Shelf Life Blog
The Age of Pirates has been so thoroughly romanticized in the popular imagination that many people do not know about the real lives of pirates. Films ranging from Captain Blood to the Pirates of the Caribbean series create the idea of piracy as freedom from the boring drudgery and stress of life on land. But how much did pirates’ real lives resemble those of the fantastic swashbucklers of the silver screen? Terrance Zepke’s book, Pirates of the Carolinas, is a series of short biographies of some of the best-known pirates who operated out of North Carolina. Although not as in-depth as some other accounts, such as Daniel Defoe’s A General History of the Pirates, the book provides concise, factually accurate information on some of the most notorious figures in American history.
Boxers & Saints are a masterful pair of graphic novels that offer perspective on both sides of China's Boxer Rebellion, a decade long struggle that I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about. The struggle hinged upon the arrival of Europeans who brought Christianity to the Chinese along with an unfortunate dose of subjugation.
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, starts on a magical, snowy day. There’s still school though so Hazel and her best friend Jack make plans to meet up and go sledding afterward. Since her Dad left her and her mom, things have really changed for Hazel in a bad way. She had to stop going to the fun school where the teachers were happy she had such vivid imagination and creativity. Now Hazel goes to classes where the desks are perfectly lined up all the time, and there is to be no fidgeting. Hazel fidgets anyway.
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Even the title of Devo's debut album shows that this band has a lot of strangeness to unpack. A New Wave quintet from Akron, Ohio, Devo dresses in industrial jumpsuits with goggles and plastic flowerpot helmets on their heads. Stay with me.
The band's main argument and name is based on the idea that human civilization has reached its peak and is actually devolving. I'll let you be the judge of that claim, but I still highly encourage you to check out this incredibly rocking, highly danceable album.
Ants are among the most numerous animals on the Earth, but few people pay little attention to them other than to step on them when they become an inconvenience. Have you ever wondered how ants are always able to summon swarms of allies seemingly from nowhere? Or, how ants can plan massively-coordinated attacks and design gigantic nests? Mark W. Moffett wondered and wrote a book, Adventures Among Ants, detailing the discoveries he made after years of research.
Zombie Baseball Beatdown appears to have been written exclusively to combine the undead with baseball bats—in the most splattery combination possible. This does not make Paolo Bacigalupi's first book for middle grade readers bad. In fact, he manages to inject some pretty great commentary into this wild zombie romp.
How far would you go to make sure you had milk in your refrigerator? Might you outsmart a spaceship full of aliens looking to remodel your planet? Would you dare face off against bloodthirsty pirates? How about climbing into a time-traveling hot air balloon invented by a genius stegosaurus? Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman has these things and so much more.
Rock music provocateur Lou Reed passed away this week at age 71. Best known for his work with the proto-punk band The Velvet Underground, Reed supplied tough, gritty lyrics while John Cale offered up a dissonant musical journey unlike any heard at the time. Reed and Cale went on to make some transcendent solo albums as well, but my favorite collaboration of theirs will always be Songs For Drella.
Many people enjoy reading DC Comics’ classic Batman and Superman books, but often forgotten are the other series that were produced during the 1950s and 1960s, the “Silver Age” of comic books. One such series is Challengers of the Unknown, and it is sad that it has been mostly forgotten because it contains many exciting adventures with striking artwork and a panoply of bizarre monsters for the heroes to confront. For readers willing to put up with some of the more dated aspects of its storytelling, Challengers of the Unknown is an enjoyable trip back in time to DC’s Silver Age.
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.
A Time to Kill by John Grisham: "A Southern town is shocked when a 10-year-old black girl is raped by two white men--until the girl's father takes the law into his own hands." (Book description)
If you enjoyed this novel, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly
Benjamin January once again turns sleuth when his sister is arrested for murder, a crime with powerful ties to a voodoo death curse (catalog description)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder of self defense? The question captivated the city's Society, high and low, for over a decade. (catalog description)