The Bookshelf

The Best of the Books … and Beyond!


We Have Moved!

After a lot of behind-the-scenes activity, we are merging most of our sub-blogs into one giant superblog!

Think of it like Voltron, in blog form. You remember Voltron, right?

From now on, you can get all the great information you received from The Answer, The Bookshelf, The Radar, and the Soapbox in one place:

Please update your bookmarks and feeds accordingly. See you at the superblog!

Posted by Toby (former employee) | Posted under Events
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A Few Good Books: I will survive … (part 2)

Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration

by Fergus Fleming

Starting in the 13th and ending in the 20th century, Fleming shares gripping accounts of exploration, dividing his book into three sections—age of reconnaissance, age of inquiry, and age of endeavor. The result is an informative and rousing celebration of derring-do, obsession, and courage.

(Adult Nonfiction 910.9 F)







The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead

by Max Brooks

When the zombie apocalypse arrives, will you be prepared? Humorist Brooks (a former Saturday Night Live writer and the son of Mel Brooks) offers humans the best chance of living through the impending undead invasion in this tongue-in-cheek parody of hard-core survival manuals.

(Adult Nonfiction 818.6 B8735.zo)







And one novel:


by James Vance Marshall

Two American children find themselves the sole survivors of a plane crash in the Australian wilderness and are helped by an Aborigine boy. First published in 1959, this slim gem is full of details about the Outback and remains a compelling, elegantly written coming-of-age story.

(Fiction MAR)







Posted by Annabelle | Posted under Books
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Pages Through History: Meet Walter Borneman

In addition to writing history, Alaska:Saga of a Bold Land, and our chosen work for November, 1812: The War That Forged a Nation, Mr. Borneman worked for the Colorado Historical Society and frequently involved himself in historic preservation issues. He was also Chairmen of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative , a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of  Colorado’s highest mountains and has written a book , A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners, that details the history and routes on these impressive peaks. As a child, Walter became fascinated with the 100th anniversary of the Civil War and with history in general. He argues that history always gives us something to do and  thousands of roles to play. Mr Borneman – along with Lynnanne and myself – believe that it’s fun involving yourself in history. We certainly hope you’re enjoying the book!


Posted by Ron | Posted under Books
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Surprising Encounters

For years now, Nick Hornby has been writing a monthly column for Believer magazine in which he chronicles his reading and book buying life. These columns have been republished in what is now four collections. In the most recent of these, More Baths, Less Talking, Hornby expresses his delight in coming upon the following passage in Stefan Kanfer’s biography Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball:

Almost every Saturday night ended with a furious argument about [Ball's and Desi Arnaz's] intentions and infidelities . . . It happened that two of the town’s greatest magpies witnessed many of the quarrels. F. Scott Fitgerald and his inamorota, columnist Sheila Graham, used to watch the spats from Fitzgerald’s balcony.

I have to admit that I share Hornby’s reaction to the passage. It’s hard to imagine the star of I Love Lucy and the author of The Great Gatsby inhabiting the same universe, let alone being in shouting distance from each other, and yet at one time their paths crossed.


If Hornby was pleased just to read a few sentences about a near encounter between Lucille Ball and F. Scott Fitzgerald, one can only imagine his joyful reaction to the new book Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings by Craig Brown. As the book’s subtitle proclaims, Hello Goodbye Hello tells the stories of 101 encounters between famous people from all walks of life, although with an emphasis British personalities and on the worlds of politics and entertainment. To add to the cleverness, each story is told in precisely 1,001 words and the stories form a complete daisy chain in which, for instance, Mark Twain meets Helen Keller who meets Martha Graham who meets Madonna who meets Michael Jackson and on and on 101 times. Some of these encounters are well known (Elvis and Richard Nixon), others came as a complete surprise to me (J.D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway). I can’t say any encounter in the book was quite as surprising as Ball and Fitzgerald, although Groucho Marx’s meeting with T.S. Eliot and Marilyn Monroe’s with Frank Lloyd Wright come close. Still, if you love reading anecdotes about famous people meeting other famous people, you won’t find a more enjoyable book than Hello Goodbye Hello.

Posted by steven | Posted under Books
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A Few Good Books: I will survive …

Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea

by Steven Callahan

No boat? No problem! After Callahan lost his vessel during an Atlantic sea race, he grabbed his emergency equipment bag and survived 2 1/2 months alone aboard his inflatable raft, spearing fish, repairing holes and fighting sharks and saltwater sores. An incredible story of fortitude and survival.

(Adult Nonfiction 910.091631 C)






Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home

by Nando Parrado

If you think being adrift at sea for more than 10 weeks is bad, try surviving a plane crash that killed your mother, sister and friends and then trekking through the mountains facing subzero temperatures, avalanches, and the prospect of necessary cannibalism. Publisher’s Weekly called this “a beautiful story of friendship, tragedy and perseverance.”

(Adult Nonfiction 982.6 P)






Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff

A fast-paced amazing true story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S. military personnel (including a feisty WAC) into a jungle land that time forgot.

(Adult Nonfiction 940.548 Z)






That’s all for now. Catch you next time.

Posted by Annabelle | Posted under Books
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Let’s Celebrate Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week 2012September 30th to October 6th is the Banned Books Weeks! Did you know that over 11,300 books, from The American Heritage Dictionary to the beloved Harry Potter series, have been challenged since the Banned Books Week started thirty years ago? Celebrate your freedom to read and your right of access to different opinions, viewpoints and reading tastes by checking out one of the banned books this week.

I’m currently re-reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh—a beautiful and heartbreaking story of Charles Ryder and his intense relationship with the aristocratic family of Marchmain. This classic novel takes place in the pre-WW II England and explores the themes of love, desire, faith, belonging and privilege. What will you read this week?

Here are some examples of frequently challenged books for you to consider:

Or, for the remaining thousands of titles, check out the lists of frequently challenged books as compiled by The American Library Association, and ask the librarian at the Readers’ Advisory Desk to help you find your banned book.



Posted by Megan (former SPL employee) | Posted under Books, Lists, Reviews
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Travel Reads

I recently went on a short trip and with my trusty iPad in tow, I had a decision to make about what to read while on vacation.  I started off reading a book that I’m doing for a book discussion…a literary, dense book that I soon realized would not fly for vacation reading.  Even if vacation is not taken on or at the beach, “beach read” type books are always a must for my travels.  To clarify, a “beach read” is a not a book set AT the beach…but rather a FUN book…a guilty pleasure…a book you would not like to be caught reading by scholarly family or friends.

Some people read romances as their “beach reads,” but I often read “chick lit” on vacation and in that genre, Madeleine Wickham always satisfies.  Her books are not completely mindless (like some chick lit) and she writes strong female characters with enough problems so the reading is fast, but not too many problems to bog down the story.  LIGHT is the key in a beach read and The Wedding Girl did not disappoint.  The characters were superficial (in a good way) and the story was breezy.  Wickham (who also writes under the pen name Sophie Kinsella) is one of my favorite vacation writers.

But, this time, I also read a thriller.  I’ve read Joy Fielding in the past and liked her…but The Wild Zone was completely different from her other books.  It is less thriller and more character study.  Not that this was too heavy for vacation…it was just unexpected.  I don’t expect all thrillers to get into the psychological aspects of their characters… especially with authors not known for those deeper character developments.  When I read the other Fielding books (Missing Pieces and Charley’s Web) they were solid thrillers, but not anything too intense or emotional.  The Wild Zone caught me off-guard with its slow-paced storyline, not to mention its surprise twist ending.  For Fielding die-hards, be prepared for an unusual novel.  For those unfamiliar with this author and with thrillers in general, this might be a good book to try and get your toes wet with another genre.

Posted by ccygnar | Posted under Books
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Read this book! The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

With a combination of lyrical description and exhaustively researched imperatives, Carl Safina writes about the beauty and interconnectedness of the ecosystems of our coasts and oceans and the tremendous challenges they, and therefore WE, face.  Writing from his home base on the easternmost point of Long Island, Safina– MacArthur and Guggenheim recipient, world-renowned oceanographer, professor and founder of the Blue Ocean Institute–also takes trips to the four points of the compass: the Arctic, Antarctic, Caribbean and Pacific islands. The title of the book only mentions The View from Lazy Point, but astonishingly, some of the birds Safina sees at home he also sees at different points in their migrations in the furthest reaches of the earth, providing one of many example of interconnectedness. Other examples–the melting of sea ice and rise of the oceans, over-fishing, oil spill disasters–all give urgency to Safina’s argument for an updated economic, ethical and social justice system between man and nature. As important a read as Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, Silent Spring, which led to the banning of DDT and the birth of the environmental movement, you must READ THIS BOOK.

The View from Lazy Point won the 2012 Orion Book Award. I can only assume that Safina’s other books are equally compelling, well-researched and important. They are:


A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout (2011)




Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur (2005)




Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival (2002)




and Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World’s Coasts and  Beneath the Seas (1999).





Posted by Lukie | Posted under Books
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What I Read on My Summer Vacation

Every summer my extended family gets together for a long weekend at a vacation home in Wisconsin. This year there were 13 of us, ranging in age from 10 to 82. As the family librarian, I’ve discovered the usefulness of packing some books of humorous photographs for–quite literally–the whole family to read during our idle moments when we’re not drinking, riding on a boat, or watching HGTV. (My relatives are obsessed with HGTV. I don’t know why.) This tradition started a few years ago when I brought along the book Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex.

I chose this book because I wanted my family to see how many of 311 undateable things my cousin was guilty of even though he inexplicably dates quite a bit. Since everyone enjoyed the book, even my cousin, the next year I found a book of even more horrifying photos of fashion, appearance, and behavior “don’ts,” People of Shop and Awe.

This year I thought my family would enjoy looking at other families’ unfortunate moments captured on film, and so I brought the two-fer Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos.

I’m glad to say that these books made me realize that my relatives are more presentable than the Undateable guys, classier than the People of Walmart, and less awkward than the folks in the Awkward Family Photos. If you like these kind of books, check out the Humor books on display on the second floor of the library–and don’t forget to bring some to your next family get-together.

Posted by steven | Posted under Books
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A Few Good Books: Podcast 11

A Few Good Books is now a podcast. Lend us your ears as our librarians share their insider picks for great nonfiction titles. Click below to listen to our latest episode.


Here’s what we read:

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

(Adult Biography B









The Happiness Project: or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun  by Gretchen Rubin

(Adult Nonfiction 158 R)








Population, 485: Meeting your Neighbors One Siren at a Time 
by Michael Perry
(Adult Nonfiction 977.544 P)














Posted by Teri | Posted under Podcasts
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