Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

The Woman in Cabin 10

Last year, nearly 1% of all the fiction published in the U.S. reportedly contained the word “girl” in the title. Of course, that’s because of the successes of books like Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

One of last year’s hit books is hopefully a signal that titles are growing up.

In The Woman in Cabin 10, travel writer Lo Blacklock has finally gotten her big break. Her boss is on maternity leave and has handpicked Lo to take her place reporting on the maiden voyage of The Aurora Borealis, a luxury cruise ship marketed to ultra-wealthy vacationers. Everything would be great if only she could get past the anxiety she’s been experiencing since she was trapped in her apartment by a burglar. If only she didn’t need to treat that anxiety with copious amounts of alcohol. If only she wasn’t awoken in the middle of the night by the sounds of a possible murder in the room next to her’s. And if only there was some evidence that anyone had ever even occupied that room.

Lo may be a full-grown woman now, but she isn’t a very proactive one. Most of the plot happens around her and she’s just along for the ride. You’ll probably want to go along too, just to see if you figured out the mystery.

I bet you will have.

Place a hold on The Woman in Cabin 10 in your preferred format.

Book | Large Print | eBook | Audiobook CD | Audiobook Download

Good Omens

This week, Amazon Studios, The BBC, and Neil Gaiman announced an upcoming six part adaptation of Good Omens, the hilarious1990 book written by Gaiman with Terry Pratchet.

In Good Omens, end times have arrived. The Antichrist, Adam Young, has been born and his final judgement is soon to come. Fortunately, there was a mix-up in the hospital and he was sent to live a perfectly normal life with a family in small-town England. Two immortal beings, an angel and a demon, have become pretty comfortable with their lives on earth and aren't quite ready for the end. As Adam begins to realize his supernatural origins, they work together to stop him and the fast-approaching apocalypse.

In a statement announcing the new show, Gamain said, “Almost 30 years ago, Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world... Three decades later, it’s going to make it to the screen. I can’t think of anyone we’d rather make it with than BBC Studios, and I just wish Sir Terry were alive to see it.”

If you're a fan of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide, you'll love Good OmensIf you haven't read it, now is a great time dig into it. Place a hold on the book or the eBook. If you prefer audiobooks, get it on CD or stream it on your mobile device.

Attention Short Story Writers

Established more than three decades ago, The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Literary Award honors the iconic Chicago author best known forThe Man With the Golden Arm and Chicago, City on the Make. Over the years, the award has recognized authors like Louise Erdrich and Stuart Dybek who is set to visit Eisenhower on May 20.

This year’s award is fresh on the heels of the new biography, Algren, A Life. Journalist Mary Wisniewski interviewed dozens of Algren’s inner circle, including photographer Art Shay and the late Studs Terkel to reveal details about the writer’s life, work, personality, and habits, digging beneath his man’s man stereotype to show a funny, sensitive, and romantic artist.

The Nelson Algren Literary Award includes a $3,500 prize for the winner and other prizes for the finalists and runners-up.

Writers may submit two stories, 8,000 words or shorter. Double-spaced, without name or identifying information on any pages. Deadline: Jan. 31.

Find more detailed rules on The Tribune website and submit your stories at https://algren.submittable.com

Springtime in the Middle of Winter

Have you been following Eisenhower on Facebook? Every day, we post book, music, and movie recommendations, local interest stories, pictures, community news, library event information, fun games, quizzes, and occasionally, contests.

This month on Facebook, to combat the cold weather, we're giving away a stack of twelve spring-time colored books.

Just visit our Facebook page and leave a comment on our giveaway post before January 15th.

One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win the advance reading copies:

The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding
A Word for Love by Emily Robbins
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock
Miss You by Kate Eberlen
Always by Sarah Jio
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
The Guineveres by Sara Domet

Watership Down

2016 really has been a terrible year for notable deaths. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Edgar Mitchell, Umberto Eco, Harper Lee, George Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, George Martin, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Merle Haggard, Prince, Guy Clark, Muhammad Ali, Anton Yelchin, Michael Cimino, Garry Marshall, Kenny Baker, Fyvush Finkel, Bobby Hutcherson, Gene Wilder, Edward Albee, Curtis Hanson, Arnold Palmer, Leonard Cohen, Janet Reno, Leon Russell, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro, Ron Glass, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liz Smith, George Michael, and today, Carrie Fisher.

But today I learned that author Richard Adams died on Christmas Eve, and it really hit me hard.

I was always a reader. My mom read to me every night and taught me to read along. I became a fixture in the school library, checking out Encyclopedia Browns, Lloyd Alexanders, and Madeleine L’Engles. One day, a thick brown book about rabbits caught my attention. The school librarian tried to dissuade me. At more than 400 pages, Watership Down probably was beyond my second or third grade reading level. But her lack of faith in my abilities, and my contrary nature, spurred me on. I was determined to read this book. While some aspects of the story went over my head, I loved the story of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, and the rest of the runaway rabbits seeking a better life.

I’ve read Watership Down again and again, maybe ten or twelve times over the course of my life, and each time I take away some new understanding. At first I thought it was just an epic adventure. Later I thought it was a political allegory. On my most recent read, I was dismayed by the book’s gender politics.

I’ve never read another book by Richard Adams, but Watership Down remains a favorite. The most important book of my reading life. The book that cemented in me a love of reading.

Thank you Richard Adams.

Find Watership Down in the library catalog. Or stream the great audiobook at Hoopla.


“It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.

‘You needn’t worry about them,’ said his companion. ‘They’ll be alright – and thousands like them.'”

A Series of Fortunate Per Diems

You’ve probably heard there’s a new adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events set to hit Netflix on January 13th. The eight episode series starring Neil Patrick Harris as the nefarious Count Olaf was closely watched over by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket, himself.

Each time he visited the set, Netflix gave him a per diem to buy a meal. Apparently Handler was on a diet because he saved all those per diems and now he’s using that money to fund a poetry prize. Unpublished poets are invited to submit eight-ish pages of original poetry. The winning work will be printed in the inaugural publication from Per Diem Press along with $1000 and the opportunity to do a public reading with Handler.

Find details about the prize on Daniel Handler’s Facebook page and get your submissions in before February 28th.

To view the new Series of Unfortunate Events show next month, place a hold on one of our Roku Streaming Media Players to use the library Netflix account. While you’re at it, this might be a good time to re-read the books. Get started with The Bad Beginning.

Need Christmas Music Quick?

Having guests over and need some last minute Christmas music? With hoopladigital.com and your Eisenhower Library card number, you can instantly stream or download music to your computer or mobile device to keep your party merry.

No kidding, there are hundreds of thousands of albums on Hoopla. Surely you’ll find something that will please your friends and family. I’ll recommend some Christmas records to get you started.

Now That’s What I Call Merry Christmas
A great combination of classics and modern updates from the likes of Josh Groban, Nat King Cole Trio, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, and Wham.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Since it originally aired in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas and its score by the Vince Guaraldi Trio have become mainstays of the Christmas season.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Christmas Attic
With sold out concerts every year, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s progressive rock updates of holiday classics have become new standards.

The Muppets’ Red and Green Christmas
Mix up your playlist with some fun Christmas songs by Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppets.

Devil in the White Cinema?

According to the Toronto Sun, legendary director Martin Scorcese is still planning a big screen adaptation of The Devil in the White City starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

When Erik Larsen’s nonficton book detailing the construction of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the serial killer that stalked the fair was published in 2003, virtually everyone anywhere near the city of Chicago was required to read it. If Scorcese and DiCaprio ever finish the movie version, theaters in the city will be overrun.

I suspect, Daniel Burnham and the other architects that designed the World’s Fair will get short shrift in favor of the more salacious story of H.H. Holmes and his Murder Castle.

If you are one of the few left who hasn’t read The Devil in the White City yet, place a hold on the book in the library catalog or try an eBook.

The Clancys of Queens

If you have you car radio tuned to WBEZ, you’ve probably heard The Moth Radio Hour. Recorded at live events across the country, The Moth has a simple premise. People tell true stories from their lives. Sometimes the stories are funny. Sometimes they’re sad. Often they’re enlightening.

One of the breakout stars of The Moth has been Tara Clancy. With tons of energy and her trademark New York accent, Clancy tells stories of growing up in Queens, living a life split between three homes; with her Irish cop father in a ramshackle, converted boat shed; with her grandparents in an enclave of geriatric Italian Brooklynites; and with her mother’s boyfriend, a millionaire with a luxury apartment in the city and an even ritzier estate in the Hamptons.

Now, Tara Clancy has gathered a bunch of these stories together into a memoir, The Clancys of New York. Starting at about age five and meandering through to her college years, the memoir’s chapter topics range from scheming with her foul-mouthed grandmother, to boxing seven year old boys, to discussing life’s great questions at the edge of an immaculate croquet lawn, to discovering that day-drinking, bar stool regulars can be more than meets the eye, to coming out to her dad in a cuckoo clock-filled, replica Swiss village tourist attraction.

Moving from one anecdote to the next, Clancy reveals her life story with gritty style and over-the-top humor. Thanks to her exaggerated descriptions her memoir reads like a 1990s-set version of A Christmas Story, minus all the Christmas.

The Clancys of Queens is available as a print book, an audiobook, and an eBook.

Bill Gates’ Favorite Books of 2016

A couple of times a year, Microsoft founder and noted bibliophile Bill Gates makes a list of his favorite recent reads.

This winter, his list of favorites from 2016 reveals Gates’ continuing curiosity and desire to learn.

String Theory by David Foster Wallace
Gathered for the first time in a deluxe collector’s edition, here are David Foster Wallace’s legendary writings on tennis, five tour-de-force pieces written with a competitor’s insight and a fan’s obsessive enthusiasm. Wallace brings his dazzling literary magic to the game he loved as he celebrates the other-worldly genius of Roger Federer; offers a wickedly witty dissection of Tracy Austin’s memoir; considers the artistry of Michael Joyce, a supremely disciplined athlete on the threshold of fame; resists the crush of commerce at the U.S. Open; and recalls his own career as a junior player.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Now, for the first time ever, in a memoir that’s candid, humble, startling, funny, and beautifully crafted, Nike Founder Phill Knight tells his story at last. He begins with his crossroads moment: twenty-four years old, backpacking around the world, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, he decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different.

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.

The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown
In this magisterial and wide-ranging survey of political leadership over the past hundred years, renowned Oxford politics professor Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that strong leaders – meaning those who dominate their colleagues and the policy-making process – are the most successful and admirable.

The Grid by Gretchen Bakke
America’s electrical grid, an engineering triumph of the twentieth century, is turning out to be a poor fit for the present. It’s not just that the grid has grown old and is now in dire need of basic repair. Today, as we invest great hope in new energy sources–solar, wind, and other alternatives–the grid is what stands most firmly in the way of a brighter energy future. If we hope to realize this future, we need to re-imagine the grid according to twenty-first-century values.

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