Shelf Life Blog
Since the release of the 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead, most “zombie invasion” narratives have dealt primarily with zombies as an external threat, an anonymous, unreasoning force that can never be controlled or incorporated into human society. As such, the typical zombie story is driven by the fear of the living survivors of the undead; the zombies can be killed, evaded, or fortified against, but never empathized with. But what if, instead of being an unthinking, unknowable threat to civilization, the zombies were only shadows of our loved ones who passed away, and the true “zombie apocalypse” was the horror of humanity trying to understand why their beloved family members had returned from the grave? In Handling the Undead, John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One In, tells a tale of a civilization in crisis as it tries to communicate with the “reliving”—zombies risen during an intense electrical disruption that pose no violent threat to humanity, but challenge society’s philosophical notions of what it means to be alive.
Facing forty, Benjamin Benjamin finds himself in a dingy church basement attending a class called The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, which is also the name of a poignant novel by Jonathan Evison. Benjamin has lost his home and family, and a caregiver certificate might be his only chance at finding his way back to normalcy.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is author Prudence Shen's laser-guided, satirical commentary on a clash of the cliques that has the potential to destroy friendships, dreams, and dozens of deadly, armored robots.
Hollow Ridge High School is dealing with the fight of the century. In this corner we have the cheerleadering squad. Popular, gorgeous and fierce, these ladies are looking for some brand-new uniforms. Looking for funds throughout the school, merciless head cheerleader Holly has set her sights on one club's unused budget.
In the other corner is the robotics club. Led by their neurotic but clever president Nate, these geeks are not going down without a fight.
Stuck in the middle of this struggle is poor Charlie, captain of the basketball team. His only crime is being the ex-boyfriend of Holly and Nate's best friend.
One of my daughters enjoys math, science, and thinking about seemingly abstract concepts in practical terms. I brought home the picture book Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, thinking it would be particularly suited to capture her interest. In it, a young girl named Uma stares at the night sky dotted with stars and asks how many there are. Maybe as many as infinity? And then she begins to wonder how other people imagine infinity.
She performs her own research, asking her friends, Grandma, school staff, and ponders their unique responses. Her friend Sam introduces her to the infinity symbol and Grandma explains how infinity reminds her of their family tree. Other ideas about infinity make her head hurt, like her music teacher's idea of infinity as music that goes in a circle and never ends.
R is a zombie. He can’t remember his name so he is down to one letter. R lives in an old airplane and collects pieces of his crumbling civilization. He loves Frank Sinatra and the Beatles and listens to them on old vinyl records. He reminds me of Pixar’s Wall-e. R is in the early stages of decay so he doesn’t look too bad, but he does eat brains. He grunts and groans, he shrugs, and he shuffles in classic zombie fashion. A typical male, he is a man of few words. Although it is hard to be a fan of the walking dead, Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies charmed me and also made me think about what it means to be human. We sometimes need monsters to remind us of our humanity.
Louisa Clark happily goes to her waitressing job at The Buttered Bun, a place where she personally knows each customer by name. But the bad economy takes its toll and the café is abruptly closed. Kicking back and relaxing until something better comes along is simply not an option with Louisa’s parents depending on her financial help to make ends meet.
Ruby is 16 and lives at Camp Thurmond, a government-run work camp with harsh restrictions and brutal punishments in The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken. She has been there since she was 10, shortly after a deadly virus appeared and proved fatal to most of Ruby’s classmates. Survivors of the virus developed psychic abilities of varying levels, and they were grouped into five classifications that indicate their power/danger level: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, with red being the most dangerous. Ruby is secretly an Orange who has tricked the officials (her power is entering other people’s minds) into believing she is a Green, which has kept her safe until now. But the officials are aware that there are some hiding Yellows, Oranges, and Reds, and they are using new tactics to ferret them out.
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.
No one really liked Duny. The boy was wild, proud, and full of temper—well-suited to the company of the goats he herded. Then came the day when he overheard his aunt chanting a spell to call her goat down from the roof of her house. He remembered the rhyme and later spoke it to his own herd:
"Noth hierth malk man hiolk han merth han!"
The first time he said it, they came to him together, staring with their yellow eyes. Duny laughed and shouted the rhyme again. They pushed towards him with their thick, ridged horns. Duny ran all the way to town with the goats close beside. The villagers laughed at him and cursed the animals.
Which is cooler: Finding the answer to life’s most important question using brain power or Google? Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is optimistic about the future of technology and people working together as it looks at the question of immortality. In the novel, friends care about each other. A multi-generational fellowship forms. Two young couples get together. Read deeply and follow the clues to solve the mystery of the Unbroken Spine left by the fifteenth-century printer Griffo Gerritszoon. This novel is a mystery, but it is also about the love of books, whether you find them in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library; a big-box store like Barnes & Noble; a local, independent bookstore like The Griffin; or the quiet little stores built into our Kindles and Nooks.