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Shelf Renewal Blog - Booklist Online

Shelf Renewal

A Booklist Blog
Nobody puts backlist in a corner—readers'-advisory experts Karen Kleckner Keefe and Rebecca Vnuk bring attention to older titles by featuring "dusty books" and offering read-alikes for what’s hot on the holds list.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:04 pm
Not Happily Ever After
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

californiaWhen our best writers imagine a new society, it’s rarely filled with happy people, flying cars and Jetsons-style yummy food packs. No, these near futures or imagined places often emerge as the result of some catastrophic event of our own making. From classics like 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 to popular teen titles The Giver, Hunger Games, and Divergent — things are not looking good. Edan Lepucki’s California is the latest tale of scarcity and survival to keep worried readers up all night. Readers eager to explore other apocalypses and dystopic dramas may enjoy:


Monday, July 14, 2014 7:00 am
For Fans of Factory Man
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

factory manSubtitled “How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local–and Helped Save an American Town,” Beth Macy’s Factory Man is one of the most buzzed about books this summer. In addition to Macy’s engaging, approachable writing style, readers are responding to this book for what it makes them think and how it makes them feel. For one reader the appeal might be the story of  one guy willing to take a stand–for others it will be the illuminating look at global economics. Talk to your readers about what they liked or why they’re on the waiting list, then make their day by recommending something else right up their alley.




Thursday, July 3, 2014 4:04 pm
Road Trip
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

carsickThe 4th of July is a time when we reflect on our nation’s history. The rest of the summer, we focus on its breadth–making the most of long days, no school, and our beautiful lakes, streams, and oceans. The Great American Road Trip is a part of our cultural history. Want a very modern take? Ride along with cult flm director John Waters in his hilarious hitchhiking adventure Carsick. Not tickled by the idea of hours alone in a car with Mr. Waters? (Can’t imagine why.) Then test your luck with these travel tales that explore our shining seas, mountains majesty, and everything in between.

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:00 am
Web Crush of the Week: Lee Goldberg
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

goldbergAuthor and TV producer Lee Goldberg offers a unique perspective on mysteries of page and screen. He’s written scripts for and/or produced such hits as Spenser: For Hire. Diagnosis Murder, Nero Wolfe, and Monk.  He has written books based on the  Diagnosis Murder series and the Emmy-award winning Monk.

Goldberg’s blog covers everything from insights on new mystery TV series picked up for fall to what it was like writing the Fox & O’Hare books with Janet Evanovich. An encouraging kindred spirit for those wanting to break into crime-writing and a jovial introduction for those content to wach from the sidelines.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:00 am
Good Sports
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

Yes, the World Cup is pretty exciting. Wimbledon, too. And how about golf phenoms Lucy Li and Michelle Wie? No denying it, it’s a good week to be a sports fan. But let’s not forget the little guys. The balls and pucks and shuttlecocks that live outside the limelight. Let’s give the second-stringers some love with a little backlist shove.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 10:38 am
Dusty Book: Writ of Execution by Perri O’Shaughnessy
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk

(OK, so it takes place in Lake Tahoe rather than Las Vegas . . .  but this Dusty was inspired by the upcoming ALA conference in Vegas.)

In Writ of Execution, Jessie wins a mega-jackpot on a slot machine. When she goes to collect her winnings, however, she is too frightened to reveal her identity to the authorities, as she is on the run from a stalker.  As it turns out, poor Jessie’s got more troubles ahead. Attorney Nina Reilly assists the young woman and finds out the slot machine was rigged, and the crooks who rigged it want their money. Now. 

From the Booklist review:  “The big question is, Who will get the money? Jessie, who pulled the lever? The man who got up from the machine? Jessie’s former father-in-law, who seeks revenge on the young woman? The father-in-law’s lawyer, who is Nina’s nemesis? Or maybe a corrupt casino employee trying to rig the system?  The sister duo behind the O’Shaughnessy pseudonym know how to tell an engaging story, and this one doesn’t disappoint.


Many thanks to librarian Magan Szwarek and to the Stop You’re Killing Me database for helping me find this book based on a very thin thread!




Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:00 am
Family Vacations: Not All Fun and Games
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

vacationersAirports, long car rides, strange places, weird food, sharing bedrooms, no privacy, no friends. Sounds stressful, right? Now bring your whole family along! Emma Straub’s The Vacationers may be the unguilty pleasure of the season. Gorgeous etting, family dysfunction, and funny. And all easily accessible from the comfort of your couch.  Want more unexpected vacation revelations? Try.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:00 am
Dusty Book: The Storyteller by Arthur Reid
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk

storyIn The Storyteller by Arthur Reid, aspiring author Steve King (oh, to be saddled with that name . . .) discovers a trunk of fantastic novels left behind by a talented dead friend.  He decides to pass them off as his own—and quickly becomes a mega-bestselling author.  Trouble is, there may be a few people who know that the stories aren’t his . . .

The Booklist review said, “Reid likens the premise to a Faustian bargain, but present-day readers may find The Storyteller more interesting and engaging than its predecessors in that genre. In addition to the novel’s more complicated plot, King is much more likable than his analogues, perhaps because of the lack of overly dramatic self-pity. Readers will feel his dilemma and be quickly drawn in. ”

Darkly comic, this book has a great double twist at the end. Looks like it’s Reid’s only novel (what a shame!), so it may be destined for discard at your library—give it a chance.

Friday, June 13, 2014 7:25 am
Web Crush of the Week: Bookish
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk

Bookish is a book recommendation site that features exclusive book excerpts, interviews with authors and editor’s picks. It’s an interesting mix of algorithms and real people.

You can sign up for an account and get personalized reading recommendations, but you can also just browse anonymously if you wish. Enter a title, and Bookish offers up one based on genre, subject, characters, awards, and critical reviews.  You can read samples online, and they also offer a weekly newsletter. Be aware that it is skewed to new (and popular) books.

Give it a whirl at

Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:15 am
Crying Gets the Sad Out of You
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

faultSo, you may have heard about a little movie called The Fault in Our Stars. It’s based on the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, who, if you use the Internet or have ever seen an obscenely long line at a library conference, know is kind of a big deal. By this time you probably already know, too, that the plot involves teenage cancer patients who fall in love. And, if your heart’s not made of stone, that there is crying. Which is not a bad thing. For some readers, in fact, it is a very good thing. And for them, I recommend some weepies from the adult side of the stacks:

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