The Bookshelf

The Best of the Books … and Beyond!


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 under Books

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 under Books

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 under Podcasts

A Few Good Books: I spy … (part 2)

The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story

by Robert and Dayna Baer

Giving new meaning to the term “covert affair,” married former CIA operatives Dayna and Robert Baer (whose exploits were detailed in the George Clooney film Syriana) talk in alternating chapters about their unusual courtship and their ultimate disillusionment with the spy game.

(Adult Nonfiction 327.1273 B)






Her Majesty’s Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage

by Stephen Budiansky

Journalist and military historian Budiansky offers a lively examination of the life and work of Sir Francis Walsingham, The Virgin Queen’s right-hand secret-agent man. Walsingham created a network of whisperers to feed him information that helped the Crown outwit Spain and France and condemn Mary Queen of Scots to her death.

(Adult Nonfiction 327.42 B)





And one novel:

The Expats by Chris Pavone

Pavone’s debut is a spy novel with an intriguing hook: Kate is a young mother and ex-CIA agent who moves to Luxembourg with her family. Somewhere between scheduling play dates and doing laundry, she begins to suspect that her husband is up to no good. There are twists galore, but the tension between Kate and her husband are what make the book compelling and surprisingly deep.

(Fiction PAV)






Posted under Books

A Few Good Books: I spy …

The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA by Joby Warrick

In 2009, U.S. officials were stunned to learn that the suicide bomber who killed himself and eight others at an American base in Afghanistan was a former Jordanian doctor and trusted CIA informant who’d provided intel about al-Qaeda leaders. This is a gripping story of the man’s life and the CIA’s tragic decision to trust him.

(Adult Nonfiction 363.325092 W)







Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal by Ben MacIntyre

A true story so enthralling it reads like a great spy thriller. Eddie Chapman, a British petty criminal, is arrested by the Germans during their occupation of Jersey. Given the choice of a concentration camp or treason, Chapman agrees to become a spy, only to turn around and work as a double agent for the British Secret Service.

(Adult Nonfiction 940.548641 M)







Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy by Elizabeth R. Varon

A member of a prominent Virginia family, Van Lew’s neighbors considered her enough of an eccentric that they nicknamed her “Crazy Bet.” Turns out her oddball nature was a cover for fierce antislavery convictions that drove her to hide escaped Union prisoners and provide intelligence to Grant’s army during the siege of Richmond.

(Adult Nonfiction 973.785 V)








Posted under Books, Reviews

A Few Good Books: Podcast 10

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:

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America by John Demos

(Adult Nonfiction 973.25 D)










The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America by Scott Weidensaul

(Adult Nonfiction 974 W)









Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

(Adult Nonfiction 818.6 S9136.wi)










Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford as told to Frank Deford

(Adult Nonfiction 070.449796 D)









Thanks for listening!


Posted under Podcasts

A Few Good Books: Born to Be Wild (part 2)

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods

What Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees, Australian scientist and journalist Vanessa Woods is to bonobos—a gentle apes that are closely related to humans and who solve disputes through lovemaking, not war. This is an engrossing, joyous tale of science, conservationism, and one young woman’s personal growth amid the African wilds.

(Adult Nonfiction 599.8844 W)







The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs by Lyall Watson

For anyone who thinks of pigs only as the other white meat, here’s a paean to all things porcine. Watson argues that pigs are intelligent, gregarious, inquisitive, and charming creatures worthy of more respect. (He also admits they can be quite tasty as well.)

(Adult Nonfiction 599.633 W)





 And one novel:

The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago

In this final novel from the Nobel laureate, an elephant, his caretaker and their coterie travel from the royal court of Lisbon to Vienna in the 16th century. Despite vividly describing the group’s adventures, this wry and whimsical treat is less of a travelogue and more a charming fable about the human condition.

(Fiction SAR)







Posted under Books

A Few Good Books: Born to Be Wild

Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals by Gordon Grice

In his 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, director Werner Herzog memorably described the universe as a place of “chaos, hostility, and murder.” Nature writer Gordon Grice would probably agree, as is evident in this cheerful catalog of perilous encounters with animals both fearsome (sharks, snakes) and deceptively fluffy (watch out for those bunny rabbits!). Delicious, terrifying fun.

(Adult Nonfiction 591.65 G)






Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn

New York City is the unlikely setting for this feel-good story about a pair of red-tail hawks that build a nest atop a posh Fifth Avenue apartment building. The real romance, however, is between the hawks and a merry band of bird-watchers who devote themselves to observing and protecting their feathered friends from the urban jungle.

(Adult Nonfiction 598.07234)






Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffes by Lynn Sherr

“Giraffes are a stately, serene presence in a tumultuous world. They embody the best and worst in all of us: the awkwardness that inhibits our social lives; the poise that inhabits our dreams.” So writes ABC news correspondent Sherr in this charming love letter to her favorite animal. By the time you finish, you’ll fall under their lanky spell too.

(Adult Nonfiction 591.65 G)






More next time.



Posted under Books

A Few Good Books: Podcast 9






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:



Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

(Adult Nonfiction 940.547252 H)













Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town

by Karen Valby

(Adult Nonfiction 976.4432 V)














Hitlerland: American eyewitnesses to the Nazi rise to power

by Andrew Nagorski

(Adult Nonfiction 940.54213 N)














Leonard Maltin’s movie guide

(Adult Nonfiction 91.4375 L 2012)












More next time.


Posted under Books, Podcasts

A Few Good Books: Losing my religion (part 3)








Losing my religion …


Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult by Jayanti Tamm

Tamm was born to disciples of guru Sri Chinmoy, famous in the 1970s and 80s for attracting celebrity followers such as Carlos Santana and Carl Lewis. Chinmoy declared her the “Chosen One,” a child destined to be his most devoted follower. She writes with wit and disarming candor about her isolated and ruthlessly controlled upbringing, which culminated in a psychological breakdown at age 24.

(Adult Nonfiction 294.5092 T)












And one DVD:


Higher Ground

Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) directs and stars in this intelligent drama about a born-again Christian wife and mother who suffers a crisis of faith. The New York Times offered one of many glowing reviews: “There is something remarkable—you might even say miraculous—about the way Higher Ground makes its gentle, thoughtful way across the burned-over terrain of the American culture wars.”



Posted under Books, Lists