Shelf Life Blog

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

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.

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan is a collection of five stories set in various African countries that reveal the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa.

If you liked Say You're One of Them for the chance to stand in another person' shoes, you may enjoy these titles:
 

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
"Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, 1952. An Afrikaner police officer is found dead. Detective Emmanuel Cooper, a man of uncertain parentage in a country that demands racial purity, follows a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of one Captain Pretorius."-catalog summary


 

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity in a city ravaged by war. In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human.
From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Elsewhere, a young man leaves home to collect drinking water for his family and, in the face of danger, must weigh the value of generosity against selfish survivalism. A third man, older, sets off in search of bread and distraction and instead runs into a long-ago friend who reminds him of the city he thought he had lost, and the man he once was. As both men are drawn into the orbit of cello music, a fourth character-a young woman, a sniper-holds the fate of the cellist in her hands. As she protects him with her life, her own army prepares to challenge the kind of person she has become. A novel of great intensity and power, and inspired by a true story, 'The Cellist of Sarajevo', poignantly explores how war can change one's definition of humanity, the effect of music on our emotional endurance, and how a romance with the rituals of daily life can itself be a form of resistance. (catalog summary)

Ida B--And Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan

Ida B--And Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the Wo

Ida B. Applewood's perfect life is crushed when she is forced to go to public school during her fourth grade year--where fun is scarce and the teacher gets to decide the entire plan for the day. Having been homeschooled, she has always been a planner in that she decides at the beginning of the day just how she will complete all of her tasks to ensure ample time for fun. Fourth grade in public school is not for Ida B., and she has a plan for how she can escape the unpleasant, joyless constraints of Ernest B. Lawson Elementary School. Ida B, by Katherine Hannigan, is the story of a girl's strong will to maintain her happy, fun-filled lifestyle.  

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The plot and characters in The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson, are full of surprises. Grown-up siblings Annie and Buster Fang end up back home with their parents when both their lives implode in creative ways. Buster, while writing for a macho magazine, was shot with a potato gun, doing serious injury to his face. Actress Annie shed some extra clothes on a movie set and got blacklisted. Adrift and in need, they naturally return home.

But coming home for them is no staid Norman Rockwell gathering. Annie and Buster Fang grew up being conduits for their parents’ eccentric artistic visions. Chapters describe parents Caleb and Camille Fang’s disturbing performance art events with their children, stage-named Child A and Child B.  The elder Fangs tightly tangled their family and their art, and, not surprisingly, the children are “messed up.”   Funny, thoughtful and disturbing, this novel tests the boundaries of how most of us define art and family.  

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

A nubile co-ed is missing from the same small, rural Mississippi town where another young woman had disappeared twenty-five years earlier—the mystery unsolved, her body never found. So begins Tom Franklin’s stellar novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Socially-awkward Larry Ott was 16 years old when Cindy Walker, both beautiful and popular, asked him out on a date. That momentous occasion—at least through Larry’s eyes—was the point when his young life began a downward slide from which it would not recover. Walker was never seen again. Although no evidence was ever found connecting him to the girl’s disappearance, the townspeople unanimously convicted Larry without the benefit of any trial. Shunned and taunted, he became the local pariah.

Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper

Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper

Years ago, three-year-old Gerald was left home alone in an apartment where a fire broke out. When authorities discovered that Gerald was home by himself, he was removed from the custody of his substance-addicted mother Monique and sent to live with his aunt. While living with his Aunt, Queen, Gerald is happy. After his aunt dies when he is nine, his mother returns but now she has a new husband, Jordan, and a daughter, Angel. Gerald goes to live with them, but he soon learns that all is not well. Jordan works sporadically and is abusive towards Angel and Monique. Monique does not stand up to Jordan--in fact she spends most of her time trying to please him. Jordan's abusive behavior towards Angel is a constant source of distress for Gerald. Soon the problems escalate to a point that force Gerald's hand in Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper.

If you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldus Huxley

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.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Huxley's story shows a futuristic World State where all emotion, love, art, and human individuality have been replaced by social stability.

If you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Told through a central character, Alex, the disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism. A modern classic of youthful violence and social redemption set in a dismal dystopia whereby a juvenile deliquent undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior.(worldcat.org)


 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in the (perhaps near) future when "firemen" burn books forbidden by a totalitarian "brave new world" regime. The hero, according to Mr. Bradbury, is "a book burner who suddenly discovers that books are flesh-and-blood ideas and cry out silently when put to the torch." (worldcat.org)

 

 

Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

All is well at the city zoo. The zookeeper lies back in his chair, grabbing a quick snooze. It is a perfect time…for escape.

Where’s Walrus, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage is a delightful romp through New York City with a flippered fugitive who always knows where he can blend in, outsmarting the zookeeper every step of the way. Our title character first hides in a fountain, pretending to be a mermaid, next we see him in a diner, then a store window. The zookeeper is close behind, but never quite sees through the disguises. Will you?

Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

I love a Regency Romance with a twist on the tried and true formula.  In Loretta Chase’s Silk Is for Seduction the characters are well-drawn with interesting backgrounds and they grow.  The plot has fun twists and the dialogue is lively, and, of course, all romances include some sensuous love scenes. But for the hero and heroine, it’s the end of the Regency period--we even see glimpses of the young Princess Victoria--and the modern world is creeping in and old stereotypes are dying. 

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts by Dr. Gary Chapman

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts by Dr. Gary Chapman

Do you know what your “love language” is? If you adore it when your husband takes out the trash and he enjoys going out to dinner with you more than anything, your love language may be “Acts of Service” while his may be “Quality Time.” In The Five Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman asserts that every person speaks one of these “primary” love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, or Gifts. People can also speak a secondary language, but the primary language is the most important. Although the focus of this book is on romantic relationships (primarily marriage), Chapman also has applied this concept to relationships with children, teens, and co-workers in other books.

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Juliet Immortal

Do you remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Well, perhaps that storyline is not true, and Juliet did not kill herself. Perhaps Romeo Montague killed Juliet Capulet.  It was he, her soul mate and new husband, who committed a terrible crime. Romeo gave up Juliet to the hands of the Mercenaries, demons who seek to destroy love and separate soul mates. Juliet Immortal, a fantasy by Stacey Jay, retells the story of what happened between Shakespeare’s famous lovers.

Juliet has spent seven hundred years working for the Ambassadors of Light after Nurse, her Ambassador guide, saved her soul on the night Romeo killed her. At that moment, Juliet pledged allegiance to the Ambassadors’ cause, which is to bring soul mates together and make sure that their love blooms. She now spends much of her time in a dark mist, from which she is only taken out by the Ambassadors of Light to return to Earth, shift into a borrowed body, and assist soul mates. However, Romeo is working against her, and his allegiance to the Mercenaries makes Romeo and Juliet immortal enemies.