Shelf Life Blog

If You Like John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough

 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.

John Adams by David McCullough: "In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot -- 'the colossus of independence,' as Thomas Jefferson called him -- who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as 'out of his senses'; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history."

Books similar to John Adams by David McCullough include other biographies of famous people, or perhaps books set in that time/place.  Here is a selection of possibilities:

1776 by David McCullough
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost -- Washington, who had never before led an army in battle. (Catalog summary)
 

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
Fuller's memoir of a childhood dominated by the Rhodesian civil war of 1971-1979 captures the fascinating life of a white family living in one of the most remote regions of Africa.

 

 

The Brixton Brothers 1: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Steve Brixton definitely doesn’t have a brother, and he absolutely is not a detective. He’s just a huge fan of the old Bailey Brothers detective stories, which entirely make up Steve’s top 59 list of favorite books.

So why does everyone keep calling him a detective? That’s the central question in The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett. Steve simply came into the library on a Saturday morning to research this stupid paper on needlework when a bunch of sinister looking people dressed all in black started flying down on ropes, bursting through windows and chasing him without mercy. This couldn’t possibly be related to his overdue fines…could it?

Funeral in Blue by Anne Perry

Cover to Funeral in Blue

Dr. Kristian Beck is known to be a man selflessly dedicated to the healing arts, so why is he being accused of murdering his very beautiful wife? Granted it was whispered that they lived separate lives, and she was so exquisite that men of all sorts were drawn to her side. To murder one’s wife in the throes of jealousy is considered a crime of passion, and the punishment for that might be less than for a straight-out, cold-blooded killing. As the woman featured in the haunting painting, A Funeral in Blue, Elissa Beck could have excited that kind of emotion.

But then there is the other murder victim to consider. An artist’s model, pretty Sarah Mackeson had been born into a hard life just as Mrs. Beck had enjoyed a privileged one. Yet different as their fortunes were, they shared the murder scene between them—an artist’s studio in the dead of night. Surely one was the intended victim, and the other was a victim of circumstance. For private investigator William Monk and his wife Hester, time is running out to discover who killed both women and why.

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny [Audiobook]

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny [Audiobook]

In Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is in Quebec on leave recovering from an investigation gone wrong. While there, he is recruited to assist in the investigation into the death of an obsessive historian who was searching for the remains of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec. The historian was murdered in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society, an English establishment, which raises a concern that his death will increase tensions between the English and French communities in the city.

While pursuing the murderer, Gamache reflects on his previous investigation that went horribly wrong. Is it possible that de Champlain was buried in the basement of the library? Will Gamache be able to deal with the ghosts of the prior investigation that continue to haunt him?

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius.  It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around.   In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner.  In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges.  There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else.  This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?

Sam likes to hack into systems for fun and to see if he can shut them down and then get out without his identity being detected.  One day he decides to disrupt the structure of one of the country's largest  telecommunications systems.  He is able to move through the system undetected for a while using his computer hacking skills.  However, unusual activity is noted by the web security team working for the large company.  Sam realizes that he has been spotted and decides to get out quickly.  There is a flurry of activity that follows as Sam scrambles to finish the job and remove any evidence that could link this security breach back to him.

If You Like She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

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.

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb: "'Mine is a story of craving: an unreliable account of lusts and troubles that began, somehow, in 1956 on the day our free television was delivered....' Meet Dolores Price. She's 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Beached like a whale in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallmomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally rolls into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she's determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance beforereallygoing belly up.In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years. At once a fragile girl and a hard-edged cynic, so tough to love yet so inimitably lovable, Dolores is as poignantly real as our own imperfections." (Book Summary)

If you liked "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb, you may enjoy these titles:

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
"Greenville County, South Carolina, a wild, lush place, is home to the Boatwright family-rough-hewn men who drink hard and shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who marry young and age all too quickly. At the heart of this astonishing novel is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a South Carolina bastard with an annotated birth certificate to tell the tale. Observing everything with the mercilessly keen eye of a child, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that will test the loyalty of her mother, Anney. Her stepfather, Daddy Glen, calls Bone "cold as death, mean as a snake, and twice as twisty," yet Anney needs Glen. At first gentle with Bone, Daddy Glen becomes steadily colder and more furious-until their final, harrowing encounter, from which there can be no turning back."-catalog summary

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen.
Fran is on the run from the husband who loves her - and beats her.


 

Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

Bless This Mouse

Bless This Mouse, by Lois Lowry, is the heartwarming chronicle of the mice of St. Bartholomew’s Church. This community of church mice, led by Mouse Mistress Hildegarde, tries to live quietly, avoiding the notice of Father Murphy, the Altar Guild and other people of the parish. But as they consider preparations for the annual Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis, which means cats in the church, they face an even bigger danger. They’ve been spotted. That means the Great X, something they fear even more than cats.

Hildegarde shepherds her charges on an adventure into the outdoors with the help of her friend and supporter, Roderick, and a former college library mouse named Ignatius. The characters are lively and well-developed from the ditzy mouse mother having her litters in the most inappropriate places to jealous Lucretia who envies HIldegarde her position as Mouse Mistress. Rohmann’s charming and whimsical illustrations bring the characters to life. 

This Must Be the Place by Kat Racculia

This Must Be the Place by Kat Racculia

Amy Henderson could not wait to leave Ruby Falls, New York, and start her life in This Must Be the Place, by Kate Racculia.  She wants to go to Los Angeles and make monsters—her hero is Ray Harryhausen, talented maker of special effects with stop-action animation and creator of the Kraken in the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. But like many a movie monster, Amy Henderson leaves disaster in her wake.

Amy does get to make monsters, but she dies at 31 of a freak electrical accident on a movie set. She leaves her totally devastated husband Arthur, a pink shoebox full of memorabilia of her life and a postcard with a cryptic message addressed to her best friend Desdemona Jones in Ruby Falls. Amy writes that she left the best of herself there. Arthur makes a journey to find out the secrets in Amy’s life. What hadn’t she told him? What else didn’t he know about his wife?
 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale

Do you thrive on books that keep you guessing to the last page? Does a dark novel set your heart racing with anticipation? Then let me recommend The Thirteenth Tale. But to achieve the optimal reading experience, schedule time on a day when the sky is an ominous shade of gray, an angry wind howls outside your window and your electricity flickers haphazardly. The moment is then prime to open your copy of Diane Setterfield’s debut offering.

Margaret Lea lives a solitary, sheltered life working in her father’s bookstore. Her greatest pleasure lies in surrounding herself with books, both rare and commonplace. She also dabbles in compiling short biographies of obscure but deceased individuals. Out of the blue, Margaret receives a mysterious letter from Vida Winter, one of England’s most cherished writers. Her request is that Margaret document her life story.

Unfamiliar with Winter’s novels, Margaret tentatively reads one title, only to find she’s unable to stop until completing the author’s entire collection of works. She agrees to visit Winter. The elderly writer has apparently fabricated exotic tales about herself over the years, but with only a short time to live, she now wants the truth told.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, spans both time and social status. In the present there is Andi, a musical prodigy who is about to get kicked out of her prestigious New York City school. She’s mad at her father for the divorce and at her mother for retreating into her own private shell. But mostly she’s in pain over the death of her younger brother, for which she blames herself.

In the past there’s Alexandrine, living through the bloody days of the French Revolution. Alex is a struggling actor who serves as nanny to Louis-Charles, the lost prince of France, and an unwilling spy for Duc d’Orleans.