Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

The Woman Next Door

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors in Katterjin, an exclusive, wealthy subdivision in post-Apartheid South Africa. Katterjin’s predominantly white status quo is broken when Hortensia, a hugely successful, black designer, purchases the first house that Marion, an equally successful, white architect, ever designed.

Twenty years later, Marion’s history of nonchalant, unthinking racism and Hortensia’s bitter inability to suffer fools lightly have led to a relationship built on distrust, dislike, and intentional antagonism. But when a freak accident leaves Hortensia in need of a nurse and Marion, a place to live, the two attempt to put their differences aside. For a pair of women in their 80s, who have lived lives of anger and superiority, this truce proves to be very difficult.

Like Hortensia and Marion, I began this book judgmentally. The two protagonists were so off-putting, so toxic, I doubted I would finish the book. But after a few chapters, Marion and Hortensia each begin to recount the circumstances from their past that led them to live such angry lives. Their bitterness is revealed as a symptom of  deeper sadnesses, loneliness, and disappointment. I began by disliking the two women, but soon I was rooting for them, hoping they could move past their differences and find some solace in this potential friendship.

Though race is central to the conflict in Yewande Omotoso’s second novel (the first published in the U.S.,) it is more complex than a simple story of black and white disharmony. Its backdrop of South African apartheid and the suffering of previous generations is reflected in the women’s relationship. The past is always there, but there is hope for the future.

Find The Woman Next Door in the library catalog.

Hidden Figures Kids

These kids at Milwaukee College Prep in Wisconsin totally nailed their Black History Month school project by dressing up as the characters from Hidden Figures, the book and movie that tells the nearly forgotten story of the African American women who helped to make NASA’s trip to the moon possible.

Hidden Figures has been a surprise hit. The book by Margot Lee Shetterly hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List and the movie knocked Star Wars: Rogue One out of the top spot at the box office before being nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.

Book | eBook | Audiobook CD | Download Audiobook | Young Reader’s Edition

Eight Best Football Movies for Super Bowl Sunday

No matter who wins this Sunday, one thing’s for sure, once the Super Bowl is over there’s still going to be a lot of adrenaline flowing. Why not wind down with a great movie.

Jerry Maguire
A sports agent suddenly discovers his scruples and promptly loses his job. But with the help of one loyal colleague and one outrageous football player, he learns that loving well is the best revenge.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Friday Night Lights
Odessa, Texas is home to the Permian High School Panthers, the football team with the best winning record. The city’s economy is in a tailspin, but football is the one thing that brings all the people of Odessa together.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Draft Day
On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL.
DVD | Blu-Ray

The Blind Side
Homeless African-American teenager Michael Oher is taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential to become an All-American offensive left tackle.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Remember the Titans
After leading his team to fifteen winning seasons, white football coach Bill Yoast is demoted and replaced by African-American Herman Boone, tough, opinionated, and as different from Yoast as could be. The two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions.
DVD | Blu-Ray

The Longest Yard
A former pro football quarterback suddenly lands in a maximum security prison. Using fellow inmates, he must put together a motley group of convicts to play a no-holds-barred grudge game against the sadistic guards.
DVD

Any Given Sunday
Tony D’Amato, the embattled Sharks coach, faces a full-on blitz of team strife plus a new, marketing-savvy Sharks owner who’s sure Tony is way behind the times.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Rudy
Although people have told Rudy all his life he’s not good enough, smart enough, or big enough, nothing can stop his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Valentine’s Day Giveway

For many of us Valentine’s Day is one of the best days of the year. A time to express and receive love from those most important to us. For others, it’s a horrific day, a cynical, made-up holiday designed to make us buy flowers or feel sorry for ourselves.

This year, we’re letting you decide. Visit our Facebook page and let us know what you think of Valentine’s Day. Two lucky commenters will be chosen at random to receive a bag of books. One bag is full of romance novels, the other, thrillers and horror novels.

To be eligible to win, comment on our Valentine’s Day Facebook post with “Horrific” or “Romantic” and tell us where you live. After February 19th, we’ll pick two names at random to win.

2017 Academy Awards

The official nominees for the 89th Academy Awards were announced earlier this week.

As usual we’re holding our annual Academy Awards Contest. Look for entry forms the next time you visit Eisenhower and check off your selections from each category. Entries with the most corrects guesses will be eligible to win a movie-themed prize bag. We’re accepting entries until Sunday, February 26th when the Oscar ceremony is broadcast.

Speaking of the broadcast, for the second year in a row, we’re hosting an After Hours Awards Party. We’ll watch the Oscar show live at Eisenhower with a trivia contest during the show, prizes, snacks, and more. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’d love for you to join us. Register now.


Most of the nominees for Best Picture are not yet available for viewing at home. Still, some are already listed in the library catalog. If you place a hold now, you’ll be on the list to borrow a copy as soon as the movies are ready to loan.

Arrival
When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
DVD | Blu-ray

Fences
A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.
DVD

Hacksaw Ridge
WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Hell or High Water
A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Hidden Figures
Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.
DVD

La La Land
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles in this original musical exploring the joy and pain of pursuing dreams.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Lion
A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Manchester by the Sea
An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Moonlight
Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
DVD | Blu-Ray

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.'”

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