Shelf Life Blog

09/19/2011 - 3:30am
Anything but Typical

Jason Blake isn't a "neurotypical" kid.  Jason is an autistic 12-year old struggling to live in a world filled with "neurotypicals," who unsuccessfully try to understand the problems he faces in day-to-day life. In the book, Anything but Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin demonstrates what it is like to be a sixth grader with autism.

Jason tries to express himself with others but finds that people don't like to take the time to get to know and understand him. The only place that Jason feels safe to communicate is online. There he writes and posts short stories on a Web site where young writers share their work amongst each other. There he meets Rebecca; they quickly begin helping each other with their writing. Jason strikes up a friendship with Rebecca but fears that they could never meet due to his autism.

09/16/2011 - 3:30am
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

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.

To Say Nothing of the Dog: "It is 1888 and Ned Henry is shuttling between the 1940s and modern day, researching Coventry Cathedral for a patron who wants to rebuild it. But when the time continuum is disrupted, Ned must scramble to set things right."

If you like Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, you may also enjoy these titles:
 

Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories by Terry Bisson
Readers turn from 'Bears Discover Fire', a meditative tale that blends the irreconcilable sadness of the loss of a loved one with the weirdness of the very literal title, to the delightfully silly 'They're Made Out of Meat', a dialogue between two odd aliens about the nature of life on Earth, to the elegaic 'England Underway', in which a bookish Englishman confronts the New World, bringing all of England with him. Leavening even his most serious tales with humor, Bisson can deal with issues frequently blighted by stridency: three stories address environmental concerns with a black humor that enhances rather than mitigates their impact."-from Pusblisher's Weekly
 

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
"Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. ... England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in Wordsworth poems, militant Baconians roam freely spreading the gospel that Bacon, not Shakespeare, penned those immortal works. And forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. This is all business as usual for brainy, bookish (and heat-packing) Thursday Next, a renowned Special Operative in literary detection -- that is, until someone begins murdering characters from works of literature. When this madman plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's novel Thursday faces the challenge of her career. Aided and abetted by characters that include her time-traveling father, an executive of the all-powerful Goliath Corporation, and Edward Rochester himself, Thursday must track down the world's Third Most Wanted criminal and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide."-(from the Book jacket)

09/15/2011 - 8:31am
Mistress Masham's Repose

When one thinks of heirs and heiresses, one thinks of bags and bags of money.  But in T. H. White’s Mistress Masham’s Repose, ten-year-old Maria has no money. She is only the heiress to a falling down 17th-century English estate called Malplaquet. Even so, she might have enjoyed a lovely if quiet life in the countryside. But she doesn’t.

09/13/2011 - 3:31am

Attention all dog lovers: Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, by Ted Kerasote, is a must-read book about a dog and his human companion. This non-fiction tale takes the reader to the banks of the San Juan River where Ted, the author, finds Merle, a ten-month-old pup living on his own. Ted, who had been looking for a dog but never really felt connected to any of the dogs he had met, finds it impossible to leave this dog. Merle seems to also be looking for a companion and doesn't want to leave Ted's side either.

Merle and Ted strike up a relationship that any dog owner can understand. They share their lives together, all the while learning from each other. Merle teaches Ted how to navigate in nature and techniques for hunting, while Ted teaches about the ways of the human world. In actuality, Merle teaches Ted more about obedience and other dog behaviors than Ted teaches him. Ted uses his knowledge of Merle to translate dog behavior to human language. It's a fantastic relationship between dog and human.

09/12/2011 - 3:30am
Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of her family's SUV. She is sick and her stepmother has gone into the pharmacy to pick up her medicine.  She left the engine running because she was only going to be a minute. Griffin is in the parking lot of the shopping center looking for packages in cars that he can steal.  He sees the SUV with the engine running and he steals it. Cheyenne is still asleep in the back seat. She wakes up to find that she is in her car and it is being stolen. Griffin has no idea that Cheyenne is in the back. Oh yes, and one more thing....Cheyenne is blind in Girl, Stolen by April Henry.

09/09/2011 - 3:41pm

The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America will be commemorated this year, prompting us to remember and reflect upon the terrible events of that day. The library has a variety of  books and videos about various aspects of the tragedy, from memoir to probing political exposé. Browse the Nine Eleven book list.

09/09/2011 - 10:59am
If You Like A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

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 Map of the World by Jane Hamilton: "Pen /Hemingway Award-winning novelist Jane Hamilton follows up her first success,The Book Of Ruth, with this spectacularly haunting drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives."

If you want an emotional tear-jerker like "A Map of the World" by Jane Hamilton,  here are some titles sure to make you weep:

"The Bridges of Madison County" by Robert James Waller
An almost legendary story of love that endures - through time and distance.

 

 

 

"A Death in the Family" by James Agee
Jay Follet goes to see his dying father, who turns out to not be dying. On the way home, Jay is killed in a car accident. This story shifts in time as it tells the stories of various family members.

 

 

09/08/2011 - 3:31am
Weaver's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Weaver’s Daughter, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, is a great story for mothers and daughters to share together!

Every fall Lizzy gets sick…very sick and no one knows why.  Each year it gets worse and worse.  It’s 1791, and doctors are expensive and hard to come by, and her family does not know what to do.  Lizzy just knows that she won’t be able to get better when it happens again this year.  What did families do back then when their children were sick?  They didn’t know about asthma and allergies.

09/07/2011 - 3:30am
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Not all stand-up comedians can translate their live energy and timing into textual representation. For Patton Oswalt, however, the transition from stage to page feels effortless and strangely appropriate. In Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Oswalt treats us to an engaging romp through a motley assortment of his personal experiences, pop-culture obsessions, and comedic experiments. Oswalt introduces the book with a very appropriate confession: “Comedy and terror and autobiography and comics and literature – they’re all the same thing. To me.” And, for once, he isn’t joking.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is extremely eclectic, which makes it difficult to relegate to a singular category.  There are sections that lean towards the autobiography/memoir side of the spectrum. But there are also humor pieces and miscellaneous experiments, such as an illustrated chapter that feels like a slightly zanier, compressed version of Dylan Dog. There is also an epic poem dedicated to Ulvaak, the last character Oswalt played in Dungeons and Dragons. While the sheer variety of Zombie’s vignettes might seem overwhelming, the book is actually compulsively readable. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, wondering what Oswalt’s fevered brain would churn out next.

09/06/2011 - 3:30am

In The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, Laurie David offers some startling statistics about the importance – and scarcity – of the family dinner. Only “half of modern families eat together more than three to five times a week” and that time is usually spent in front of the television. The six o’clock family dinner of healthy, homecooked food enjoyed together over leisurely conversation seems to be a swiftly vanishing occurrence…and yet statistics have proven that the family dinner is a vital tool for improving grades and helping to fight obesity and drug abuse. Luckily, this book offers you a roadmap to family-dinner bliss, providing all the recipes and conversation topics you need to get started or enhance your current routine.

Recipes, authored by Kirstin Uhrenholdt, are grouped into “Fast Recipes,” “Cook it Together at the Table,” “Souper Dinners,” “Take it Slow,” “Meatless Mondays,” and “Kids in the Kitchen.” There are recipes here to appeal to all palates. I can’t wait to try “Soy Good Maple-Glazed Salmon with Edamame Succotash” and “Savory Sausage and White Bean Stew.” I can imagine the kids gobbling up the homemade “Mac n’ Cheese Please” or the “Thai Chicken Wraps.” Helpful recipes for vinaigrettes to dress your salad will have you eschewing bottled sauce forever. And don't forget to try one of the simple sweets in "Play with Your Dessert."

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