Shelf Life Blog

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

“When hunger gnaws inside my belly, I tell myself that a future Pioneer has to repress cravings for such unimportant matters as food. Communism is just over the horizon; soon there will be plenty of food for everyone…I wonder what it’s like in the capitalist countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if children there had never even tasted a carrot.”

More than anything, 10-year-old Sasha Zaichik wants to be a member of the Young Soviet Pioneers in Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Eugene Yelchin. Sasha can hardly wait for tomorrow’s Pioneer rally, when all of his dreams will be realized. However, as the big day gets close, things go terribly wrong for Sasha. First, his stalwart father is taken away by the State Security in the middle of the night. As Sasha’s mother had died under mysterious circumstances some time before, this leaves Sasha frighteningly alone. He is no longer welcome in the komunalka that he shares with 48 other citizens, so he is put out into deserted and icy streets in the middle of the night.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Jersey girl Stephanie Plum, the unlikely heroine of One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, is seriously down on her luck. She’s been downsized out of her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store, and is therefore out of money. Her precious Miata has been repossessed, and she’s having trouble fending off her meddling mother’s recommendations for future employment. Out of desperation Plum turns to her cousin Vinnie, who runs a bail-bond business. She blackmails him into giving her a $10,000 recovery job, and then she quickly realizes that she is in way over her head.

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

It is a year after the death of Sherlock Holmes when Watson again sets pen to paper to record another of his sensational investigations, a series of events so scandalous they could not be related earlier, as told in Anthony Horowitz’ The House of Silk.

When Edmund Carstairs believes he and his family are being threatened by a man in a flat cap, he turns to Holmes for help. It appears that the man has followed him from America seeking revenge. The pursuer’s murder does not solve the puzzle, but instead leads Holmes and Watson ever deeper into a dangerous London underworld of opium dens and worse with links to the most powerful and influential levels of British society. In this dark world, they hear whispers about the House of Silk. But inquiries lead to threats, and they are warned off the investigation in no uncertain terms by those in the highest levels of government. Soon Holmes finds himself in prison, accused of murder.

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian

The Gospel According to Larry, by Janet Tashjian, is the story of what happens when anti-commercialism meets the world of blogging. Josh Swensen is a nature-loving, hyperactive, slightly ingenious seventeen-year-old boy who spends most of his time avoiding his classmates. Josh only has one friend, Beth, a young feminist in the making. The two have been friends since they were in elementary school.

Recently, Josh and Beth have been spending a lot of time following an anti-commercialism, semi-evangelistic blog by an unknown person with a code name of Larry. Larry is against the widespread commercialism that targets everyone, especially teenagers. He only has seventy-five possessions, which he photographs periodically to show his fans. He does this in order to show his lack of attachment to material goods. Larry sends out sermons that primarily target the faults of big-business marketing schemes.

If you like The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt:" Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill."

If you enjoyed this novel's themes of youth alienation, literary achievement, and psychological violence, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day, while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront. (worldcat.org)


 

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Written entirely in the second person, McInerney's first novel is a vivid account of cocaine addiction. (worldcat.org)

 


 

Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Metro City’s very own superhero Captain Amazing is getting too old for his job, so he’s going to need some backup. Sidekicks is the journey of some die-hard hero wannabes who wish to join the captain for one very simple reason: They are his pets, and he hasn’t been paying them any attention lately.

What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson

What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson

To explain my reasoning for choosing to read What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson, I must first explain a little about myself. I'm a senior in college and in the process of applying for graduate school. One day, while frantically exploring graduate programs at various schools across the U.S. and abroad, I started to worry: Will I choose the right program? What if I wasted my college years studying the wrong subjects? What am I suppose to do with my life? Well, during my craze I jokingly typed in Google, "What Should I Do with My Life?" Po Bronson's book was the first thing to pop up in my browser. I immediately searched the library's catalog to find out whether I could borrow the book, and I drove up to Porter branch that night to check it out. I never set out to review it since it was simply a pleasure read, but I feel as though others may benefit from some of the events portrayed in this book as well.

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

Author Reginald Hill died January 12th, 2012, at the age of 75. Best known for his "Dalziel & Pascoe" series, he also wrote a number of stand alone novels. The Woodcutter is a fairy tale of a thriller set in the almost mythic Cumbrian countryside.

Hadda Wolf has been living Happily Ever After. The son of a Cumbrian woodcutter, he fulfills three tasks--getting an education, some social polish and amassing great fortune--to win the hand of an almost-princess, the daughter of the lord of the castle. Hadda and Imogen marry, have a daughter, and he truly feels he is living beyond his wildest dreams.

Empire State by Jason Shiga

Empire State by Jason Shiga

Most love stories don't end with a snowball to the face. Then again, this is no love story.

Empire State, by Jason Shiga, actually starts in the Golden State: Oakland, California. Jimmy works in a library and runs his own Web site. He finds inner peace through repairing books and geeking out over sci-fi movies. As he leaves work one day, we meet his friend Sara, who greets him...with an unprovoked punch in the arm.

Sara's sarcastic and unsatisfied world view is a million miles from Jimmy's acceptance of his uncomplicated life. Still, they both find some comfort and security in each other's presence. Unfortunately for Jimmy, Sara has a yearning to leave Oakland and enter New York City's publishing industry. When she receives an internship, the call is too powerful to resist.

If you like Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a classic parable of Generation X alienation: "THE FIRST RULE about fight club is you don't talk about fight club. Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with whitecollar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it's only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world." (Book summary)

If you enjoyed this novel's themes of social alienation, search for meaning through dark subcultures, and atmosphere of paranoia, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
In a black satire of the eighties, a decade of naked greed and unparalleled callousness, a successful Wall Street yuppie cannot get enough of anything, including murder. (worldcat.org)

 


 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Six hundred years into the future, humans are bred by cloning, and "mother" and "father" are forbidden words. Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena, including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse. (worldcat.org)