble. And so Fredle finds himself Outside.

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Let me get this out of the way: if you're not a "computer person," someone with more than a vague knowledge of computer networking technology, Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner, is probably not the book for you. If, however, you ARE such a person, Brain Jack will start off as the kind of thriller that you think you will love, but its ending, like so many other cyber-thrillers, feels rushed and absurd. Don’t get me wrong--you'll enjoy reading it, but don't expect anything too deep from this book.  

Sam is the generic hero of our story. He's 17; he's a computer prodigy; and he's going to save the country from itself. The world of Brain Jack is set only a few years into our future. Falkner does a good job of building a world that, initially, is entirely conceivable based on our present. Computer technology is even more prevalent, and its consequences all the more potent. Las Vegas has been the victim of a nuclear attack that has left it in ruins, and the rest of the country is decaying under strict martial conditions.

If you like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: A novel about the problems of a young governess, whose love affair with her master is terminated when the terrifying mystery surrounding the upper rooms of their home is exposed.

If you enjoyed this book's combination of romance and mystery themes and are interested in similar works from the time period, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone is an ancient Indian diamond which brings disaster to everyone who owns it. Rachel Verinder's uncle gives her the diamond as a birthday present, but that same night it is stolen. (worldcat.org)

 



The Mysteries of Udolpho
by Ann Radcliffe
Orphan Emily St. Aubert finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her. (worldcat.org)


 

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

From the time she was quite young, Sylvia Earle loved the outdoors. She spent her early childhood on a farm in New Jersey exploring the animals and plants around her. Her family moved to Florida when Sylvia was twelve, to a home with a backyard on the Gulf of Mexico. Once Sylvia began exploring the waters of the Gulf, she found her life’s calling. Throughout her career as an oceanographer, Sylvia has been driven to push the boundaries of the possible in order to find out more about the underwater world she loves so much.