Shelf Life Blog

11/09/2011 - 10:31am
The Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol

The Shame of the Nation tries to explain the troubles within America's inner-city schools. Jonathan Kozol--a writer, teacher, and activist--explores 60 different schools in order to see firsthand the physical and mental conditions of America's educational system. There, he finds an epidemic in which school systems allow some students to fall behind the curriculum. He looks at how the country went from separate but equal schools to desegregation and back to segregated schools.

11/08/2011 - 10:04am
Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg

While some memoirs are incredibly complex and intrinsically difficult to categorize, most of the ones I’ve read tend to fit in one of two general groups: the experience-driven and the persona-driven. Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books exemplifies the experience-driven category. Steinberg was an unknown when his memoir was published, and that relative obscurity meant that most readers were not drawn to the book because of his persona or celebrity. It was the topic of the autobiography that caught the public’s attention--the fact that this young man had worked in a prison library and found a way to describe the disorienting experience with both clarity and depth. 

11/07/2011 - 3:30am
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

On her wedding night, Cordelia Grey catches the last train to leave Union, Ohio. With her is her slight but talented friend Letty Haubstadt. Their destination is the end of the line: fabulous, roarin’ New York City. Both girls are escaping their boring, unhappy lives in Ohio and fleeing to New York where they hope to find what they are looking for. Cordelia seeks her father, whom she believes to be the infamous bootlegger Darius Grey. Letty wants nothing more than a microphone before her, a dazzling dress to wear and an enraptured audience to sing to.  Set in New York City in the final year of the Roaring Twenties, Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things focuses on three young women who, like the rest of the United States, are on the verge of a terrible encounter with reality.

11/04/2011 - 3:30am
If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

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.

Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson: "In the early 21st century, things are beginning to change in Antarctica. Scientists still come down to the American base at McMurdo to do research, but they now bump shoulders with tourists hoping to retrace the treks of early explorers. More seriously, with the world's oil fields almost depleted, multinational corporations are jockeying for position, conducting secret explorations for oil and spending millions to defeat the renewal of the Antarctic Treaty, which has reserved the continent for purely scientific research for half a century. And other, even more secretive groups apparently haunt the Antarctic outback as well: feral human societies and radical environmentalists whose motives are only partly understood. Antarctica is undergoing major climactic change, too, perhaps the most dramatic example of the global warming that has turned much of the world's former temperate zone into a steam bath. The Ross Ice Shelf has largely broken up and the enormously greater Antarctic icesheet may be about to follow suit."

If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson, you may also like these titles that feature adventure at the South or North Poles:

Black Ice by Matt Dickinson
"Deep beneath the Antarctic ice cap, scientist Lauren Burgess has discovered a secret that could change the face of human knowledge. Then a desperate mayday call comes in. Two explorers, one of them the legendary Julian Fitzgerald, are stranded out on the ice and a rescue is their only hope. Lauren puts the ground breaking scientific work on hold as she leads a dangerous rescue mission into the frozen void. But after returning to the base, the pressure of isolation gradually takes its toll on Fitzgerald and his true dark nature is revealed. Lauren and her scientific team must fight for their very lives. On the run with injured members of the team, sub-zero conditions and a madman on the loose, the odds are against them and time is running out."-catalog summary

Choosers of the Slain by James H. Cobb
"Cobb brings feminism and environmentalism to the naval thriller and does it remarkably well in this lightning-paced and well-informed tale of a lone U.S. destroyer holding off an Argentine incursion into Antarctica. Amanda Garrett captains the USS Cunningham, a stealthy, well-armed vessel with the best technology available in the year 2006.
        The ship is on patrol off Antarctica when a surprise invasion by Argentina (seeking mineral wealth and prepared to abrogate existing international treaties) leaves her as the only defense for treaty partners and for the ecologically fragile continent itself. As captain, Amanda uses her seamanship and her knowledge of the talents of her staff in a breathtaking sea battle fought in one of the most challenging environments on earth. Cobb not only demonstrates his control of action and plot but also incorporates intriguing military and political topics that couldn't be more timely. Best of all, he allows Amanda to command her ship as a woman, not as a manly soul in a woman's body."-Publisher's Weekly review
 

11/03/2011 - 3:30am
Bodies From The Bog

Do you like learning about mummies? Well, Bodies From the Bog, by James M. Deem, tells us about a type of mummy that you have probably never heard of before. One morning in April 1952, Danish workmen digging in a peat bog made an astonishing discovery. Their shovels struck the head of a dead man – his face flattened by the weight of the peat and his skin as brown as the earth in which he lay.  Who was he and how had he come to be there?

11/02/2011 - 3:31am
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

In her stunning new novel, State of Wonder, Ann Patchett captures the claustrophobic nature of the dense jungle where danger--in the form of poisonous insects and snakes--is present at every turn and a person’s daily existence depends only upon a few bare essentials.

Dr. Annick Swenson has spent a major portion of her life in the Amazon researching potential medical cures. When she and her mentor discover a tribe whose women can regularly conceive children well into their seventies and beyond, Vogel Pharmaceuticals agrees to fund the ground-breaking study. But Dr. Swenson goes rogue, cutting off all communication with the company executives. To make matters infinitely worse, no outsider has the slightest idea where in the jungle the research compound is located.

04/03/2014 - 1:39pm
Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Sometimes life takes us in a direction that unexpectedly changes everything and alters all our future plans. Happily, this is just what happened to Conor Grennan, the author of Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. It is necessary for me to state now that I know Conor and my daughter and her husband play the smallest of roles in Conor’s memoir. Perhaps because of this I took particular pleasure in reading this book, but I think personal interest was quickly overtaken by the value of his touching story.

Conor planned a long, world-wide trip after working in Prague for a couple of years. His adventure begins in Nepal at the Little Princes Children’s Home, where he volunteered to help the “orphans." The children turned out not to be orphans, but victims of child traffickers.

10/31/2011 - 3:30am
Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Steve Harmon is sixteen years old and on trial for murder in Monster by Walter Dean Myers, which takes the reader through the suspenseful trial and the verdict. Steve is a young man who has never been in trouble before. Suddenly, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is he truly guilty or just guilty by association? Can a young man be on trial for having made poor choices?

Steve recounts the events that transpired the night of the robbery at the convenience store. He says he just happened to be there at the moment the robbery and murder took place. But a murder did occur and the prosecution is looking for the guilty party -- and they think they have found it in Steve. The term "monster" is the one used by the prosecutor as she describes Steve and his alleged actions -- but is Steve really a monster or is she just trying to build a case against Steve? When Steve hears this term used to describe himself, he is very disturbed.

10/28/2011 - 3:31am
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

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 Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: "A ruined mansion in the English countryside, secret illegitimate children, a madwoman hidden in the attic, ghostly twin sisters-yep, it's a gothic novel, and it doesn't pretend to be anything fancier. But this one grabs the reader with its damp, icy fingers and doesn't let go until the last shocking secret has been revealed. Margaret Lea, an antiquarian bookseller and sometime biographer of obscure writers, receives a letter from Vida Winter, "the world's most famous living author." Vida has always invented pasts for herself in interviews, but now, on her deathbed, she at last has decided to tell the truth and has chosen Margaret to write her story. Now living at Vida's (spooky) country estate, Margaret finds herself spellbound by the tale of Vida's childhood some 70 years earlier...but is it really the truth? And will Vida live to finish the story?" (Library Journal Review)

If you liked The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, you may enjoy the following works:

Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
“When two sisters and their aunt are found dead in their suburban Dublin home, it seems that the secret behind their untimely demise will never be known. But then Niall, a young mailman, finds a mysterious diary in the post office's dead-letter bin. From beyond the grave, Fiona Walsh shares the most tragic love story he's ever heard--and her tale has only just begun in this modern gothic novel of suspense.”—catalog summary

 

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
A long-lost letter arriving at its destination fifty years after it was sent lures Edie Burchill to crumbling Milderhurst Castle, home of the three elderly Blythe sisters, where Edie's mother was sent to stay as a teenager during World War II.

 

 

10/27/2011 - 3:30am
Saving the Baghdad Zoo

When the war in Iraq started, there were more than 600 animals being kept in public zoos and on private premises in and near Baghdad. Lions and tigers and bears…oh, no; were they safe?  Were they being cared for? Were they hurt and in need of medical attention? Were they scared and hungry?  Saving the Baghdad Zoo, by Kelly Milner Halls and Major William Sumner, is a wonderful story of the animals and those people who stepped up to the challenge of caring for them.

Pages

Subscribe to Shelf Life Blog